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Joyce Meyer - Do Not Be Offended By Trouble



This morning I wanna talk to you about not being offended by trouble, not being offended at God because your life hasn't turned out the way you thought it should, or you had a rough beginning, or you didn't get to go to college, or you didn't get the raise you wanted, or you've wanted a child and you haven't had one yet, or you've been believin' to be married for 25 years and you're still single, and whatever the case might be. Trials can make us bitter, but they don't have to. They can actually turn out to make us better because a lot of the Bible that we know is just theory until we have to put it to practice in our lives. And when you have to put it to practice, then you really get to know God. You don't just know about God, but you get to know God in a deeper way than what you can ever possibly imagine.

Mark chapter 4 beginning in verse 14, "Therefore the sower sows the word. The ones along the path are those who have the word sown in their hearts, but when they hear, satan comes at once and by force takes away the message which is sown in them". It's good to come and hear the word, but it's even better if you take that word with you and you keep it in your heart and you meditate on it and meditate on it. But it's very like satan the minute you leave to throw something at you that's gonna distract you and get your mind off of what you just almost learned to make sure you don't really learn it and begin to apply it to your life. "The ones along the path are those who when they have the word sown in their hearts, satan comes at once".

Satan is alive and well on planet earth, and he's out there's tryin' to make sure that we don't grow spiritually, amen? He's not happy you're here, but if you're gonna be here he'd like for you not to get anything out of it. "And they have no real root in themselves". Everybody say, "Root". "And so they endure for a little while: and then when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, they immediately are", what? "Offended they become displeased, indignant, resentful, and they stumble and fall away".

Now every one of those words are very interesting words, "Resentment, offense, indignant". You know, that indignation is just a little, "Well, it shouldn't be happening to me. Why is this happening to me"? It's amazing how we're okay if things are happening to everybody else. "They should trust God. Well, just trust God". But when it happens to us, "Well, I don't know why this is happening to me". And what we gotta be very careful about the thing of, well, God, I go to church every week, and I tithe, and I pray, and I do this and that.

Can I tell you something? God doesn't owe us anything, amen? That's just the truth. If we all got what we deserved we'd be in serious trouble. "And they stumble and they fall away". "They stumble and they fall away". You see, the definition of offense means that it's a stumbling block, and it will cause you to fall away. In other words, if you get offense in your heart, then you can no longer grow spiritually, and if you're not growing... See, in God's kingdom there's no such thing as bein' static. You're either goin' forward, or you're gonna drift backwards. You gotta keep goin' forward, or you're gonna drift backwards. You gotta use what you've learned, or pretty soon it will become dormant on the inside of you.

Love has to flow in order for it to really be love. Love comes in from God, it's gotta go out to other people. It comes in, it's gotta go out. This is an active religion. We're to participate and be active. The other definition of the word "Offense" that I read and talked about a lot last night, very interesting, it says, "It's the part of the trap on which the bait hung that lured the victim, the animal victim, into the trap". So let me just say that offense, being offended, whether you're offended at somebody else or whether you're offended by trouble you're having or...

Tonight we're gonna talk about not offending yourself, and that's gonna be an interesting message for all of us. Some of you think, "What? Why in the world would I offend myself"? Well, you're gonna find out. Resentment makes us bitter. Resentment is an inner attitude that basically says, "I am offended that this is happening to me". And who are we offended at? Well, we can either be offended at God, and, you know, most people are not gonna outright say, "I'm mad at God". But I can guarantee you, as sweet as you all are and as amazing as it is that you wanted to come to the house of God on a Friday morning, we have some people, hopefully not many, but some people sitting here today, and when this goes on TV a whole lot more, that are even using trouble that you've had in your life as an excuse not to believe in God.

You know, the biggest majority of people that won't believe, they won't believe because they can't balance out in their mind a God who loves us with the suffering that we see all around the world. Well, suffering is not God's fault. Man did it, not God. God created a world where everything would be wonderful. Didn't last very long, but that was his goal and desire, and he's in the process now of trying to restore that. And so we're gonna have issues in the world. We're gonna have things that we have to go through, and we can't be getting mad at God because everything in our life doesn't go the way that it should. The best time in the world to trust God is when you have trouble. Otherwise it's just some sermon you hear or a few scriptures you've underlined in your Bible. Trust God.

I'm writing a book right now on trusting God, and I tell ya what. After 40 years of bein' in the word I'm convinced that, that simple, little, two-word thing, "Trust God", is the answer to every single problem that you have, everything, everything. But, in order to do that, you gotta believe that God is good. The devil's bad. God's good. And even if God doesn't get us out of something that we know he could get us out of, he lets us stay in it longer than we think we should, we trust God that he's got a plan that's bigger than ours and that ultimately he will not only work a good thing in us, but he will bring us to even a better place in life because we didn't give up on him goin' through problems. Don't get mad at God because he hasn't given you a soft, cushy, comfortable, sweet life.

Now sometimes, and I wanna talk about this for a minute. Sometimes when we're havin' trouble we kinda get offended at other people who are being blessed, and we can even get a little self-righteous attitude, "Well, I'm a better Christian than you are. I mean, I do this and that, and you do blah, blah, blah", you know? Self-righteousness is a sneaky, wicked thing. I actually had to repent twice in the last 2 weeks for being self-righteous, and I just thank God for his conviction. But it was over a situation that somebody that I know sinned, and it was a pretty serious thing, and, man, I had to sit on myself to not just keep thinkin', "Well, can you believe? I just can't believe they... I mean, I would never. I would never. I would never". And, boy, that's when you gotta back off and say, "But for the grace of God there go I".

Now that doesn't mean that we don't deal with things in people's lives and help them come through to repentance and restoration, but we dare not start thinking that we're better than somebody else, or, like in this case, "Well, why am I havin' trouble and you're not"? You just need to leave all that alone. Let me ask you a question. How do you behave when God doesn't pick you? You wanted to be the worship leader, and you didn't even get picked as a backup singer. Matter of fact, they had the audacity to ask you if you'd like to make sure all the worship people have water. Wow, well, that's a test, isn't it? So you can do what? Get offended, get self-righteous, really hurt yourself spiritually, or you can trust God. If this is where you want me right now, God, I'm gonna serve with a smile on my face, and I know if you wanna put me somewhere else you're the only one that can do it in the right time.

Let's think about a few situations in the Bible that just amaze me. You know, God made a covenant with a man named Noah. Noah built the ark, did everything that God asked him to do. When the earth flooded and it was time for Noah to come out of the ark, God said, "I'm gonna make a covenant with you. This will never happen again in the earth. The whole earth will never be destroyed again with a flood, and I'm gonna set this rainbow, this beautiful rainbow in the sky as a promise to you that every time it rains, you see that rainbow, and you know no need to worry. God's not gonna destroy the earth".

Well, Abraham a few chapters later, he's a man who makes a covenant with God. God said, "I'm gonna take care of you. I'm gonna do this and that, and I'm gonna make you wealthy, and you're gonna have land, and blah, blah, blah. And this is what I want you to do as your part. Go circumcise yourself".

Now I don't know about you, but when I get circumcision and somebody else gets rainbows, I'm not real happy about it. I mean, I'm just sayin', you know? Well, you know. I tell ya what. Don't misunderstand this, but God hasn't been just real easy on me. I mean, I don't just get a bunch of, like, miracle deliverances. No, not me. I have to walk them out, and that used to just aggravate me because I would see all these other people, "Well"... But I understand fully now why God made me walk the path that he made me walk because he wants me really to understand and relate experientially to what people are going through so I can give them hope in their battles that they'll make it. So listen to me. Sometimes God will let you go through something that doesn't make any sense at all to you expressly for the purpose of using you in that area to bring other people through to freedom at a later time in your life. There's a lot stuff in the world that I don't understand, but I do, I've made my mind up to this. God is good, and I trust him. God is good, and I'm gonna trust him, amen?

Another example in the Bible, two sisters, Rachel and Leah. Now Rachel was the beautiful, wonderful, desirable sister. The Bible says it real nice. It says Leah had dull, weak eyes. That basically means that she was the ugly sister. Well, Leah got the man, and Rachel had to watch for 7 years. Then Rachel got in on it, and Jacob married her, too. They got to do multiples back then. I, for the life of me, can't imagine why anybody would want more than one of these. No, thank you. And havin' children was extremely important to them. Rachel's womb was shut up, and she couldn't get pregnant, but Leah just had one kid after another one after another one after another one. And so by studying that I kinda learned something interesting.

See, Leah wasn't the most beautiful one, but she got the guy first, and she got the kids. Rachel was gorgeous. She got the guy second, and finally after many years of watching Leah have babies she finally had a child. Everybody gets something, and everybody doesn't get something. So you have something that somebody else doesn't have, so there's no point in getting jealous of what they have that you don't have because you have something they don't have, amen? And I can't imagine what it was like for the disciples. You know, Peter, James, and John seemed to have a little different position with Jesus than the rest of the guys. Now I don't know about you, but that would've probably been annoying to me. And, you know, those were the three that got to go up on the Mount of Transfiguration, and the other guys had to wait at the bottom of the mountain.

Now I'm quite sure that those three guys were not so spiritual that they came down and just didn't wanna make the other guys feel bad, so they didn't say nothin' at all about what they saw. I bet they came down, "You will not believe". You would not believe what we saw up there. So can I just tell you if you ever wanna have any peace in your life do not compare your blessings or your trials with other people's blessings or their trials. Hebrews 12:15, this is a very good scripture that really shows us the problem that resentment can be if we don't catch it early. "Exercise foresight and be on the watch to look after one another, to see that no one falls back from and fails to secure God's grace his unmerited favor and spiritual blessing, in order that no root of resentment (rancor, bitterness, or hatred) shoots forth and causes trouble and bitter torment, and many become contaminated and defiled by it".

I love that scripture. He's sayin', "Look, if you let", like, for example, I was bitter and resentful and had all kinds of bad attitudes because my father had sexually abused me. Well, a lot of 'em were just buried down deep in me, and they were affecting my relationships, affecting my attitudes, affecting the way I thought. They were affecting every area of my life, but, you see, I thought because I left home when I was 18 that I didn't have the problem anymore, but the thing was I took the problem with me in my soul. And so there's an inner work that needs to be done in us that only Jesus can do.

Well, because I had that root of resentment in my life that was affecting my marriage. It was affecting my children. It was affecting all my relationships. It was affecting my daily life. So just like this scripture says, if you don't get it stopped it's gonna just spread, and it's gonna affect every area of your life. And some of you, if you really will take to heart what I'm sayin' this morning this can be life changing for you. Don't live your life bitter and resentful and full of hatred and bitterness over something that happened to you that you cannot do anything about, but God can if you'll let him do it.

Now the Bible actually tells us, God had the audacity to tell us that trials actually are good for us, and we should get excited about 'em. It's amazing how spiritual we can be when everything's good and how we can resurrect that old man when things aren't so good. God wants us to be stable, stable, stable, stable. Gonna talk about stability for a minute. I was so unstable in the earlier years of my life. I never knew how I was gonna behave till the devil told me. If he said I was depressed, I was depressed. If he said I was mad, I was mad. I didn't know anything at all about controlling my emotions. I just did whatever I felt like doing.

Well, you know, emotions can be good sometimes, but they can really be dangerous because you never know when they're gonna come and when they're gonna go. You have to make sure the right ones are guiding your life. I'm particularly fond of Psalm 94:12-13, so let's take a look at that. "Blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied) is the man whom you discipline and instruct, o Lord, and teach out of your law". Okay, so this is sayin' that when God is disciplining you, you are blessed, blessed, blessed, blessed. "That you may give him power to keep himself calm in the days of adversity, until the inevitable pit of corruption is dug for the wicked".

So this is sayin' God is gonna continue to deal with us and deal with us and deal with us and deal with us, and part of that means that he is gonna let you get in some uncomfortable situations that are gonna bring hopefully the best out of you. But I don't know where you're at. I mean, the Bible says in James 1 that trials bring out patience. Well, they brought a lot of stuff out of me before we ever got to patience. I mean, like, nasty stuff, and it took about 25 years for me to get stable. Now I don't know if any of you are as slow as me, but it took me... Oh, there's one lady, two, alright. Got a few out there.

You know, we're supposed to have the mind of Christ. You'd think we could learn a little faster than what we do. If God gives you a test and you don't pass it, you get to take it again and again and again and again and again until you pass it. God will keep letting us deal with stuff and deal with stuff and deal with stuff, and these are not things that are gonna... They don't even really get into the category of real suffering. I mean, these are just uncomfortable, irritating things, just stuff, things that happen. People say something that hurts our feelings. We didn't get the promotion we wanted at work. We didn't get to sing in the choir, you know, whatever the case might be.

My goodness, if we can't even deal with that kind of stuff what are we gonna do if things get really difficult? And he said this is gonna keep on, "That you, that God, would give us power to keep ourselves calm in the day of adversity". Everybody say, "I have to learn to keep myself calm". You didn't sound excited. I'd like you to do it again. I have to learn to keep myself calm. 2 Timothy chapter 4 beginning in verse 3, these are awesome scriptures. "For the time is coming when people will not tolerate (or endure) sound and wholesome instruction, but, having ears itching for something pleasing and gratifying, they will gather to themselves one teacher after another to a considerable number, chosen to satisfy their own liking and to foster the errors that they hold".

Verse 4, "And they will turn aside from hearing the truth and wander off into myths and manmade fiction". Verse 5, "But as for you", now he's talkin' to Timothy who's a preacher of the word, "As for you, be calm and cool and steady, and suffer unflinchingly every hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fully perform all the duties of your ministry". Now here it really gets good. Verse 6, Paul says, "For I am already about to be sacrificed my life is about to be poured out as a drink offering: the time of my spirit's release from the body is at hand and I will soon be free".

Well, I'm more excited about that than you are, I think, but, I mean, I get what he's sayin'. He's sayin', "Look, bein' here in this earth in the times we're living in and tryin' to serve God in this fleshly body, it is not always easy. It's not always comfortable. It doesn't always feel good. But, boy, the day is going to come when our job here will be done, and we'll get a release from this body, and we will be totally and completely free". And can I tell you something? That's when life begins.

Come on, think with me this morning. You're not going to be here forever. Use the time you have now to get ready for your real life. Your real life starts the day you leave this earth, get out of this body, and get right into the presence of God. Now, life here is great, I'm enjoying my life. But we act sometimes like this is all we've got. Do we believe in eternity or not? Do we really believe that God is preparing a home for us, a mansion? Whoo, I'm excited about mine, I don't know about you.

Ephesians 4:14, Paul says, "So then, we may no longer be children, tossed like ships to and fro between chance gusts of teaching and wavering with every changing wind of doctrine". I get so tired of watching people, immature people, baby Christians chase after every new little doctrinal thing that comes up and down the road. God told me a long time ago, "You keep your nose to the grindstone, you do what I've called you to do, and you'll be around a long time after a lot of other people have bit the dust and gone by the wayside". The only thing that's going to last and endure forever is this right here, amen?

You know, I can't resist telling this a little bit, and I don't think Charles will mind. You won't mind if I tell a little story about you, will you? Charles Nieman, a wonderful pastor from El Paso, and good friends of pastor Tom. And I'm sure he's probably preached at the church here. His beautiful lovely wife died with cancer 2 or 3 years ago, and he said some things that really, really touched my heart. He said, "When she died", now, I want you to listen to this, "When she died", and they had believed, and prayed, and all the things that we do, and it didn't happen the way they wanted it to happen. She was a lovely lady. Who could make any sense out of that? Her first grandchild was about to be born.

And you know, we can get in an attitude, "Well, after all the years we've served God, and this is what we get". Boy, you got to avoid that kind of stuff. Don't even, I mean, if you start to go there, run from it like the plague. Let me tell you something, getting mad at God is ridiculous. He's all we've got. I mean, what do we have if we're going to be mad at God? And he said the first thing that he said to God, and I want you to get this, he said the first thing he said to God when his wife passed away was, "God, please help me do this right". In other words, "Help me represent You well in this terrible, tragic thing that has happened".

Can I tell you something? We're not worth our salt if the only time we can be happy is when we're getting everything our way. Amen? And I love that. You know, to me, there's depth in that statement. It was more important to him to represent God right than it even was to get his own way. Well, you're a little quiet, but that's okay. Don't be a shallow Christian. Let's have depth. We need depth.

You know, years ago, there used to be a movement called The Deeper Life Movement. And they sold books on crucifying the flesh, dying to self. And one of the most moving books that I ever read was by Watchman Nee called "Dying to Self". I would love to write a big book called "Dying to Self". I probably wouldn't sell too many of them, you know, I've written 120 books, and most of them have been, you know, somewhat successful. Some of them been real successful. Because we're still learning, learning what is really important.

Representing God well is more important than me or you getting our way, amen? It's more important than us getting our way. You know why? We got a long time to live in the presence of God. And I don't want my behavior now to offend him. Yes, you can offend God. The Bible says, "Do not offend, grieve, or sadden the Holy Spirit by whom you are sealed". Doers of the word are like people who dig down deep and build their house on a rock. You know, it's hard to keep doing the right thing when the right thing is not yet happening to you. It's hard to keep giving when you still have all kinds of financial needs. It's hard to keep praying for other people who are sick when you're seeing other people get healed, and you're still sick yourself. It's hard sometimes for me to get up here and preach a happy message to you when I feel like I'm just falling apart inside because of something that's going on in my own life. It's hard.

We all go through things that are hard. But the good news is we go through. And you got to go through to get through, amen? God didn't invite us to get translated. He invited us to be transformed. There's a difference. Elijah got translated, but I haven't had that yet. We got to be transformed. How many of you, God is doing something in your life that is not super, super feel good, pleasant? Well, isn't that amazing? We just all need this then, huh?

But see, I want to do it right. I want to be like pastor Charles. The minute that something happens, I want my first prayer to be, "God, help me do this right. Help me do this right". Whether I'm on a plane that gets diverted and I'm going to have to spend 16 hours getting to Phoenix, my first prayer should not be, "Well, God, get me on the first flight out of here so I'm not late, and I'm not inconvenienced". My first prayer should be, "God, help me do this right". Amen? That would make a good book. Help me do this right. God, help me do this right. Is anybody understanding what I'm saying? See, there's depth in that. There's some depth in that. God, help me do this right. Help me represent you. We're better off to not spend so much excessive time trying to figure out the why of everything. Why, God, Why? When, God, When?

Alright, Luke chapter 5. You know, we have those times in our life, those pivotal, pivotal spiritual moments that are some of the things that we talk about being life-changing. When I was filled with the spirit in 1976, it was life-changing for me. Several years after that, God taught me through a series of things that I was spending too much time seeking him for what he could do for me instead of just seeking him because of who he was. And I got a very definite word from God, "Seek my face and not my hand". And that was so life-changing to me to really realize the amazing beauty of just being in the presence of God, and knowing that he's with me all the time. And through that, I started learning this message of not just being happy when God did something for me, but just being happy and joyful about him. "The joy of the Lord is our strength".

And one day, Dave and I went to a bookstore, and I got some books, and he got some books. And nosy me, I got in his bag of books as soon as we got in the car to see what he had. And the first one that I pulled out was a book by a woman named Madame Guyon called "Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ". Well, it was certainly way over my head, but it looked inviting. And so, I asked Dave if I could read it first, and he said, "Yeah", because he had a bunch of books. And so, I didn't realize that God was about to take me deeper, deeper. You see, you really got to go deeper before you can have anything better. And we're always wanting God to give us something that, in effect, we're really not spiritually ready to handle. And if God did give us what we wanted, it could actually be our undoing.

Case in point, I prayed and prayed and prayed for my ministry to grow. I had a big vision from the day God called me. And when I was teaching a Bible study of 20 people, I saw things like what I'm doing now. Well, if God would have given me that too fast, you know, there's nothing that destroys a person's life rather than too much success too fast when they're too young, and not spiritually mature enough to handle it properly. The worst thing in the world that we can do is put people in a position of leadership just because they're talented. There's a difference in being talented and being anointed, amen? And we need to be smart enough to start looking for the anointing, not just clap and cheer for every talent that goes up and down the street, amen?

Get smart enough to realize I don't care how good you look or sound, I don't sense any anointing. And I want the anointing. I loved the worship last night because the anointing kind of parted the way for me. That's what happens if you're in really good worship. It kind of just, like, parts the way for the minister to get up and just go for it, you know? It makes it so easy for me when I have good, anointed worship. But I've had a lot of people that could sing great, and I didn't feel that freedom when I got up. And so, we need deeper life. Because if you just think about a big tree that's got loads of fruit, it may look great, but do you know if that tree does not have deep roots, the heavy fruit can actually make it fall over? Are you with me?

And so, God loves us too much to let that happen to us, so sometimes he withholds or puts off giving us the things that we're pleading for because he has a different purpose for us than we have for ourselves. And he wants us to get more deeply rooted in him and not be shallow. So, I didn't have any idea what I was in for when I pulled that book out of that bag, but nor did I have any clue what a deeper life was. But as God does things, a couple days later, I was reading the Bible and I came across Luke chapter 5, started reading.

It says this, "Now it occurred", in verse 1, "Now it occurred that while the people pressed upon Jesus to hear the message of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret (the Sea of Galilee). And he saw two boats drawn up by the lake, but the fishermen had gone down from them and were washing their nets. And getting into one of the boats, the one that belonged to Simon (Peter), he requested him to draw away a little bit from the shore. Then he sat down and continued to teach the crowd (of people) from the boat. And when he had stopped speaking, he said to Peter", now get this, "'put out into the deep, and lower your nets for a haul'. And Simon (Peter) answered, 'master, we've toiled all night exhaustingly and we caught nothing in our nets'", now watch, "But on the ground of your word, we will lower the nets again".

Now, that's the deeper life. When God tells you to do something, you can say, "I don't want to. I don't feel like it. And frankly, I don't even think it's going to work". I mean, that's really what Peter was saying. "Look, we've been fishing all night. There's no fish out there to catch. I'm tired. I want to go home and go to bed, I'm exhausted. Nevertheless, doesn't matter how I feel, doesn't matter what I think, doesn't matter what I want". Come on now, it doesn't matter what I think, it doesn't matter what I feel, it doesn't matter what I want. "Because you said to do it, Lord, I'm going to do it".

Come on, if you're going to clap, don't patty cake. Now, some of you are in situations right now where you're trying to make decisions about whether you should stay or go, or do this, or do that, run away or stand still. You know it's not going to do you any good to run from God. He'll find you wherever you go. And you're still going to have to come back right to the place you ran from and deal with it. And by the way, everybody in the Bible who ran from God ended up in the wilderness, so save yourself some time. That's another whole big teaching. Come on out into the deep, the deep, and get ready for a haul.

Now, watch what happened. Verse 6. "And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish: and as their nets were at the point of breaking, they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and take hold with them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they all began to sink". So here, I mean, just use your imagination. Peter has been fishing all night, he didn't catch anything. Maybe you feel like that. Maybe you've been fishing all your life, and you feel like you haven't caught anything.

Now, you know, probably if you're not saved or don't have any measure of the Holy Spirit in your life yet, you're just thinking, "What in the world is this nutty woman talking about"? But God's gonna help you get this. And so, they fished all night, didn't catch anything. Jesus comes along and says, "Well, here's the problem. You're not fishing in deep enough water". In other words, he's saying, "You're shallow. Everything is how you feel, what you want, how do people make you feel". "Well, you hurt my feelings". Okay, can I just throw this out to say I said it? Let's just grow up a little bit. And instead of saying, "You hurt my feelings", let's say, "I got my feelings hurt, and I need to make a change". Instead of it always being you, how about if we let it be my responsibility?

Peter said, "I don't want to do that. I don't want to go back out there. I don't feel like doing that, but I will because you said so". See, that's the final word. What does God say? And whatever he says is the way that it's got to be. So then, when they went back out, now, I want you not to miss this, he caught so many fish that he had to call all of his other fishing partners. How can we help other people if we have no depth of relationship with God? And so, when you get a deeper life with God, then God can let you get involved with lots of other people because you're going to be in a position where you can actually really help them instead of hurting them.

One of the most powerful things that God ever said to me when I was praying to be able to help a lot more people... Now, I want you to listen to this because some of you have big visions. You don't all have a vision for a ministry. You're just trying to get your closet cleaned out, and that's cool too, you know? Start small and work your way up. But some of you really want to do some major things for God. And he said, "I want you to always remember this. However many people you can help, that's exactly also how many you can hurt".

It's a big responsibility to be up here. It's a big responsibility for you to put a bumper sticker on your car and go to work advertising that you're a Christian. We got to have fruit. We've got to have depth so we're not out there just going to church on Sunday and acting like everybody else the rest of the week. I went through times in my life where I just thought, "What in the world is happening to me? God, I know that you could change this. Why won't you change it"? I would see him doing it for other people. It's like really?

And one day, when I was driving, I still remember exactly where I was at in the car. And I was, "God, I don't understand". And God spoke to my heart, and he said, "I'm teaching you that man does not live by bread alone, but every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God". Well, he wasn't talking about a loaf of bread, he was talking about stuff, you know? "What you want, Joyce, you want your ministry to grow". It's all outward stuff. First, before you get that, you need to want the inward stuff. "God, grant me the Fruit of the Spirit. Strengthen me in my inner man. Help me be stable in trials and tribulations. Help me walk in love. Let me be a greater giver". Those are the kind of things we need to be praying for. And then when we seek God first, all the rest of it comes as a natural result. "Seek first the Kingdom, and all these other things will be added unto you".

Question of The Day

Ginger: This is a question, Joyce, that I know you'll have a great answer for and many people have felt this way at one time or another. "Why do I think when bad things happen to me, even something as simple as stubbing my toe, that God is punishing me or warning me that I'm doing something wrong"?

Joyce: Well, first of all, thoughts like that come straight from the devil. They're not from God. So why do you think that? I mean, the enemy is gonna put all kinds of thoughts in our head if we're willing to think 'em. He can destroy our whole life with wrong thinking. Now sometimes he has an inroad with those kinds of lies because of things that have happened to us so, you know, maybe she had a parent that, you know, she got in trouble a lot and they punished her every time she did something wrong. And a lot of times too, people just don't know God.

You know, and matter of fact, I know somebody who has a problem with this very thing. Doesn't anymore 'cause, thankfully, she has been healed from it but she had a problem with it for a long, long time and she would tell you right now she doesn't even really know why she was that way. She said, "I just had a misconception about God. I just didn't, I just thought that, you know".

Now, she does have tendencies toward being a perfectionist and I think that sometimes people who are like that feel extra guilty and bad about everything that they do that's not perfect but the whole point is, I think, instead of trying to figure out why you think something or why you feel something, is just to start not living so much by what you think and feel but more by what the Word of God says. When we need help, we can ask God for wisdom and he'll give it to us "Without reproach or fault-finding". I love that in the amplified Bible. So that means that he doesn't say, "Well, sure, you're in trouble. Look at the dumb stuff you did", or, "Well, I'll help you but I want you to remember what you did to get yourself into this mess".

Ginger: Or, "Even I can't believe you're asking that. You should know better".

Joyce: Yeah, so he never does that. I mean, that is not the nature of God. And I think that it is a big mistake to think that God is like any person on this earth because he's not. He's of a whole different category of characteristics than many of the things that we have experienced and so knowing God, really knowing him. I love what the apostle Paul said and, I mean, here's a guy who wrote two-thirds of the New Testament and yet it's recorded in Philippians: "My determined purpose is to know him and the power of his resurrection".

So we need to continue knowing God and his character and the bottom line is, I was thinking about this, this morning when I was out doing my walk, you know, God is just good. And so we should expect good from him. You know, that doesn't mean that he's not gonna chastise us or that he's not gonna deal with us about stuff but he doesn't do that by making bad things happen to us. He has other ways of dealing with us and so just realize the devil's lying to you and start renewing your mind with the Word of God. You know, get enough scripture in you that when you hear one of those lies or you sense you're starting to feel that way again, that you can actually quote scripture out loud out of your own mouth and that'll run the enemy off.

Ginger: Good, very helpful. There's really two things there, to changing the way that she thinks and realizing who God is, that God's not out there looking for little ways to punish us to keep us in line all the time.

Joyce: That's right.
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