Joyce Meyer - Developing the Character of God - Part 4
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. There are benefits to doing what's right. Colossians 3:23 and 24 says, "Whatever your task is, work at it heartily as done for the Lord, not for man". You know, maybe you work in the nursery every Sunday and nobody's thanked you for three years. Well, that's wrong, they should. But just keep in mind, "God I'm doing this for you, not to get thanked". Amen? I keep doing what I'm doing for God. I'm not doing it for any other reason. People ask me all the time, "Have you thought about when you're going to retire"?
No. I guess when I drop dead. I don't know. What else am I supposed to do with myself? This is all I've done for 45 years I don't know how to do anything else. "Knowing [with all certainty] that it is from the Lord [and not from men] that you will receive your inheritance which is your [real] reward". Also, let me just say this. One of the powerful things that you can do... Now listen to me, is do what's right when nobody's looking. If you don't remember anything but that, you ought to write that down. Do what's right when nobody's looking because God is always looking. And that's when you know for sure you're not doing it for man or for applause or even to feel good about yourself. Live before an audience of one.
Do you ever wonder if you're qualified to serve God? A lot of people think they're not. Well, you're gonna find out that most of the people that God chooses were people that were a mess. Amen? In order to live right, you have to learn to think right. Pay attention to what you're thinking. You say, "Well, I can't help what I think". That is the biggest lie from the pit of hell. One of the greatest Revelations to me is in that book, "Battlefield of the mind," I found out I could do my own thinking. You can cast down one thought and you can choose another one. You can actually think things that will make you happy or you can think things that will make you miserable.
For example, when you're having a problem, I mean, like, say a really bad problem. The Bible says that when David was depressed, he meditated on times when he'd had victory in his life. So, I was thinking this morning, in 1989 I went to the doctor for a regular checkup, got a mammogram and the doctor called back and said, "We found something on your mammogram. We need to do another one". They did another one, it was still there. He said, "We need to do a biopsy". Well, I just thought it would be nothing. Doctor called back and said, "You have cancer". Well, that was a bad day. But you know what? After having the mastectomy and then they wanted me to go to the oncologist, you know, that means radiation and chemotherapy and "I'm preaching and what am I gonna do"? And "My gosh, we're gonna lose the ministry. What's gonna happen"?
And I remember when the oncologist looked at me and she said, "None of the cancer cells have gotten to your lymph nodes. You need no treatment". That was a good day! So, see, it was a bad day when I got the bad report, but 32 years later, every year I get a mammogram, and every year they say, "It's clean". It was also a good day. I got a mammogram, and they said, "We see something we don't like. We want to do a pet scan," which is they scan your whole body to see if there's any cancer anywhere in your body. And so, they got that back, and they said, "It's very interesting. We found some things on your spine that looks like it was metastasized cancer that has healed".
That was a good day! Come on, how many of you have had good days? Well, when you're having a bad day, don't just focus on the bad day, think about the good day. That's what David did when he was depressed. He meditated on the good things. Romans 12 says, "Don't be conformed to this world, [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind". In other words, learn to think like God would think. How long did it take you to get the wrong thought patterns and mindsets and attitudes? And how long is it gonna take to change 'em?
If you wanna have the character of God, get ready to be patient. You could hear a message once a week on your mind and it wouldn't be too often. And once a week on your mouth, that wouldn't be too often either. Develop the habit of meditating on the Word of God. You know, Christians have gotten afraid of that word because the devil has misused it. And meditation, you hear connected with Eastern religions and things that are not correct so much, but it was God's original idea. The devil never has original ideas, he just steals God's stuff and perverts it. Amen?
Mark 4:24, this is so good if we would do this, "Be careful what you are hearing. The measure [of thought and study] that you give [to the truth that you hear] will be the measure [of virtue and knowledge] that comes back to you, and more [besides] will be given to you who hear". So, you know what that means? You can sit here all weekend and if you walk out of here, and don't think one thing more about anything I said... So, at least grab on to four or five things I say, write 'em down or something, and go home and think about 'em. Remember that sign. Remember when you're having a bad day to think about some of the good days you've had in the past. Remember, "This too shall pass. It's going to end up good. God wants me to act like a Christian". Amen?
This is not about just going to church and having a bumper sticker on your car. It's about behavior. And there's all kinds of great scriptures about meditating on the word. I'm not gonna read all of 'em. Philippians 4:8 says, "For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, worthy of reverence, honorable, seemly, just, pure, lovely, lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there's any virtue and excellence, if there's anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of those things [fix your mind on them]". Develop a beautiful mind. If you wanna make yourself happy just think about beautiful things. Surround yourself with beauty. Amen? Always believe the best of every person.
Wow. I got myself in trouble last week because I had a couple of situations where I didn't believe the best. I got suspicious. All it did was just get me rattled. I lost my peace, got into a judgy attitude, had to repent. And whose fault was it? Mine. It was my own fault. I know better. I'm so grateful that God is a merciful and a forgiving God. Amen? Aren't you glad for new starts? I'm so glad for new starts. Choose your own thoughts. Think positive and hopeful thoughts. Don't sit at the lunch table with all the grouchy people that just do nothing but talk about everything that's wrong with the company you work for. Go somewhere by yourself and thank God you got a job. Don't just meditate on everything that's wrong with the person you're married to. If you don't want 'em, some lonely person'll take 'em. Warts and all. Amen?
And then Psalm 143 is where David was depressed. Let's just read it, 3, 4 and 5, "For the enemy has pursued and persecuted my soul, he has crushed my life down to the ground: he has made me to dwell in dark places as one who have been long dead. Therefore is my spirit overwhelmed and faints within me [wrapped in gloom]: my heart within my bosom grows numb". He sounds like he was in a mess, right? "I remember the days of old: I meditate on all your doings: I ponder the works of your hand". What was his answer to the mess he was in? "I'm having a bad day, I'm gonna think about the good ones". Amen?
Meditation is a deep contemplation. It's rolling a thought over and over in your mind. Just take a little time to just, you know, I mean, I thought so much about 2 Corinthians 5:21, "He that knew no sin, became sin: that we might be made the righteousness of God in Christ". I had a hard time getting a hold of that one. I had information, but I needed Revelation. I needed it to be Revelation. You know, I was talking earlier about not thinking more highly of yourself than you ought to, and I took the trouble to look this up this morning, so I'm gonna read it to you. You've got to be careful about thinking more highly of yourself than you ought to. Ask God to help you keep a humble mind. It doesn't mean you have to think badly about yourself.
"For you say", this is Revelation 3:17, "For you say, I'm rich: I've prospered and grown wealthy, and I am in need of nothing: and you do not realize and understand that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked". Whoo! Y'all want me to read that again? I think I should. Well, before that, he says, "I'd rather you be hot or cold, because if you're lukewarm, I'll spew you out of my mouth". So, some of you need to turn up the heat. "You say, I'm rich: I've prospered, I've grown wealthy, and I am in need of nothing". Whoo, that's dangerous! "And you don't realize and understand that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked". Whoo.
Hey, the Bible's a good book. When you make a decision, a right decision, stick with it when the heat comes on. You remember the boys in the fiery furnace, they went in and it got turned up seven times hotter than normal. You think you're doing good, you think the devil can't turn the heat up? He can. What do you think it costs me to preach like this? I get tested pretty much on everything I preach. It's just like, part of the thing now, you know. "Any person that knows what is right to do but does not do it, to him it is sin". Don't just decide to lose weight and then change your mind when you get hungry.
Do you know how easy it is to go on a diet Sunday night after dinner? What happens Monday afternoon about three? Or don't just decide to get out of debt until you see something you wanna buy. Let me just say a word about debt. You might not want me to say a word about debt, but I will. First of all, you should never, ever buy more than what you can pay for. The Bible says if you borrow and can't pay it back, it's evil in the sight of the Lord. And pay your bills on time, don't pay 'em late. And if you're head over heels in debt, then take about a year or two, fast from buying stuff. And take every extra penny you can get and put it on your debt.
Do you know that you can be debt free? Come on, could I get somebody to believe that? You can actually be debt free. And then you can be patient enough to save for what you want instead of going and getting it now. Do you know that our ministry does not have and never has had any debt? And I have to tell you, it was Dave, not me. 'cause I was impatient. I would have probably borrowed the money to build the building we've got, but Dave said, "Nope". Eighty-six percent this last year, after our audit, eighty-six percent of everything that was given went right back out for ministry.
And I'm not saying that it's sinful to borrow money. I'm just saying that you can be debt free. But see, a lot of people don't even think that way. They just automatically think, "Well, that's just not possible. That's just not possible". And if you buy a house and you start out making house payments, put extra money every month on the principle and you'd be surprised how much it saves you in interest. You can get it paid off twice as fast as what you would have. And if you're smart, let's say you're in your 20s, everything you make, save 10% of it.
When you get to be my age, you won't have to be worrying about anything. Oh, my. You know, young people, today, when they get married, they think they should own their own home, go on vacation twice a year and if they can't go, they borrow money and do it. Well, what does the Bible say about discipline? Who wants to know? Hebrews 12:11, "For the time being no discipline brings joy, but seems grievous and painful"! "But afterward it yields a peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it [a harvest of fruit which consists in righteousness] conforming to God's will in purpose, thought, and action". Discipline brings pain before it brings pleasure. But it will bring pleasure.
Now, you know, some of you guys, you might look at Dave and think, "Well, I wish I looked like him". Well, he's been exercising for 60 years. He didn't get it accidentally. When I finally started working out, I mean, I was so sore, I had to fall on the toilet and believe God to get off. Oh, my gosh, I thought, "This is horrible". It was bad. I love Hebrews 2. It says, "Look away [from all that will distract] unto Jesus, who is the author and the source of our belief. It's also its finisher".
Now, listen to this. "Jesus, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God". It said "He put up with the cross because of the joy that he knew that was on the other side of it". That's what I'm talking about today. I'm talking about being willing to go through something hard and stick with it because of the victory and the joy that you know you're gonna have on the other side. Do you know why so many Christians aren't happy? Because they won't do that. And maybe haven't even been taught to do that.
I told you last night we're not having dessert this weekend. And I'm not talkin' about goin' and gettin' a cookie, I'm talkin' about the dessert of the word. We're having meat. Paul said "You can't give babies meat". The truth sets you free. The Holy Spirit is given to us and he is the spirit of truth and he ministers truth to us. Let me remind you again, ask God to show you the truth about yourself. Not about somebody else, about yourself. God's word is truth and anything that doesn't agree with it is wrong. Reasoning, give up reasoning, stop trying to figure everything out in your life. You meditate on the word, not meditate on your problems.
Romans 8:6 says, "The mind of the flesh is sense and reason without the Holy Spirit". It's not thinking with the mind of Christ, which you have, by the way. 1 Corinthians 2:16 says "You have the mind of Christ". And it brings death. The mind of the flesh brings death, not like the kind of death where you're not breathing, but all the miseries that arise from sin. But be a doer of the word, obey its message, not just a listener. Don't make excuses for the wrong things that you do. Adam and Eve sinned, and boy, they blamed everybody. Adam even blamed God. He said, "It was the woman you gave me". And eve blamed the devil. "It was that devil, he tempted me". Well, you know, when God visited 'em, they all three got trouble. So many people made excuses for not serving God.
One of my favorite stories in the Bible, and I'm just sorry if you've heard me teach on it, you're just gonna have to put up with it again, is John 5. There was a sick man, an infirm man, who laid by the pool of Bethesda for 38 years, waiting for a miracle. How long have you been waiting for a miracle? There was this pool there, and once a year an angel would come by and stir up the water, and whoever got in the water first received a healing. And he'd been laying there 38 years. And when Jesus saw the man, our wonderful, compassionate, loving Jesus, when he saw the man, he said, "How long have you been in this condition"? And the man said, "Thirty-eight years".
Jesus knew how long he'd been in that condition, but he said it to wake the man up. How long have you been going around and around the same mountain? Mmm... Well, it's time to just climb over it and get on with it. And you know what Jesus said to the man? I love this, "Do you really wanna get well"? So, can I say that to you today? Do you really want to have your broken heart healed? Do you really wanna stop being afraid of everything? You really wanna be used by God?