Joyce Meyer - How To Win Your Battles
We are in a spiritual war, there's no doubt about it. And Ephesians 6:12 says we war not against flesh and blood. Just stick with me this morning and believe me when I say your circumstance is not your problem. The people that irritate you are not your problem. There's something behind that, that is the real problem. And when Satan works through a person, let's just say maybe he works through a person to try to keep you upset all the time. Anybody have a person like that in your life, it's like you get up, you're having a pretty good day, and whoops, they show up and it's all over? Well, the way to win your battles is to realize, have your eyes wide open, realize what the enemy's trying to do, and respond the exact opposite from the way he wants you to respond.
You know, if we'll stop letting the enemy control us, we can be a great witness to other people. You know, the enemy tried to use me in the beginning days of my marriage to make Dave unhappy. Because I was unhappy, and so when a person's unhappy, then he can easily work through that person to try to make other people unhappy. But Dave wouldn't let me make him unhappy. He stayed happy no matter what I did. And it was infuriating to me for a period of time. Remember I said for a period of time, but after a while, it began to impress me. And I began to realize he's got something that I not only don't have, I've never seen anybody have it because I grew up in a home that was full of turmoil, and everybody just responded emotionally to everybody else's emotional response.
But here's a man who is calm, stable. And he would just tell me, you know, "I want to love you, but if you won't receive it, there isn't anything I can". I remember when he said to me, "You know what? I've tried to make you happy, and you really are determined you're not going to be happy, and so I'm not going to try to make you happy anymore, but I am going to enjoy my life". So, now, what would happen in some of the relationships that you have if you would make that decision today? "I'm going to pray for that person, I'm going to show them the love of God, but I am not going to let the devil work through them to steal my joy that Jesus died to give me". Don't let somebody else's bad choice determine your destiny. That's worth writing down. Don't let somebody else's bad choice determine your destiny.
Ephesians 6:12, "We are not wrestling with flesh and blood," get ahold of that. "We are not wrestling with flesh and blood contending only with physical opponents, but against the despotisms, the powers, the master spirits who are the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere". How much plainer can it get than that? We're dealing with enemy demonic spirits. And I know when you start talking about demons and evil spirits that, you know, there's a part of us that just goes, "Ew, do we have to talk about that today"? Well, somebody better talk about it. 'cause I'll tell you, for most of my life... Well, not most of my life 'cause I've lived a long time since then, but I mean, up until the time that I was probably close to 40, I mean, I just went to church every week and I never heard a good sermon on the devil. And I don't think that's right.
We need to let people know they have an enemy, and they need to be well-versed in what the Bible says about Satan, and the devil, and demons, and evil spirits. And we need to know according to the word how to test and try the spirits, and not believe everything that comes along. Come on. God has given us the ability to have discernment. If we'll live by what we sense in our heart instead of off the top of our head, we can even avoid being so desperately hurt by other people who pretend to be one thing and turn out to be something else. How many times do you just sense that something's not right, something's not right, something's not right, but you can't really put your finger on it? You don't really get it, you don't really understand what it is.
And so, you go ahead and go with your head and end up in a big mess. I've learned to pay attention to that. It's like, "Mmm, I think I'll just put the brakes on here and be a little bit more careful. I don't want the enemy to use people anymore to try to destroy me". And so, I went to church for all those years, and I don't know what it was I thought about the enemy, but I certainly never, I mean, I never heard a message that he was my problem, that it was the devil who worked through my dad to try to destroy my life, and that he in fact did that because God knew that because I had a call on my life and God intended to use me, and so from the very moment that I opened my little baby eyes, the devil was there trying to destroy me. My first name is not Joyce, it's Pauline. And Pauline Joyce means little preacher with a joyful spirit. So, my father, who named me, didn't realize that even though he was abusing me, every time he called me, he was saying, "Little preacher with a joyful spirit". And you know what? I've got the greatest testimony you can have, I'm still here, amen?
And so are you, and we're learning every day. And every day, I want to get smarter and smarter, and I want to recognize the workings of the enemy more and more. I didn't know it was the enemy working through my dad, and so I played right into the enemy's hands. My dad hurt me, and I spent my life hating him. What I needed to do was hate the devil, and learn how to get him back. And I wasn't getting him back by hating my father, and being bitter, and blaming all men for what my father did to me. Come on, are you seeing the pattern? The way to get him back is to do the exact opposite of what he wants you to do, is to forgive and to help as many people as you possibly can help. That's how you get the enemy back, doing the exact opposite of what he wants you to do.
I get the enemy back now every time I get up here and open my mouth, and I can tell you he is not happy about today. Right? Every time you forgive somebody who hurts you, you're slamming the door in the devil's face. Every time you have an opportunity to stay bitter and angry, and you refuse to do it, but instead maybe you pray for that person or purposely go help them, oh my gosh, the devil is just having a breakdown. Jesus rebuked satan, not people. Matthew 16:21, "From that time forth Jesus began clearly to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders and the high priests and the scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised from the dead".
So, now Jesus is just trying to explain to his disciples what's about to happen, what's going to happen. "And Peter took Jesus aside to speak to him privately and began to reprove him and charge him sharply". Can you imagine how much pride and how much stupidity do you have to have to do that? But see, even though Peter loved Jesus, and even though he was going to be a great man of God, he had weakness that the enemy was able to work through, and his weakness was pride and fear. And you can see that in other situations in the Bible. When he denied Christ, it was because of fear.
Well, I don't know exactly what all was going on here in Peter's mind, but I have a feeling that part of it was, "Well, if he's about to suffer and we're with him, then that means we could be in danger too". Whatever he thought, he definitely wasn't seeing things the right way. So, he said, "Oh no, this must not.. No, no, this is not right. This must not happen". Well, what if Jesus would've listened to Peter? Come on, how many people have you listened to that maybe have caused you to miss your destiny? "Oh, no, no, you might as well forget that. You couldn't do that. No, no, you don't have the gift, the talent for that".
Boy, when God first called me to teach, I was friends with a group of people that, I mean, we came from a culture and a background where women didn't do that. Well, see, I didn't know that God couldn't use women, so I just believed what he said, and started doing what I thought he was telling me to do. And somebody said to me, "Somebody told me", or it was a group of ladies, "Somebody told us that you said that you think that someday, you're going to have one of the biggest ministries in the world ever run by a woman. That's not possible. We've been talking about it, and with your personality, that's just not possible". Well, like I said, I'm still here. Well, you know what? They really were not trying to be mean to me, it was the enemy working through their carnal thoughts, trying to get me to believe that I was all wrong for the job, and that God had not called me.
See, satan will work through people. That's why you've... It's not that we don't want to listen to people, but you have to listen to God first. We must obey God rather than man. Don't miss your destiny because the enemy's working through somebody else, trying to tell you what you can't, and what you're not, and what you never will be. You listen to God, who says I can do all things through Christ who is my strength. And God told Saul, "When the anointing comes upon you, you'll be turned into another man".
Let me tell you something, whatever you are in the natural, when God's anointing comes on you, you can become a totally different creation. Verse 23, "But Jesus turned away from Peter and said to him, 'get behind me, satan!'" are you seeing this? "'you're in my way you're an offense and a hindrance and a snare to me, for you are minding what partakes not of the nature and the quality of God, but of men.'" 1 Peter 5:8, "Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind)," that means serious, "Be vigilant and cautious at all times: for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring in fierce hunger, seeking someone to seize upon and devour".
Man, just like a lion roams around at night looking for prey. Jesus is the lion of the tribe of Judah, and satan comes roaring like a lion, seeking someone to devour. Well, everybody needs to make their mind up today, "It's not going to be me. It's not going to be me". We must learn to live more carefully, be alert. The Bible says, "Watch and pray". We need to watch and pray. The moment that you feel jealousy trying to get into your heart, you hear about a blessing from a friend, well, maybe it's a friend that you, you know, you love them with the love of the Lord, but you don't really like them too much.
And maybe you have a friend like that. And they got something that you've wanted a long time, and you still don't have one. And you can feel that jealousy starting to rise up and kind of a resentful attitude. Well, you know, right then if you're alert, that's the time to say, "Nope, I resist you, satan. You are not going to give me a bad attitude. I'm happy for them. And God, I thank you that you blessed them". We got to resist. We can't just let these things happen.
Ephesians 5:15 says, "Look carefully then how you live". Who are your friends? What kind of people are you hanging out with? Do you hang around with people that make you better, or people that drag you down? Do you hang around people that tempt you to sin? How about hanging out with some people that edify you, and lift you up, and challenge you, and make you a better person? When you're around them, you want to be nicer, you want to be kinder, you want to have better manners, you want to be more polite. You can change a lot in your life just by getting around some better people. Satan waits for us to open a door. He just waits and lurks for us to open a door.
Ephesians 4:26 and 27, "When you're angry, don't sin". Let's read that properly. It doesn't say that getting angry is a sin. It says, "When you feel anger, don't sin". Anger is a natural emotion. When somebody hurts you, you're going to feel anger. But the point is, is we have the control, the self-control as a gift from God, where we don't have to respond according to the way we feel. "When you're angry, don't sin. Don't ever let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury, your indignation) last until the sun goes down".
In other words, look at me when I tell you this, don't go to bed mad. There's no telling what kind of advantage the enemy takes over us when we go to bed mad. If you go to bed mad, you're going to wake up mad. And another day's going to be ruined. Some of you have been going to bed mad for 20 years. Maybe it's time for a turnaround in this place today, amen? It's time for you to realize no matter what somebody's done to you, being angry at them is not going to solve the problem, and they're not the real problem to start with. They are somebody that's deceived, and the enemy is using them trying to get to you.
Now, that doesn't mean they're not responsible for their behavior. That doesn't mean that, you know, we don't, "Oh, well, it's not your fault, it's just the devil using you". Yeah, it is because each one of us have a responsibility to learn the Word of God and not let the enemy use us. But maybe what we need to do today, instead of being so concerned about who the enemy's using to get to us, let's make sure that the enemy's not using us to get to somebody else. I'm quite sure the enemy has used me a number of times to hurt people's feelings. You know, people may not remember everything you said to them, but I'll tell you something, they will remember, they'll always remember how you made them feel. And we have the opportunity to either let God work through us or let the enemy work through us. God's also looking for people that he might use.
Ephesians 5:15, "Look carefully how you live. Live purposefully and worthily. Don't let the sun go down on your anger".
Ephesians 4:27, "Leave no such room or foothold for the devil. Give him no such opportunity".
Alright, now, the war that we're fighting is a spiritual war, it's not an actual war, and much of it takes place in your mind. Therefore, that's why I talk a lot about the battlefield of the mind. The mind is kind of like a battleground on which we win or lose our battles. God wants us to have our minds renewed with the truth of his word, but the enemy wants to lie to us and get us to believe those lies. And then he builds strongholds in our mind. And a stronghold is a place where an enemy digs in and hides. Do you know that I can tell you and know for a fact that I'm right that many of you are sitting here today and you are believing lies?
You believe things about yourself, you believe things about your past or your future, you may even believe things about God or other people that absolutely do not agree with the Word of God. But sometimes, we don't even pay enough attention to our own thoughts to realize that they're our real enemy. Come on, what have you been thinking about today so far? Some of you have been thinking good stuff, but some of you haven't. It's a fight.
2 Corinthians 10:4 and 5, "The weapons of our warfare are not physical weapons of flesh and blood, but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and the destruction of strongholds, inasmuch as we refute arguments and theories and reasonings, and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the true knowledge of God. And we lead every thought and purpose away captive unto the obedience of Jesus Christ (the anointed one)".
So, every thought must come under submission to the Lord Jesus Christ. You have authority as a believer. All the way back in Genesis, God gave man authority. He told him to subdue the earth, and he gave them authority over everything else that he had created. Well, when Adam sinned, he gave the authority that God had given him to the enemy. Jesus now has taken it back for us, but it only works for those who believe the word and are willing to step out in faith, and be the person that God wants them to be. I am not going to let the devil run my life. I am not going to let him ruin my life. I'm going to be all that God wants me to be, and I'm going to teach as many people as I can possibly teach the truth of God's word. And you're going to do the same thing.
Luke 10:19, one of my favorite scriptures. "Behold, I have given you authority and power. Behold, I've given you authority and power to trample upon serpents and scorpions and physical and mental strength and ability over all the power that the enemy possesses: and nothing shall in any way harm you".
Okay, but now let's take a better look at this. God's given us authority and power, Satan only has power. "Behold, I have given you authority and power over all the power that the enemy possesses". The enemy has no real authority because Jesus stripped him of his authority, but we give him authority if we believe his lies if we don't know who we are, and that the greater one lives in us. "For this purpose was the Son of God manifest, to destroy the works of the wicked one". Everybody say it, and say it like you mean it, "The devil has no authority over me". How many of you think this is good for you today?
The way to win your battles, now, listen to what I'm going to say, the way to win your battles is to realize, have your eyes wide open, realize what the enemy's trying to do, and respond the exact opposite from the way he wants you to respond. Now, let me tell you something. Before you start doing that, you better know who you are in Christ. You need to know that God's given you this authority. Luke chapter 4, verse 1, "Then Jesus, full of and controlled by the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led in by the Holy Spirit where during 40 days and nights in the wilderness where he was tempted and (tried, tested exceedingly) by the devil".
Now, this says that the Holy Spirit led Jesus into that situation where he was going to be tempted and tried by the enemy. Now, I'm sure that doesn't make a lot of sense to us, but you know, sometimes God will allow us to be in a situation because he wants us to have a victory that we can put in our belt that will become valuable to us later on. See, I've been through stuff in my life, and you've been through things in your life. And I've had some victories, and I've seen the power of God work in my life, so I'm not nearly as afraid of the enemy as what I might've been 40 years ago because I've seen God work.
Come on, come on. That's why I said last night you don't have to be afraid of trouble. We don't have to be afraid of difficulty and hard times. We're anointed for hard. Did you hear me? We are anointed for hard. We have the power of the Holy Spirit in us. We don't have a spirit of wimpy and timidity and, you know, "I can't, and it's too hard". No, we can do whatever we need to do. And whatever God asks us to do, he gives us the strength and the grace to do it. Let me tell you something, you may be raising a hard to manage child. Well, you know what? If you've got that child, God's going to give you the grace to do what you need to do, but you need to be careful about your words and stop going around saying, "This is too hard, I can't do this. This is driving me crazy. I don't think I can do", no, you say, "I can do what I need to do through Christ".
So, Jesus is there in this difficult situation, and the devil starts talking to him. Verse 3, "Then the devil said to him," yep, "Then the devil said to him, 'if you are the Son of God.'" one of the things the enemy likes to do is try to make you think, "Well, who do you think you are? Who do you think you are, Joyce, to stand up there and tell people to take authority over the devil? Well, who do you think you are? Well, you don't have any degree from any Bible college. Who do you think you are"? I'm anointed by God to teach the word. I'm his child, I'm called by God, and God's anointing gives me the authority that I need to do what I'm doing. And, but see, I want you to believe the same thing about whatever it is that God wants you to do in your life. We're qualified by God, not degrees. Come on, let's have some fun today. "Then he said to him, 'if you are the Son of God". Not if I am, I am a child of God. "'then turn these stones into bread.' and Jesus said to the devil".
Now, you know, I'm not going to take the time to go all the way through this, but we see three different instances the devil said to Jesus and Jesus said to the devil, the devil said to Jesus and Jesus said to the devil. So, I'm trying to prove to you that Jesus himself talked back to the enemy. So, if he can talk back to him, then you can talk back to him. "Shut up, devil. You're not going to run my life. No, I refuse to stay angry all day. No, I'm not going to sit in this house and feel sorry for myself all day. Get thee behind me, satan. No, I'm not going to be jealous of my friend. God's in control of what I have and what I don't have, and I'm putting my trust in him. No, I'm not going to compare myself with somebody else. I don't have to pray the way they pray, or do what they do. I'm an individual, and God has a plan for me. No".
And I will tell you this, if you're not going to do this in your own home, in your own privacy, then nobody can ever help you walk in victory. I guess maybe 25 years ago, I realized that I had never really enjoyed my life, not really. First of all, I was a workaholic, and I had all kinds of issues from my past. And even though by then, I was teaching the Bible, I just didn't really know how to enjoy my life. And I made my mind up based on scripture, I am going to learn how to enjoy my life. And I'll tell you what, when I would go to do something fun, the devil would try to make me feel guilty.
I remember standing on my staircase one day and saying, "Shut up, I will enjoy my life". And maybe you're waiting for somebody else to do for you what only you can do. Maybe you've got to get a little more determination. Maybe you need a little fire in your belly when you go home to say, "That's it, I've had enough. You're not running my life not one more day".
Now, we have weapons, there's ways that we can fight the enemy, but they're not what you would think. You overcome evil with good. You got to get this today. Come on, this is a big secret. You got to know who your enemy is, and you got to know how to fight him. Satan is your enemy, and you don't fight him the way that you would think. It's exact opposite. When he's mean to you, you be good to somebody else. That's how you fight the devil. When somebody hurts you, you pray for them. Oh, this is so good if you can get this today. Lord have mercy.
Now, praise and worship are both weapons of warfare. Keep singing. And if you don't sing, well, then hum. Come on. You know what praise is? Praise, I mean, it's probably a lot of different things, but I love what the Greek says about praise. It's a tale, or a narrative, or a story that you tell about the goodness of God. So, praise is not just when we come together like this and we sing songs. Praise is you having lunch with somebody, and instead of talking about your problem again, come on, instead of talking about your problem again that they're already really tired of hearing, try to find something that God has done for you at some time in your life, and tell a good tale on God.
See, that's what the enemy wants us to do. He wants to give us problems, and he wants us to rehearse them over and over and over. I don't mean to be rude when I say this, but I just got to do it. Just shut up about your problems. I mean, yeah, sometimes we need to vent and talk to somebody. Well, do it and then get over it. Everybody's got problems. And it doesn't help. The more we focus on our problems, the bigger they get. We've got other things that we can talk about. And I don't know about you, but I am so tired of talking about everything that's wrong in the world. Lord have mercy. I hate the news. I mean, if you don't know who you are in Christ, you can just look at the headlines and get depressed.
And I know we have real problems and we can't ignore them, but let's also talk about some of the good things that God is doing in the earth, amen? We need to do that. Never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never take your armor off. Remember what I said? We're not wrestling with flesh and blood, contending only with physical opponents, but we're wrestling with evil, wicked spirits. They're the evil spirits that rule the world, and they dwell in darkness, and they want to rule us. "Therefore," verse 13, "Therefore put on".
Now, put on is something you got to do on purpose. I got up this morning and I put on my clothes. I didn't stand in front of the closet and say, "I hope I get dressed". I didn't expect somebody else to come over and dress me. I put on my clothes. And listen, any woman can tell you if you don't like the way you look in something, you will keep putting on things until you find the right thing. And I want to tell you that as believers, some things that we put on don't look good on us. I'm talking about attitudes. When you put on a sour face all day, it don't look good on you. It's not what you're created for. You're created for joy and a smile.
That book about "Seize the day" is a lot about this put on and put off thing. It's been very powerful teaching for me. So many places in the Bible, it says, "Put on Christ. Put on the new man. Put on peace. Above all that you put on, put on love". And you know what that means? Means these are things that we decide to do on purpose. They're pieces of armor that God has given us to fight the enemy, but we can drag them around with us, or we can decide to put them on and be the people that God's created us to be. Verse 13, "Therefore put on God's complete armor, that you might be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day of danger, and, having done all the crisis demands, stand firmly in your place".
Wow, so you do what you know to do, you do your responsibility, but then you cast your care, and you stand firmly in your place, and you say, "I am a child of God. He loves me, and he will take care of this, and I am not going to live in fear". And it's not going to do any good to stand around and say, "Well, I wish I didn't feel this way. I wish I didn't feel this way". Instead of doing that, say, "I don't care how I feel. I know what the word says, and I'm not going to let my feelings control me". You know, if you don't need this today, I'll just preach to myself 'cause I need it.
Now, just quickly as we go through here 'cause I've got something I want to get to before I'm done. You know, if you study these pieces of armor, you'll find that there's nothing for your backside. That's because God never expects us to run. So, what do we have here? Tighten the belt of truth. Tighten it. That means when you're in battle, you hang onto this like never before. You tighten your belt when you think you're in danger of losing your pants. So, tighten the belt of truth means, okay, you might be in danger of losing your faith in this battle, so you better hang on to this tighter than you ever have before. Put on the breastplate of righteousness. Know who you are in Christ.
When the devil comes and he condemns you, and tries to tell you how no good you are, and remind you of everything that you've done wrong, instead of getting all upset about it, say, "Thank you for reminding me. It just reminds me how good God is that he's forgiven me of all my sins. Don't be dragging up the past to me because God's already told me to let go of what lies behind, and press on to the things that are ahead". Ooh, I'm getting happy. Put on your shoes of peace. Hold your peace. Let peace be your umpire. Boy, it makes the enemy mad when he does his very best to upset you, and you just stay peaceful. That is probably one of the most challenging things to do. Hold your peace.
You say, "Well, I wish I had some peace". Well, you do because Jesus said, "My peace I leave with you". He's given us peace, we got to just stop giving it away, right? No, no, I mean, go lock yourself in a bathroom, go out and sit in your car in the garage, do anything. Get away from what's upsetting you, and just talk to yourself for a minute. Lift up the shield of faith. That means walk in faith, walk in faith, walk in faith, walk in faith. When fear knocks on your door, send faith to answer. Put on the helmet of salvation. Think saved. Think like a person who is a child of God. And then wield the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God. That basically means just what I was talking to you about, speak the word, use the word, believe the word, meditate on the word. The Word of God is a weapon. Now, keep laughing. Your laugh is a weapon.
Come on, why did God give us a laugh? I think that's interesting. Why did he give us a laugh? Because he wants us to laugh. "Laughter doeth good like a medicine".
Job 5:19 through 22, "He will rescue you in six troubles: in seven nothing that is evil for you will touch you". Do you see that? "He will rescue you in six troubles: in seven nothing that's evil for you will touch you". You can have seven problems at one time and you still got the victory. "In famine, he will redeem you from death, and in war from the power of the sword. You shall be hidden from the scourge of the tongue," I like that. No matter what people say about you, you can be protected in God's presence. "You shall be hidden from the scourge of the tongue. Neither shall you be afraid of destruction. When it comes," are you ready? "At destruction and famine you shall laugh. Neither shall you be afraid of the living creatures of the earth".
Psalm 2, verse 4 says, "He who sits in the heavens laughs".
Psalm 37:12 and 13, "The wicked plot against the uncompromisingly righteous". See, the wicked plot against those who are trying to live righteously. The devil plots against those who are trying to live righteously. Don't be surprised when you try to take a step to go forward and the enemy comes against you. "The wicked plot against the uncompromisingly righteous, (the upright in right standing with God): they gnash at them with their teeth. The Lord laughs at the wicked because he sees that their day of defeat is coming".
Nehemiah 8, "The joy of the Lord is your strength". Come on, every day have several good belly laughs. Find some funny friends. Some of you are so serious, you're so deep, you don't even know where you're at anymore. Come on, let's lighten up a little bit. And I mean, if you don't have anything else to laugh at, laugh at yourself. Jesus said, "I came that you might have and enjoy your life, and have it in abundance, to the full, until it overflows".
And then one last thing I want to tell you that is a great protection for your life, and that's just plain old spending time with God. Let me tell you something, when you walk around with the presence of God on you, the enemy does not know what to do with you. Psalm 91:1, "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty, whose power no foe can withstand". Come on.