Joyce Meyer - Claiming What Is Rightfully Yours - Part 1
Well, Father, we thank you for the word today. I love your word. It's changed my life dramatically, and I know that it will keep on changing it. And I pray that that will happen to people here today, that their lives will be changed as they receive your word.
Everybody say, "I receive the word". Okay, now, I always tell people don't listen to me just to listen to me, but listen with an attitude of, "Whatever I hear today, I'm going to be obedient to it and I'm going to go home and apply it to my life". You know, just to know something doesn't do you any good if you don't do it. We need to do it. And I think a lot of times we think, "Well, I'll check off my went to church this week box". But everybody will hear somethin' today that should and could cause at least a little bit of change in your life, including me. I wanna talk to you this morning about the journey to spiritual maturity. And, you know, being spiritually mature is God's will for us. Not remaining baby Christians, but being spiritually mature, 'cause little babies, all they care about is themselves. But God actually wants us to get ourselves off our mind: not be selfish, and reach out to other people, help them, and be willing to do whatever God wants us to do to help the kingdom grow.
There's really nothing that makes you happier than helping other people. As a matter of fact, I know personally that you cannot be selfish and happy at the same time. It just doesn't work. And if some of you are unhappy and can't figure out why, it might just be because you care more about what God can do for you than what you can do for God. Babies come in that way. We usually have big problems, and we receive Christ because we want him to fix 'em. And he'll go along with that for a while, but after a while he wants a transition where you say, "Well, now, Lord, I really appreciate all you've done in my life and I want to be of service to you". Paul told the Corinthian church, and keep in mind that the Corinthians had all the gifts of the spirit: they spoke in other tongues, they prophesied, but he told 'em they were babies. So, you can have gifts but not have fruit. Isn't that interesting.
You know, people who have or operate in the gifts of the spirit, you would think, and they think, "We're the mature group," but not necessarily so. A gift is given to you. But fruit, you gotta put a little effort into that. You gotta work with the Holy Spirit. And everything you need is in you as a seed, but you have to grow in those areas. Like patience, if you want patience, you gotta be willing to have a problem first. Amen? If you want humility, well, you know how that goes, you have to be willing to do somethin' you don't wanna do or apologize to somebody you don't wanna apologize to. But 1 Corinthians 3:1-3, "However, brethren, I could not talk to you as spiritual men, but as to nonspiritual men of the flesh", men and women, "In whom the carnal nature predominates, I had to talk to you like mere infants in the new life in Christ".
And I'm reading from the Amplified and it says in the Amplified in parenthesis, "Unable to talk yet". And I think that's interesting. That's the only translation that says that. But Paul says that twice in these three verses. He says, "I know that your babies. I can hear it by the way you talk". And you know, that is true. If you want to locate how spiritually mature somebody is, all you really have to do is listen to 'em for a little while. Amen? Because immature people complain, even though they're blessed. They talk about other people behind their back. They gossip. They criticize. They judge. They very often won't forgive people that have hurt them. They feel justified in hanging on to their anger. They get upset over petty things that they don't need to get upset over.
And so, I think that's interesting that you can even listen to yourself and locate yourself as far as how spiritually mature that you are. First of all, let me ask, because there's no point in me preaching this if you don't think you need it. How many of you believe that it is very important that we all grow in Christ and become spiritually mature? "I fed you with milk, not solid food". And when he's talking about the Word of God as our food and some translations instead of saying, "Solid foods," say, "Meat". So, the milk of the word would be like Paul sayin', "I had to always give you messages about what God would do for you. Messages about how much God loves you, and how blessed you're going to be, what a great future God has planned for you". We all love those kinds of messages, and of course, we need them, but we can't live on them. We have to have some of the meat of the word, which almost always brings some kind of correction in our life. Amen?
And so, I am committed to, I don't teach people what they want to hear, but I teach them what they need to hear. And there is a difference. The Bible says in the last days, people will have itching ears. They'll be insecure and they'll run to and fro until they find somebody that's saying what they want to hear. And that's not good. Just because your pastor says somethin' that makes you squirm in your seat a little bit, doesn't mean that you don't need to hear it. I personally love deeper messages that confront me and make me stop and think. Now, like I said, we all need the what I call "Dessert messages," but we need to, we just need a balance. You need a balance. If somebody is just beatin' you up with the word every week that gets old. But if all you ever hear is everything that God's gonna do for you and how blessed you are, then really those messages encourage us, but we don't grow spiritually on those messages.
"I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not yet strong enough [to be ready for it]: and even yet you are not strong enough [to be ready for it], for you are still [unspiritual, having the nature] of the flesh because you're [under the control of ordinary impulses]". I'll just say quickly, do you let your emotions control you or do you control them? Do you do what you think, what you want, what you feel? Or are you able to move beyond that?
I've written a couple of books on emotions, and one is called "Managing Your Emotions". I think it's out of print now. And then another one is called "Living beyond your feelings". And we all have feelings. They are not gonna go away. You know, if somebody insults me, I'm still gonna feel like I wanna tell them off or let 'em know they're not gonna treat me that way. But a spiritually mature Christian can have emotions and yet not act on them if they know it's not something that God would want them to do. So, I'll just leave that with you, and you can do what you want to with it. "For as long as [there is] envy, jealousy, wranglings and factions among you", and wranglings and factions is strife. And strife is arguing, heated arguments, living in disagreement. And the part that I like about strife, that I think a lot of people don't understand is, it says it's an "Angry undercurrent".
In other words, it's one of those things where we're smiling at each other, but underneath there's all this, you know. You can have a church that looks good on the outside, but underneath there's all this gossip and goofiness. And what happens then is that prevents the anointing. And so, everybody can say the right thing, but it doesn't really do anybody any good. When we began our ministry, which has been 40 years ago, I've been teaching for 45 years, but I was wasn't in full time ministry until 40 years. And God spoke to my heart. He said, "There's three things I want you to do and if you do them, I'll bless your ministry. Do what you do with excellence". And that doesn't mean perfection. It just means to take what you have and do the best you can with it. We should be excellent people who always go the extra mile. We don't sweep the dirt under the rug. We clean things out and do things the way they're supposed to be done.
"Be a person of integrity". That means honest. That means that you keep your word. And boy, do we have a huge problem today with people not keeping their word. How many of you have had an appointment with a workman to come and repair somethin' at your house and he didn't show up and didn't even bother to call you and let you know? Okay. Well, back when I was a teenager, like in the '50s, you never heard of anything like that. People just, I mean even people that weren't saved didn't do stuff like that. And it's just getting to be such a problem in the world today that it's just really ridiculous. And the thing that we all have to be careful of is that we don't float along with the world. We don't just kind of go with the current, but we'll make the effort to swim upstream, so to speak, and always do what you know is right. Keep your word.
If you tell somebody, "I'll call you back tomorrow," call them back tomorrow. And then he said, "Keep the strife out of your life, out of your marriage, and out of your ministry". And those are three core values at Joyce Meyer Ministry. We still teach them today. We teach them to all new employees. And we just do not put up with strife. And that means if there's somebody there that's causing trouble and we can't get them to stop, then we just really won't keep them. Because strife is like a cancer. If you don't stop it, it will eat away at everything until it kills it. And if you're gonna go to church and you're gonna trust God for things, you need to keep the strife out of your family. Because Psalm 133 says where there's unity, there is blessing and the anointing of God. And I don't know about you, but I want both of those. He said, you're "Behaving yourself like (unchanged) men".
Once a person is born again, they should change. But spiritual maturity is a journey. It's not just a once and done thing. If you still have areas where you need to grow, do not feel the least bit bad about it. I have areas where I need to grow. God's not concerned if we've not arrived, but he is concerned if we're making no progress. See, you shouldn't be today like you were a year ago. And five years from now, you shouldn't be like you are, right now. We all need to be concerned about ourselves if we don't see any growth, any spiritual growth in us. And the Bible says that when he returns, we will all be changed in the twinkling of an eye. So, whatever is still wrong with us, when Jesus comes back, he'll fix all that. And that's great. That doesn't mean you get to wait till then. "Oh, well, then I can just put it off till then". No. There should be nobody in here today that's mad at anybody.
Forgiveness is the heart of the gospel. God forgives us completely, quickly, forgets our sins, removes 'em as far as the east is from the west. And when somebody hurts your feelings and makes you mad on Monday, by Wednesday or Thursday, you shouldn't even be able to remember what it was that got you upset. You just let go of it. You say, "Well, they don't deserve it". Well, maybe they don't, but you deserve peace. Amen? And I found a very interesting scripture. I mean, I've seen this hundreds of times. It's not like the first time I ever saw it, but it's amazing how we can look at scriptures and just see new things in them. That ever happen to you, where you just see new things? It's Isaiah 43:25. And God says that he forgives our sins and forgets them for his own sake. I thought that was so interesting. He forgives us for his own sake. And we need to forgive other people for our own sake.
So that's just kind of an aside, don't want to take time preaching on that. But, you know, if you're in here today and you're mad at somebody, I really pray that you'll lay that down and get rid of it before you leave. It's not gonna change the person you're mad at. They're probably out having a good time and don't care that you're upset. And so, you're just tormenting yourself. Now, this is a part of this message that is very important. Now, Paul tells them why they're still spiritually immature. And I want you to listen to this. Hebrews 5:13, "For everyone who continues to feed on milk", baby Christians, "Is obviously inexperienced, and unskilled in the doctrine of righteousness (of conforming to the divine will in purpose, thought, and action), for he is a mere infant [not able to talk yet]"!
Now, why is righteousness so important to spiritual maturity? Well, first of all, we are made right with God by his grace and mercy when Jesus died for us. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:21, "He that knew no sin, became sin that we might be made the righteousness of God in him". One thing you need to know about God is he never expects us to do anything without giving us the ability to do it. So, he's not gonna tell you, "Do this right, do that right. Do this right, do that right," without giving you the ability to do it. So, he makes us all right with him, right from the very beginning. Right from the very start of your walk with God, you are made right with God. And that is, gosh, it took me so long to finally believe that God wasn't mad at me.
And I'll tell you why it is so important because you can't, unless you believe that you're right with God, you can't do anything right. But if you believe that you're righteous, then you'll produce right behavior. A peach tree makes peaches because it's a peach tree. It's very simple. We produce what we really believe that we are. And so, you can't really consistently produce right behavior if you're guilty and condemned all the time and always thinkin' that God is mad at you. Even when you're doing things wrong, you still are the righteousness of God in Christ. There's a difference in your who and your do. Who you are is, you're right with God. What you do is another story, and God's gonna work on that.
Here's the reason why righteousness is so important. We cannot mature spiritually without correction. You're not all happy about that. That was a pretty puny clap. We cannot mature without correction from God, and God will try first to correct us himself. But if we do not listen, he will then try to correct us through somebody else confronting us personally or in preaching. Maybe there's something God's been dealing with you about and you have just been being stubborn about it. And then maybe God will bring a speaker in, or your pastor will say the same thing that God's been saying to you and hopefully that's enough to get us to get in line then.
How many of you are with me? And you understand what I'm saying? Okay, well. Correction is very hard for most people to receive. It's a little bit easier to receive it from God than from people. But if he gets around to havin' to deal with us through people, it's very hard because only a humble person can truly receive correction and say, "You're right". Don't make excuses for it. The minute we make excuses, we're just undoing the whole thing. Because an excuse is a reason stuffed with a lie. So, what we need to do is say, "You're right, there's no excuse for what I did, and I want God to work with me and help me". When Jesus ascended on high, he sent us a helper, the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit is the agent. The definition says, in the Greek, "He's the agent in sanctification".
In other words, we are already made holy at the new birth because God can't be anywhere that's not holy. When the bush was on fire, God said to Moses, "Take your shoes off. You're standing on holy ground". Well, why is a bush and a bunch of dirt holy ground? Because God was there. So, wherever God is, has to be sanctified. And he lives in us, so he has to do a work in us before he can come and live in us. You understand me? So, what you have on the inside may be very different than the way you're behaving. And so, the work of the Holy Spirit is to help you. He's our teacher, our guide, is to help you and to help me get what's in us to the outside of us.
You know, Paul said, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling". Well, we don't. We're not saved by our works. So, he can't mean that because he plainly taught that you're not saved by works but by grace. So, what in the world did he mean? "Work out your own salvation," he says, "With fear and trembling". Not on your own, but with the help of God. We can't change just because we want to. We need God's help. So, we, from the moment that we're born again and God puts all this good stuff in us, then we have to, a word a lot of people don't like today, work. I'm still scratching my head over all these jobs that are open and they can't get anybody to fill 'em. I don't, I do not know how people are not working and living. I can't. I just scratch my head.
We stay in hotels all the time and now most of them don't even have housekeeping because they can't get anybody to work. No bellman, no housekeeping. If you get too much trash in your room, if you set it out in the hall they may come by and get it, but nothing. And it's gettin' that way everywhere. Half of restaurants or half of the restaurant will be closed because they don't have enough workers. Anyway, if you want or I want to be what God wants me to be, I'm gonna have to put out a little effort. Just praying is not enough to get the job done. I need to study the word. I need to cooperate with God. I need to pay attention to my spiritual life. If I sin, I need to repent. If I hurt somebody else, I need to go back and apologize. Are you all with me?
Okay. So, after you're born again, one of the first things you need to do is really understand that God loves you and he's made you right with him. He's made you holy. He has sanctified you. But the Holy Spirit is the agent in sanctification. So, it's interesting because if you read this big long definition in "The vine's dictionary" it says that "We are sanctified but being sanctified at the same time". So, there's a whole lot of perfect stuff in us, but it's being perfected in our lives as we grow. So, we have a body, we have a soul, and we have a spirit.
Now, all this good stuff has been done as a gift to us in our spirit. Man, if we could just turn everybody inside out, everybody would be great. But God has to work with us to first clean up our soul. And that's all that inner stuff that people don't see but they see the result of. It's like, you can be mad at me but still, "Well, Joyce, we love you with the love of the Lord". Whatever in the world that is, I don't know. But I want people to love me truly. Not just some kind of phony way. Amen? So, God uses truth to change us. He's not mean to us. Correction is a blessing. It took me a lot of years to learn that, but I'll tell you now, I actually get excited when God corrects me. You say, "Well, why in the world would you do that"? Because that's one of the ways he shows his love.