Joyce Meyer - A Life Worth Living
It's kind of sad that Jesus died to give us life, that we might have it and have it more abundantly and yet so many people don't like their life. A lot of people even hate their life or they're just putting up with it, they're just trying to get through, day after day. And it's not just outside the church. Many Christians are not happy Christians.
1 John 3:14-18, "We know that we have passed over out of death into life," and I've done enough study that I can kind of replace that death and life with a couple of other words and know that I'm not out of balance. So, we're gonna read it like this. "We know that we have passed over out of misery into joy", I mean, that's what it means. You'll see later that death is all the miseries arising from sin. That's what it turns out to be. So, I just think to make it practical, I wanna say it like this. "We know that we've passed over out of misery into joy by the fact that we love the brethren (our fellow Christians)".
Now, John is talking about us just loving each other. We're not even all that great at that. Jesus actually goes so far as to say, "Love your enemies". And so, now, it's getting really major. Love unconditionally. "He who does not love abides (remains, is held and kept continually) in misery". C'mon, are we awake out there today, so, you know, have you ever been a miserable Christian? C'mon, you know, we don't have to get religious, "Oh, no, I've got the joy of the Lord," you know?
C'mon, have you ever been a miserable Christian, you know? Well, I spent a lot of years being a miserable Christian. It's one thing to be a miserable sinner. It's another thing to be a miserable saint. I mean, there's no excuse for that. We are supposed to be happy people. And I'll tell you what. I tried everything. Everything. And it finally came down to, for me, God just said, "You are just not happy because you are selfish". I mean, if we really get right down to it, how much do we really think about what we can do for other people? Gonna be quiet today.
Verse 15, "Anyone who hates (abominates and detests) his brother in Christ is at heart a murderer," wow, "And you know that no murderer has joy," remember, we're changing the word life to joy. It's more than that but actually the word "Life" here, is life as God has it. That's what it means. When we have that eternal life that we receive when we receive Christ, we're supposed to have life as God lives it. And I can tell you, he's sure not on the throne, today, miserable. And we have it "Persevering and living within us".
You say, "Well, you know, I don't hate anybody". Well, can I tell you something? I don't think God is real fond of the color gray. Now what I mean by that is he's pretty much one way or the other, you know? You're either red hot or you're ice cold. He don't care about lukewarm. He says, "If you're lukewarm, I'll spew you out of my mouth". There's some strong language in the Bible that we've kind of moved away from talking about. And it's not about making people afraid, it's about waking us up so we get out of our lethargy and realize what we're actually here for and what is the true root of our misery. I don't want to be miserable.
And so I, you know, "I don't hate anybody". "Well, do you love them"? "Well... but I don't hate them". "But do you love them"? "Well... but I don't wanna say that I hate them". Well, I'm not so sure what God would say so let me just ask you this. If you love all these people then who are you mad at today? "Uhh, well. Well, you don't know what they did to me". No. C'mon, what did we do to Jesus? And yet he still loves us and loves us unconditionally.
We're gonna look at two scriptures on the problem with not forgiving people. I think it's just something we need to do this morning. I didn't even have these scriptures in this message until I got here in this city but I just feel like we need to be reminded again that this is not just something that we can do or not do depending on how we feel. If we want our relationship with God to be right, we cannot stay mad at people. We just can't. And I'll tell you something, when somebody hurts your feelings, which it happens all the time. It happens to me too. When somebody hurts your feelings or they treat you unjustly or unkindly or unfairly, the longer you stay angry, the harder it is to get over it.
Now, let me say it again. The longer you stay angry, the harder it is to get over it. The quicker you forgive, the easier it is to do. The Bible says be quick to forgive. Quick to forgive. Why? There's a reason. You don't need that pressure in your life. You don't need to give the devil that open door in your life. He's already bugging us enough. We don't need to invite him to come in and live with us. I got a dozen happy people. Okay, Matthew 6:14-15. "For if you forgive people their trespasses their reckless, willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up the resentment". Leaving them, letting them go, drop it, forget it, stop talking about it, stop thinking about it, stop rehearsing it, stop going over and over it in your mind.
And, you know, I know what some of you are feeling, "But you don't know what they did to me"! But let me ask you a question. Is hating them solving it? Is it making it go away? Is there any way that you hating them is gonna reverse it and you can go back and say it didn't happen? No. They're out having a good time. They don't care you're mad. So guess who it hurts?
So here's what happens. When we stay angry at people, we're actually giving them permission to hurt us long-term. So then they just keep hurting us and keep hurting us and keep hurting us, so really when God tells us to forgive, I'll be honest with you, I don't think it's nearly as much for our enemy as it is for us. 'Cause sometimes, I gotta forgive people that don't even think they did anything. I would at least like to have a little repentance and, "I'm sorry and I treated you wrong". But God will have us forgive people even if they don't give us that. And that's really tough.
I tell you, hanging out with Jesus is a whole different deal, amen? Verse 15, "But if you do not forgive others", let's take this seriously, "If you do not forgive others their trespasses, their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up the resentment, neither will your father forgive you your trespasses". People say, "I just don't know what's wrong. I just don't feel right. I've lost my joy. I just can't hear from God. I just don't feel his presence". And I'll tell you the truth. Not all the time, but a lot of times, you just need to search your heart and say, "Who am I mad at"?
You know, I had a situation not too long ago where somebody did something that aggravated me and I got upset and was mad at 'em and, you know, I always do the quick official, "I forgive you" prayer. I mean, I've been around a while. I know that I need to forgive. And so, "O Lord, I choose to forgive, you know, neh-neh, I believe the best," on and on and on. But you know, I noticed, well, actually, I didn't notice for about 2 weeks, I was just doing it and not noticing it, and I just didn't wanna be around 'em, didn't wanna talk to 'em. It even aggravated me if they smiled at me. It was, like, "Don't act like you like me after what", c'mon.
And you know, I was having an issue with something and I started praying and asking God, "Is there anything here that I need to repent for? Is there something that's", you know, so often, when we're unhappy, we're sure it's you and you and you and you and you and you. But it's usually never us. We're not the source of our own misery and unhappiness. It's somebody else and if I can't find anybody here to blame it on, I'll blame it on the devil. And if that don't work, I'll even blame it on God. "Well, God, I would be happy if you would", amen? And so I just kind of thought, "You know what? I'm still a little bit mad". Just a smidge. You know, not a boatload. I wasn't gossiping about the person, I wasn't, you know, but it was just like, you know, that little bitter, like... You know how it is. "Oh, here comes sister brown, I'm gonna go another way".
You know what I used to hate when I went to the church I went to? That was back in the days when it was always, "Now, go love somebody with the love of the Lord". And you'd have to go find somebody and hug 'em and say, "I love you with the love of the Lord". I finally thought, "What is that anyway"? You know, real love is where are you when I need you? It's not hugging somebody in church, you know, on demand. And, you know, don't get mad at me if you hug each other with the love of the Lord in your church, that's... You know, I'm just trying to make a point. And nothing used to make me more aggravated than when the pastor would tell us to do that and I could see a person that I was mad at, coming for me. Ooh, I did not want to hug that person. Don't make me hug that person.
So, you know, if we're gonna forgive, it can't be a phony forgiveness. It's gotta be the real deal. You say, "But how can I do it"? I'll tell you what I believe is one of the key answers. It's two-part. Start praying for 'em. I said start praying for 'em. Do you really pray for your enemies? You can't just pray that they'll get what they deserve. "Give it to 'em, Lord. Give 'em what they deserve". No, we're supposed to pray that they'll be blessed. "But, Lord, I don't really want 'em to be blessed, if I'm honest". But see, you know what I think? If somebody has hurt you and they truly just don't get it, and you pray for them to be blessed, I think one of the first things that God will bless them with is some truth and some reality so they can repent. Because even if you forgive them, if they don't repent, it doesn't do them any good and they might not necessarily even repent to you but to get their life straight with God. We need to pray for people that they will be right with God.
So when you start praying for people, it's hard to keep hating somebody that you're praying for on a regular basis. And then the next thing is if the opportunity comes, and they have a need... We're diving in deep today, aren't we? And if the opportunity comes and they have a need, you be first one in line to help 'em. Ooh, Jesus! Now, this is real Christianity. I'm not talking, going and sitting on the church pew every Sunday and being proud of your bumper sticker. I'm talking about real Christianity, amen?
Okay, now 1 John 4:7 and 8. These are big. "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God: and he who loves his fellowmen is (born) of God and is coming progressively to know and understand God to perceive and recognize and get a better and clearer knowledge of him". So, if God is love, the more I learn about love, the more I learn about him. The more I learn to walk in love, the more I know how he behaves and what he would do. God is love, it's not just something that he does. "He who does not love has not become acquainted with God does not and never did know him, for God is love". Wow. All right, I'll read it one more time. Let me put it plainer. If we don't walk in love, then we don't know God. Period.
All right, now, man. Let's go to Ecclesiastes chapter 2, verse 1. Now, Solomon was a guy who had everything, tried everything, and still you'll see here in a minute he actually says, "I hated life". I hated life. And that's kind of what we're trying to get at here this week is how can you live a life that you love? How many of you want to love your life? All right, well see, a lot of you probably think, well, there's no way you can do that if you don't get a different life. And there may be some things that you need to change that could help, but by and large, what I'm telling you today is what gives any life quality. And it doesn't really matter how long we live, it's how well we live that really makes a difference.
Come on, now. It's not about quantity, it's about quality. And we get overly concerned about how long we're going to live, and we've got all these formulas for how we can stay happy and live a long time. But the point is, is how well are you living? Jesus only lived 33 and 1/2 years. Wow, look at what he did. It's still going on, and on, and on, and on today. And that's what I want. I want to live a quality life, where I can leave a legacy for people, where they'll still be benefiting from my life when I'm gone, amen?
All right, Ecclesiastes 2, we're going to read 11 verses. You think you can handle it? I want you to notice how many times Solomon says, "I" and "Myself". "I said in my mind, 'come now, I will prove you with mirth and test you with pleasure: so have a good time enjoy pleasure'. But this also was vanity (and emptiness, and falsity, and futility)"! So he said, "I just made my mind up I was just going to just find everything I could possibly do that would be enjoyable, and it ended up being useless. I still wasn't really happy". "I said of laughter, 'it's mad, and of pleasure, what does it accomplish'? I searched in my mind how to cheer my body with wine, yet the same time holding my mind and having it guide me with human wisdom. And how to lay hold of folly until I might see what was good for the sons of men to do under heaven all the days of their lives".
Now, watch this, "I made great works: I built myself houses, I planted vineyards, I made for myself gardens and orchards, and I planted in them all kinds of trees. I made for myself pools of water from which to water the forest and make the trees bud. I bought menservants, maidservants. I had servants born in my house, I had great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been seen in Jerusalem before me". Keep your focus, "I also gathered for myself silver and gold". Do you hear him saying anywhere in here that he was doing anything for anybody else? Come on, we're about to get a revelation here. "I gathered for myself silver and gold, and the treasure of kings and of the provinces. I got for myself men singers, and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men. Concubines I had very many".
Any man who wants more than one woman has got a problem. "So, I became great and increased more than all who were before me in Jerusalem. And also my wisdom remained with me and stood by me. And whatever my eyes desired, I kept not from them. I withheld not my heart from any pleasure, for my heart rejoiced in all my labor, and was my portion and reward. Then I looked on all that my hands had done and the labor I had spent in doing it, and behold, all was vanity". That means useless. "And a striving after the wind, and a feeding on it, and there was no profit under the sun". Ecclesiastes 2:17, "So I hated life". If this doesn't make the message that I'm trying to preach this weekend, I don't know what would. He's saying, "So, I hated life because what was done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after the wind, and a feeding on it. And I hated all my labor in which I had toiled under the sun, seeing that now I must leave it to a man who will succeed me".
Wow. He spent all this time trying to make himself happy. And he absolutely couldn't find any joy because all he had on his mind was himself. Well, you know, then he goes on to say in Ecclesiastes 12:13, "All has been heard". This is the very end of the book of Solomon. You should read Ecclesiastes. I like to read it every once in a while. It's just like so eye-opening. Maybe it kind of gives us, like, a fresh adjustment in our life. You know, it's like "What am I doing? What am I living for"? You know, are you just trying to climb the ladder of success? The day will come when you may find out your ladder's leaned against the wrong building.
You know, I think about, I'm putting together a message for somewhere I'm going to be Monday, and I was thinking about what I thought was important when I was 35. And what I know to be important now, it's just like I have to be embarrassed. But what I thought was important at that time and what I now know, for all intent and purpose, was useless. I remember when I thought one of the most important things in my life would be if I could be on staff at my church and have my own parking place out in front of the building. Have my name on the office door, and so concerned about what my title was going to be.
Come on, somebody's talking to me. Come on, have you ever worked at a place where different people had titles, and somebody got a title that sounded more important than your title? Come on, be honest. All right, see, there you go all over the room. I remember how I thought. I mean, I was over the women's ministry, and I did counseling and different things at this church. And I remember, like, when different people would be this, and that, and something else. And I was just kind of like the head of the women's ministry and I thought, "Well, I'm more important than that. Come on, give me a title".
And see, the point is when you have to have that to make you feel important, then you don't have a clue on what true importance is. Don't even begin to know. And now, you know what I think is important? That I might know him and the power of his resurrection. That I might be prepared to meet him. And that no matter who here doesn't like me, as long as he likes me and I'm getting along with him, everything's going to be all right.
Let me ask a question. Are you living for God? Is Jesus the center of your whole life? You know, if you came here today just to maybe hear a message that would help you what you want, I'm sure you're very disappointed, 'cause all I've been doing is telling you how you can forget about yourself, get yourself off your mind, and live to serve other people. But you know what happens when you do that? I mean, God shows out. I mean, he shows up and he shows out. You're going to have a much better life. You think you know what you want? Let me tell you something, what you may want right now is so pitiful compared to what God would like to give you. Have your name on the office door, get an important title, have your name on a parking place, get another degree? And I'm not against that, but you can have 20, and that doesn't make you any more important than the person who has none. And are you ready for this?
You might not even be as smart as they are. "Well". You know what? I don't have a lot of degrees, but I've got common sense. And that's what's important. Boy, we're rolling today, aren't we? "All has been heard, the end of the matter is," Ecclesiastes 12:13, "Fear God, revere and worship him, knowing that he is and keep his commandments". So he says, "Look, here it is. I lived for myself. I did everything that anybody could do. So, I ended up hating my life. And now, I got all this stuff that I've gathered, and I'm going to die, and I just got to give it to somebody else. Maybe somebody who don't even like me, I don't know". So he said, "After all my life, here's what I've learned. Put God first, love him with all your heart, and do what he tells you to do". Do what he tells you to do.
You know, a great scripture is Romans 11:36. "For from him and through him and to him are all things. For all things originate with him and come from him: all things live through him, and all things center in and tend to consummate and to end in him". Sounds to me like he's just pretty much all there is, amen? Now, maybe this is a little radical for some people, I don't know, but you know. The Bible says in John 12:24, "I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains just one grain: it never becomes more but lives by itself alone. But if it dies," and you do have a choice in this, by the way, "It produces many others and yields a rich harvest".
It was my choice. I could still be laying in bed thinking, "What about me? What about me"? But instead, we're here today. Amen. Here's a peach seed. Now, if I want anything else besides this, I gotta give this up. And see, a lot of times, we're so afraid we'll have nothing else that we keep what we've got, even as pitiful as it is. That's not gonna feed me. It's really pretty much no good for anything. But you know what? In my room, I've got a basket of peaches. And it's because somebody gave up the seed, and it produced a lot of others.
If I would give this up and plant it, and it takes time, it takes time. I'm not trying to tell anybody here today that if you start living a more sacrificial life and doing more for other people, that tomorrow you're going to have everything you want. Because God will check our motives. He'll see if we're obeying him just to get something, or if we're obeying him because we love him. Can't get by with anything with God. All of our lives are like this. Are you willing to plant yourself like Jesus did? Plant yourself like Jesus did. And you know, I don't know what that means for you. That doesn't mean you have to be doing what I'm doing.
Let me tell you something, we all have our own little sphere of influence, every single one of us. For you, it could be your family right now, or your extended family. It may be the place where you work, or the place where you go to school, your neighborhood. We all influence a certain amount of people. It could be anywhere, anything. But if you start going out about your daily life, wanting to do whatever you do for God and to serve him with it, you can have all kinds of fun. God wants you to enjoy your life. He wants you to have nice things. But don't just get so caught up in that that you forget about trying to serve him everywhere that you go. Let me tell you something, church is not the only place where Christians ought to be. We've had our little church club for too long.
I'm going to tell you a story. And I don't tell you these things for any reason other than for a lesson. I've learned over many painful years to really aggressively pray that God will show me who I can bless. And trust me, if you start doing that, God's going to show you. Now, it may be just listening to somebody. It may be giving somebody a compliment. It could be something that will cost you a little bit of money, a little bit of time. But if you start praying that God will show you things that you can do, and I mean get radical, "God, please don't let me go through this day without being a blessing to somebody. Please God, you've got to give me somebody to help. I got to do something for somebody". And you do it on purpose, you don't wait to feel like it. You do it on purpose. You know why? Because that's what you're created for. You cannot love your life if you're just living it for yourself.
So, I was going out to the mall one day. My son and his wife, a couple of our grandkids were with us, we were actually out of town. And so, I'm praying, "Lord, show me who I can bless today, show me who I can bless. I want to be used by you". And I went into Starbucks to see if they could do a certain kind of coffee that I like. And they didn't have the equipment to do that, but she said, "We've got a new French press in, and I'll make you a French press". I said, "Oh, I don't usually care for French press 'cause I don't like getting the grounds in the coffee". She goes, "Oh no, this one's different. This is a double filter, you're going to love it. Let me make it for you. If you don't like it, then I'll make you something else". So I said, "Okay".
So, she made this thing, and you know, she's quite different than me. Her hair was three colors. She had multitudinous piercings and many tattoos. But just as sweet as she could be, just very friendly. I mean, she's wanting me to be happy with this coffee. So, in the process, she said, "I just love this thing". She said, "I would really love to have one, but I just can't afford it right now". She said, "This would be great just like, you know, for camping trips or whatever 'cause you don't need much to get good coffee".
So, as soon as she said that, I had this little... How many of you know the little? "You could buy her one". Well, you know, then the first thing we think is, "Well, she's going to think I'm nuts. Walk in here and tell her I want to buy her a coffee pot". You know, today, you could get arrested for that kind of stuff. You know, I didn't want her to think I was being overly friendly or something. And so, I took a little walk, got my coffee. I really did like it, but you know, the Lord just wouldn't leave me alone. How many of you know how it is when he won't leave you alone? And can I tell you something? There is nothing worse than ignoring God, and then going home and regretting that you did it.
And so, I went back and got her attention. I said, "Listen, I'd like to bless you and just buy you one of those coffee pots". I mean, she acted like I shot her. "Ahh"! I thought, "Oh my gosh, don't make a scene, don't make a scene, don't make a scene". And she's like, "Oh, no, no, no, no, no, you can't do that". And I said, "No, please". I said, "I love to bless people. You'd be doing me a favor if you would let me". She said, "Well, I just don't have, I don't know why you would want to do that". I said, "Well, you were nice to me. You're a sweet girl. I just felt like you needed a blessing".
Well, we had the tears, and we cried, we did all this. She got the coffee pot, I went about my way, she went about her way. So, hour later, I decide I want to go to the bathroom. So, I go back in the department store, go upstairs in the bathroom. Lo and behold, who was in the bathroom? Coincidence? I don't think so. And so, I do my thing, she's done her thing, and I see her going out the door. And she said, "Oh, I have to ask you something". She said, "Can you please tell me why you are the kindest person I have ever met in my whole life"?
And of course, I'm certainly not the kindest person on the earth, but she apparently had never had anybody treat her that way. And so, I told her, I said, "Well, I'm a Christian. I love God. He's done a lot for me. And I just like to bless people". And so she says to me, she says, "Well," she said, "My mother died when I was 7. And I've been mad at", she didn't know what to call God. She said, "I've been mad at, you know, my higher power ever since then". I said, "Well, I think he sent me along today to let you know that he loves you. And he hasn't forgotten about you".
Now, you know what? I love when God uses me up here, but if you want to know the truth, that thrills me even more. How many of you know that so many times, we're so focused on what we want to do that we miss the miracle of the moment? Come on, are you missing the miracle of the moment in your life, and then wondering by the time you go to bed at night why you're not happy? I love my life. I love God, I love myself, I love people, I love my husband, I love my kids, I love my home. I think we need to get the word "Hate" out of our vocabulary, and we need to fill it up with the word "Love," amen?