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Joyce Meyer - Stop Running From God

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Joyce Meyer - Stop Running From God
Joyce Meyer - Stop Running From God

People ask me all the time, "Are you thinking about retirement"? And I'm like, "How do you retire from a call of God on your life"? I mean, he doesn't like, uncall you when you get to be a certain age, so I don't know, I guess I'll just keep going as long as you're out there and wanna hear me. Alright, we're doing a series this weekend on, "Facing fear and finding freedom".

Father, we thank you for the word this morning and that you're gonna bring things out that I don't even know that I'm gonna say because you know what the people need. And so, I ask you to speak, not just at them, but to them something that will make a big difference in their life, in Jesus' name, amen.

Alright, I'm convinced that we probably have a lot more fear than what we might wanna think about or recognize. And a lot of the fears are kind of covert, you know? They're hidden in other things, you know? Like, some people might think, "Well, a parent just worries about their child". But worry is actually a manifestation of fear. It's us saying, "I'm afraid my need is not gonna get met, so I'm gonna worry about this, and try to figure out something I can do just in case God doesn't come through".

How many of you know, we like to have a back-up plan, don't we? Just in case, God doesn't come through, we wanna have a back-up plan. And I've experienced a lot of fear in my life being raised by a man who abused me. I was entrenched in fear. And fear has torment. 1 John 4 says, "Fear has torment". The other thing about fear that is so detrimental to us, is it keeps us from going forward. Fear drives you backwards. It causes you to run from things. And so, we got a really good start last night, I thought. And if you didn't get to be here, you might wanna order the CD from last night's teaching.

And this morning, I wanna talk about it's time to stop running from God. I said it's time to stop running. You say, "Well, I'm not running from God. I'm in church". Well, that doesn't mean that you're not running from some things that God wants you to do or some things that he wants you to deal with that maybe you haven't gotten around to dealing with yet.

I remember when God confronted me with that it was time to deal with my abusive past, put a book in my hands and I started reading the story about a woman who'd been treated exactly like I was treated by her father and, when I started reading the things she was saying, I mean, the stuff started coming up from way down deep inside of me where I had it buried. How many of you know, we're good at burying things, amen? And I remember, I threw the book down and I said out loud, "I will not read this. I am not gonna read this". And the Holy Spirit spoke to me and just simply said, "It's time". And see, the thing is, is when God lets you know however it is he lets you know that it's time for you to deal with something in your life and stop just ignoring it, then you need to deal with it then because there's an anointing on it then for God to help you find the breakthrough that you want.

And it's our secrets that make us sick. It's all the things that we keep buried inside that we're so afraid to look at, we're so afraid to face, we're so afraid for anybody to know. And so anybody who's gonna have a really intimate, powerful relationship with God is gonna have to be open to letting him do some digging. You know, I noticed last night that it seems like the encouragement that I get when I say hard things is coming from, oh, right over here. I don't know. It's time to stop running. You know, we run from God, from responsibility, from hard work, from intimacy, from the past, from difficult people, from our sin. We run from ourselves. We run from truth. We run from commitment and even avoiding something is a type of fear. Evading it, procrastinating about it. Boy, procrastination.

Let's look at something in Exodus 8 that will show us the dangers and, really, I guess I'll just go ahead and say the stupidity of procrastination. I was trying to think of a nicer word but nothing came up, so. Exodus 8 beginning in verse 2. Now, God had told Moses, "Go tell Pharaoh, 'let my people go'". And just in case you hadn't figured this out yet, when God says something, he means it, okay? That's just kind of the first guideline of getting along with God. When he says something, he means it. And he's not gonna change his mind just 'cause you don't like it. He means what he said. And so when God said, "Let my people go", he really meant, "You are going to let my people go". But Pharaoh did not wanna do that and so God started bringing plagues on Egypt, one after another.

Well, now we're down to a certain plague. "If you refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite your entire land with frogs. And the rivers shall swarm with frogs which shall go up and come into your house, into your bed, on your bed, in the houses of your servants and upon your people, and into your ovens, into your kneading bowls, and into your dough". Now just think, let's don't just read this. I mean frogs in the toilet. You back out of the driveway, crunch, crunch, crunch. Frogs in the driveway. I mean, I'm sure frogs are great little animals but I don't know, maybe you love frogs but I don't care for 'em much. And I think it's another thing you can't control. You never know when they're gonna hop, and see?

I was talking last night how we are afraid of things that we can't control. A turtle I can do. But a frog is a different story. So God didn't smite the land with turtles. He smited the land with frogs. Just admit, you get in bed and there's four or five frogs in bed with you. I mean, it would just be, whoo, creepy. And so, "The Lord said to Moses", verse 5, "Stretch out your hand and your rod over the rivers", and, boy, here came the frogs. And then verse 7, "The magicians did the same thing", and so now they had more frogs, double frogs. Verse 8, "Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, entreat the Lord, that he would take away the frogs and my people and I will let your people go that they may sacrifice to the Lord. And Moses said to Pharaoh", and you gotta watch this, "Glory over me in this: dictate to me when I shall pray the Lord for you, your servants, and your people, that the frogs may be destroyed from you and your houses".

Okay, Pharaoh, when I ask God to get rid of the frogs, the frogs are gone. So when do you want me to pray? And Pharaoh said, "Tomorrow". Now I wanna ask you what kind of brand of stupid is it if you wanna spend... Tomorrow?! It's, like, really? See, he was still trying to get his way, still afraid that if he gave in to God's will, that things were not gonna work out good for him. And I wonder how many times in our lives, God's trying to get us to do something and our answer is tomorrow. Tomorrow. I'll deal with that tomorrow. "I'll start getting out of debt tomorrow. Today I'm gonna buy what I want". "I'll go on that diet tomorrow, today I'm eating a hot fudge sundae".

Come on, let's get it down where we live with it, you know. "I'm gonna start dealing with my temper tomorrow. But today I'm mad". "I'm gonna go apologize to that person you've been telling me to apologize to but I'm gonna do that tomorrow. Today I have other things to do". But see, today is the anointed time. Now is the time of salvation. Last night, 368 people gave their life to the Lord. They had an understanding of today. Amen? And I hope there weren't but there could have been other people who walked out and said, "Another time. I do believe everything you're saying but I'm just not ready yet".

Well, you know, what if we get ready and then God's not ready? What if Jesus came tonight and you weren't ready? And you know, I'm not just talking to the people here in this room. I'm talking to all the millions that are watching by television in many different parts of the world and I'm just telling you today is the day of salvation. Today is the day to hear the Lord calling you and saying, "It's time for you to come home". And there's a number on your screen right now if you wanna call our office and ask for some information about receiving Christ as your Lord, if you wanna know how you can have your sins forgiven, how you can just have peace and know that you're gonna go to heaven and begin to live a fruitful life, call that number and let us give you some information or if you already know all this but you just wanna make a commitment to Christ, call and let somebody pray with you and lead you into a walk with God.

Psalm 95:7 and 8 says, "He is our God and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand. Today, if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts as they did at Meribah and Massah". And there's another one that refers to this scripture, "Don't harden your hearts as Pharaoh did". See, what happens when God puts something on our heart and we know that that's what we should do and we harden our hearts against him, then we miss the opportunities of today. I don't think we realize how anointed today is. Today matters. This is the day that the Lord has given you. Don't put off until tomorrow anything that you could take care of today.

Listen, if you're mad at somebody, the minute this meeting's over you get yourself on the phone and you say, "Look, I'm sorry. Let's have peace. I don't wanna fight". And you know what? It doesn't even matter all that much if you're right or they're right. I said it doesn't even really matter all that much if you're right or they're right. Here's the thing that matters. Jesus is coming back. And in 2 Peter chapter 3:14, it says, when he comes, he wants to find us in peace, without moral conflict, and free from fear. When he comes back. So if there's something you need to take care of now, take care of it. There's so much more at stake than how I feel about what somebody did to me, amen?

However, I will tell you about this microphone that went off earlier and they couldn't get it back on. Now, they were trying to blame that on me. They said, "You must have done something to it when you went to the bathroom". I said, "It is not my fault"! I did not drop the wire in the toilet. It is not my fault. And I said, "It's okay today if it's not my fault because I'm not teaching on humility today so I can wait until tomorrow to fix that problem". Don't we love to just put things off until tomorrow. But today is a special day. It's a day that's anointed. It's a day for us to do what God wants us to do, today.

Now, I found out something about running from God that I wanna share with you this morning and that is, is that any time we run from something, God will eventually take us back to the thing that we ran away from and make us deal with it. So here's the word of the Lord today. Let's get it over with. Come on, today matters. Let's get it over with today. We always think it's gonna be easier if we put it off but it really won't be. So running away never sets us free. Anything that we fear has power over us.

Acts chapter 7 beginning in verse 22, "Moses was educated in all the wisdom and culture of the Egyptians, and he was mighty (powerful) in speech and in deed. And when he was in his fortieth year, it came to his heart to visit his kinsmen the children of Israel to help them and to care for them". He had a desire in his heart to help his people. "And on seeing one of them being unjustly treated, he defended the oppressed man and avenged him by striking down the Egyptian and slaying him". Seems like that would have been a good thing to do. The problem is and you'll discover is, he was a little bit ahead of God.

And you know, sometimes when you have a call on your life you have to be very careful that you don't jump out ahead of God. And it's hard sometimes to discern when you know God is calling you to do something, if now is the time, if it's God's time, or is it just my time? See, there they are again, this side of the room. If you guys don't behave, I'm gonna go over there and just preach to them. "He expected his brethren to understand that God was granting them deliverance by his hand".

Oh, my, my, my, we expect people to understand! Well, why do you not understand that God has anointed me to tell you what to do all the time? See, God had to teach me you're a teacher but you're not Dave's teacher. Anyway, that's another whole message. "He expected his brethren to understand that God was granting them deliverance by his hand taking it for granted that they would accept him: but they did not understand. And then on the next day he suddenly appeared to some who were quarreling and fighting, and he urged them to make peace and become reconciled, saying, men, you're brethren: why do you fight and argue and abuse one another"? Verse 27, "Whereupon the man who was abusing his neighbor pushed Moses aside, saying, who appointed you a ruler or a judge over us? Do you intend to slay me as you slew the Egyptians yesterday"?

Uh-oh! Uh-oh, somebody saw me. "At that reply Moses sought safety by flight", which actually means he ran. Everybody say, "He ran". Because, you see, that's the definition of fear, to take flight, to run. So he ran because he was afraid. "And he became an exile and an alien in the country of Midian, where he became the father of two sons. And when 40 years had gone by", oh my, "There appeared to him in the wilderness".

Now before I go any further, I wanna tell you that I'm gonna share several similar stories with you today and I want you to take notice that every one of these people who ran from God ended up in the wilderness. Every one of 'em, which I think is an education all in itself. He ran from the lap of luxury. He got out ahead of God, which that wouldn't have been that bad in itself. I think God appreciates it when he knows that we want to help people and he'll deal with us and get us in the right time-frame but he took matters into his own hands again and he ran and God never told him to run. We don't see any evidence that God said, "Stay", but we certainly don't see any evidence that God told him to run.

Moses had some things to learn but perhaps he could have learned 'em quicker than 40 years if he would have stayed put. Come on, that's a message to somebody. Maybe you could learn what you need to learn much quicker if you'll stay put. "Well, bless God, I'm not staying at this church. I wanted to be on the worship team and they didn't choose me". So you're gonna run to the next place that you won't be happy at either.

Anyway, "And when 40 years had gone by, there appeared to him in the wilderness a flaming bush. When Moses saw it, he was astonished and marveled at the sight. When he came close to investigate it, there came the voice of the Lord, saying, I'm the God of your forefathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob. And Moses trembled and was terrified that he wouldn't even venture to look. Then the Lord said to him, remove the sandals from off your feet, for the place on which you're standing is holy ground".

Last verse, 34, "Because I have most assuredly seen the abuse and the oppression of my people in Egypt and I have heard their sighing and groaning, I have come down to rescue them. So, now come! And I will send you back to Egypt". I don't know, maybe there's a church you left in anger because you didn't think they treated you right or you tried to, I don't know, whatever, stand up and give a word from God in the middle of somebody's sermon and they ask you not to do that. Amen. Oh yeah, we have strange things happen. And so you left and, in a huff, and you've been talking about 'em, gossiping about 'em. Now, I know that's not any of you. I'm mainly doing this for our poor TV audience because they're the ones that need all the help, see, so. So anything that really bothers you, you can just say, "Oh, that's for the TV people".

What if God said to you today, 'cause now you're really not in any church, you're just kind of floating around, you know, getting up every Sunday seeing where you're led. And usually you're led to stay in bed. So what if God said to you today, "I want you to go back to that church. And I want you to serve and be sweet and just stay right where you're at and, if I wanna promote you there, I'll promote you at the right time".

Let me tell you something, we don't learn what God wants us to learn when we stay in a comfortable cushy atmosphere that gets us everything that we want. I got an "Amen" from over here! Now, you know, that example may not relate to you at all but you can just put that into any genre that you wanna put it in. Maybe you have prayed, "O God, help me love everybody", and so you have a job where there are some people that are really hard to love and so you're just, like, "I am getting out of here. I am not gonna stay here and be treated like this. I am getting myself another job".

How are you gonna learn to love everybody if you only choose the people that you like? We pray some of the silliest prayers. "O Lord, I give you everything. I surrender all to you, God. Here I am. Send me". And then we won't even stay at a job where we're the only light in a dark place because it's uncomfortable for us. So anyway, God didn't tell Moses to leave Egypt. He ran. And Moses had to go back. What was Moses afraid of? A lot of the same stuff we're always afraid of: being rejected by the people that he was trying to help.

You know, when I first stepped out to follow the call of God on my life, I got rejected by basically pretty much everybody I knew. I only had a couple of people that stood by me. And it is hard to have that kind of misunderstanding and that kind of criticism and judgment when, really, honest to God, all I was trying to do was obey God and I just wanted to help people. And the next thing I knew, everybody on the planet's mad at me for it.

Well, what a temptation it would have been to have said, "Well, you know, this must not be God, otherwise my circumstances would all be good. Surely if this was God, everybody would clap and cheer". No, not necessarily, amen? And so what if I would have ran away back then? What if I would have just, you know, I wonder how much we miss of the God-ordained destiny that's out in front of us, by running from the hard places in life instead of staying and confronting things.

Part 2
Let's look at Hagar. Genesis 16:8 and 9. Now you have to know a little bit of the background of the story, although I'm gonna get into it more in detail later on but Abram had a promise from God that he was gonna have a child. Only problem was, Sarah and Abram were both way too old to have children. And so, I mean, it was not humanly possible without a miracle. And so they were tired of waiting. Is anybody in this room tired of waiting? Well, you see, what happens then if you're not careful when you get tired of waiting is you start coming up with a bright idea. "Well, God's not doing nothing so I know what I'll do". And, boy, that gets us in so much trouble.

And so Sarah said, "I know what I'll do. I'll give Abram my handmaiden as a secondary wife". Well, I would think any woman would know better than that, just right off the bat. Now, I know that that was a little more something they did in that culture but I don't care what kind of culture you got, there's no woman that wants to share her man with another woman. I mean, that just is not working in any culture. And so you'll see more about what happened with all that later but it ends up that Hagar who ended up having a child, named him Ishmael, which means man of war. She ended up running from the whole situation because Sarah was mistreating her and so on and so forth.

If you don't know the whole story, you're welcome to read Genesis 16 for yourself. That would be the thing to do. "And he said to Hagar, Sarah's maid", this is God, "Where did you come from, and where do you think you're going? And she said, I am running away from my mistress Sarai. And the angel of the Lord said to her, go back to your mistress and humbly submit to her control". Well, somebody please tell me what even sounds remotely fair about that? Man, I had a job one time in ministry and, whoo, I didn't feel like I was being treated right. And, ah, you don't even know how bad I wanted to get away from there and go do my thing that God had called me to do.

C'mon. I mean, we know we're anointed. We know we're called and so if you're not gonna give me a place, I'm gonna make my own place. But I knew down deep inside that God did not want me to do that. C'mon, we gotta live a little deeper if we wanna have God's plan in our life. We talked about this last night, having some discernment, amen? And I knew that wasn't what God wanted me to do. I mean, I heard very clearly from God, "If you wait on me, I'm gonna make this thing beautiful. But, boy, if you get out ahead of me and start your own thing".

How many people just fool around all their life with some little sick, silly thing because they don't wanna wait on God's genuine thing to come through for them, amen? Like, how many women marry the wrong guy. Well, I got noise from all over this building now. Boy, do you hear that, "Whoo! Whoo! Whoo! Whoo"! C'mon, don't get so desperate. Desperate people do dumb things. I know, I did the same thing.

When I was 18, I thought nobody was ever gonna want me because I'd been abused so long by my dad sexually and I just married the first guy that came along that showed any interest in me and, I mean, I was not even an active Christian. I'd been saved when I was a child but I was not walking with God and I knew, I knew what I was doing was not gonna turn out good but I was desperate that nobody would ever want me so I grabbed what I could and it turned out to be a 5-year nightmare on top of already had an 18-year nightmare. And so don't be so desperate to have what you want right now. I mean, we can put this into any area in life. Maybe you want a new car. And you kind of really know that you should wait, get some of the bills paid off you've got, save some money toward that car. But no, not waiting. Then you're making payments on something for 7 years that when you first take it home you think is beautiful.

You know what I've figured out? Nothing looks as good when you get it home as it does under the shiny lights in the showroom. That's the oddest thing. You know, Jewelry never looks as good when I get it home as it did in the case. There's something deceptive about those showroom lights. They make things all look a lot better. So we need to learn how to wait on God and, boy, if we will. Man, if we'll use discernment and wait on God for his timing and you know, I tell you, I got so tired of waiting. I got so tired of waiting. So tired of doing little teeny-tiny Bible studies and preaching to 50 people here and 20 there and 30 over there and 40 over here, because I had a big call on my life! Anyway, let's go on.

So she ran from God and God said, "Go back". So many times I wanted to run from that job but God said, "Stay, stay, stay". And then by the time it was time for me to leave, God had to make me leave 'cause I'd kind of settled in and got pretty comfortable by then. Ain't that the way it is? It's, like, "Whoa, wait a minute, I used to hate it here and now I'm okay and now you're telling me I gotta go". Yeah.

Okay, I wanna say something and I want you to get this. Most of the things that we run from are the very tools that God intends to use to change us. Most of the things we run from are the tools that God intends to use to change us. Let's look at Elijah, 1 kings chapter 19. All these stories are actually, I mean, they're so valuable but they're actually really kind of funny too. You know, Elijah was a great prophet of God, possibly the mightiest ever and just did unbelievable miracles and, if you go back a chapter, you'll find that the day before this happened that I'm gonna read you, he had singlehandedly, the Bible says, killed and cut in pieces 400 false prophets of Baal.

Now that had to be a lot of hard work. I mean, you've gotta have some anointing. Didn't just kill 'em, he cut 'em up in pieces. Yuck. So he was tired. I mean, he was worn out. So the next day, verse 1, chapter 19, "Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done and how he had slain all the prophets of Baal with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a message to Elijah, saying, so let the Gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow. Then he was afraid and arose and went", or ran, "For his life and came to Beersheba of Judah over 80 miles away", I mean, I guess he still had some strength, he ran 80 miles. "And he ran out of Jezebel's realm and he left his servant", I mean, there's so many good messages in this.

Now he's like, "I just wanna be alone". "He left his servant and he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a lone broom or a juniper tree and asked that he might die". This is hilarious to me. Here's this great prophet who yesterday is cutting in pieces 400 false prophets. Now, I really believe it was 'cause he was tired, just worn out. So now, you see, we respond different emotionally when we're tired than we do when we're not, amen? And so now one woman, women have power. One woman, this great prophet who had just killed 400 prophets, now 1 woman scares him and says, "Buddy, this is what's gonna happen to you". And now he takes off. He runs 80 miles, leaves his servant, goes out into the desert, out into the wilderness.

We're back to the wilderness again. Sits down under one little lonely tree and says, "God, just kill me. I just wanna die". But let me tell you something, you're gonna respond so much better to different troublesome situations in your life if you make sure that you get some balance in your life and you get rest and sleep and you're eating healthy. That's just a little free advice. So if you go ahead and read all this, which I'm not gonna do, God sent an angel and he gave Elijah a good meal and told him to go to sleep. That's why I know that he was tired. A good meal and a sleep. He did that. The angel came back the next day, same thing again. Rest another day. Have a good nap, have a good meal. Then God showed up, "Elijah, what are you doing here"?

And I don't know, you know, see, when God did tell me it was time for me to leave my position that I had at a local church in Saint Louis and step out into my own ministry which is not my own, it's his, but to step out into what I'm doing, oh, I was petrified. And so I put it off for a year and a half, at least, and I was so miserable. You know, once God says, "Go", and you stay, you're gonna be miserable. But if God says, "Stay", and you go, you're gonna be miserable. C'mon, is anybody with me today? And so I stayed and I was sitting on the front row one night, watching the pastor preach, and God said to me, "What are you doing here"? And I thought, "Well, I'm going to church". And you know what he said? "I'm finished with you here now".

When God's finished, you might as well get finished. I wonder how many of you are trying to push a horse up a hill that's been dead 20 years. C'mon, I said if God's done, you need to get done. How many are still hanging on to something that's had no life in it for 50 years for you but you just do it 'cause that's what you've always done? So maybe God is yelling at some of you today saying, "What are you doing here"? And I'm not talking about here, here, but in your here. I'm glad you're here. It's not this here we're talking about. It's another here. And so then he told him, "Go stand in the cave", and, you know, we had the lightning, the thunder, the storm, and then finally the still, small voice and, anyway, I'm not gonna get into that whole thing. But the point is, is that he ran from one woman and God told him, when the thing's all over and he hears a still, small voice, God said, "Go back". C'mon, "Go back and get back to work. Anoint a prophet to take your place and do this, anoint a new king".

In other words, some of you maybe have just gotten into a fit of depression over something that didn't work out in your life or you're just sitting around feeling sorry for yourself all the time. And maybe God is just saying to you today, "What are you doing here? What are you doing with your life? Get up, get out of this mess, and get back to doing what I told you to do". God needs all of us. He doesn't just need a handful of preachers Marching around on a platform or a few good singers. He needs all of us. And it's really not our job to do all the work, it's our job to train you up to do the work. And then we have to talk about Jonah for a minute because he's a real case. Jonah chapter 1.

See, when God started giving me this message a long time ago and I began to see that all of these people that ran, always ended up back where they ran from. And they all ended up in the wilderness, it was pretty enlightening to me. "Now the word of the Lord", verse 1, chapter 1. "Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, arise, and go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim against it, for their wickedness has come up before me. But Jonah rose up to flee", run, "To Tarshish from being in the presence of the Lord as his prophet".

Now, if you look at a map where he was when God spoke to him and where he ran to, he ran the exact opposite direction of what God told him to go in. Exact opposite. C'mon, do we ever do the opposite of what God tells us? "And he went down to Joppa and he found a ship going to Tarshish the most remote of the Phoenician trading places that are known". And he paid somebody to take him on the ship, and, you know, if you read the whole thing you'll find out that, man, they were in a violent storm and finally they kind of figured out it was him and he said, "Well, just throw me overboard". And then they waited for a little bit and then finally they said, "Okay, we're throwing you overboard". And verse 17, chapter 1, verse 17, "Now the Lord had prepared and appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish".

I guess we could say that was a wilderness. What do you think? And let me just say this the kindest way I know how. If you run from God, God will prepare something to swallow you up. God will prepare some kind of circumstance that you are not gonna like. And it may be equivalent to being in a whale's belly for a few days. Well, finally, Jonah prayed to the Lord. Isn't that a brilliant thing to do? It's a shame we don't do that before we get in the whale's belly. And then he goes on, you know, I mean, he prays a pretty good prayer. It's amazing what good prayers we can pray when we're desperate. I mean, this is really good.

"Then he said, o Lord, I have been cast out of your presence", verse 4, "And your sight: yet I will look again toward your holy mountain". Verse 9, "But as for me, o God, I will sacrifice to you with the voice of thanksgiving: I will pay that which I have vowed. Salvation belongs to the Lord! And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited out on dry ground". So if you're in a place you don't like you better get down to praying. And chapter 3, verse 1. I read all that to say this, "And the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, arise, and go to Nineveh".

God didn't change his mind. Jonah took a detour and he didn't have much fun. How many of you right now are on a detour from God? He's told you to go this way and you're going that way? I got a few hands, a few honest people. That's good. The truth sets you free. Boy, we don't like to admit all this stuff, do we? C'mon, now remember, let's get it where you live. I mean, running from God can even be something as simple as refusing to go make peace with somebody that you know you need to go. Running from God can be as simple as you're letting somebody manipulate you and control you and God's telling you to confront 'em. C'mon, let's get it where we live. Running from God can be him saying, "Don't put anything else on those credit cards", oh my! "Let's get the ones paid off you got". Running from God could be changing the way you eat. Ha! Well, that went over good. People are always gonna go on a diet after Christmas, it just cracks me up. Or "I am gonna go on a diet but after thanksgiving".

Can I tell you something? If you wanna be a real warrior, go on a diet on Christmas eve. Otherwise, you got another couple of days with the frogs. And you know what everybody else is gonna hear? Your croaking. Did you hear me? I said, "And everybody else is gonna hear your croaking", because when we don't do what God tells us to, we end up with stinky circumstances and we always complain. So now here comes the good part. People frequently run from their own sin. And one of the ways that we can run from God is staying so busy working for God that we don't have any time to listen to God. Whoo!

"Well, I'm just busy serving at church. I'm on every committee". And you got a mess of strife in your home. C'mon. I mean, you know, I'm sorry, but there's even a lot of pastors, people in leadership in churches and they're so busy serving God that their own families are falling apart. I love the story where the man, I forget now which miracle was but Jesus set some guy just so free, I mean, healed him, cast out demons or he couldn't see or something and the man wanted to go with Jesus and travel with him and he said, "Go home and show them what great things I've done for you".

You know what? I expect you to go home and act different. I didn't promise when you came that I could change all your circumstances but I believe if you listen to the word that you can change, you can go home different and, you know what, when we change, our circumstances don't bother us as much. And so I can't make everybody else do what they should do, but God wants to deal with me. With me.

Now, the two biggest ways that we run from our own stuff is through making excuses and blaming other people. "Well, I act this way because I was abused". "Well, I act this way because I was born on the wrong side of the tracks". "I act this way because I never have a break in life". "Well, if you didn't treat me this way, I wouldn't be upset". "If you acted better, I'd be happier".

Okay, you know what? It's really time for us to take responsibility. It's time for us to take responsibility for our behavior, our life, our messes, and stop blaming them on the devil, God, everybody else around us, our misfortune in life. In Romans chapter 2, verse 1, it says, "Therefore you have no excuse or defense or justification, whoever you are, if you judge another person. For in posing as judge and passing sentence on another, you condemn yourselves, because you who judge are habitually doing the very same things that you judge other people for".

Now why would we do that? Here's why. We make excuses for ourself but for somebody else, there is no excuse. "If I'm in a bad mood, I had a bad day at work and traffic was bad and that's my excuse and you should understand that". "But if you come home and you're in a bad mood and you say you had a bad day at work, there's no excuse for you to come in here acting like that". Oh, this is so good. So anyway, we all have an excuse bag. And to be honest, you really pretty much have it with you everywhere you go. It's not as out in the open as mine is but I just gotta show you that we've all got one. And so, man, it is just full of stuff. Oh boy, I've got excuses in here coming out my ears. "Well, I can't do that: I'm afraid". So? Who's not? "Well, I don't feel like it". "I don't know how to do this". I've never yet gotten to do anything for God that I knew how to do when I started.

When God told us to go on television, we weren't even smart enough to know we needed a producer. I'm telling you the absolute truth. We had one camera. You should have seen the first TV program. I mean, I am telling you the truth. We were in a little hotel ballroom and the tiles were falling out of the ceiling and it was a real low ceiling and you don't film for television in a low ceiling, it just looks... Ridiculous. And our backdrop was a blue shower curtain. But here's the scary thing. It was anointed. So see, it's not about what you know how to do. It's about what you will let God do through you and, in order to do that, you can't be a coward. You've gotta be willing to step out and just see what God will do.

Well, God has not given us a spirit of fear. And so he doesn't want us to run from things. He wants us to confront things, trusting that he will always be there to help us, no matter what it is that we have to deal with in our life. And today, we're offering you some very good teaching that I believe will be very beneficial to you and it's called "Facing Fear and Finding Freedom". I don't think there's anybody that can say that they have absolutely no fear in their life. You know, fear presents itself to all of us but the thing is, is we can feel fear and still be courageous in God and keep going forward. So today, I'm encouraging you to get these 4 hours of teaching on CD. Listen to them as many times as you need to and I believe that each time that you listen to them, that you're gonna find more and more courage filling your heart to help you do the things that you really want to do and be the kind of person that you really want to be. Now, you have a great rest of the day and remember that God is on your side.

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