Joyce Meyer - Finding Freedom Through Facing Truth
Father, thank you for the word tonight and I've done the part that I can do by preparing and getting ready and now I ask you to just set this message on fire and really, even if people have heard some of these things before, let it be like not just information, but revelation. Help us really hear what you want to say tonight. We approach your word with reverence and with meekness saying that we know that we need it. In Jesus' name, amen.
Okay, finding freedom through facing truth. We all want to be free but we're not all really great at facing truth. I know it took me a while and sometimes I still have to have God show me something several different ways before I finally get it. truth is the way things really are, not the way we think they are, or the way we would like them to be, or the way that we wish that they were. truth, I think we might say, is reality from God's point of view. truth is a central theme in the word of God. Jesus is the truth. The Bible says that he is the word of truth. The Holy Spirit is the spirit of truth and the Bible says that we, the children of God, are those who belong to the truth. In John 1:14 it says, "Jesus came full of grace and truth". In verse 17 it says, "truth came through Jesus Christ". John 4:24 says that he's seeking worshipers who will worship him in spirit and in truth.
One of my favorite scriptures and one of the first scriptures that I can say that God really started revealing to me 39 years ago when I really became a serious student of the Word was, "If you continue in my Word, then are you my disciples indeed and you will know the truth and the truth will make you free". It's not possible to be free without facing truth. Now we want to talk about spiritual growth because we all want to grow spiritually. And to be honest, if we don't want to grow spiritually, then we have to go back and kind of examine our whole relationship with God and say, "Am I really looking at this the right way"? You know, God wants to do things for us and he wants us to be happy but that's not all that there is to it. God needs us. He wants us to partner with him in seeing souls reaped for the kingdom of God. There are people every day in your life and my life that are, I don't know any other way to say this but to say, that are on the brink of going to hell, and God cares about them and he wants us to care about them. And he wants us to pray for people and to be a witness to them. I think we get too caught up in, "Doing" witnessing.
And to be honest, many, many, years ago when I was in the church that Dave and I went to for a long time, I was on an evangelism team, we went out, we both were, went out once a week on Wednesday nights with other members of the church and knocked on doors telling people about Jesus. I didn't really like it. It was hard for me to do, but I wanted to do something for God, and I was probably doing it more out of obligation than I was out of real concern for the people's souls. I was doing witnessing and yet at the same time, I did not have the power in my life to be a witness. I had not yet been introduced to the power of the Holy Spirit. And so in 1976, God touched my life in a major way. There was a great move of God all across the earth back then but thankfully we don't have to wait for some special move of God to receive his power. Anybody who's hungry will be fed. "Those who come to me," Jesus said, "I will in no wise cast them out".
And I was filled with the Spirit of God, it filled my soul, it filled my mind, he changed my desires. I wanted more than anything to be what God wanted me to be. And I really began to study the Word, not just read the Bible a little bit every day out of obligation, but to study the Word. And I think we say to people probably too much, "Now read your Bible, read your Bible". And I think we need to say more learn to study the Word. The Bible doesn't say read to show yourself approved. It says, "Study to show yourself approved, a workman that needeth not be ashamed". And your personal Bible study time and your personal time with God is more important to you than anything else in your life. And so, but not only did God touch my life in a major way, the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of truth, I mean went to work in my life like some kind of a weed eater or roto rooter or somethin'. I mean, it was just like, whoo! I mean, I had a few weeks of honeymoon and then it started.
And one of the first things that I remember is one day I was praying for Dave to change. I mean, I know it sounds funny, but it's the absolute truth. I mean I had learned some things about prayer by then and I was, you know, learnin' how to bind the devil, and rebuke the devil, and resist the devil. I mean I was loud and, you know, pounding on the floor, "Oh God, God, I pray that you would help Dave change. He needs to change. God, he needs to change". And honestly I almost felt like God shaking me and finally I was like, paid attention and I mean I heard, and I don't know if you think God talks to people or not but I can tell ya, he talks to me. I mean, you know, it's funny to me that when we pray, when we talk to God, it's prayer, when he talks to us, people will say we're schizophrenic. Well, I'm telling ya, you cannot have relationship without conversation and God wants to talk to us. Now he doesn't always talk in audible voices and words as we see it, but he speaks in a still, small, voice and he causes you to know things that you just know that you know that it's God.
And so while I was praying for Dave to change, the thing that I perceived in my spirit loud and clear that God was saying is, "Joyce, Dave is not the problem". And I honestly thought, well, who is? There's only me and him. If it's not Dave, then who is it? I mean I was so, so self-deceived. Come on now, I was so self-deceived that it never occurred to me that it was me. And for the next three days, God showed me what it was like to live in the house with me, and I cried for three days. I was so, oh my gosh, so sorry and so repentant for the attitudes that I had and the way that I behaved and the anger I displayed every time that I didn't get my way. And I'd like to say that I changed at that moment and everything got wonderful but it took time. Because, it happens little by little from glory to glory.
And it's almost like peeling an onion, you know. You, start with just that little outer layer and you know, pretty soon, you get down to the stinky stuff. Or it's like cleaning out your refrigerator, you know, you open the door and you smell something that doesn't smell very good and you know maybe we put a little baking soda in there. We spray a little room deodorizer in there and that covers it up for a little bit but sooner or later, you gotta get down on your hands and knees and you gotta take everything out of there and get down to the vegetable drawers and the fruit drawers. And then you find stuff. Like last week, I found a salad in my refrigerator that had been in there, I don't even know how many weeks it had been in there. And I opened that lid up, I couldn't wait to get that thing in the garbage disposal, well, I forgot it was there.
And, you know, sometimes we hide things away in our heart and we haven't dealt with them. We hide them away and they're causing a real stink in our life. And the Lord wants us to stop spraying some kind of room deodorizer over everything and invite him, yes, I said invite him. I double dare you to invite the Spirit of truth into your life tonight. Yeah, well, it's good you're not clapping real aggressively 'cause I mean, I can tell you it won't all be fun. But, oh my gosh, what freedom you will have later on. Does anybody in the building care about later on? Be an investor in life, not a gambler. Don't just try to see what all you can get by with. But, do the right thing, even if you're not getting a right result, invest in your relationship with God, spend time in the word, invite God to come in and really deal with you. Don't worry about anybody else, just let him deal with you. Amen? I mean, we all know the scripture, Matthew 7, "Why do you look at the speck that's in your brother's eye"? One translation says, "When you got a telephone pole in your own eye? Get the log out of your eye then you can see clearly how to take the speck out of your brother's eye".
In other words, if we don't let God work with us first, we wouldn't even possibly know how to bring godly correction to anybody else because we're gonna be just coming at 'em with a judgmental attitude because we've not really met ourselves. And I'll tell ya, very few people, I think, really know themselves and take real ownership for their issues and get to the point where they stop blaming and making excuses. So there we have it. Amen. Matthew 5:48. Now there's some scriptures that can really kinda, I don't know, make us a little uncomfortable. You ever read any scriptures that make you a little uncomfortable? Well, Matthew 5:48 is one that could certainly do that to me, especially, if I wasn't reading it from this amplified translation. Because it says, "You therefore must be perfect even as your Heavenly Father is perfect". Wow, but thankfully the amplified Bible explains it a little better and says, "Growing into complete maturity of godliness in mind and character".
Growing. So, we haven't reached the place of perfection but we need to have perfect hearts toward God of wanting to grow. Don't ever be satisfied to just be good enough. Don't ever be satisfied to just know that, "Well, you know, I believe I'm gonna go to heaven when I die". Be a person who wants to serve God and be on fire for him while you're here. You know, I had many years in my life where I was saved and I believed that I would have gone to heaven because I understood salvation by grace. And I had a love for God, but I didn't love God enough to sacrifice. I didn't love God enough to let him run my life. I liked having God in my life to go to him when I was desperate. I was on my way to heaven, but I wasn't taking anybody with me. Actually, the way I behaved, I could have kept some people out.
And, there are many other Christians that are capable of doing the same thing too. I tell people all the time, we need more than a bumper sticker, and some Christian Jewelry, and a big Bible, and a tape recorder. We have to have fruit and character. Growing is difficult. We have growing pains, but boy, is it wonderful. It is so wonderful. I know that you have grown and grown and grown in your relationship with God. And you groan while you're growing, amen? Ephesians 4:15, 'cause I worked really hard on this message and I want to preach it. "Rather, let our lives lovingly express truth in all things, speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly. Enfolded in love, let us grow up in every way and in all things into him who is the head, even Christ (the Messiah)". So if I'm understanding this right, it's saying that I cannot grow and mature spiritually without truth. I have to have truth to make progress. I have to have the truth of God's word and I need to apply it to my life.
"Hearers who are not doers," the Bible says, "Are deceiving themselves by reasoning that is contrary to the truth". We don't grow in God because we sit in church every Sunday and hear. We don't grow in God because we have all of Joyce's books and all of Joel's books and, you know, all of somebody else's CDs. You can have the t-shirt, the tape, all of it, and it doesn't mean anything if we're not doing it. And so we're gonna take a test tonight before this is over. I gave you a homework assignment last night. How many of you did your homework this morning? All right, that's about 50 people, that's cool. Amen. Well, I did mine. And actually, there was a couple of areas that I had to work on again at about 10 o'clock in the morning. I had to rededicate a couple of areas: mouth, attitude, thoughts. Those are biggies, so I just thought I gonna do those twice today. And I was home alone and you can't fight with anybody when you're home by yourself. The Spirit of truth, the Bible says in John 16, Jesus said when he leaves, he's gonna send the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, who will lead you and guide you into all truth. Wow.
And remember, it's not the truth about somebody else. I mean, I know that some of you are probably thinking, "Oh, my gosh, I wish my husband woulda came". "I wish my wife woulda came". "I wish my mother woulda came". "I wish my kids were here". Well, sweetheart, you're here. And I'm happier about it than you seem to be but... Psalm 51:6, now this is a very important scripture. Psalm 51:6, God says that he desires truth. "Behold, you desire truth in the inner being". So God wants us to be truthful with ourselves about ourselves. And, the only way that we can ever do that is to slow down and take a little time to look at yourself and ask yourself a few questions. And I really don't know how often we ever get around to doing this. Now, I have a handful of scriptures here. We're gonna throw them up on the overhead for you and I just want to read you these. Psalm 26:2, "Examine me, o Lord, and prove me: test my heart and my mind".
Now, I think that would be just a good place for us to start, and so we're gonna pray that if you really want it. Now if you don't want it, please don't pray the prayer. Because, this is not fun and games here tonight. The Holy Spirit's here, he hears what we're doing and if you're gonna open your mouth and say this, then I'm gonna tell you that God is gonna begin to do what we ask him to do and there's no running after this. So how many of you want to pray this with me? Alright, father, we pray in Jesus' name that you would examine us, prove us, and test us, and that your spirit would lead and guide us into all truth. Amen. Awesome. Then lamentations 3:40 says, "Let us test and examine our ways, and let us return to the Lord"!
So we always have an opportunity to repent, to see where maybe we've missed it or to see where maybe we have gotten weak and to return to the Lord. We don't examine ourselves unto condemnation, we do it so we can make progress, so we can see weak areas in our life or areas maybe where we've just began to slide a little bit. How many of you've noticed that, you know, there's a lot to keep up with as a Christian. So we need these messages because sometimes we'll get a little loose mouth disease and so we need somebody to come along and give us a good message again on the power of words. And it's like, it's not like we didn't know it. But boy, did we need to hear that. And that's kinda the way I feel about my preaching here this weekend. I just feel like that God just said, "Remind people what sin is". And it's not what the world says it is, it's what God says it is. It's not what television says it is, it's what God says it is. Amen?
And sometimes it's not even what other Christians say it is. I found out that I can't just do what all other preachers do or what all other Christians do because sometimes they're not doing what they should be doing. So each one of us is gonna give an account to God of ourselves and for our own actions. But I want to be able to stand before God and hear, "Well done now, good and faithful servant". And so, it frightens me sometimes when I think about the things that could be in my life, that I'm not even seeing. And I know that God covers us, and we're not responsible in many ways for what we don't know, but I don't want to not know because God tried to tell me and I wouldn't listen. I want to be sensitive to the touch of the Holy Spirit. I want to be sensitive to the touch of God.
If I'm being rude to somebody, I want to know it right away. If I'm mistreating somebody, I want to know it right away. I want to sense that conviction from God. If I'm about to tell a lie, my gosh, I lied to somebody last year. I couldn't believe that I did it. I lied. A couple days later, God said, "You lied". I'm like... I lied. I've been preachin' for 39 years, and I lied. Well, you know what? It wasn't good, but the thing that's freeing is I can stand here and tell you. My salvation is not based on that, and it has no hold over me, because I have faced the truth and brought it out in the open. Only things that are hidden have power over you. When you bring them out in the open, they lose their power. Amen? You can't hide. You can't cover up and hide, because what we hide torments us. We live our whole life in fear that someone is going to find out.
How many of you notice that, you know, there's a lot to keep up with as a Christian? So we need these messages, because sometimes we'll get a little loose-mouth disease, and so we need somebody to come along and give us a good message again on the power of words. And it's like, it's not like we didn't know it, but boy, do we need to hear that. And that's kind of the way I feel about my preaching here this weekend. I just feel like that God just said, "Remind people what sin is". And it's not what the world says it is. It's what God says it is. It's not what television says it is. It's what God says it is, amen? And sometimes it's not even what other Christians say it is. I found out that I can't just do what all other preachers do, or what all other Christians do, because sometimes they're not doing what they should be doing.
So each one of us is gonna give an account to God of ourselves and for our own actions. Last night, I called the message, "Preparing for Christ's return". And one of the reasons why I feel it's urgent for me to do this, and to begin to work a little more of this stuff into some of my messages, not that I've ever really shied too much off from doing it anyway, but I believe there is a greater possibility now than at any other time that Christ could return during our lifetime. Now, I know that every generation has believed that, but, if they believed they were in the last days back in the Bible, surely we are in the "Laster" of the last days than they were. And you know, I'm not concerned about it, because I believe that I'm gonna go to heaven. But I want to be able to stand before God and hear, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant". And I want the people that I teach to be able to do that, too. And if they don't, it's not gonna be because I didn't teach them.
1 Corinthians 11:28. Now, this is speaking about receiving communion, or the Lord's cup. "Let a man thoroughly examine himself, and only when he has done so should he eat of the bread and drink of the cup". Now, that's another whole doctrinal teaching I won't get into, except just to say that we need to be serious enough about our relationship with God, and today, we live in a casual society, and it's easy to get a casual relationship with God. But we need to have reverential fear and awe. So the Bible's basically saying, this thing about receiving the Lord's body and receiving his blood, to receiving the bread and the cup, is so divine. It's so holy. It's so precious, that we dare not just rush into do that with all kinds of sin in our life. We need to examine ourself first, ask God to forgive us, and then receive of his body and blood. And that takes some examination.
When Dave and I were in the Lutheran Church for many years, where I got a great foundation about salvation through grace, if we wanted to receive communion, we had to get to church early and go back to the office, and you had to announce that you wanted to take communion. You couldn't just go do it. You had to announce, and they wanted to make sure that they knew who you were, because they were so serious about it. They didn't want to give communion to just anybody who just wanted to take it, because they took this scripture seriously. And I don't know what you think, but I think there's a lot of scriptures that we need to take more seriously than what we do, and be careful that we don't just have a "God's my buddy" attitude. He is our friend, and sometimes in my morning prayer time, I'll tell Jesus, "You're my BFF, my best friend forever". But I don't mean irreverently. I also have reverential fear and awe of God that I know he's God. I know he's holy. And I don't believe that I dare stand up here and try to do what I'm doing if I've got a bunch of hidden junk in my life, and I'm not really letting God lead me and guide me into truth every day of my life. Amen?
You know, I believe that one of my assignments from God is to help people enter into a deeper walk with God. And one of the things that I ask people many times who come to my conferences, I'll ask sometimes, "Well, how many of you received Christ through watching the program"? Hands go up, you know. And then when I say, "How many of you have gotten a lot more serious about your walk with God through watching the program"? Lots more hands go up for that. And you know what? I'm just as excited about that. I mean, I'm glad when people are saved, but I don't want people to be saved and be miserable. I believe that one of my assignments is to help people know how to receive everything that Jesus died to give them, and to live the wonderful life of righteousness, peace, and joy that he died for us to have.
And so I'm just tellin' you, there is much more for you in a walk with God than just showing up at some church once a week, sleeping through a 45-minute service, and thinking you've put your time in with God, amen? It's about a lifestyle. We serve God with a lifestyle. He is seeking worshipers who worship him in spirit and in truth and reality. 1 Corinthians 11:31, "For if we searchingly examined ourselves detecting our shortcomings and recognizing our own condition, we should not be judged and penalty decreed by the divine judgment". I'm gonna read this again. "For if we searchingly examined ourselves detecting our shortcomings and recognizing our own condition, we would not be judged and penalty decreed by the divine judgment".
Now, I will tell you, I don't believe that we need to go around and be sin-conscious all the time. I believe that we need to be God-conscious, but I do believe that it's good for all of us to just take a little time, possibly even once a week, or at the end of each day, five minutes, and just have a little short meeting with yourself. Some of you need to make an appointment with yourself, because you haven't spent any time with yourself in a long time. Matter of fact, you've gotten really good at staying so busy that you've become an expert at running from yourself. Isn't it true, we can just stay so busy, that we don't have time to deal with anything. We can even be so busy workin' for God that we can't hear anything God says.
Galatians 6:4, last one, "But let every person carefully scrutinize and examine and test his own conduct and his own work. He can then have the personal satisfaction and joy of doing something commendable in itself alone without resorting to boastful comParison with his neighbor". Now, satan is the deceiver. Jesus comes full of grace and truth, but satan is the deceiver, and to be deceived means to believe a lie. To be set free means to believe the truth. It's just that simple. Deception is satan's entrance into our lives. 1 Thessalonians 2:10, we're not gonna have to turn there, but it says, "Those who did evil did not welcome the truth, but they refused to love it".
Wonder how many people are just so deeply mired in sin and doing all kinds of wretched things? And nobody's gonna tell me that God hasn't tried at some point to get to them, and at some point, they had to turn away from truth and decide to go their own way. Now, we're gonna talk for a minute about David and Bathsheba and Uriah. And many times when we hear about David, it's only David and Bathsheba. David sinned with Bathsheba. But I'm gonna show you tonight from scripture that God himself says that what David did to Uriah was much worse, because that was a planned deception and a cover-up. What he did with Bathsheba was a lustful temptation that he acted on in a moment of time. Wrong, yes, but the thing with Uriah took time to work out. It took time to accomplish that. And David had to willfully and purposely not listen to God in that situation. And so his sin with Bathsheba was wrong, but covering up his sin was worse than the sin.
So are you hearing me? So, sin is yes, wrong, but it's the cover-up of our sin that's even worse. Adam and eve sinned, but their bigger mistake was they tried to cover themselves with leaves. Didn't work. God had to cover them with animal skins, and in order to get those animal skins, animals had to die. Blood had to be shed. Come on, there's a message all the way in the garden. You can't cover your sins, only the blood can cover us, and cleanse us, and wash us. But as long as we're trying to cover it up, and then even worse, they hid from God. And so, here I believe we have the value of confessing our sins. I don't personally think that we have to mention every sin to God, or otherwise, if we don't, it's not gonna be forgiven. Jesus died for all of our sins, past, present, and future. And my sins that I've not even committed yet are already paid for, and all I need to do is receive that forgiveness, be washed. But I can't receive forgiveness from something that I'm ignoring, amen?
Now, listen to what I'm gonna say. All sin can be forgiven, but it cannot be ignored, amen? All sin can be forgiven, but it cannot be ignored. So I believe that confession is so valuable to me, because it gets things out in the open. I remember one time when I was praying, "Oh, God, forgive me. I missed it". And the actual definition of sin does mean to miss the Mark, but we need to call it what it is. It's sin. And I said, "Oh, God, forgive me, I missed it". And I heard the Lord say, "Missed what? What did you do"? "Well, Lord, you know. You know what I did". And I heard him say, "I want to hear you say it". Because you know what? "I missed it" sounds sweet. But to say, and this was what I was dealing with, "Okay, I was jealous of my friend's blessing". Oh, my gosh, that hurt. Saying "I missed it" didn't hurt. I didn't feel that. Even to say "Forgive my sins" didn't hurt too much. I'm used to that. But to say, "Forgive me for being jealous of my friend," oh, my gosh.
Now, that hurts me, because I should know better than that. I'm so blessed in my life. So then, when I call it what it is, here's what happens. Then I can truly repent. Come on, now. If I call it what it is, God doesn't want me just to examine myself and face truth so I can spit out every awful thing that I do. But he wants everything between us to be clear and clean and free. And he doesn't want us to live, even out in our lives, with the fear all the time of being found out. And that's why sometimes it's even good to confess our faults to one another. Have a trusted friend or a spouse that if you really got a bondage hanging on to you, sometimes it can be broken just by going to somebody else and saying, "Listen, I am having a problem with this, and I don't seem to be able to get free from it. So I'm confessing it to you and asking you to pray with me". Now, there's a little embarrassment in that, but it breaks some things off of our flesh and sets us free.