Joyce Meyer - The Greatest Change of All - Part 2
When God starts changing you, it always means that you're gonna have to let go of something and take hold of something. You getting' this? You're gonna have to let go of something, and it may be something you wanna keep. And maybe God's gonna want you to stay some place that you wanna leave or leave some place that you wanna stay. I don't know. Maybe you don't go to church here, you're going to a dead church somewhere. You're not learning anything, but your friends all go there so you don't wanna leave and make mama mad and grandma mad if you leave, so. You'll just stay there and stay spiritually stupid all your life, you know.
I gotta book here that I'm reading on Satan. I decided I'm gonna write a book on the devil. "The Devil is Real". There are so many good things in this book, but one of the things he says is "The devil gets to charge before the preacher or before any of the people in the pew". And if you wanna get rid of him, all you gotta do is do nothing but preach legalism and dead orthodoxy from the pulpit and he'll leave and go to a church somewhere where they're really trying to help people. So, maybe, you know, I don't know, maybe God's dealing with you.
You know, "You ain't learning anything here. You need to go to one of those wild, crazy churches, you know, where they actually worship. Put their hands up, maybe dance once in a while," you know. "I'm not gonna go over there and hang out with all those crazy, penny-costals, they..." not that you have to go to a Pentecostal church, but I don't care what kind of church you go to, but there's got to be some life in it. And what you're hearing preached should be changing you. And if all you can do is sit there and just be comfortable and think "I'm wonderful right where I'm at".
My daughter shared an article with me last week. I haven't read the whole thing yet, but she told me part of it. And this pastor left the pastorate after 20 years. And he said he left because he finally realized that the people he was preaching to did not want to change. They only wanted to be told that they were lovely right where they were at. And I like to make people a little bit uncomfortable when I preach. I like to make people squirm just a little tiny bit. I mean, I hope you have some kind of conviction from my preaching. We need to go to church because we wanna hear something that's gonna change us, that's gonna make us more like Christ. Romans 8:29 says, "We are predestined by God to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ".
Now, predestined doesn't mean it's automatically gonna happen. It means that's God's will. He's made his mind up, "This is my decision: I want you to be changed into the image of Jesus Christ". Well, that's gonna take some changing and some work. And so, God says, "Well, you can't do it. I'm gonna give you the Holy Spirit and he'll do it". But it's not gonna happen because we just stay comfortable all the time. It's hard to let go of things that you don't wanna let go of. Maybe there's some people in your life that you need to not be hanging out with anymore. Maybe you have lunch twice a week at work with a gossiper, and all they do is crab and complain about everything at work. You don't need that. You don't need to just sit and let somebody dump their garbage in you.
"Well, I don't wanna eat by myself". Well, why not? You might be better company than the people you're hanging out with. I like myself. I get along pretty well with myself now. How many of you know that you hang out with the wrong people, they can poison you and keep you right where you're at, keep you from growing in God. Listen, if you wanna get over being stingy, go hang out with a bunch of givers. Hang out with people that are positive, not people that are negative. "Well, I don't wanna hurt their feelings". I'm serious. We need to say, "God, what do you want to change in my life"? And then just cut it off. Just let it hurt. You can't change without some kind of pain. The crucifixion of the flesh hurts. I'm not gonna lie to you, it hurts.
I remember laying on the floor holding on to the legs of my desk when God was trying to get me to be a submissive wife. You know, after being sexually abused by men, you have no idea how hard it was for me to trust a man to make decisions for me. And I just said, "God, please, tie me to the altar, something, but, I want your will, but it hurts so bad, I don't feel like I can stand it". He knew how desperately I wanted to be like Jesus, but nobody was teaching me how to be. I'm trying to teach you how you can change. Amen? I don't wanna be one of those kind of preachers that just tells you what to do and you go home and think it's a good idea but have no idea how to apply it in your life.
So, I'm just telling you, go home, spend some time with God every morning before you do anything else. I don't care if it's only five minutes: start your day with God. I mean, I would rather you spend time with God than watch me on TV. If you gotta choose between me and him, choose him. And just say, "Fill me with your Holy Spirit, God. I wanna be what you want me to be". Don't be satisfied just to be a nominal compromising, "Well, I go to church". Well, I can go sit in my garage all day and I'll never be a car. I mean, you can...Just because you sit in the church, doesn't make you a Christian. A Christian is a follower of Christ, a Christ follower. "If anybody will come after me and be my disciple, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me".
How many messages do you hear in your church about denying self? I mean, we need good, sound, solid doctrine, but once you get that, you need to learn how to live and act like a human being. Thomas Fuller said, "All things are difficult before they're easy". 2 Corinthians 5:20-21. "We are Christ's ambassadors", and I like the Amplified translation of this better, so I'm gonna ask 'em to put that up. It says, "We are [Christ's personal representatives] and he is making his appeal to the world through us". 2 Corinthians 5:20. "So we are Christ's ambassadors, God making his appeal as it were through us. We [as Christ's personal representatives] beg you for his sake to lay hold of his divine favor and be reconciled to God".
God is making his appeal to the world through us. Wow. You don't have to have a reverend in front of your name to be in ministry. Everyone, if you're a Christian, you're in ministry. You're in full-time ministry, because that means everywhere you go, you represent Christ. You get to be nice to people. Loving, forgiving. I have a story that I tell that I think makes a good point. We had done a conference in st. Louis, and I'm always tired after the conferences, and back then, I was doing five sessions, not three. And we went to a restaurant to eat, and it was very crowded, and we had made a reservation, and then when we got there, they told us they didn't take reservations. I'm like, "But we made a reservation". "Well, we don't take reservations". "Well, why did you take our reservation"? So, you can feel your blood starting to, so, then you gotta go...How many of you can feel it rising? That's when you've gotta push it down.
So, we had to wait 45 minutes to get a table. And then, we gave a girl our drink order and she came with this huge tray balancing it with all these coffee, water, tea, and all this stuff on it. And she hit the wall and dumped the whole thing on Dave. On his nice three-piece suit. Dave was so sweet. He said, "That's okay. Don't worry about it. Wasn't your fault. It's crowded in here". He even called the manager over and said, "I don't want her to get in trouble. It wasn't her fault". And I'm, maybe, kinda wanting to say a few other things, but I thought just, "Shut up". I'm not quite as nice as he is. And so, she came back then with the second set of drinks and you could tell she'd been crying. And she she said, "I'm so sorry". She leaned over and looked at me and she said, "I was so nervous when I saw you because I just started watching you on TV". And I thought inside, "Thank you, Jesus. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, that I did not have a fit in here. Thank you".
And see, that's what happens. You put a bumper sticker on your car and everybody's waiting to see. "Eh, we're gonna find out". We are being watched. And the world yells, "Hypocrite, hypocrite, hypocrite"! "I don't go to church because it's full of hypocrites". Well, why don't you come on in and change us all then? Or be a hypocrite with us. Whatever. And then verse 21, a life-changing verse for me. "He that knew no sin became sin". He didn't just take our sin, he became sin. Can you imagine how awful that had to be for our holy Jesus? That we might be made the righteousness of God in Christ. He took our sin and gave us his righteousness. So, you are right with God, not because you do everything right, but because you're in Christ.
Okay, so let me show you how it works. Amanda, you can bring my stuff out here. Yoo-hoo. Okay. I have to take my coat off: you get to see my muscles. I work out. Look at that. Of course, I still got some of that goin' on too. Okay, now, this is the way we were. Just rag, chains, in bondage, life's a mess. How many of you this pretty much...? You find you. Well, Jesus comes into our life, and he takes this, and he gives us his righteousness. But there's a problem. It's too big for us. Now, this is a good lesson if you get it. So, we got it, but it don't fit. So, guess what? We get to grow into it. And every year that you're in Christ, it fits you a little better and a little better and a little better. But while you're growing into it, you can still say it's mine. Because it's yours. You got it. Everybody say, "I got it".
See, you need to start saying what the word says about you. Thanks, Amanda. You need to start saying what the word says about you and believing what the word says before you see it. How many of you think you can start doing that? Now, it's gonna be a big change. That will be a big change. And the devil will tell you, "You're crazy". Oh, yeah, he's very busy. You think you're busy? Let me tell ya. In here, in this book, it says, "You think you're busy? The devil is a busy character". He is busy. He is always working. Oh, there's so many good things in here. I dare not try to get into all of 'em. It talks about the church, today. And when I say "The church," I'm not talking about this church, or the church down the street, or your church. I'm talking about every church everywhere, "The church".
Church's success should not be measured by the number of people that are there, by the number of campuses you have, by the money you have, by the great choir, by the eloquent speaker, by the beauty of the building: it should be measured by our souls being saved and are the people in the pew becoming more holy all the time. And that's it. That's what determines whether a church is successful or not. Is it anointed? Is the presence of God there? "Holiness" is not an outdated word. There is a heaven, there is a hell, there is a devil. We have authority over the devil, but we have to walk in it. He doesn't have to run our life, but we've gotta get smart enough to recognize him.
And let me tell you, you have never seen anybody, any slicker or trickier than the devil. You'll have trouble and he'll get you to blame it on God. There's nothing he delights in more than to get a Christian mad at God thinking God is the source of their problems. God is not your problem. He's your answer. Amen? God didn't break my leg in the closet. I fell and broke my leg because I was trying to answer my phone. Here, I'm on a walker and my phone's ringing back here, and I go... Broke my leg. So, God didn't break my leg, but he healed it. You know, the Bible tells us to put on stuff and put off stuff. I love that. It says to "Put on Christ, put on the new man, put off the old man, put on the full armor of God".
Well, how do you put on spiritual things? It says, "Put on love". How do you put on love? You want me to tell you how you do it? You take time in the morning, and you sit, and you think about being loving that day. And you ask God to help you. And you think about people that you're gonna be around and how you can build them up and encourage them. And you think about, "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he". Come on, you put things on by thinking about them. I have never yet walked in my closet and had my clothes jump on my body. I think about what I'm gonna put on. Sometimes, I'll pick out two or three things and hang them on hangers, and I might try on something and if it don't look good then I'll take it off and try on somethin' else.
Well, some Christians need to look in the mirror, because they got on some attitudes that are pretty ugly. Let's talk about one of my favorite things for a minute. I wonder how many people are in here that have somebody in your life that you need to forgive for something. Probably, I mean, unless you guys are better here, in Louisiana, than the rest of the world, probably about 70 to 80 percent. Like I said, I've been doing this a long time. And the devil gains more ground in people's lives through unforgiveness than through any other single thing. You can't have a right relationship with God with unforgiveness in your heart.
"Well, you don't know what they did to me". It doesn't matter. Whatever anybody's done to you, doesn't even come close to what we've done to Jesus. He's not asking us to do anything that he didn't do for us. Amen? Not only did God tell me that I had to forgive my father who abused me and my mother who knew it, and let him, my dad sexually abused me for about 15 years on a regular basis. When I got old enough, he used me as his mistress. He stole my childhood. He stole my innocence. He had me so full of fear that I was paralyzed by it. And it's taken me the better part of 40 years to overcome all that stuff. But God told me, "Forgive 'em" and not only forgive 'em, he asked me "To take care of them when they got older until they died," and they lived a long time.
When I said "Yes," I didn't think they would live that long. I said, "Yeah, I could do this for two, three, four years," thirteen years! Whoo! Well, I'm just telling you the truth! Go to the nursing home and visit 'em. Pay for everything. Take 'em to doctor's appointments. I'll be honest and tell you not one time did I ever go to that nursing home to visit them that I wanted to go. Listen to me. You don't have to want to do what's right to do it. I think you all, over here, need to hear that. And then, I'm coming over there.
And this includes all of you up there. You don't have to want to do what's right to do it. You don't have to feel like doing what's right to do it. Matter of fact, sometimes, the more it hurts when you're doing what's right, the more powerful it is. Because if you're willing to do what's right while it hurts, come on. I didn't wanna do that. Oh, but I tell you what, if you ever want to get the devil back for what he's done to you, just go be good to somebody that hurt you. Come on. That's all you gotta do is just go be good to somebody that hurts you. Forgive and get good at it. Get quick at it. Forgive people while they're still in the process of offending you. Yeah, just have a chat with yourself and say, "Do your best, devil. I'm not getting mad". Eh-uh, been there, done that. Not doing that anymore.