Joyce Meyer - Parable of the Rich Young Fool - Part 2
The danger of self-will. Luke 12:16. It's the same parable we just read, but I wanna make a point here: "He told them a parable, saying, 'the land of a rich man was fertile and yielded plenty. And he considered and debated within himself, what shall I do? I have no place to gather my harvest. I will do this: I will pull down my storehouses, I will build bigger ones, I'll say to my soul, just go have a good life. You've got enough now for many years'". "I will" is a statement that we need to be careful about. Lucifer, Isaiah 14, once the angel in charge of worship. And in Isaiah 14, verse 12, it says: "How have you fallen from heaven, o light-bringer and Daystar, son of the morning! How have you been cut down to the ground, you who weakened and laid low the nations".
Verse 13, this is why Lucifer fell and became the creature that we know him to be today. "You said in your heart, I will ascend to heaven: I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit upon the mount of assembly in the uttermost north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds: I will make myself like the Most High". And here is what God said back to him. "Yet you shall be brought down to sheol (to hades), to the innermost recesses of the pit (the region of the dead)," so, when we start saying, "I will, I will, I will, I will, I will". God's really just saying, "No, you won't. You just won't".
In Daniel chapter 4 we see another great example. Nebuchadnezzar was a king and I'm just gonna read you the first few verses here: "Nebuchadnezzar the king, to all people, nations, and languages that dwell on the earth: may peace be multiplied to you. It seemed good to me to show the signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed toward me. How great are his signs! How mighty are his wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation". Everything's about God. "God did it. God gets the credit. God is good. God is awesome". "And I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at rest in my house and prospering in my palace".
So, you see the results. If everything is God, then you prosper and you have a lot of rest and a lot of peace. But, but, 26 verses later, and I don't know how long it took for him to live these 26 verses. Beginning in verse 30, 26 verses later from the guy who said this, who is at rest and prospering, "The king said, 'is not this the great Babylon that I have built as the royal residence and the seat of government by the might of my power and for the honor and the glory of my majesty'"?
See, when God gives you something, you gotta be very careful that you don't get to the point where you think you're a possessor instead of a steward, amen? However much money God has blessed you with, you don't own it. You're a steward of it and God expects you to do with it what he tells you to do, not just what you wanna do. If you have a position of authority in a company where you work, you have power but you don't have the power to mistreat people and the power to just make them do what you want them to do because you're the boss. You have authority to go in there and represent God to them and treat them the way that Jesus would treat them, amen? People with power very often abuse that power. I might as well say, probably more often than not, people with power abuse that power and they think because they're powerful that they can do anything they want to.
There's even a couple of ministers that I know of that we won't mention names who had great public falls, and in speaking personally with them, which I didn't do, but somebody told me that what happens is it's like, "How did I get from there to here? How did this happen? Once things were so good and everything was right and I was helping people and I had joy and I had peace and God was prospering". And one of 'em said, "I got to the point where I had so much power that I felt like I could do anything that I wanted to do". Now, see, for some of you, this is just a story about somebody else. But I don't want it to become your story. And I don't want it to become my story.
Can I tell you something? Staying straight with God is a full-time job. I mean, it actually is a full-time job. "Awake o sleepy Christian, arise from the dead," Paul said in Ephesians. "Wake up. Be on your guard, stay awake, watch and pray". You know why? Because the devil is alive and well. And if you think that he can't use things and money to derail you, you have got another thing coming. I wonder how many amazing Christians start getting promoted at work and they got a big salary and now all of a sudden they're gonna have to compromise their moral values to keep that job, common. Let me tell you something. The more you have, the harder it is to walk away from it. Somebody's gonna get something out of this tonight.
You say, "Well, Joyce, I'd rather you teach tonight about how much God wants to bless me". Well, I could take a break for a minute and do that if you want, 'cause you know what, God does wanna bless you. You're his kids, and who would he want to give his stuff to other than you? I mean, the Bible says in 3 John 2: "Beloved, I would above all else that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers". What's he saying? "I want you to have all you can handle and still be spiritually mature and keep me first". Okay, well, then the next time that you feel that God is asking you for something, a little money you have set aside for something else, or you know, that she-money you got hidden in your wallet or the he-money you've got, don't we all like to have a little money hidden somewhere that nobody knows anything about? Ooh, we like to fold that up and stick it somewhere. "That's my money".
But you know what? God likes to get into that part of your wallet sometimes. Or what about if he asks you to give away your favorite something? You know? These are tests, and if you find you can't do it, whoo, you better backpedal. We gotta watch ourselves. Is anybody here? You gotta watch yourself. Last winter, I bought this cape. Oh, it was so beautiful. Oh, my gosh. It just was one of those things you just threw it on and, it was, you know, you just... You know what I mean. It was kind of like a little furry Cinderella, and it had like this fur all down thing, just so pretty. And everywhere I went, "Oh, that is so nice, that is so nice".
So, I went in a store where this couple works that we know. And I don't even know this lady real well, but she's a real nice lady and, "Oh, where did you get that? I gotta call and see if they've got another one". And she calls, they don't have another one and can't get her another one, and so, of course, of course, God tells me to give it to her. I didn't wanna give it to her. I liked it. It was mine. Well, yes, I gave it to her. I wasn't overly joyful at the moment, but I believe I've got a, you know what? I would rather obey God and let my flesh be miserable. C'mon, I'd rather obey God and let my flesh have a pouting fit than to make my flesh happy at the cost of disobeying God.
Well, if you know the rest of the story in Daniel, I mean, it gets to be pretty ridiculous. I mean, verse 31: "While the words were still in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, o king Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you". So, while he was giving God the credit, everything was about God, "God did this, God did that," he was prospering in his palace, he was at peace. Twenty-six verses later, he got a little bit too full of himself and now everything is what he's done. You know, I try to be real careful in my life about saying "My ministry". My name may be on the door, but it's not my ministry, amen? God gave it to me and he could take it away from me quicker than he gave it, 'cause I can tell you, climbing the ladder of success takes a lot longer than falling off. That can happen real quick. And the only way that I know to keep it from happening is to, every day, resist the temptation to let anything other than God be first in your life, amen? This is so good for us.
Now, there's another young man in the Bible called the rich young ruler. Matthew 19, beginning in verse 16: "And behold, there came a man up to him, saying, 'teacher, what excellent and perfectly and essentially good thing must I do to possess eternal life'? And he said to him, 'why do you ask me about the perfectly and essentially good? There's only one who is good and that's God. If you want to enter into life, you must continually keep the commandments'. And he said, 'well, what sort of commandments? [which ones?]' and Jesus said, 'you shall not kill, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness, honor your father and your mother, love your neighbor as [you do] yourself'. And the young man said, 'i have done all these from my youth'".
Well, he obviously was a tad self-righteous. Because I'm quite sure that he had not done all of these all the time from his youth. "'What do I still lack'? And Jesus said, 'well, okay, if you want to be perfect [that is, have the spiritual maturity that accompanies self-sacrificing character], go and sell what you have and give to the poor, and you'll have riches in heaven: and come and be my disciple [side with my party and follow me]'". Now, it's very difficult to read this scripture and ever have anybody clap. Matter of fact, I've never had it happen. Didn't expect it to happen here tonight. Simply because this "Sell everything you have and give it to the poor" scares the tar out of us, okay? Well, here's the point. I do not at all believe that Jesus even had any interest in taking everything away from him that he had. He saw a deeper problem, and he was testing him. And sometimes when God tests us, it's not so he can see what we'll do because he already knows what we'll do. It's so we will see what we do.
So, the next time God asks you to do something you don't wanna do, pay attention to how you act. "But when the young man heard this, he went away sad (grieved and in much distress), for he had great, great possessions". Now, "Jesus said to his disciples, 'truly I say to you, it will be difficult for a rich man to get into the kingdom of heaven'". Now, you know, anybody with money don't like that scripture either. But this is so good. Listen to this. "And again," he said, "'i tell you, it would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into the kingdom of heaven'". So, we get this picture of a camel trying to get through the eye of a needle, and we know that it's impossible, but then it goes on to say "What is impossible with man is possible with God". So, he's saying the rich man can get into heaven, but only with a lot of God's help.
Now, here's the thing that you may not know. In Jerusalem there were a lot of gates that went into the city, and one of them was called the eye of the needle. And it was a short gate. It wasn't very high. I don't know how high, but it wasn't very high. And a lot of the stuff that they brought into these cities came on the backs of camels. Well, there was only one way that a camel could get through that gate, and that was to get down on its knees and crawl through. So, is anybody here smart enough to know the message? The only way a rich man is gonna get into heaven is if he lives on his knees. Because the more we have, there's something wicked in the flesh, not in your heart, but in the flesh, that says, "More, keep it, save it, store it up," amen? And it's there in every single one of us. And I don't care how godly you get, it will crop up it's ugly little head and say the same thing to you that it says to everybody else and you have to recognize it and say, "No, I will obey God and do what God wants me to do. I will not be selfish and self-centered".
Now, a couple little stories. We like stories, so. I don't have to tell parables. I just talk about my own life. So, this is a little rhinestone bracelet, here. Somebody gave this to me years ago. And, oh, I just loved it. I just thought it was the prettiest thing. I don't know if I can still get it on. Well, I'd have to undo it. But you can't see it, but this clasp is like a, makes a little bow and it was just so cute, so cute. And I wore it a lot in my conferences, I really liked it, and God started bugging me about giving it to one of the girls on the worship team. Well, I didn't wanna give it away. I liked it. See, here's the thing. If you give away some old thing out of your closet that you're done with, that's not giving. I mean, I'm sorry, but it's not. It doesn't really qualify as giving. Somebody's really doing you a favor taking it off your hands. It only becomes giving when you feel it. You gotta feel it a little bit, okay? That's why the widow who gave the little mite, she felt it. The rich guy who threw in a few bucks, he gave more than her in amount, but a lot less than her, in God's eyes, 'cause he didn't feel what he gave.
King David was at a time where he needed to make sacrifices to God. It was the time for some sacrifice, and he was out traveling and didn't have a place to do it. And he wanted to buy a field from a local king to make these sacrifices. And the king said, "Oh, no, you're not gonna buy it. I'll give it to you. I'll give you everything you need". And he said, "I will, no, I will pay for it. I will not give my God that which costs me nothing". And so, it took me two or three conferences of arguing with God, but I finally gave it to her and, I mean, I made every kind of silly excuse. She looks better in gold than silver, it's gonna be, she's thin, it's gonna be too big for her. All kinds of stuff. So, then, she wore it every conference and I had to watch her wear it. Well, I didn't know as much then as I know now, and so I kept telling her how much I loved it and how hard it was to give it away, how much I missed it, and finally one day she gave it back to me. She said, "You know, I believe God spoke to me to give this back to you".
Well, I just felt like a complete moron, you know? And so, but here's the message. I have not had this on since then. Any time after that that I would go to wear it, I thought, "I don't like that". And here's the lesson that God taught me, and I keep it now just as a reminder of that lesson. And this is what he said, "Anything that I tell you to give no longer belongs to you. And if you keep it, you'll never enjoy it," amen? So I got the bracelet back, but I lost my joy because I knew that I had been ridiculously immature, and that I let something like a bunch of rhinestones, that mean really nothing, get me to disobey God.
Now, I've got another example for you. The red dress. This dress is about 37-years-old. And it still fits me. When I bought that, I thought it was the prettiest thing I'd ever seen, and it still had the plastic bag on it. It was hanging in my closet, and one morning I was in there and I was praying for a lady that volunteered at our meetings. Her name was Ruth Anne. "O God, I just appreciate Ruth Anne so much. Show me how I can bless her". C'mon, don't we love to pray pretty prayers? "Show me how I can bless her, Lord". And immediately, my eyes fell on that red dress and I thought, "Well, that's not God. That dress is new. I haven't even worn it yet. And besides that, I bought those pretty red and silver earrings to go with it". So, I mean, the whole thing maybe took 45 seconds, and I decided that it wasn't God, that it was just the devil trying to take my dress away from me.
So, a couple of weeks later, I'm in the closet getting dressed again, going to the same meeting that I had weekly, and she volunteered at that meeting, and once again I'm praying for Ruth Anne. "O God, how can I bless Ruth Anne"? Well, there it is again. Well, now I'm starting to think, "Well, maybe this is God". And long story short, I did end up giving it to her and she wore it. She came to work for us eventually, wasn't a volunteer, and she wore that dress to work for years and years. And when she got done with it, she gave it to me and I keep that too in a closet at my office because I don't ever wanna forget. Now here, this thing is totally out of style. Not one of you would wanna put that on.
Well, somebody back there says they would. But do you realize the stuff that we disobey God over, that next year won't mean a thing to you? Or five years from now won't mean a thing to you, it'll be out of style, it'll be rusted, ruined, rotted. It won't mean anything at all. But when we do with what we have, what God tells us to do, then we store up treasure in heaven where we're gonna live for eternity, amen? All right. You can take it back. Here's what happens a lot of times when God tells you to part with something you don't wanna part with. Immediately, reasoning comes in. "Well, God couldn't want me to give that away. That's new". "Well, surely not that. That's the money I've saved for three years for a vacation". Don't think for one minute that God won't touch stuff that you don't wanna let go of. And it's a test.