Joyce Meyer - What Is Faith And How Does It Work?
What is faith and how does it work? Now, faith is the foundational doctrine of the Bible. Without faith, we can't please God. We're to live by faith. Romans 14, it says, "Whatever is not of faith is sin". And faith, believing, trusting is how we receive everything that God wants us to have. And so, I have not taught on faith, just a good, basic, foundational powerful message on faith in a long time. For a long time, there was a lot of teaching about faith, and I learned through that how much faith I didn't have, or at least how much of it I was not putting in the right place.
You see, I believe that every person has faith. Whether they're a believer or not, they have faith because if you didn't have any faith, you would not even get on a highway and try to drive to work because you'd be petrified that you'd be killed. So, in Romans, it says that, "Unto every man is given the measure of faith", and I do believe that every person has faith. But here's the point, what do they do with it? What do you do with it? Do you put your faith in yourself? Do you put your faith in your friends?
Some people today have a lot of their faith in the government. They think the government is the answer to every problem they have. "Well, the government should, the government should". It's always somebody else that should. But we can choose to put our faith in God, and when we do that, amazing things begin to happen in our lives.
Now, according to Ephesians 2:8 and 9, "By grace we're saved through faith". Everything, every blessing comes to us by the grace and the mercy of God. God has provided it through Jesus. Faith is not the price that buys the blessings of God, it's the hand that reaches out and receives it. I want you to understand that. By grace through faith we are saved. But the same way we're saved is the way we're supposed to live our whole entire life. Every single day of our life, every situation that comes up, we need to do what we do in faith. Now, one of the reasons why I'm doing this is this.
Many of you may know quite a bit about faith, but I can tell you there is a large majority of Christians in the world who don't have any idea what faith really is, and how it works, and how to release faith in their life. Example, I was born again, I received Christ when I was 9 years old. After I married Dave, he was a strong Christian man, we went to church, the church that he grew up in. I took instructions in the church. I was born again. I had a love for God. I would've gone to heaven when I died, I believe that with all my heart. I released my faith for salvation, but I did not have any idea about all the other promises in the Word of God that were available to me that were already bought and paid for with the blood of Christ, but I was not...
Now, listen to me, I was not benefiting from any of them because I first of all didn't know about them, and secondly I did not even have a clue that I could release my faith for other things and that God would help me. A lot of people think, "Well, God will just give me what he wants me to have". Well, no he won't. The Bible says, "You have not because you ask not. Ask and you shall receive. Knock and the door will be opened. Seek and you will find". So, there's so much available to people that they don't even begin to know how to tap into. One reason, they don't know what the promises are.
You know what I just read last week? In the Bible, and I'm sure there's different opinions, but this is probably fairly close to accurate, in the Bible there are 5,467 promises from God. So, I can tell you there's not a human in this building today, including me, that's not missing some of them. And I'm not going to go over all 5,467, but I am going to try to stir you up to realize that you may be living way below the level that Jesus intended you to live. There is probably a so much better life for you that you could have, but you don't know how to access it. I believe you have faith, but maybe you're not releasing your faith, and maybe you don't even know how to do that. And sadly, maybe some people don't even think, there may be all kinds of things that you would like and you want and you need, but you don't even know that it would be right to even ask God for those things.
You know, religious ideas sometimes give us really funny ideas about God, and what he wants for us, and what he doesn't want for us. And so, I hope you'll be here all day because I think that this is a message that really, in the long run, can benefit you tremendously. I don't even know how to tell you how much learning about faith and how to release it and what was available to me, I don't even know how to tell you how much it changed my life. For example, I had no idea that I could be healed from my broken past. I just thought that if I had settled in, that I would always have a second rate life.
I remember even as a child thinking, you know, "Well, I mean, I guess I can do something, but I'll never have a really good life because I'm damaged goods. My father abused me, I didn't get to go to college, blah blah blah blah blah". And so, I went to church and I went home, but I came home in the same condition I went in. I went, and I loved God, and I said the prayers, and I did the service, but I had no idea that God was so wanting to provide all these wonderful things in my life, so I didn't ask, I didn't believe, so I didn't get. Okay, stick with me, we're going to get there. First of all, faith must be based on God's word. You can't put faith in something that you don't know is a promise from God.
So, that's why it is so important to study the word because it's full of what's yours, what's been bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ. There are so many things in there that God wants to do for you, but we approach the Bible like it's some kind of an obligation, like we're going to get some kind of a star on our God calendar if we read a chapter every day. And we need to devour that book. We need to remind ourselves every day of how much God has done for us. And we need to, even if you don't want to do it for yourself, just because of what Jesus did for you, the pain he suffered and what he did, you need to get a decision that you are going to have the life that Jesus died to give you. You are not going to live some kind of a low-level, no nothing, do without everything, be miserable life all the time, and go to church and go home, and go to church and go home while nothing changes in your life.
That's what faith is. Faith says, "Jesus provided it, I'm his child, he loves me, and I'm going to trust him for it, and I'm not going to give up until I see what he has told me I can have come to pass in my life". Now see, this is going to be better than you thought it was in the very beginning, right? Sometimes as a teacher, when you tell somebody you're going to teach on something that's kind of foundational, you get kind of this, like, lazy look, like, "Oh, I got all that underlined in my Bible". I don't care if you've turned your Bible into a coloring book. If it's not working in your life, then you still need to hear more of it, amen?
And I'll be very honest with you, when God put this on my heart and I started studying for this, I got a fresh wave of excitement and enthusiasm in my life because I don't care how much we think we know, we need to be reminded and we need to be refreshed. You know what I think? I think some of you really don't even have any idea how faith works. You're living at a very low level because you don't release your faith. But I think a lot of you, don't mean to be insulting, but I think a lot of you have just gotten lazy. Just lazy, you know?
"Well, I go to church". Well, why aren't you happy? Where is your joy? "Well, I got all these problems, and you know, I'm waiting for a breakthrough but nothing's happening". Well, maybe nothing's happening because you're not pressing in, in faith. You know, the Bible says we have to fight the good fight of faith. Faith is sometimes a fight, and we can't live by what we feel, we got to live by the Word of God. And I'm telling you, if you refuse to give up, your time of breakthrough will come, amen?
I told you before I started teaching that I had a little back surgery 2 1/2 weeks ago, it's called a microsurgery. Well, surgery is still surgery. And so, in the last 3 years, I've had both hips replaced, and now this back thing. And I can tell you I have had a lot of pain, and I have done a lot of praying, and I have been waiting a long time and standing firm to see the fullness of what God promises us. And I am not going to give up, I don't care. And there's nothing the devil hates worse than if you're trusting God for something and it doesn't seem to be working, or just about the time you get rid of that problem, you get another one right on the tail end of that one. Come on, amen. Nothing upsets the enemy more than if you say, "I don't care how long it takes".
You know, I prefer to stomp around up here while I'm preaching, and jump up and down, but my mouth works whether I'm sitting down or standing up. Amen? So, stop thinking if you've got some kind of a little disadvantage in your life that that means you can't do anything. Stop looking at what you can't do and find something you can do, and start doing it by faith. You know why? Here's what I want you to get ahold of. If you will do the little bit you can do, God will do everything that you cannot do. So, let's don't get lazy and just think, "Well, you know, if God wants me to have that, he'll give it to me". No, you better press in, you better ask, you better resist the devil, and you better let the enemy know you are not going to quit and you are not going to give up, amen?
Now, Romans 10:17, "So faith comes by hearing what is told, and what is heard comes by the preaching of the message that came from the lips of Christ the Messiah". So, now here I am today, I am preaching the Word of God. And as I preach the Word of God, your faith is going to rise up, and you're going to begin to claim some things and believe that you can have some things and do some things that you did not believe before you walked in here. Five thousand, four hundred and sixty-seven promises in the Word of God. And how many people, the only ones they believe is, "I'm saved and someday I hope I'm going to go to heaven".
Well, I'll tell you what, that is not supposed to be the extent of our Christian experience with God. We are the head and not the tail, above and not beneath. We're anointed, we have power, we have authority over the devil. Come on. We've got to get over this, "I can't". All right, I'm just going to mention a few things. Not all 5,467, but a few. First of all, God promises to never leave us nor forsake us. Well, I went to church for a lot of years, I didn't know that. I went to church all those years and I thought God was off somewhere in the sky. I didn't know that he lived in me through the Holy Spirit. How can you ever be alone if God is living on the inside of you? You're not alone. But our life needs to be focused on our relationship with God. And we literally can talk to him anywhere, at any time, about anything. And guess what? He cares.
My life was radically transformed when I began to learn these kinds of things. I remember still one day, I was in the bathroom combing my hair, it was in the first house that Dave and I owned, and I had just really gotten into a more serious relationship with God. God had touched my life, and I wanted to study the word, and it just, I had so many problems. Oh my gosh, you do not have any more problems than I had. I don't care how big of a mess you're in, "My mess was bigger than your mess. My mess is bigger than yours". See, don't get that thinking that, "Well, I'm glad that God helped you, but nobody can help me because my problems are too big". God can do anything.
So, I was combing my hair one morning, and I remember saying to the Lord, "I always feel like that I'm reaching for you and I just never can quite find you". Well, I didn't know about this hearing from God thing that God talked to you and all that stuff, but one of the things that happened to me as I began to study the word is I started to hear from God. I had to learn how to navigate that, and I had to learn, you know, what was accurate and what wasn't, but in my spirit, I heard, "Well, you're reaching out. You should be reaching in". I didn't realize that Christ in me is the hope of glory. I didn't realize that we're the home of God, that he has come to live in us, he's our home and we're his home.
Let me tell you something, you may live in a house by yourself, but you are not alone. You may not be married, but you are not alone. Your kids maybe have all left home and they don't call you nearly as much as you'd like them to, but you are not alone. You have somebody that is with you all the time, all you need to do is believe it and start acting like you've got a friend that is better than any friend that you could ever possibly have anywhere. Come on. You know, we all think we'd like to have at least one friend that really gets us, just somebody that just really understands me, and really gets me. And even though they know my weirdness, they accept me the way I am. Well, guess what? Jesus is that friend. He gets you. He understands you, and he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Joshua 1:9, "Have not I commanded you be strong, vigorous, and very courageous, be not afraid, neither be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go". He doesn't live in the church. He lives in you. If you go to the grocery store, Jesus goes. You drive in traffic, he's there with you. Come on. Yeah, that's a good reason not to break the speed limit, amen? This God with us all the time mentality, that in itself, if you didn't get anything else out of this today, that in itself is life-changing. You are never alone. And God is not just interested in the spiritual part of your life, he's just as interested in the secular part as he is in the spiritual part. And if you learn how to do everything that you do with this "With God" mentality, then guess what? Going to the grocery store can be just as holy as going to church.
Now, it might not be as valuable as far as what you learn, but the point is if the only place we can find God is for a few minutes on Sunday morning when we March off to some building, then we are in big trouble. He's not off in the sky somewhere, hard to reach and hard to get to. He's living on the inside of you. Jesus didn't die so we could all have a certain brand of religion. He died so we can have an intimate, close, personal relationship with God through him.
Proverbs 15:3, "The eyes of the Lord are in every place". There is nowhere you go that God doesn't see you. And scary thought, there is nothing you do that God doesn't see. "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good".
So, here's the thing. If you're doing good things and nobody seems to notice or nobody seems to care, God sees. He knows everything you're doing. He knows every little bit of suffering you've got, and he keeps his eyes on the evil too. He knows who's mistreating you. He knows what people should be doing for you that they're not doing for you. And you know what? God is the God of justice, and he will deal with the evil, and he will reward the good in his own good time.
God promises to be our vindicator, whoo! And not only that, he promises to give us a reward for the former trouble that we've had in our life. If somebody has mistreated you and you trust God to deal with it instead of trying to deal with it yourself. Who are you mad at? Who are you trying to get back for hurting you? Oh, nobody, I'm sure. You're all so good. I can tell you what, if I would not have forgiven my father and found the grace to trust God to be my vindicator and take all those wrong things and make it right, I would not be sitting here today.
I want to tell you something, God has got rewards for you that will absolutely leave you with your mouth hanging open in awe. You have no idea what God wants do for you, but you've gotta retire from self-care. Stop trying to make sure everybody treats you right. Come on. Yeah, you're getting it. And trust God to give you what he wants you to have because anything God wants you to have, if you've got your eyes on him, no person in this earth can keep you from having it. I'm feeling a shift.
Hebrews 10:30, "For we know him who said, vengeance is mine retribution and the meeting out of full justice rest with me: I will repay I will exact the compensation, says the Lord. And again, the Lord will judge and determine and solve and settle the cause and the cases of his people". Turn to somebody and say, "God's on your case". But, but, but, let's rewind here for a minute. You can't just get in here and take the parts of the promises you like.
So, you say, "Well, I'm trusting God for that". Okay, but then I will eventually show you another scripture that says that if you pray and ask God for something, that you will get it but if you have anything against anybody, you gotta first forgive them. You see how we like to just take the stuff we like and leave the rest of it alone? I mean, you love this, "Man, God's gonna deal with them. God's my vindicator. He's gonna give me a recompense". Well, not while you're mad.
Can I tell you something? You probably ain't gonna like this, but it's true. You cannot even feel sorry for yourself and still end up with God's good plan for your life. Well, you're not liking that. "Well, I have a reason to feel sorry for myself". Well, maybe you do but you don't have any right to because God is willing to set you free. All right, I love this one. You know, there's a promise in the Bible that says he, Jesus, never rejects anybody that comes to him, never. I don't care how bad you've been, how deep of a pit of sin you're in, I don't care how much you've disappointed people, how much you think you've disappointed God, if you go to him with a sincere heart and you say, "I'm sorry, God, forgive me, please help me", he never rejects anybody who comes to him in faith. Isn't that good news? When you're really bad, you don't have to run away from God, you can run to him and he's always there with open arms.
Oh, and I love this, man, was this life-changing, whoo. You know, this is could be a never-ending series, 5,467 promises but what we need to be reminded of every one of them, don't we? I bet you've already thought of some things that you've been doing without that you need to release your faith for, amen? I love this one, "We are assured and know that God being a partner in our labor, all things work together for good and are fitting into a plan for those who love God and wants his will". So see, God took the horrible stuff that happened to me in my life and I do not know how does this. This sounds crazy, but I am a better person because of what happened to me than I would have been if it wouldn't have happened. Come on. Don't get this attitude that now all the people that have hurt you are now in charge of your destiny. Your history doesn't have to be your destiny.
Another promise, "For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you to give you hope and do you good in your final outcome". You may not be there yet, but you're on your way. This is such an exciting message. It's so good to know that God loves you, and he's got a good plan for you, and nobody can take that away from you, but it's not just going to happen. You have to release your faith. See, faith is a force, it's a powerful force that dwells in your spirit but it can't stay in your spirit. It's gotta get out and do something, say something, pray something, take some kind of action, amen?
I'm gonna give you an example of how this works. I'm kind of getting ahead of myself but this is a good place. You know, when the Israelites were coming out of Egypt, when they were being delivered from the bondage in Egypt, to me, that's like a type and a shadow of our salvation. So to speak, before you're saved, you've been living in Egypt, a slave to everything that the world wants to throw at you. Well, God sent a deliverer, Moses, to them. He sent us a deliverer, Jesus. And Moses, when they came to the Red Sea and they needed to cross over, the people didn't have to do anything, Moses lifted out his rod and he had all the faith, and the sea parted and they walked over as a free gift.
Now, that's what happens when we're born again. Jesus has done it. All we have to do is just believe it. However, when Joshua was leading the people and it was time for them to cross the Jordan, which they had to do before they entered the Promised Land. Now, stay with me 'cause see, I think there's a gazillion Christians that are born again. They've come out of Egypt, but they're still wandering around in the wilderness, they've never entered into the Promised Land. Those were two distinct different steps. They came out of Egypt, Moses did everything. He parted the Red Sea, free gift. All they had to do was take it. But when it came to the Jordan, and I love this, the river did not part until they put their foot in it.
Oh good, three people on the third row got it. Salvation has been bought and paid for. Jesus did everything, but if you want to have the promises of God, then there's gonna be a few things that you're gonna need to do. You're gonna need to step out in faith. You're gonna need to put your foot in the water. You're gonna have to maybe say goodbye to some stuff like we said last night. Some of you have no idea what God would do for you and the only way you're ever gonna know is to step out and find out.
You say, "Well, what does that mean? What does that mean"? Well, I mean there's a gazillion different examples. I don't know, let's just say that you hate your job. I mean, all your do is complain about it. You don't like it. You don't like the people. You don't like the work, and you've really got something else in your heart that you'd love to do but you live in fear that if you give that up, you might not have anything. "Well, God, if you give me another job", well, are you even looking? Are you even trying?
I mean, the story of my life is so much like so many other stories, many of you have the same kinds of stories, but when I felt like God told me that he wanted me to teach a Bible study, I didn't have any idea how to do that. I didn't know the Bible. I didn't know how to do that, but I had a deep desire to help people. "I want you to teach them, teach a Bible study". "Well, who's gonna come, you know? Nobody knows me, nobody cares". And I remember saying, "I don't know how to teach". He said, "I do, I do". And you know what I had to do? My first step was to say, "Okay". My second step was to invite some people and oddly enough, they all said, "Yes".
See, I could have been so afraid of rejection that I wouldn't have even tried. I could have been so afraid of failure, that I wouldn't have even tried, but I had to step into the water before the water would part. Now, I guess worst case scenario, if you step in, it doesn't part, you can still step back. But some of you are just sitting around passively waiting for all these things to fall on you and I can tell you they're not going to. God told Abraham, "You leave everything that you're familiar with and you go to a place that I will show you". He had to step out. I wonder how many people live with dreams, and visions, and amazingly great things in their heart, but they're afraid to ever even take one step in that direction to see what God might do.
So, I started the Bible study, five years I taught that Bible study, 20, 25 people came. At first, I started it with a dozen people and I wasn't too brilliant back then to understand everything, but I was the office manager where I worked and so I invited all the girls that worked for me, not being smart enough to realize that since I was the boss, they probably felt compelled to come. But it gave me enough faith. "My gosh, people are coming and they're come back". Well, then eventually the company, somebody complained to the union and the union said, "You can't do this here". And so, I had to, "Well now what? Well, should I quit? Should I give up"?
So, we decided to move it to our house, which was like an hour away or 30 minutes away from where anybody lived that was coming. "Well, I don't know that anybody will come", but I decided to take another step of faith. Well guess what? 12 people didn't come, 25 started coming. And they came week after week after week. I'm not gonna stand here and tell you my whole testimony but see, walking by faith, living by faith, the just shall live by faith, that's what God wants us to do. That means everything is a step of faith and sometimes it's comfortable, and you've got all the details in place, but very rarely.
Most of the time if you're gonna live by faith, if you want to really find out what God can do for you, you are gonna have to, so to speak, take a chance. Come on. Anybody who's doing anything for God, I mean even like giving, I mean, the Bible says you, "Give first and you'll receive later". But you know how many people don't do that? But I can tell you something, if you don't have enough money, keeping everything you got is never gonna get you more. And I know it doesn't make any sense because you think, "Well, you know, if I already don't have enough, then how can I give part of it away? Then I'm just gonna have less". But not according to God's arithmetic. Well, it's a huge step of faith to start tithing, to start giving, or maybe if you are tithing, to start giving beyond that.
And really all we do when we don't obey God is we're putting limits on ourself. If you read the scriptures about tithing and giving, God actually says, "Try it" in Malachi. "Try it. Come on, I dare you to try it and prove me now by it so see if I will not open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing so great that you cannot contain it". You gotta take that step of faith. Well, I got one happy person out there anyway.
Okay, what about, I mean, let's talk for a minute about prosperity, success, favor, promotion. You know, it's kind of sad but today even if you use the word "Prosperity", there's a certain sector of Christianity that just gets up in a fit. You know it's like, "Eh, one of those prosperity preachers", you know? I'm still not sure what that is. I mean, would you rather I stand up here and tell you you're never gonna have anything? And that God wants you to be the tail end of everything and be broke all your life? I mean, is that really what you want to hear? I don't know, see, it's a religious spirit that gets on people and they think that in order to be a Christian, you gotta have nothing.
Well, let me tell ya something, if the only way you can remain a Christian is to have nothing, then go for it, but God would rather you have plenty to meet your needs and more to give to other people. And hang on 'cause I'm not finished. He only wants you to have it if you can have it and still keep him first place in your life. You know, the Bible does say that it's hard for a wealthy man to get into heaven and then uses an example of it's harder for a wealthy man to get into heaven than for a camel to go through a needle's eye. You ever heard that?
Well, you know, that always kind of, it's like well, you know? But here's the thing you gotta understand, the needle's eye was a gate in Jerusalem, a gate that went into Jerusalem, and it was a very small gate. And camels was their mode of travel and so they might be loaded up with bags and camels are rather big. Well, the interesting thing is the only way that a camel could get through that gate was if they unloaded all the stuff and he got down on his knees and crawled through.
Let me tell ya something, the more you have, the more you better stay on your knees. Come on. Come on, because here's the thing, yes, the more you have, the more power you have, the more influence you have, the greater the temptation is to get proud and haughty. And one of the worst mistakes that we can ever make is then to start to mistreat other people. That's why you better go through on your knees. Stay humble before God. Know that everything that you have is a gift from him, and every little bit of influence you have is a gift from him, and he can take it away from you a lot quicker than it took you to get it. Are you understanding me?
All right, so, let's just take one man's life and see how miserable God wants us to be. I mean, if you want to buy into that, you know, it's like, I mean, it's rather annoying but still, if you look my name up on the internet, one of the things it's gonna say is that I'm a prosperity preacher. It's like, labels that people give us are so annoying. It's like, I honestly don't even know what that is. "One of those faith and prosperity preachers". Well, do you want me to teach you that you can never have anything and God wants you to be the tail end of everything? What I'm saying is you're his child.
Now, I don't know about you but whatever I have, I want my kids to get it. I want them to have it. And your God's child and he wants you to have it. But you know what? I'll tell you, now, I don't have to do this anymore because my children are all older but in the beginning, the first time Dave and I made any kind of provision for what we wanted done with anything we might have when we died, we had a child that was real young then and so we did not just give him an equal share. He couldn't get his until he was like 30 years old or something. You see, God wants you to have everything but you gotta grow up and mature first. "Beloved, I would above all else that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers". Your spiritual maturity, your spiritual growth is much more important to God than what you own.
Okay, an example. This just proves my point and I've told this story before but it fits in here so well. One day I was shopping and I met a lady, she was a clerk in the store. And I forget how it came up but I found out she was a Christian, and she'd been going to this certain church for like 30 years. She'd been a Christian a long time and so we got to talking and I was asking her how things worked in the store. "You know do you get a salary? Do you get a percentage of what you sell? How do things work"? And she said, "Well, no, we get a salary", but she said, "You have quotas that you have to meet and so if we don't sell enough, you can lose your job".
And so, she said, "It's really hard when no customers come to us", 'cause they're basically just standing around waiting for somebody to come to them. And I said, knowing she was a Christian, I said, "Well, have you prayed for God to give you favor and cause people to just drift toward you for no unknown reason, to just want you to wait on them just because for some reason they like you and they don't even know why"? And she said, "Well, it wouldn't be right to do that, would it"?
Now see, 30 years she'd been going to the same church and nobody ever told her that she could pray for favor. Well, you know what? I was in the same situation, I didn't know that I could believe God for favor. You know what? I believe God for favor every day of my life now. Do you think for one minute that I walked out here this morning without believing God that he'd give me favor with you? I don't want to be disliked. I want you to like me, but I don't have the time to stand up here and try to make you like me so I trust God to make you like me. Come on, is anybody home out there today?
Do you know how many political games that people play in, I mean, I remember even a church that I went to once, there was a certain little elite group, oh yeah, it's in churches. And I wanted to be in that group. And I tell you what, it was pathetic how I played up to the girl who was kind of in charge of that group trying to get favor with her so I could be accepted into the rest of the group. And you know what? If that's what you do to buy friends, that's what you're gonna have to do to keep them every single day of your life. And sooner or later, you're gonna get really tired of it and you're not gonna want to do that anymore. But I found a new system that I like a whole lot more. "God, give me divine connections. Whoever you want me to be friends with, you make it happen. You cause people to like me that you want me to be in relationship with and if you don't want it, then I don't want it either", amen?
How do we release our faith? Well, the first thing we do is we ask, but you have to ask according to the word. Now, what is faith? Hebrews 11:1 says, "Faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things we hope for, being the proof of the things that we do not see". See, when you're asking for something by faith, you don't see it yet as a reality in your life and a lot of times it doesn't even make any sense to your mind. It's like it's way beyond anything that you would ever, in your sane mind, think that you can have but faith sees things that don't make any sense to the natural man.
You know, I marvel, I look back and I marvel at why in the world I would have ever in my wildest imagination thought that I could do what I'm doing today. And yet when God speaks to you, when he puts something in your heart, when something in the word comes alive to you, if you'll listen to your spirit and not your head, you see things and you can believe for things that just absolutely don't even make any sense.
And I remember 42 years ago when I had listened to my first teaching, back then teaching cassette tapes, and I listened to somebody preach for a whole hour on one scripture in Mark chapter 5 called, "Cross over to the other side". And first of all, I couldn't believe that anybody could keep my interest for a whole hour preaching on anything because prior to that, 15 minutes in church was enough to knock me out. But when the word that you hear is anointed by the Holy Spirit, and it's a word in due season for your life, and it's something that you can apply to your life, there's a part of you that gets really excited.
So, I just couldn't believe how exciting that message was to me and what I felt on the inside as I was listening to it. And this desire rose up in me. A lot of people want to know, "Well, how do I know if God's speaking to me"? Well, one of the ways that he speaks to us is through desire, like a strong desire that just won't go away. And many times what we're desiring doesn't seem to make any sense. And this strong desire rose up in me and to me, I felt like I heard words, but I'm not gonna tell you I heard an audible voice. But there was something that I heard in the spirit and this is the way it came to me, "You are going to go around the world and preach the Gospel". And at that time what I heard, because we only can hear based on what we know how to apply it and I heard, "And you're gonna have a large teaching tape ministry".
Well, that was all I heard. And from then on, my whole desire from then till now has been to teach the Word of God. And literally, I do have a teaching tape ministry, although that doesn't make that much sense today because we're on television in one hundred languages, in two-thirds of the world, hundreds and hundreds of TV stations.
Now, wait a minute, I'm not trying to brag. I want to make a point. This teaching that I'm doing here today will be divided up into 28-minute teachings and those will go on radio, and television, and podcasts, and the website. And so, literally through recorded messages through CDs, teaching tapes, now they just download all that stuff and it's a lot easier. But literally that is what has happened. This, what we're doing here today, is gonna be seen and heard in a hundred languages around the world, and I don't think that's very bad for somebody with not a lot of education and not really all that, and I still, I told somebody recently I said, "You know, for the life of me, I don't know whatever made me think that I could do this".
What would ever make, I mean, I didn't have any religious training. I mean, I went to church. I'll tell y'all I had, I love Jesus and I just either was pretty dumb or had a lot of nerve, one of the two. But I just started taking little steps of faith. And you see, faith is released three ways. If you're taking notes, you want to write this down. Faith is released through playing, through saying, and through doing. Praying, you ask God for something, you release your faith with it. The Bible says don't pray in doubt and unbelief, pray in faith believing that what you're asking for will happen. It may not happen right away but you keep believing that it will happen.
You say something. You line your confession up with what you've prayed. You don't pray for your kids to be saved and then go to lunch with your friend and talk about how you're afraid they're never gonna get saved. Come on, and that's what we do so often. We pray for something when we're feeling spiritual and then by the next day we've already cursed our prayer by saying just the opposite four or five times of what we just asked God to do.
"God, I pray that you'll help us get out of debt. I pray that you'll meet all of our needs. I pray that the time will come, God, when we can own our own house. I pray, God, that I can get my car paid off". And then you go to lunch with somebody and you say, "We will never get out of debt. I'll probably never own my own home, never have a new car: I'm just the tail end of everything and every time I get $10, the devil steals $20". Sound like anybody you know? Come on, don't sit there and look spiritual. I want to know the truth.
And so, we really need to learn, if we want God's will, to get our mouth in agreement with God's will. And you know, this is not a name it claim it message where you can just say anything you want and get it. But you can say the Word of God and if you are saying the same thing as God says, which is what confession is, to say the same thing as. If you say the same thing that God says, and you're doing what God is asking you to do, you know, there's promises in the Bible, there's conditions that go along with those promises. You believe, you obey, you do what God asks you to do.
When I got that vision in my heart to teach, I had to take steps of faith. I stepped out, I started a Bible study. Five years, I felt like God said to stop that Bible study and he was gonna do something new. For a year, I did nothing, that was not very much fun. You know, you think if you do something you believe God's asking you do and it doesn't seem to work for a while, don't give up, just keep believing if you heard from God that God will bring it to pass and make it happen. He'll either redirect you or you just need to wait on him.
Well, then I went to work at a church in St. Louis, and it was a brand-new church, not very big, only had about 30 people the first service I went to. And after a period of time, they asked me to start a ladies meeting at the church. Well, I didn't want to teach ladies because I had a vision to teach everybody that could breathe. I mean, I had a big vision. I mean, I prayed stupid stuff like, "God, let me help every person on the planet", and even while I was praying it, my mind would go, "That's dumb, that's dumb. How do you think any one person, and especially a woman".
Come on, ladies, when I started doing this, it was very unpopular, very unpopular. So, I had to get out and dig up a lot of fallow ground and be really determined to not quit and not give up. And so, I didn't wanna just teach women, I wanted to teach everybody. And so, for a while I thought, no, I'm not gonna do that. And then the thing that God put in my heart is, "Well, that's the only thing in front of you to do right now so it's better to do something rather than do nothing". So, I started doing that. Well, after that, the pastor recognized there was a real anointing on my life so he started asking me to teach in the church when he wasn't there. So lo and behold, now it's not just women, there's men there.
And so, I became an associate pastor at the church. I taught in Bible college, on and on and on. I worked there 5 years and then God spoke to me again to step out and he told me to quit my job and take the ministry and go north, south, east and west. Well, the thing is nobody knew me north, south, east, or west. Don't you love it when God tells you to do something and your mind goes, "Well, that doesn't make any sense"? Come on, has God ever spoken to you to do something and you just couldn't get your mind to agree with it? You know what most people do when that happens? They just don't do it. They wait for something that makes sense. But I'm gonna tell you something, God is not always reasonable. He doesn't always tell you to do something that you can reason out and fit it into your normal way of thinking.
Now, I'm not suggesting that anybody just start doing all kinds of crazy stuff, and wild stuff, and stuff that doesn't make any sense. But I'll tell ya one thing, if you believe that God's put something in your heart and it stays, and it's not going away, and it's not going away, and I don't think there's anything wrong with asking God, if it's something major, to give you a good solid confirmation. I don't think that we should have to do that all the time. We need to trust God's word. But if it's major, you wait for a good confirmation and then you take one step and you see what happens. If that seems to work, you take another step and you see what happens. And if that seems to work, then you take another step and pretty soon, those steps that were baby steps are starting to get bigger and bigger and bigger and before you know it, you know what's gonna happen? You're gonna be running with God full speed ahead doing things that you cannot even imagine. Amen?
And so, all of that stuff's been started 42 years ago and then I've been gone from the church about 32 years now and nobody knew me North, South, East, or West. I was on one radio station in St. Louis and so I went to North St. Louis, East St. Louis, South St. Louis, and West St. Louis. I'm telling you the absolute truth. We started a little monthly meeting in each Worth, South, East, and West of our city and I'm telling you, what, we would have 20 people come, 15 people come. I did one meeting one time with nine people and I took five of them with me. I mean, I didn't start in arenas and on television.
You gotta be faithful in small things and then God will make you ruler over much. And even financially, some of you need more finances. Well, maybe you just need to step out and do something that God is telling you to do that you haven't done before. Maybe you're gonna need to give more before you're gonna get more. Well, a lot of people don't want to do that. "Well, if I just had more money, then I'd give more". Well, I don't want to be insulting but if you won't give some of what you got, you're not gonna give any when you get more. You start by giving when it kind of pretty much hurts and doesn't make too much sense, and you don't just do it once to try something and see what happens, you get committed, and you're faithful, and you do it, and you let the devil know, "I am gonna do this till I breathe my last breath, not to get something, but because I believe it's the Word of God".
And so, here we are today, 42 years later, and my prayer is... My kids don't like this, they really don't like it when I say this so but I'mma say to you anyway. I would love to preach a message and then just go sit down and go to heaven. That's the way I'd like to leave. I'd like to go out preaching, amen? I'd like to go out teaching the word. Now, they have said, "Can you imagine how horrible that would be for the people in the meeting"? Well, you just remember if you happen to be there when it happens that it's what I wanted and you don't need to get upset. The point is, is I intend to do what I'm doing as long as I can breathe. And I mean I've told God, many, many, many times, "How ever much energy I've got from now until I die, you're getting it. I'm giving it to you. I want to do what you want me to do", amen?
And, you know, here's the thing, you'll never be any happier than you will be if you're right in the center of God's will. Now, all of you don't have a vision to preach, or teach, or whatever. Maybe your vision is to lose 10 pounds and get your closet cleaned up. Well, that's good too. Whatever it is though, you're gonna have to start somewhere and you're gonna have to go through somewhere before you get somewhere. And so, we've gotta be the kind of people that won't quit and won't give up. So, how do we release our faith? Praying, saying, and doing. Let's practice again. How do we release our faith? Okay, see how easy that is? You take action, you pray, you line your words up with what you believe.
Now, I can back this up in scripture. Romans 10:8 through 10 are scriptures about salvation, about what we do to be saved. And it says, "Well, what does it say? The word (God's message in Christ) is near you, on your lips and in your heart: that is, the word (the message, the basis and the object) of faith which we preach, because if you acknowledge and confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and in your heart you believe". Now, do you see that? You believe in your heart, you confess with your mouth, you believe in your heart, you confess with your mouth "That God raised him from the dead, you will be saved". So, how do you receive salvation? You believe it in your heart and then you confess it with your mouth.
Now, let's look at verse 10, "For with the heart a person believes (adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Christ) and he is justified (declared righteous, made acceptable to God), and with his mouth he confesses (declares openly and speaks out freely his faith) and that then confirms his salvation".
So, here's the thing, when I believe in my heart, God knows what's in my heart. When I open my mouth and say something, that lets the devil and everybody else know where I stand. You believe in your heart and you confess with your mouth. Don't try to be a sneaky Christian who never wants to say that you're a believer and never wants anybody to judge you critically. That's why many times when we ask people in meetings if they want to receive Christ, we will ask people at the end to stand up or to come down front. And people don't always want to do that but here's the thing, if you won't take a stand in here, you're not gonna go out in the world and take a stand. It's not about embarrassing anybody, but you can't be a sneaky Christian.
If you look at the disciples, the first thing they did after Christ called them was go tell somebody else. Go tell somebody else. Don't keep your mouth shut about Jesus. Don't try to hide the fact at work that you're a believer. Now, you don't have to go in and be obnoxious, you don't have to go in with a tape recorder in your ears, and carrying four Bibles, and, you know? But neither do you need to hide it. You need to openly let people know that you believe in God, amen? So, faith is first in your heart and then it's gotta get in your mouth.
2 Corinthians 5:7, "We walk by faith we regulate our lives and conduct ourselves by our conviction or belief respecting man's relationship to God and divine things, thus we walk by faith and not by sight or appearance". So, faith is not something that you have because you see something that convinces you. It's not even something that you have because you believe or you feel something that convinces you, but it's something you first have in your heart. That's why many times you believe something that doesn't make any sense at all to your mind.
Do I have any people here today that you've got something in your heart that you believe God wants to do in your life and you can back it up in the word but to your natural mind, it makes no sense at all? How about somebody who just, you don't see any way that what you're believing could ever possibly happen? Well see, that's why you need this message 'cause there's not enough of you. You know, if you're not believing for the impossible, then you're not open for a miracle in your life. The only way you're ever gonna get a miracle is if you have to have one, if you need one, when you stop depending on everything else around you and believe that only God can help you.
Luke chapter 5, the first 5 verses. I share these scriptures often because I think they make such an amazing point and so I want to share them in this message. "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)". So, Jesus is standing by a lake and there were all kinds of people around who wanted to hear what he was saying. I guess a little bit like today. We got lake out there somewhere and here you are and here I am, and I'm preaching and you want to hear the Word of God. "And he saw two boats that were there at the lake, but the fishermen had gotten out of the boats and they were now washing their nets".
They'd been fishing all day and they were finished for the day. And so, he got into one of the boats, one that belonged to Simon Peter, and he asked him to draw out a little bit from the shore. Now, you might not understand why. It could have been because the crowd was pressing in him too much but one of the things back then is they didn't have the microphone and the sound system that I've got, but when you speak over water, it carries that sound a lot more than if you're not. So, Jesus got out a little bit into the water, I guess so he didn't get pressed by the people, but also so the sound would carry better. "He got into one of the boats, the one that belonged to Peter and he said to him, 'pull out a little bit from the shore'". He finished his message and then he said to Peter, "'put out into the deep, and lower your nets for a haul'".
So, here's the thing, Simon Peter said, "'master, we fished all night. We're exhausted and we didn't catch a thing'". Well, some of you've been doing that. You've been fishing half of your life for something and you haven't caught anything yet. Well, maybe it's because you haven't been fishing deep enough. So, they'd been fishing all night. They didn't catch anything. They were tired. They wanted to go home and Jesus said, "Nope, I want you to go out a little bit deeper". You know, maybe you've about given up on your dream and God's saying to you today, "Nope, not yet. Don't give up. Let's just keep believing one more time, one more time".
Maybe some of you need to pick your old dreams up and dust them off and believe that God can do great things in your life. Maybe you've got a child you're about ready to give up on. That kid is just giving you so much trouble if you didn't color your hair, it would all be gray. My son who runs our world missions, you see him sometimes in the ads. His name's David and I thought he was gonna just absolutely do me in. Oh my gosh, he was so hard to deal with, so hard. And I didn't have any idea why but then I know now it's because he was just like me. And I didn't like him 'cause I didn't like myself. He was very rebellious, and strong-willed, and wanted what he wanted when he wanted it. So, I mean if I cooked chicken, he wanted spaghetti. If I cooked spaghetti, he wanted chicken. I feel like from the time he was in his playpen, he was looking through those bars trying to figure out how he could run the world.
Anybody know what I'm talking about? Well, for some reason at one point, I felt like we should offer him a job. Many times after that I thought, was I crazy? Why did I want to put myself in that position? Well, he gave me so much trouble, he was so hard to get along with one day I was driving to work and I was ready, that's it. I'm done. I'm gonna fire him. I cannot work with him. It's just not gonna work. And God spoke to me very clearly, this is one of the times when I can say I know that he heard from God and he said, "Joyce, do not give up on David". That boy runs our whole world missions programs today.
Now, faith works along with patience. Come on, I want to hear a groan out there. Hebrews 12:1, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses who have borne testimony to the truth, let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance, every (unnecessary weight) and all the sin which clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us".
Patience is waiting, it's enduring, it's going through, it's not quitting, it's not giving up. But even more than all of that, patience is an attitude that you learn to have while you're waiting on God. You stay calm, you keep a good confession, and you keep believing that God is going to do exactly what he told you he was going to do. If you're the kind of person that doesn't, you're not able to hang on to something very long, you're not gonna do very well trying to walk the faith walk 'cause I can pretty much tell you, not everything, but a good majority of things that you ask God for, you're gonna wait a while before you see them come to pass.
Hebrews 6:11 and 12, "And we do desire that each one of you should show the same earnestness and have full assurance and hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises of God". So, how do you inherit the promises of God, the 5,467 promises that are in here? You believe, you pray, you say, and you patiently do every little thing that God asks you to do and if you're smart, you won't even believe to get an instant result. If you do, that's great. But if you don't, now you've got your mind set for hanging on and not giving up no matter how long it takes, amen?
It's interesting if you got something wrong with you physically, you'll go to the doctor and get a prescription, and they'll give you two or three refills. Matter of fact, we like it when they give us a bunch of refills. It's like, "Ooh, I can get this refilled as much as I want to". And you don't even really expect to go home and take one spoonful and everything'll be gone. You take the medicine, you wait, you take the medicine, you wait. If you're a little bit better, that encourages you, you take the medicine, you wait. You get it refilled.
Well, can I tell you something? With this plan, you can have all the refills you want. You get unlimited refills. You can just keep going back, and keep going back, and keep going back to the Word of God. So, faith works by patience. Faith is full of expectation. Faith has to be released. You ask, you say, you pray, you say, you do. One last scripture about patience then I'm gonna go on to another section. Don't like these scriptures, never have liked them, don't like them any better today, but here it comes.
James 1:2 and 3, "Consider it completely joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or you fall into a variety of temptations. Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience". Well, here's what I found out, they brought a lot of things out of me before we ever got around to patience. Come on, how many of you know how to have a really good fit when things don't...
Okay so. Now, the other thing that I had to learn about faith that's really important is that faith works and is energized by love. So, let's think about love in three ways because that's the way the Bible talks about love. It talks about it in three ways. You gotta love God, love yourself, and love people. The first and the greatest commandment is, "You shall love your Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. You shall love your neighbor even as you love yourself".
Well, before we can even love God, we have to know that he loves us. How are you ever gonna put your faith in somebody if you don't know that they love you? So, if you don't have a real revelation on how much God loves you, you might as well just park your little dream and vision over here for a few months and just do not but study how much God loves you and when you can get in agreement with Romans 8 which says that nothing can ever separate you from the love of God, no matter how difficult, no matter how long, no matter how much it hurts, nothing can separate you from the love of God, then maybe you're ready to go to another level. You need to love yourself 'cause if you don't love yourself, you're not gonna even gonna want to ask God for anything.
You know, you're not even gonna believe that you should have anything because you have such a low opinion of yourself. And by and large, if you are not gonna love people, if you're gonna be mad at people, if you're gonna mistreat people, then you might as well not expect to get very much from God because faith works by and through love. Good, they get this over there. You know, some of you, you're asking God for something, you're believing, you're even saying, you're praying, you're saying, but you've got unforgiveness in your heart. It's not gonna work. "Faith works by love", Galatians 5:6.
All right, Mark 11:23, I know you know it, but you need to hear it again. "Truly I tell you, whoever says to this mountain, be lifted up and thrown into the sea! And does not doubt at all in his heart but believes that what he says will take place, it will be done for him. For this reason I'm telling you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you, and you will get it". See, you believe first and you see later. I come from Missouri, the "Show me" state. Our motto is if I don't see it, I don't believe it, but that doesn't work in God's economy. You believe it before you ever see it. Come on. So, wow, what a promise. Whatever you want, ask for it, believe you've received it, you're gonna get it. Verse 25, "And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anybody, forgive him and let it drop (leave it, let it go)".
Well, what does that have to do with prayer? What does that have to do with me getting what I want? Well obviously, everything. Faith only works by love. God's not gonna bless this ministry if Dave and I are gonna get up here and put on a show for everybody else and then fight all the time at home. You gotta live it behind closed doors, not just out in public where people can see you.
Remember when I said this morning that there's no way that I would go to bed mad at Dave no matter what? Or maybe I said it last night, I don't know. Well, that's true, you know why? Well, first of all, I love God and I want to do what he tells me to but secondly, there's too much at stake here. I work too hard and too long for me to throw away everything that God has done in my life just because I want to satisfy some carnal emotion and stay mad at Dave. Amen. I can't do that. I can't do that to myself and I can't do it to you.
And I'll tell you what, one of the greatest things that anybody can ever teach you, and you can never hear it too much, is the quicker you forgive, the stronger of a Christian you are. The quicker you forgive, the more spiritually mature you are. And don't ever let it bother you if you feel like you're always the first one to apologize and make peace. I always say, whoever's the strongest is gonna apologize the first. And then lastly, and I wanted to end with this, faith brings results. When you put your faith in God, it brings results. If you want to have some fun, later when you go home or tomorrow when you're rested, get out Hebrews chapter 11 and take the time to read it slowly and really think about the people that it's talking about and the unbelievably amazing things that they did through faith.
Just listen to this, "By faith, Abel brought to God a better sacrifice than Cain. By faith, Enoch didn't see death but was translated into heaven. By faith, Noah built an ark when there was no visible evidence of rain". Can you imagine what a monument task that was to build that ark and how everybody laughed at him and thought he was stark Raving mad? We're not even sure today that they had ever seen rain and certainly they'd never seen a flood. You talk about a guy who stepped out in faith and did what God told him to do, my gosh.
"By faith, Abraham left home and went to a place where he didn't even know where he was going when he stepped out. Because of faith, Sarah conceived a child long after she had the change of life. By faith, Moses' parents hid him even though the king's decree said that he had to be killed. By faith, Moses, when he was grown, left the comfort of life in the palace and preferred to share the hardship of the Israelites in order to bring them out of Egypt and lead them to a better life. By faith, the walls of Jericho fell down. By faith, Daniel shut the mouths of lions while he was imprisoned with them overnight".
And then he goes on, Hebrews 11:32 through 40, if you can just be patient here for one second. I'm gonna finish with this. "And what shall I say further? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and all the prophets, who by the help of faith", by the help of faith, who through faith, who by faith, regular, ordinary, everyday people that had lives just like we do and yet they did very extraordinary things because they believed the promises of God. They lined their confession up with what God put in their heart, and they did what God told them to do, and they were world-changers and people that we still read about today.
Let me tell ya something, God has got so much in store for you. God wants to do things for you that will leave your mouth hanging open in awe. He wants to bless you, he wants to prosper you, he wants to give you favor. He wants to heal your broken heart. He wants to do great things through you and great things for you, but you gotta pray, say, and do. You gotta release your faith.