Joyce Meyer - Developing the Character of God - Part 6
Just because something bad happens to a good person, doesn't mean that God is still not good. Bad things happen to good people, and we don't always understand it, but I will tell you this, when bad things happen to a good person, if that good person can continue to act the way God wants them to act, it says more to the world than anything else. Matthew 5:29 and 30 says, "If your right eye serves as a trap to ensnare you or is an occasion for you to stumble and sin, pluck it out and throw it away". Whoa! Sounds a little violent. "It's better if you lose one of your members than if your whole body be cast into hell". Uh-oh. "And if your right hand serves as a trap to ensnare you or is an occasion for you to stumble and sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It's better that you lose one of your members than that your entire body should be cast into hell".
Well, you know what, he's basically saying here? You gotta deal with sin violently. I'll just make up a practical example. Let's just say that you're a woman, and your husband doesn't pay you the attention that he should. You're hurtin', you're a little lonely. You work at a place and there's a real good-looking man there that you're a little bit attracted to, and he starts to flirt with you a little bit. You can feel the temptation. Now, this is when you need to start making some decisions. He brings you donuts on Monday morning. Come on, the devil knows how to work you. Do you hear me? And you just keep being more, and more, and more tempted. Then he asks you, if you wanna have some coffee after work. Oh, honey.
You say, "Well, I just can't get over this. I'm just so tempted". I'll tell you what you do, you quit that job as fast as you can, and you go get yourself another job, where all the men are ugly and fat. That's what it means, "If your right eye offends you, pluck it out". I'm serious. You gotta...If you cannot resist the temptation before you let it go too far, you get away from it. Do you hear me? Now, in John 15:1 and 2, "I am the true vine, and my father is the vinedresser. Any branch in me..." That means if you're in Christ. He's the vine, you're a branch coming off the vine. "Any branch in me that does not bear fruit or [that stops bearing], he cuts away (trims off, and takes away): and he cleanses and repeatedly prunes every branch that continues to bear fruit, to make it bear more and richer and more excellent fruit".
So, I figured this out a long time ago, you're pruned if you do, and pruned if you don't. There's no gettin' out of pruning. Now, to really get this, you have to understand what pruning is. So, I've studied pruning. And bushes need to be trimmed, need to be pruned about five times a year, they say, to be really, really healthy. That means you've gotta cut 'em back, to get 'em to grow further. And what God especially wants to prune off, is dead stuff. So, maybe you've got some friends in your life that need to be pruned off. Maybe you got some TV shows that need to be pruned off. Don't put your head down and hold your head, like you got a headache.
Come on, when I said that, this is what I saw. Now, remember we're asking God to show us truth about us. Now, I watch television, but I usually watch it with remote control in my hand, and I am so good at fast-forwarding. We just need to be careful what we're looking at, what we're listening to. So, dead things. If you've got a friend that you go have coffee with once a week, and all you do is sit there and gossip, that's a dead thing, it's a dead relationship. Or dead works, if you're trying to change your family, it's a dead work, it's not gonna work. Dead works are works that don't work. Dead works is us trying to do what only God can do. We wanna work the works of God, but the Bible tells us to stay away from dead works.
There are things that keep you busy and produce no fruit. Everybody today is busy. "Well, brother, I haven't seen you for a year, how have you been"? "I've been busy". I don't tell people that anymore, I say, "I've been bearing fruit". So, you can kinda see that something's wrong with this. That one's gettin' kind of droopy. It's starting to die. Well, the best thing to do is get 'em before they're completely dead. Now, God has a variety of tools. Maybe he'll just get after you with these little ones. Might not hurt as much: I don't know. Let's... Whoop. Now, that'll come back. Man, we're gonna get rid of this. I hope. Matt, you told me I could do this. And I even work out, come here and do it. I can't do it. Now, got all this cute little fruit.
Do you know that if you have a fruit tree, a peach tree, they say that the first year or two, when it gets these cute little peaches on it, you're better off if you pull 'em off? And oh, it's so hard because you want that little fruit. But if you got enough sense to give up those little ones, wait a couple of years, you'll get some great big, luscious ones. That's why we need to not be in such a big hurry about using our gifts that God's given us. We have people on the platform that have gifts, and they don't have any integrity. Come on, are you with me? We need to grow in God, before we're put in front of people. Hello! We had a beautiful tree in our front yard, and it had little branches that would come off of the bottom of the trunk, and they're called sucker branches. How many of you know what I'm talking about?
Okay. Well, you know, they were actually really cute. They were just cute. But if you didn't cut 'em off, they would sap the life out of the tree. Well, some of you've got some sucker branches in your life. You got people that are sucking the life right out of you. People that wanna just sit and tell you their troubles all the time, and they don't have any intentions of doing anything about 'em, they just wanna tell you about 'em all the time. Come on. Don't hang out with stingy people: hang out with givers. Don't hang out with people that gossip about everybody else, because if they're talking about them to you, they're talking about you to them. Come on, pick some friends that are gonna make you come up higher, not ones that are gonna drag you down lower.
Now, I don't imagine that molding or that pruning feels very good, but it does get the job done. Pruning removes dead and dying branches, allowing room for new growth. Well, we had this pretty, I thought this tree was pretty, and one day Dave decided to have it pruned. And when I came home and saw that tree, I almost cried. I mean, it was absolutely horrible looking. But I tell you what, a year later, that was the most beautiful tree. It came back so much bigger, and so much fuller and prettier. Are you willing to let God prune your life, so you can come back fuller and better? I mean, are you really? Would you be willing to say to God, "God you can prune everything off my life that's not pleasing to you". Hmm, not so sure.
You know, some of the stuff I'm saying that you're saying, "Amen," to, I don't know if you really know what you're saying. Cuz I'mma tell you, some of the stuff I'm talking about's gonna hurt, before it feels good. But I'll tell you what, if you don't go through this, this is temporary pain that will bring you into higher levels of glory, if you don't go through this, you'll have permanent pain. How many of you are just tired of having to get upset every time somebody says the least little thing to you that hurts your feelings? How many of you are tired of getting mad every time you don't get your way? I'm glad I got three honest people in this room.
Alright, alright, let me just say it like this, how many are tired of you, of not having peace? Alright. How many wanna have joy? Alright. Well, see, I watched my husband and he had so much peace, and I was upset about something all the time. And at first, I thought he just, you know, I'd tell him, "You just don't care". Maybe we wouldn't have enough money. I mean, God always took care of us, but I'm like, "Come out here and look at this, we don't have any", the calculator and the bills and they never matched. And he'd be playing with the kids in the other room, laying on the floor letting 'em put rollers in his hair... And I was like, "Will you come out here and do something?!" He said, "What do you want me to do? We're tithing, we're giving, we're obeying God. He will take care of us. He always does".
And here's why it's important for you to be stable, in front of people that need to see Jesus through you. He kept being, he was so peaceful, that I finally got hungry for what he had. Are you with me? And I'll tell you something else he did that was very helpful to me, and I didn't think so at the time, it actually made me mad, but he would not let me make him unhappy. You know, unhappy people wanna make other people unhappy. Did you know that? Don't be co-dependent on some unhappy person in your life. Don't wait to see what kind of mood they're in, before you can decide what kind of mood you're gonna be in. You make your mind up that you're gonna have a good day, before you even find out what kind of day they're gonna have.
Come on. And it was hard, it made me so mad that I was upset, and he was happy. But you know what? Eventually, and this is what I'm telling you. You don't even...You can witness all the time and never open your mouth. Dave, staying happy when I was doing my best to make him miserable, finally made me stop and take stock, and start wanting what he had. See, if you can be stable in front of your friends, no matter what's going on in your life. If you can have joy, no matter what's going on in your life. If you can have peace, no matter what's going on in your life, people are gonna start wanting what you have. We are supposed to be salt, make people thirsty. Come on, and light that penetrates the darkness. Got it?
Well, I finally, and it was a big thing for me, I thought, "Okay, I am done being upset all the time. God, I want peace, no matter what it takes". And the first thing God had me do was start taking an inventory of what my peace stealers were. What were the things that got me upset? What were the things that caused me to lose my peace? And then I systematically had to cut those things out of my life, pruning. See, if you wanna have peace, real peace, then you better start finding out what gets you upset all the time. And maybe it's just selfishness. So, maybe you go into a college course with God on dying to self. Oh, I got lots of material on that. How many of you are understanding what I'm saying here? Okay, this scripture ministers to me, so I'm gonna minister to myself for a minute.
Galatians 4:19, Paul said, "My little children", I'm talking to you. "I am again suffering birth pangs until Christ is completely and permanently formed (and molded) within you". Remember I told you last night, in June I'll be 80 years old, and you don't know how tired I'll be tomorrow. But I ain't quittin'. I'm not, you know why? Because I can't. As long as it's still helping you, as long as the anointing is still there, as long as people are being saved, and lives are being changed, I don't need to go get in the recliner and eat donuts all day. Audience female: I love you, Joyce! Well, I love you, too. If I didn't, I wouldn't be doing this. I love you and I love God. Paul said, "I'm suffering birth pangs," trying to birth something in you.
Have you ever seen a woman giving birth without a spinal block? I tell you, when I had my kids, it wasn't pretty. We didn't have epidurals, or anything else. You didn't know what you were gonna get until it popped out. There were no... My last son weighed 9 lbs 15 ozs, and he was 23 and a quarter inches long. I was baby from here to here, and when he would get his toes stuck in my ribs, I thought "Grrr"! And now, he's the CEO of our ministry. Our son, David's, the CEO of all the missions. I don't know what I'd do without those two boys. Some of the ones that you think are gonna kill you, are gonna turn out to be the greatest benefit to you later on. Lay your life down for Jesus. Ask him what you can do for him. And you don't have to go into full-time ministry to do that. You don't have to stop having fun. You don't have to become like super-duper spiritual, you can just be a normal person and serve God in your everyday life. Start obeying him on a higher level. Change is a process that takes time.
Let's look at Deuteronomy 8:1 and 2, "All the commandments which I command you this day you shall be watchful to do, that you may live and multiply and go in and possess the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give you. And you shall [earnestly] remember all the way which the Lord your God led you these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you to prove you, and to know what was in your [mind and] heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not". Boy, do I love that. Okay, now, maybe you've heard this, but if you haven't you need to, and if you have, you can hear it again, it's called, "The teacup story".
"A couple went into an antique shop, and they saw this beautiful, beautiful, magnificent, little teacup, sitting high up on a shelf, and they fell in love with that teacup. And they said, 'we have got to have that teacup'. They were admiring the teacup, and all of a sudden, the teacup began to talk to them. And it said, 'You know, I've not always been like this. There was a time when nobody would have wanted me. There was a time when I was not attractive at all. You see there was a time in my life when I was just an old, hard, gray lump of clay. And the master potter came along, and he picked me up one day, and he began to pat me and reshape me. And I said, "Stop it! What are you doing? That hurts! Aah, leave me alone". And he simply said, "Not yet". And then he put me on this wheel, and it began to spin me around, and around, and around, and around. And I got so dizzy, I couldn't even hardly see what I was going anymore. I thought I was losing it. Everything was spinning around and around, and I felt sick to my stomach. And I said, "Let me off of here"! And he simply said, "Not yet". Finally, the day come when I had taken on another shape, and all that spinning around, finally gave me a better shape, and all that patting, and molding, and squeezing, and pinching gave me another shape. And all of a sudden, he put me into this furnace! And it was called "The first firing". And it was so hot in there! Oh, I could not believe how hot it was. I thought, "I can't stand this, I'm gonna die. Get me out of here!"'"
Have any of you ever said to God, "I can't take any more of this, it's killing me"? Honestly, that's exactly what it's doing. It's killing the self in you, so the Christ in you, can rise to the top. There's a few of you that understand me. Come on. "'Don't you love me? Don't you love me? Are you just gonna leave me in here?' You see, the oven door had glass in it and the master would just look in that glass, and had this big old grin on his face, and this certain look on his face, but he wouldn't let me out. He just wouldn't let me out". And you know what? I felt like that sometimes, I'm in the middle of this, and God is not gonna let me out.
"'...And he would just smile and say, "Not yet". Finally, the oven door opened, and he took me out and set me on a shelf. And I thought, "Whew, man, I'm glad that's over". Then he began to paint me all over with this stinky paint, changing my color from gray to this pretty blue that I am now. And I said, "This stuff stinks. It's choking me! I don't like this smell, stop it, stop it, stop it, stop it, stop it". And he just said, "Not yet". Then he put me back in a second oven! And it's called "The second firing," and it was twice as hot as the first oven. And I thought, "Now, I will die, I'm sure of it. This is the end of me, it will finish me off. Get me out of here. I can't stand it! Really, I'm telling you the truth, I can't stand it, I mean this is gonna kill me! I'm serious, get me out of here"! And he would just look through the glass and say, "Not yet". Then one day the door finally opened, and he took me out, and he put me up here on this shelf to let me cool off. And after I cooled off, one day he handed me this mirror and I looked at myself and I could not believe how beautiful I was. I could not believe how I had changed. Why, I didn't look anything at all like that old, gray clay that I started out to be. Now, I'm this beautiful, little, delicate teacup, and everybody wants me now. But there was a time in my life when nobody wanted me, nobody liked me, nobody paid any attention to me, they just kicked me around, and walked all over me. But now, I'm special, but I wasn't always that way'".
Amen. How many of you get it?