Joyce Meyer - Developing the Character of God - Part 3
See that sign there? There's a right way and a wrong way to do everything. Which way we go is up to us. The Bible tells us in the Old Testament that "The day will come", one of the prophets said, "The day will come when evil will be considered good and good will be considered evil". And that day's on us right now. I'll be honest with you: I don't know how long we have before Jesus comes back. I don't think it'll be very long, but Paul thought that in his day, so I can't say. But I do know one thing, we need to stay ready. The Bible says to watch and pray and to be ready. We don't have time to get ready after the trumpet blows, we have to stay ready. And if there was ever a time in history when you wanted to be serious about your relationship with God, this is the time. No more fooling around, no more hypocritical nonsense.
It's time for us to learn to do things the right way. When we go the wrong way, we get lost. And there's a lot of lost people in the world that are lost because they've done the wrong thing all their life. But it can be turned around. It's amazing. It doesn't happen overnight, but the minute you surrender your life to God, you receive Christ and surrender your life to him, things start to change. And every right decision you make undoes one of the wrong ones that you made before. So, I want you to keep this picture of this sign in your mind and every decision that you have to make, remind yourself there's two ways to go: one's the devil's way and one's the God's way.
And you need to always go God's way. I'm doing this series this weekend on developing the character of God in your life. And that is what we are destined to do. I'll read you a scripture this afternoon that says, we are destined "To be molded into the image of Christ". I started talking last night about... Well, I said a lot of good things, I wish I could go back and repeat, but I can't. But I ended with talking about suffering and spiritual maturity. Everybody's favorite scripture, suffering. And I wanna read you this scripture because i, I wanna give you a little better explanation. 1 Peter 4:1 and 2, "So, since Christ suffered in the flesh". Everybody say, "In the flesh". And when we talk about suffering in the flesh, we're not talking about little kids dying with cancer, we're not talking about tragedy and car wrecks and losing your loved one, we're not talking about cancer and that kind of stuff.
The devil does a lot of that kind of stuff, and we need to resist it and stand against it and believe God for healing, victory, and restoration. Yet knowing that our faith is not based on us getting a miracle, "I'm gonna love God just as much whether I do or whether I don't". Amen? Did you hear me? Because "To live is Christ, to die is gain". There's not one person here that needs to be afraid of death. There's no reason to ever be afraid of death because, I mean, when you get right down to it, who's not gonna be better off in heaven? Okay, you don't like that, I'll go on to something else. I'm just telling you, you don't have to be afraid of it. You don't have to go around being afraid of it.
You know, there's just no reason to be. The Bible says that we've been delivered from the fear of death. So, suffering in the flesh, what I mean by that, and I probably should have said this last night, especially for the benefit of newer believers, 'cause I don't wanna confuse you. God is not a God who delights in seeing us suffer, but he does delight in seeing us behave the right way when we're suffering. Did you hear that? Paul never one time prayed for anybody's problem to go away. I found that very interesting. You know what he prayed? That in the midst of their problems, they would handle everything with good temper. So, what he was praying that was when they had problems, they would act like they should be acting. You know, we're gonna have some of the same situations that people in the world do.
Jesus said, "In the world you will have tribulation". And we are in the world. And he said, "Cheer up, I've overcome the world". And so, we have the victory, no matter... When we get it, we've already got the victory. Christianity begins with a done, not a do. Jesus has already done everything that needs to be done. Everybody say, "I've got the victory". That's why the Bible says in Romans 8 that "We are more than a conqueror". What does it mean to be more than a conqueror? I believe it means that before we ever get a problem, we know we've got the victory. Therefore, we don't have to live in fear of tribulation and difficulty coming into our life.
I can remember when I used to just, I had like what God finally showed me was anxious forebodings. I'd had so many bad things happen to me in my life that I lived in fear of the next bad thing. Anybody know what I mean? And we don't have to live like that because we've got what it takes to handle whatever comes. "I can do all things through Christ who is my strength". And Paul was referring to something specific, he said, "I know how to be abased and I know how to abound". He knew how to handle trouble and he knew how to handle good times. And what God wants from each one of us is when we are having trouble is to not act like the world would act, but to act the way Jesus would act so we can have an impact on the world. Come on. So, when I say suffering in the flesh, I'm talking about the way your flesh feels when you do what you know God wants you to do even if you don't want to do it. Like submitting to your husband.
Yeah, well, I didn't even get a good laugh out of that. Man, I remember how I used to, I mean, my flesh would hurt when Dave would tell me to do something I didn't want to do and God would tell me to shut my mouth and just do it. Eww, that was hard. Or how about being nice to somebody that's mistreated you. So, that's the kind of stuff I'm talking about. All right. "Arm yourselves with the same thought and purpose [patiently to suffer rather than fail to please God]". So he wants us to have that mindset. You know, "I don't wanna suffer, but if I have to in order to please God, I will".
We see the answer when Jesus was in Gethsemane in Matthew three different times. One, two, three different times. Jesus went back to prayer, "Father, if you can, remove this cup from me". I only got this through my head a few months ago. Jesus did not want to go to the cross. He didn't want to, but he always followed up his prayer with "Nevertheless, your will be done and not mine". So, he was always saying, "I don't wanna do this". And it's okay if you tell God, "I don't wanna do this, but I will because I love you". Are you with me? "I don't wanna do this, but I will because I love you".
I do a lot of things that I would rather not do because I love God and I know that's what he wants me to do. And when I do, my flesh suffers. You get it? There's things to resist and there's things to submit to. And I said last night, at the end, I said, I really don't suffer that much anymore. And it's because I've learned not to fight stuff. It's not really the stuff that makes you miserable, it's fighting it all the time. It's trying to change something you can't do anything about. How much suffering did I have because I tried to change Dave? It didn't work. I didn't want him to play golf. I didn't want him to like sports because I didn't like 'em. Well, it didn't change.
Now, he watches sports he don't even play. He's taking a liking to tennis and he's never played tennis in his whole life. I have no idea how many different sports he watches but if it bounce or rolls, he watches it. And tried to change my kids. Oh, my gosh, I worked so hard on my kids. You know, when you try really hard to make something happen, and it doesn't happen you suffer in the flesh. You're like, "Ugh"! You know why, you're frustrated all the time aren't you? But when you finally get it, "I can't do anything about this. I can pray and God can do it but until he does, I'm gonna enjoy my life". You can stop a lot of the suffering in your life, right now, today, by just stop fighting with everything and learn how to let God be God. "Whoever has suffered in the flesh [having the mind of Christ]", this is Amplified translation, "[having the mind of Christ] is done with [intentional] sin [and has stopped pleasing himself and the world, and now pleases God]".
I love that. You can't sin on purpose if you're willing to do anything other than disobey God. How many of you know that we disobey God a lot of times because obeying him is uncomfortable? Hey, I've got all day, so, you know what we are, here, in the western world? We're addicted to comfort. You don't wanna go to a third world country and tell 'em you got depressed because your air conditioning went out for two hours. We are spoiled. Yes. So, nothing forces a person to have to confront themselves like suffering and nothing shows our true character like going through a difficult time does. You think you're a great man or woman of faith?
Well, let's just find out. The Bible says our faith will be tested. Tested. Many things that you go through, there's no point in looking for a reason, it's just a test. Might as well pass it, because in God's economy, you never fail, you just get to keep taking the same test over, and over, and over. So, you might as well pass it and get it over with. James 1:2-4, "Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations. Be assured and understand that the trial and the proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience".
Well, I can tell you, it brought a lot of things out of me before we ever got around to patience. How many of you know that trials can bring the ugliest stuff out of you that you didn't even know was there? Amen? Back when I was first learning about faith and I thought your faith was just to get everything you wanted. You want something, you pray, and you believe God for it. And I just was so stupid back then. I'm glad that God loves people when they're still being stupid. I didn't know anything, you know. And I was believing God for a fur coat. Now, you know, that was the last thing I needed. That was the last thing I needed. I had all these internal problems and I'm believing God for a fur coat.
Now, today, they're not so popular, but back then they were. And I had a friend that, I did love her, but I didn't always like her. How many of you know what I mean? One day she rang my doorbell and she had this big box and she said, "Oh, you are not gonna believe what God gave me"! And she came in and opened the box, and it was my fur coat. And I thought, surely the angel delivered the box to the wrong house. You see, I thought I was much more spiritual than her. And God did that to me on purpose because I did the phony, religious thing, "Oh, praise the Lord. Oh, that's so great. I'm so glad God blessed you". And inside I'm thinking, "God if you don't get her out of my house I am gonna have..."
Well, when she left, I mean the jealousy, the envy, the judgment, the criticism that came up out of my soul. But I could have gone my life thinking I was a spiritual giant. Come on, how do you feel when a friend, maybe somebody that's not even a believer, gets what you're believing for? Don't tell me you haven't gone through this. You have. How many have had something similar to this happen in your life? All right, well, must be something to it. So, a lot of the things that we go through are designed to show us what's really in us because we can't deal with anything if we don't know it's there. As long as we're deceived.
See, and I don't wanna spend my life thinking I'm better than what I am. I wanna know the truth because only the truth will make you free. Start, come on, I just, I dare you to start praying and asking God to show you the truth about yourself. Hmm, see you don't even wanna do that. It's not the truth about somebody else that will set you free. It's the truth about you. I thought everything in our life that was a problem was Dave's fault. And one day I was praying for Dave to change. And God interrupted my prayer. Do you believe that? I mean, I was praying, and God interrupted my prayer. How rude. And he said, "Joyce Dave is not the problem". I thought, "Well, who is? There's only me and him".
And I'll tell you what, God opened my eyes to what it was like to live in the house with me and I cried for three days. But now, listen to me, it was the beginning of my healing. You can't make progress if you're living in deception. And there's nothing easier to be deceived about than our own self. Just pray, ask God, "Show me the truth about me". Anybody willing to do that? Well, you don't all have your hand up, but it was a good showing. Well, Romans 5:3-5 says, "Moreover [let us also be full of joy now]"! I love that in the Amplified Bible, "[now]! Let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings".
See, I don't know, maybe you skip over all these scriptures, but I've decided to stop skipping over scriptures I don't like and really confront them. And I've decided to be bold enough to teach on them and not just pick out scriptures that I think will make people like me. Amen? It's not my job to get you to like me, that's God's job. My job is to tell you what I believe he wants me to tell you. Jesus said, "The words that I speak are only what the father speaks to me". I'm gonna have to stand before God someday and give an accounting for this job that he's given me to do. And I wanna get a good report. "Knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance".
To endure means you can put up with a lot. Well, you know what? I can put up with a lot more now than I used to be able to. Any of you like that? How about things that used to just, I mean, mess you up. Now that same thing can happen and don't even bother you. Well, things that are bothering you now won't bother you four or five years from now. Pour it on God, I wanna get this over with. Amen? One of the things during trouble that you should always tell yourself is "This is going to work something good in me". And going on in Romans 5 verse 4, "And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character", we're talking about how to mature in Christ, "(approved faith and tried integrity). And character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation".
So, when you have the character of God in your life and you're not afraid of every little bit of trouble that comes along and you can stay happy in the midst of it because you know that God is a good God... What is the point in us singing all these beautiful songs about how good God is and everybody clapping and cheering if we're not gonna really apply that when we have trouble in our life? Can I give you a piece of advice? Take your own advice. I was goin' through something one time, and I asked God, "I don't know what to do, God. What should I do"? He said, "Do what you'd tell somebody else to do".
You know the answer. There's only one thing that keeps us from doing it, and that is it hurts. And we wanna be comfortable. I love Psalm 27:13, David said, "What, what would have become of me had I not believed to see the Lord's goodness in the land of the living"! I love that. You're gonna see good things in heaven, but we don't have to wait till we get there to see good things. Look at me and let me tell you something, God wants you to enjoy your life. He doesn't want you being upset about something all the time and afraid of something all the time. He wants you to be blessed. He wants you to have your needs met. He wants you to have an overabundance so you can be a blessing to everybody else.
God told Abraham, "I will bless you and I will make you a blessing". Don't just want things for yourself, wanna to do things for other people. I said last night, and I'll say it again. I've kind of come up with this really easy definition for spiritual maturity. I believe that it's wanting what God wants more than you want what you want. Hmm, it's really funny when I'm up here and I say things, listening to who claps, and how loud the claps are, and who looks at me like... And the Bible says that we're gonna suffer for doing the right thing. Well... Bummer. 1 Peter 3:14, "But even in case you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, [you are] blessed (happy, and to be envied). Don't dread or be afraid of their threats, nor be disturbed [by their opposition]".
You know, it's very difficult when we're doing what's right and not getting a right result to endure it. But let me tell you something. You can outlast the devil. Do you hear me? You can outlast the devil. You just tell him, "I'm not quitting, I'm not giving up. I will not quit. I will not quit". Are you determined to live a godly life? You gotta be determined. Are you willing to make sacrifices to live a godly life? Are you willing to let your flesh suffer in order to please God?
Now, you notice that wasn't as loud. In Matthew 5 talks, about how you're blessed when you suffer for righteousness sake and you go through things because you're doing the right thing. You know, doing the right thing is no guarantee that everybody's gonna love you. Matter of fact, I can pretty much guarantee you if you make a real commitment to God, there's gonna be some people, probably people that you love and care about that are gonna come against you. Amen? You know, we can grow to the point where we don't really care that much what people think. I mean, I wanna be liked, but my job is not really to make people like me, it's to obey God. Amen?
And I will admit there were times in my life, even as a Christian, where I would disobey God in order to keep people liking me. You can't be a people pleaser and a God pleaser. 1 Corinthians 4:3-4, Paul said, "[as for me personally] it matters very little to me that I should be put on trial by you [on this point], or that you or any other human tribunal should investigate and question and cross-question me. I don't even put myself on trial and judge myself". Wow, I love that. "I'm not conscious of anything against myself," he said, "I feel blameless: but I'm not even vindicated before God on that account. It's the Lord [himself] who examines and judges me". God is my judge, not anybody else. You know when you're really free? When you no longer have a need to impress anybody.