Joyce Meyer - My Favorite Scriptures
I want to start in Luke chapter 19, the first 8 verses. "And Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through it. And there was a man called Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector, and he was rich". So, this is telling us that Zacchaeus was not a real honest guy. Tax collectors were probably hated more than any other group of people in those days. And so, he not only collected taxes, but he obviously got rich himself by taking other people's money. Maybe something about Zacchaeus wasn't satisfied with his life because he'd heard about Jesus, and he was trying to see Jesus, which one he was, because Jesus was coming. And it says he could not see him because he was small in stature.
Now, let's just be plain, that means he was real short, okay? And if a person is real short and there's a big crowd, and there's something you're wanting to see, you might feel that, that was like a little deficit or a handicap for you. But the thing that you're going to find interesting that the reason why I love this group of scriptures is because Zacchaeus didn't let what was going to be a little problem for him stop him. Everybody say, "Determination".
See, if you ever want to have what Jesus died to give you, you've got to have a boatload of determination. And that determination means that you have this attitude, "If anybody can have what Jesus died to give them, then I can have it. If God can bless anybody, then God can bless me". Now, come on, I'm talking about having a more aggressive attitude. If God can bless anybody, he can bless me. If God can do that for anybody, he can do that for me. If he did it for you, he can do it for me. All too often, we look at what's wrong with us, and why we can't and can't and can't and can't. And we need to remember that God is no respecter of persons, and whatever we will trust God for and believe for, if it's in his word, not just 'cause you decide you want to, but if it's in his word, you can count on God doing that in your life at the right time and in the right way.
Well, Zacchaeus wanted something, but he had a challenge in front of him, and I love what happened here. He was trying to see Jesus, but he was small. Verse 4, "So he ran on ahead and climbed up in a sycamore tree in order to see him, for he knew that he was about to pass by that way". Now see, I have this little thing that I like to say, "More people need to be willing to climb a tree if that's what it's going to take to get what they want".
And you can translate that however it fits into your life. "So he ran ahead and he climbed up in the tree. And when Jesus reached the place", and I love this, I want you to get a picture of this. Try to imagine this scene. Big crowd, guy wants to see Jesus. I mean, huge crowd. He's really not a very good guy, he's got problems in his life, but maybe he's ready for a change. He wanted to see Jesus, couldn't see him, should he just give up? Is it going to be too hard? Should he just say, "Oh, this is not going to work for me", and walk off? No, he ran ahead of everybody else and he climbed up in a tree.
"And when Jesus came passing by", I love this part of the story, it says that he looked up. Now, why would Jesus be walking along and decide to look up in a tree? I'll tell you why, because there was something in the attitude of Zacchaeus that drew the spirit of Jesus to him. Come on now. And so, he said to him, now watch this, "Zacchaeus, hurry up and come down because I must stay at your house today". Who does Jesus like to hang out with? People that have got a determined attitude that they're not going to quit and give up. If we want the presence of God in our lives, then we've gotta have the kind of attitude that he wants us to have. And that means I don't care what I'm not, Jesus is everything that I need. And so, I may be short, but I can find a way to do what he wants me to do.
Come on, come on, come on, come on. Stop thinking about what you don't have, and how you weren't raised right, and how you didn't get this, and you're not this and you're not that. Don't focus on what you're not, focus on who he is and what he can do through you. So, as we go on, "So he heard and he came down, and he received and welcomed him joyfully". Verse 7, "And when the people saw it", and this always happens, these people just aggravate me to no end. "When the people saw that Jesus was going to go to Zacchaeus' house, they all muttered among themselves, indignantly complaining, 'he has gone to be the guest of and lodge with this man who is devoted to sin and is a preeminent sinner'".
It's amazing, the person who has an aggressive attitude and gets God's attention and something good starts to happen in their life, how all the people don't like it, and nobody else ran and climbed up a tree. And so, they shouldn't have been murmuring because Zacchaeus got something from Jesus that they would've like to have had. And then verse 8 says, "So then Zacchaeus stood up and solemnly declared", I love this part, "To the Lord, 'see Lord, the half of my goods now I give by way of restoration to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone out of anything, I now restore four times as much'".
You see what happens to people when you start hanging out in the company of Jesus? All of a sudden, you get generous. All of a sudden, you start wanting to give instead of taking. Zacchaeus had been a taker, he'd been a thief, he'd been taking other people's money and using it for himself. Now, all of a sudden, one encounter with Jesus and he's a changed man. Let me tell you something, don't let any deficit in your life hold you back. You know my story if you've watched me on TV. I mean, my gosh, I got such a bad start in life. I mean, I was hurt so bad, and you know, I had to come to the point where I just said, "I'm not going to let that hold me back".
God is greater than your past. Amen? He's greater than any problem that you've got. We've got a young man that's here today, and I don't know where Tony's at, but this is like the third time he's been to one of my conferences. I met him 10 years ago, and he was one of the make a wish foundation children. He happens to be in a wheelchair, and he's got some physical challenges, and so his wish was to meet me, which I thought was just just one of the sweetest things that's ever happened to me. So anyway, they paid for him to come here. And then after meeting him, we kind of got it in our heart to help them a little bit further. So, we bought their family, the ministry bought their family a wheelchair-equipped van, and we bought him a much better wheelchair than what he had.
So, anyway... There's Tony right there. See, there he is. Look at that, Tony, now you're famous, you're gonna be on TV. Check it out. All right, now he came here today, they drove from Naples, and he's so excited because he's about to graduate from college. Come on. He's getting a business degree in administration. Now, how many people in that situation would just give up and say, "Well, my life's over, I can never do anything"? Come on, what have you given up on and what are you whining about? Let's let his testimony kick us in the tutu a little bit and say, "I'm going to start climbing a tree if that's what I have to do to see Jesus in my life", amen? Yeah, awesome! Awesome, awesome, awesome.
I'm trying to get the point across to you today that you will be amazed what you can do if you won't have a give up attitude before you ever give it your best to find out what God can do through you if you'll trust him and take a step of faith. C'mon, I am telling you that there is no way that I should be doing what I'm doing. I talk. And I gave my mouth to God, and I said, "I believe that I can overcome my past because I see the promises in your word".
Hey, listen, when I started this, women didn't do what I'm doing. There was maybe a handful, just a handful. And I just want to say again: determination. I love what the apostle Paul says that's recorded in Philippians 3, "My determined purpose is to know him and the power of his resurrection that lifts me out from among the dead even while I'm in the body". And if you want to have a great relationship with Jesus, you can have a great relationship with him, but you're going to have to be determined to not let the devil or circumstances or anything else steal it from you.
How many of you wanna have the best life that you can have? You might say, "Yeah, I'm praying about that". Well, that's good, you always want to start with prayer, but I want to tell you something, it's going to take a little bit more than that because God's going to show you some things that you need to do, some things that you need to change. And he will give you the grace to do it, but when it comes right down to it, you got to do the doing.
Alright, now, Genesis 32. We're going to talk about Jacob. Kind of the same type of situation, but just a little bit different. Jacob, well, he was just a real rascal. I mean, he and Esau were twins, and Esau was born first, he was the older brother. And when they came out of the womb, Jacob was holding on to his heel, and I like to say, "From the womb he was trying to get ahead". And he did some things that really were not good. I mean, he lied, he cheated, he took advantage of his brother at a time when he was hungry, and he got Esau to sell him his birthright. He lied to his father and pretended to be Esau when he wasn't, and on and on and on.
Well, after all these things happened and he got the prayer, the blessing prayer of the firstborn, once a father gave that blessing, it couldn't be taken back. And so, that birthright really meant a lot in those days. So, what normally happens when we do wrong things that we know are wrong is immediately then he became afraid and he ran. He was afraid that Esau would hurt him, and so he ran for years and years and years, and he and Esau did not see each other or really have anything to do with each other. Well, Jacob finally I guess got tired of running.
Maybe there's somebody in the room today and you're tired of running from things in your past. And it's time for you now to stop and deal with some stuff and get it over with, amen? You say, "Well, exactly what do you mean by that"? Well, here again I'll use my story as an example. You know, my father abused me and my mother didn't help me at all, and so I asked a couple of different people for help, a couple of relatives.
The police actually caught my dad one time abusing me in the backseat of a car, and I thought, "Well, now I'm finally going to get help". And they didn't help me either. And I mean, actually the policeman told my dad, "Well, if you'll let me have time with her, I'll let you go". And so, yeah. And so, I mean, I've been through it. And so, I kinda got to the point where I just thought, "Nobody's going to help me, so I'm going to survive this".
Now, I was born again when I was nine years old and we were visiting relatives in southeast missouri. And they were all Christians, and so I snuck off to church with one of them at a Saturday night service while my dad was out drinking. I don't even know how I know that I needed this, but I went with the purpose in mind of getting saved. And I took two of my cousins and said, "We're all gonna get saved". I guess there was something in me even back then. And so, that night, the pastor did not have an altar call.
Now, come on, I want you to listen to this story, he did not have an altar call. So, I had a choice to make. Do I go back home, or do I get what I came for? Come on, do I give up and go back home, or do I get what I came for? Come on, are you determined to get what you want? And I'm not talking about fleshly stuff, I'm talking about are you determined to have a great relationship with God? Are you determined to put him first in your life? Are you determined to be obedient to God? Are you determined to be a person full of integrity in a world today that is about as crazy as any of us have ever seen? It's gonna take determination.
And so, I remember I took my cousins by the hand, we went up to the front and waited to talk to the pastor. And I was so scared and crying, and when he came over and said, "What can I do for you"? I said, "Can you save me"? And so, he prayed with me, and I remember clearly my sins being washed away. I just felt like a brand new person, but I didn't know anything. Now, this is kind of a cute but a crazy story. The next day, I cheated in a game of hide and go seek. I remember having my head against the white house, and I was tempted to peek. And I did, and the devil said, "You've lost your salvation".
Of course, I didn't know anything about the devil, I didn't even know what was going on, but I believed that. And so, I just thought, "Well, I've made a mistake and that's over". So, as far as I knew, I didn't have God in my life. But I can look back at my life now, and I can tell you that even though God did not get me out of that situation like I asked him to, he gave me a strength and a grace and a power to get through it. And I do remember that, and I used to say I don't know what it was, but when I was about nine years old, this determination came into me that I was gonna overcome.
And I know now that, that was when the Holy Spirit came into me. And when he comes into our lives, he comes with strength and determination, amen? And I can remember laying in bed at night when I was, like, just a young teenager. And this is what I would think, which didn't make any sense either. I would think, "Someday, I'm going to do something great. Someday, I'm going to do something that's going to surprise everybody". Because my dad would always tell me that I was no good and I'd never amount to anything. And you can imagine how bad I felt about myself because of what he was doing to me, but God gave me that determination, he gave me that grace to say, "I'm gonna overcome this, and I'm gonna do something with my life".
Well, because nobody was helping me, I just decided that I was gonna survive, and that as soon as I was 18, I was getting out of there. And so, as soon as I was 18, I left home, and I thought I got rid of my problem. Took me another few years to realize I took it with me, but it was in my soul. And some of you think you've gotten rid of your problem, but you still got it in your soul because you haven't really dealt with it yet. And you may need to do that before you can be everything that you need to be in Christ. How many of you are understanding what I'm saying here today? Okay.
So many people that go to psychiatrists and psychologists and they need counseling all the time, it's for stuff just like this. They haven't dealt with stuff that they need to deal with. And so, I was like Jacob, I was running. And I remember we were at a church meeting one night, and there was a lady there that was giving a testimony about being sexually abused, for her, it was her stepfather. And Dave bought me her book, which I didn't want. I didn't even know he bought it, but when he got home, he said, "I think it would really help you to read this". Well, I was, I didn't care about, I didn't want to read that.
And so, I sat down one day, and I had the book. And when I started to read page one, she was describing things that happened to her, and boy, it was just exactly like things that had happened to me. And I mean, all of this pain and emotion came rushing up in me. You guys still with me? And I threw that book across the floor. And I said, "I am not going to read this". And I heard the Holy Spirit say very clearly, "It's time".
Now see, this may not be the issue with a lot of you, but I can tell you it is with some. And I cannot even imagine how many people watching TV right now are brokenhearted and have wounds that they're trying to drown with drugs or alcohol, or they're trying to drown it with money or buying things, or there's no telling what all people do to try to get away from their pain. But the thing is, if you receive Christ as your Savior and you ask him to heal your life completely, he can cause you to face all those things and overcome them. And then, and then on top of that, he will take those things and he'll actually use them to help you in your future. I mean, my gosh, what kind of a God do we serve? Whoo. Amazing, amazing.
And so, Jacob was running, and he came to a point I guess where he was fed up with it. And see, that's what's got to happen sometimes, you got to come to the point where you're fed up with it. And so, he decided that he didn't want to run anymore, he didn't want to be afraid. He wanted to make things right with Esau. So, he started sending gifts to Esau. And then every group that would go and meet Esau the gifts would be better than they were before. Now, having told you that much of the story, let's start in verse 22. "But he rose up that same night and took his 2 wives, and his 2 women servant, and his 11 sons and he passed over the ford of the Jabbok. And he took them and he sent them across the brook: and also he sent over all that he had".
I like to kind of imagine this. It was like he had come to a point in his life where he wasn't willing to go on anymore the way he was. I wonder if there's anybody here that's not willing to go on anymore the way you are, whatever that might mean to somebody. It's like, "I've had enough of this and I don't wanna live like this anymore. I'm not gonna live without peace in my life. I'm not just gonna go through life. I'm going to learn how to enjoy my life". Whatever it might be. Whatever victory it is you're looking for from God, you've gotta be determined that you want it. It can't be a wishy-washy, you've gotta be determined that if anybody can have the best that God has to offer, you can.
And so I personally like the fact that it says he came to that riverbed, I guess, and it says he walked away from everything that he had. He was ready to confront his issue. Sometimes you've got to get like that. You've got to be, like, "I don't care what it costs me. I'm walking away from everything and I'm gonna find out what it's gonna take to get this life fixed". I'm telling you, if you get serious enough, everybody in this room can have all the victory you could possibly want but you can't just think that you're gonna get it some drive-through breakthrough. Today we can get everything drive-through. You can drive through and get absolutely everything, but with God you're gonna have to go through.
So verse 24, "And Jacob was left alone, and a Man", capital "M", which just basically means that this was an appearance of Jesus who came in the form of an angel, the angel of the Lord, and he "Wrestled with him until daybreak". Have you ever wrestled with God? 'course you have. "And when the Man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched the hollow of his thigh: and Jacob's thigh was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. And then he said", so this angel of the Lord says to Jacob, "Let me go, for day is breaking. And Jacob said, I will not let you go unless you declare a blessing on me".
Do you see that? I mean, talk about bold audacity. After the way he had lived and what he had done, he determined to get it right with God and he's wrestling with God and he simply says to God, "I am not gonna give up. I am not gonna let you go. This thing is gonna be fixed and done with. I will not let you go unless you bless me". Now listen, "And the Man asked him", the Man being the angel of the Lord, "What is your name? And in shock of realization, whispering Jacob said, his name is Jacob". And then the amplified Bible tells us what that means: "Supplanter, schemer, trickster, swindler".
So it's kind of like at this point now God is making him face who he was and it's like a type of repentance. I mean, God already knew what his name was. He didn't have to ask him what his name was but he wanted him to say it. He wanted him to get it out of him and to face it. You know what? You can't get beyond it if you don't face it. Otherwise, you're just gonna be running from yourself your whole life. Some of you still are so afraid that somebody's gonna find out what you did in the past.
Well, if I were you, I'd find a trusted friend and I'd tell 'em 'cause it's our secrets that make us sick. It's all the stuff that we think we've got to hide from that we're afraid to talk about and tell anybody and I would have a big conversation with God about it and then I'd find somebody that I can trust and I would tell them, "I wanna tell you what I did in my past". Then you can start really rejoicing in what God has done for you. Now look what happens. The power of repentance. "And he said, your name shall no longer be called Jacob supplanter, but Israel contender with God: for you have contended and have power with God and with men and you have prevailed".
And I always like to say, somehow or another Jacob got a limp out of it but he limped away with his blessing. And you know what I think that means? I think we all may have a little bit of a limp in our life from some of the sins in our past but that doesn't matter. I'll be honest with you. I believe that Jesus has completely healed me from my past but there are some things that I still deal with from time to time and there are probably some things that, you know, I just, I mean, I don't know what I'm missing from not having a father. I don't know what I'm missing from never being able to sit on my father's lap and really feel like a special little girl. I don't know what I'm missing from that but the point is, is I may have a little limp but I'm limping away with my blessings, amen? Whoo, Jesus!
Next verse. Now there's actually three verses that I wanna put together here and I wanna start by just saying I think one of the most amazing things about our relationship with God is that if you love him and you trust him... Now I didn't say if you behave perfectly, I didn't say if you never make mistakes, I didn't say if you go to church every Sunday and never miss one, if you read your Bible through three times a year. I said, if you trust God and you love him, I don't care what has happened or what does happen, God will take it and make it somehow or another work out for your good.
Now, boy, to me, this is one of the most exciting things about our relationship with God. That doesn't mean it's gonna feel good. That doesn't mean we're gonna like some of the things that we have to go through. That doesn't mean that. And I don't know how he does it, God can take a bad thing and we may never wanna say the thing was good but somehow or another God can miraculously work in that thing and he can make us a better person. I mean, if you don't get anything else out of a problem, you get more compassion and you behave differently when somebody else tells you they've got a problem.
Have you ever tried to talk to somebody about your problem that is... Doesn't have any? Oh man, they're quick to tell you, "Well, I'd do this and I'd do that", and it sounds so simple for them. And you just want somebody to say, "Oh my gosh, I know what you're going through. I know how hard it is". And then it's fine to tell them what God can do for them but there's nothing worse than somebody who has no compassion. All they can ever give you is a scripture. Don't be that kind of a Christian.
Sometimes, somebody just needs you to cry with them. Sometimes they need you just to understand. Everybody who comes to you for help doesn't always want an answer. Sometimes, they just want you to understand. Did you hear what I said? Everybody who comes doesn't want an answer. They don't want a sermon. They just want somebody to understand what they're going through. And the best way I know to get a boatload of compassion is to go through stuff yourself. And I'll be honest with you, if you're gonna be used by God very much, you're gonna have to have some compassion and that means you're gonna have to have some experience.
I'm glad you're still smiling. And I know there are tragic things that happen to people. I mean, I know you're probably thinking, "Well, you know, this happened or that happened and how can you possibly tell me God can work good out of that"? I don't know how he does it but I know if we love him and if we trust him. And obviously, that includes having a decent attitude but, "You know, I don't understand this, God, but I trust you and I believe that you can work it out for my good". Whatever you might be going through right now or whatever you have gone through in the past, if you've never done this before, I want you to start believing today that God can take that thing and he can make it work out for good in your life. This is a happy day, amen?
Alright now, Genesis 50:20. I'm not gonna tell you the whole story of Joseph. Most of you probably know it. Let's just say that he was cruelly treated by his brothers. They hated him, they sold him to slave traders, whole bunch, a series of bad things happened as a result of that. He ended up in prison for many years for something he didn't do. All that time he kept trusting God. There was a famine in the land. He was now in charge of all the food. It's amazing how this person over here can mistreat you but if you put your trust in God he can actually promote you. He is a God of justice.
And so there was a famine in the land and so the brothers came to get food and they had to go through Joseph to get it but they didn't know it was Joseph. You know, God changed him so much his brothers didn't recognize him. I'll tell you what. Probably some of the people that abused me wouldn't recognize me today either, amen? And God's doing the same thing in your life. And so when they did realize it was Joseph, then they were afraid and they thought, "Well, there's no telling what he's gonna do to us now he's got a chance to get us back". And this is what Joseph said to them, Genesis 50:20: "As for you, you thought evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring about that many people should be kept alive, as they are this day".
In other words, God used that situation, that cruel situation, to get Joseph into a place where he could actually use him then to help the whole nation when the time came around and was right. Let me tell you something, you may be headed somewhere and right now you feel like you're headed in the totally wrong direction in your life. You may have no idea that this is the exact route that you need to get where you wanna be and just don't understand how you're going this way, c'mon.
Acts chapter 7, verse 9. I love this. "And the patriarchs (Jacob's sons), boiling with envy and hatred and anger, sold Joseph into slavery in Egypt: but God", those are two of my favorite words in the Bible, "But God". Doesn't matter what anybody else does. If God be for me, who can be against me? If God is on my side, whom shall I fear? They did all this stuff to him but God was with him. And I'll tell you the truth. You don't even need to know what God's gonna do, as long as you know that he's with you. I don't know what route you'll have to take to get where God wants you to be but if you keep loving him and you keep trusting him, he is gonna get you into a place that is gonna just leave you with jaw-dropping awe.
And then, of course, Romans 8:28 would go along with this. "We are assured and know that God being a partner in their labor all things work together and are fitting into a plan for good to and for those who", what? "Love God and want his will". Simple. Love God. One of the first things, probably the first thing, that I say every morning when I wake up is, "I love you, Lord". I'll tell you what, if you just love Jesus, it goes a long, long, long, long way in taking care of everything else. "I love you, Lord. I love you". Tell him that 100 times a day, "I love you, Lord. I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you". That pretty much says it all.
Now, the things that I'm sharing with you, these are some of the scriptures that have been not just like a little nice scripture but these are some of the teachings from these scriptures that have been absolutely life-changing for me. And I want them to impact you in such a way that you'll remember that God is no respecter of persons and what he does for one he will also do for you.
Alright, next thing I wanna talk to you about is Psalm 27:4 through 8. And I would probably say that maybe if I had to pick a couple of scriptures that were really life-changing for me, this would be right up there, maybe number two. Really, really, really, really, really big for me. You know, obviously when we're born again it's major in our lives. When you finally completely turn your life over to God, you're filled with his spirit, boy, that was, like, wow, hoo, man. But what this scripture says was actually even in some ways greater for me not than the new birth but I had to learn this important lesson and you have to learn this important lesson before God can do for you all that he wants to do. And this is what it is. "One thing have I asked of the Lord, and that will I seek".
Seek is a very powerful word that means go after with all your might. What is it that you're going after in life? Obviously, God. You wouldn't be here on a Saturday morning but thankfully, because of the TV ministry, I'm not just talking to this room full of people, I'm having the privilege of talking to people all over the world today. And I just wanna say, "What are you seeking with all your heart"? And so maybe you need to answer that question, "What is it that you're seeking with all of your heart"? Is it more money, a promotion on your job, more of this, that, something else? More popularity? All that stuff is fading away and it's not gonna be around for very long. When it's all over, there's only gonna be God so this is the time to make sure you've got a good relationship with him.
So, "One thing will I ask the Lord, and that will I seek after, inquire for, and insistently require: that I might dwell in the house of the Lord in his presence all the days of my life, to behold and gaze upon the beauty the sweet attractiveness and the delightful loveliness of the Lord and to meditate, consider, and inquire into his temple".
Now, I have to stop there and give you a little background on why this was so important to me. Most of us when we learn to trust God and I don't know there's any way to avoid this. Most of us when we learn to trust God we start trusting him for what we want. We start trusting him to fix all of our problems. We pray about those problems. We're always after God to change this person so we can be happy or change that circumstance so we can be happier. Give me a better job, give me more money. I need this, I need, I need, I need, I need, I want, I want, I want, I want. And for most of us, our list is probably pretty long. And so actually what we really want is we want God's presents, P-R-E-S-E-N-T-S. Yeah, you know where I'm going. And to be honest, he'll let us do that for a long time because he is establishing relationship with us.
I've had quite a journey with God and, man, was I a mess. Whoo, I was such a mess. When I look back and think how God has changed me and, you know, the changes have been internal. Even when I had so many problems in my life, it wasn't so much, yes, we didn't have all the money we would like and, you know, my back gave me problems, and there's always things that we don't like but most of our problems is what's going on in our soul. It's having a mind that's messed up, and emotions that are out of control, and always wanting what you don't have, and never being satisfied with anything that you do have. And Jesus is the only one really that can get down inside of us and heal the broken hearts and the woundedness in us.
And so, I started a journey with God and I wanna clarify that it is a journey because I've been at this 40 years and I'm talking being a pretty serious student of the Word of God. I'm sure that there's been days that I've missed but I've spent a lot time studying the word. Now, part of the thing that was to my benefit was that God called me to teach because I'm a very responsible person so he knew that I wouldn't get up and try to teach if I didn't at least believe I knew what I was talking about.
So, I had to do a lot of study and that actually helped me before it helped anybody else. And so, I've learned so much over this period of time. And I mean, trying to do a series on my favorite scriptures could be never ending, I'm sure, but I've tried to choose the ones that I felt like just had a really major impact on my life. And so, the first thing that I want to talk to you about this morning is motives. Way, way, way, back when I first started my journey with God, he led me to a scripture in 1 Corinthians about motives.
Now, I had a lot of problems and so I don't know why he picked motives but I either had a whole bunch of bad ones or he wanted to make sure that I knew how important that is. And I don't think this is something that we talk about enough. You know, it's like our motives are why we do what we do. What motivates us, why do we take the action that we take? Why do we do some of the things that we do? Why are our lives so overloaded and stressed out? I'mma give you a good answer to all that today.
And so, let's first look at this scripture that was very impacting to me, 1 Corinthians 3:10 through 15. "The work of each one will become plainly, and openly known (shown for what it is): for the day of Christ will disclose and declare it". You know, when we think about, you know, we are not getting anything past God. He knows us, I'm talking about knows us. And no matter what we hide from everybody else, even from ourselves, we get really good at hiding things even from ourselves, God knows. And this scripture says that when Christ comes back again, that everything is gonna be brought out in the open and made plain and clear and everything is going to be disclosed.
Can you imagine like people, many of them are unbelievers who have lived so dishonestly and thought they were getting by with so much. Can you imagine on that day when everything is put out in the open how shocking that's going to be for people? And I'll tell you the truth, I think we need to think a lot more about the second coming of Christ and I think we need to think more about Judgment Day because it is going to happen. We are all, every one of us, going to someday stand before God and give an account of our lives. And that's not meant to frighten anyone. It's meant to sober us up and let us be more serious about what it is we're doing with our life here and what we're doing with our time.
What are you doing with your life? You've only got one, if you waste it, you can't go buy another one somewhere. Every day that goes by is a day that we never get back. Why do some people accomplish so much while others do absolutely nothing with themselves? It's choice. We all have the same amount of time. People think, "I just need more time. I need more time". No, God knows how much time we need and he's given every single one of us the exact same amount so it's a matter of learning how to do the right thing with the time that you have at the right time rather than wasting time and then being jealous of somebody who's got a great life because they did the right thing with theirs when they should have done it.
Previous to this, beginning in verse 13 Paul had said that he had laid a foundation in people's lives and that, that foundation is Christ. So, nothing good happens until we receive Jesus as our Savior and he becomes the foundation of everything else. But, you know, when we receive Christ, we still don't know anything. We know that our sins have been forgiven, but we don't know how to live. And Jesus wants to teach us, through his word, how to live and not just to get up every day and breathe and take up space on the planet, but how to actually live a life that is going to be fulfilling to us and beneficial to his kingdom, amen?
Nobody can really be truly happy if all they do is live for themselves. You know why? Because that's not what God created us for. And anytime we're trying to do something other than what we were created for, we're never gonna feel satisfied and fulfilled. No wonder satan fights by throwing selfishness and self-centeredness at us all the time. He wants us to just be all closed up in ourselves and make sure that we never reach out to anybody else because something amazing might happen if we all really put ourselves in God's hands and start helping each other.
So, Paul said, "I laid the foundation". Last night we had 804 people receive Christ as their Savior. So, those people, a foundation was laid in their life. But now Paul says, "The work of every one of us that we're building on that foundation". And it says that you can build with hay, with straw, with stubble, with gold, with precious metals. It's a matter of what kind of life are we building? So, "Well, I'm doing this, and I'm doing that, and I'm doing this, and I'm doing that, or I'm doing nothing". But then he takes it even further and he says, "Whatever you are doing, whatever kind of building you are building on this foundation, it's gonna be shown up for what it really is because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test and critically appraise the character and worth of the work that each person has done".
So, I don't know exactly how that fire's gonna turn out but I have a feeling, you know, in revelation it says that Jesus had eyes of fire. And so, I have a feeling when we pass before those eyes, it's no longer gonna be, "Oh wow, look at me", you know, "I was on tv", and, "I was well-known", and, "I was the boss at the company", and, "I was, you know, I was a top model". We're gonna see not what we did, but why we did it is gonna be revealed.
C'mon. Why did I do it? So, why am I here today? Now, you know, we're gonna dig a little bit deep here for a few minutes and when you start talking about motives, I mean the crowd gets really quiet. And you know why? Because it's not something that we spend enough time thinking about. I mean, every single person needs to go home and have a meeting with yourself and you need to start asking yourself, write down everything you're doing, and start asking yourself, "Why am I doing this? Why am I doing it"? Not what am I doing, "Am I doing what I'm doing to impress somebody else, or am I doing it because I really feel like this is what God wants me to do and I'm doing it in obedience to him and to help other people"?
And so, see, I have to make sure, and I think one of the reasons why God gave me, this was actually one of the second scriptures that God really revealed truth to me from. The first one is, "You shall know the truth and the truth will make you free".
And I've already taught on that one in this series. But one of the second things I remember him showing me, so this would have been back in 1977 or 1978 and he had called me to teach and I felt like I had a word from God that someday I was gonna have a very large ministry. But you see, if God was gonna build something on this foundation of Christ in my life, then he wanted to make sure that it was something that would last and be enduring and something that I could actually, if I'm gonna spend my whole life doing this, that I can end up with his reward in my life when all is said and done.
Who wants to get to the end of your life and just find out that you did a bunch of stuff but God's not impressed? I made this statement several months ago and I haven't really taught around it yet but I felt like the Lord put on my heart, "You need to tell people to make sure they're not so relevant to society that they become irrelevant to me". See, that's a huge word today. We all want to fit in. We all want to be approved and accepted, and so we want to be relevant to our changing society.
Well, you know, I agree that we need to meet people where they're at and we made a lot of changes in our ministry several years ago, but we didn't change the message. We maybe changed our methods, but we didn't change the message. We changed the look on the platform, we got younger bands in because we wanted younger people to come, but we never changed the message. I have never veered away from preaching the truth. And so, there are things that you can change to be relevant, but there's other things that we cannot change to be relevant because if we do, we can quickly fit in so well with everybody else and we don't bother anybody. We don't ruffle anybody's feathers, you know, we preach a message that everybody can be comfortable and go away.
Well, I hope that I make some people uncomfortable with what I'm gonna say today. See, the truth, it bothers us. How many of you understand that there's a natural part of us that wants everybody to applaud for us, and clap, and like us, but you know Jesus was quite a rebel. Has anybody noticed that, that he came along and stirred up the establishment, amen? And so, man, we gotta be so careful about just fitting in with everything. We gotta learn to follow our hearts and get back to the Word of God. It's not a matter of what the government says, what does God say? Did you hear me? Matter of fact, that was so good I'm gonna say it again. I don't need the government to tell me what's right and what's wrong. I need to read my Bible and find out what's right and what's wrong.
We have to be very careful about our motives, why? "Am I just doing this, am I doing things that I know are not right just because I want to fit in, because I don't want to be judged and I don't want to be criticized"? You know what? We have to come to the point where we would rather be hated by every human being on the earth than to not have a right relationship with God, 'cause let me tell ya something, this journey here, I mean, even if everybody lived to be a hundred, which it's very unlikely, but even if everybody lived to be a hundred, that is nothing compared to eternity. We need to understand that Jesus is coming back and it's not all about what's here. We need to spend here getting ready for there. Right? So, I hope you're kind of squirming a little bit in your seat at the very thoughts of going home and having a meeting with yourself and checking all your motives.
Verse 14, "If the work which any person has built on this foundation, if any product of his efforts whatever survives this test of fire, he will then get his reward. But if any person's work is burned up under the test, he will suffer the loss of it all, losing his reward, although he himself will be saved, but only as one who has passed through the fire". Now see, I like that because our salvation's not based on our works, but our works are important. And if we want to get the reward of those works, then they have to be pure works and if they're not pure works, then everything we're doing is wasted. Is everybody on the same page as I am this morning?
Alright, Matthew 6:1 through 7: "Take care not to do your good deeds publicly or before men, in order to be seen by them". So, here we have motive again. It's not that you can't do good things in front of people. You don't have to hide every good thing that you do but the motive can't be, "Oh, notice me, admire me, compliment me".
"If you do, you'll have no reward reserved for and awaiting you with and from your father who is in heaven. Thus, whenever you give to the poor, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites in the synagogues and in the streets like to do, that they may be recognized and honored and praised by men. Truly I tell you, they have their reward in full already. But when you give to charity, do not let your left hand even know what your right hand is doing".
Now, you know, for me, I think what that means is that when we do something good, we don't need to go home and mentally wallow around in how good we were. Years ago I remember praying and thinking, I was just begging God to make my ministry grow, make my ministry grow. Everything's about numbers for us, you know? Make my ministry grow. And the Lord spoke to my heart and said, "If I asked you to go down by the riverfront and minister to 50 people that live on the street the rest of your life, would you do it"?
See, sometimes the things that seem the smallest to people are the greatest to God. So, you don't need to be overly impressed with the people on the platform. The only thing you need to be concerned about is, are you doing what God wants you to do with a right motive, which is to obey him and help people? Amen?
Come on. So, he says, "When you give, don't be overly impressed with yourself, just do it, be happy you had an opportunity to help somebody. Go on about your business to the next thing that God puts in front of you to do". Verse 4, "So that your deeds of charity may be in secret: and your father who sees in secret will reward you openly".
You know, it is really hard to go do something really good and not tell anybody. I know exactly what you're thinking, "Well, what fun is that"? Well, but see, our flesh craves that attention. And, you know, like I said, you don't have to go around trying to hide everything you do, but you know what? We need to be careful about bragging. And boy, it was hard on my flesh to get this stuff embedded. It's hard to want to do good things and just keep your mouth shut about it. But you know what? If God wants somebody to know, then he has ways of making that happen or if you have a good reason for telling somebody, then that's another story.
You know, sometimes I do share things in my life because I'm trying to use them as a teaching example, but God knows my heart that I'm not just trying to get attention. So, it always goes back to your heart, back to your heart, back to your heart. What is your motive for everything that you do? And then he talks about praying. You know, when you pray, verse 5, "You must not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they might be seen by people. Truly I tell you, they have their reward in full already. When you pray, go into your most private room, close the door, pray to your father, who sees in secret, and he will reward you in the open".
I love that. Whatever you do in secret with a right motive, God will reward you in the open, come on. Whatever you do in secret with a right motive, God will reward you in the open. "And when you pray do not heap up phrases", I love that, "(multiply words, repeating the same ones over and over)". "Oh God, forgive me. God, please, please, please, forgive me God. Oh God, if you'll just forgive me. Just one more time, God, if you'll forgive me".
Why is it that we think the more we say, the more God listens? You ought to try sometime just asking God for what you want with the fewest amount of words possible. That just, nobody got that at all, did they? Okay, hey. If we get louder, than God pays more attention. If we sound more eloquent, then God pays more attention, you know? No, heart. "God, I'm so sorry that I sinned, forgive me. Thank you", period. You got it right. Thank you, one person's listening. You know what? We talk so much when we pray that we get to the point where we don't even know what we're saying.
Are you overloaded and stressed out? How many of you feel like you never have enough time, you just, you feel pressured, you just get so tired of everything that you're expected to do all the time. Okay well, ask yourself why you're doing each thing that you do and it won't be very long at all and you can have so much less stress in your life, it will be phenomenal. Are you doing what you're doing because you don't want to disappoint people, because you want them to like you and you're afraid they won't if you say, "No"? Do you have some kind of a sense of false responsibility?
Well, I had that big time. I'd be happy to not only take care of my problems, but yours too. Yeah, it was my responsibility to fix everything. Jesus had to teach me, "You're not the Savior, I am". You know, Jesus walked off from crowds. Or you don't trust anybody else to do it so you have to do it all, hmm? Or you want to control everything so you have to make sure that you're involved in everything because if you're not involved in everything, then it might not go the way you want it to go. Wonder where I learned all this? Cause I had every one of these problems. Or you want to be involved so nothing happens that you don't know about because the bottom line is you're nosey.
Okay, so let's just spend some time checking motives and see how much better life gets. Point number two... Psalm 27:13 and 14, "What, what would have become of me had I not believed that I would see the Lord's goodness in the land of the living"! I love that. What kind of a life am I gonna have if I've got a sour attitude that nothing good is ever gonna happen to me? What would have happened to me, David's saying? What kind of a miserable life would I have had if I would not have believed that I was going to see God's goodness while I was still alive and on this earth? What's gonna happen if we buy into that nothing's-ever-gonna-change lie? "You're never gonna change, nothing's ever gonna change, I'm never gonna change. I'll never have any money. My marriage is never gonna be healed. My kids are never gonna straighten up".
Don't believe the never lie. All things are possible with God. Be full of hope. If you want to just absolutely wreck the devil's plan for your life, then be full of hope. And you know what hope is? It's the expectation that something good is about to happen to you at any moment. Now, this is actually one of my favorite things to teach on because the Bible says in Zechariah that if we will become prisoners of hope, that God will restore double everything that we've ever lost. A prisoner of hope, when you're a prisoner, that means you're locked up with something and can't get away with from it. So, if we, as believers in Christ, will become so full of hope that no matter what the enemy throws at us, we still have got a positive attitude, something good is gonna happen.
Come on, something good is going to happen. No matter how long you've been having problems, something good is right around the corner. "Yeah, well, you know, positive attitude, blah, blah". You know what my father taught me when I was growing up? If you don't expect anything good to happen, you won't be disappointed when it doesn't. Don't trust anybody, everybody's out to get you. Oh listen, I had some bad stuff rooted in my soul and if I can become positive, anybody can become positive. Something good is gonna happen to me.
That's why I mentioned last night that on Monday, I'm having a hip replacement, the other one. I've already had one done, I'm having the other one. And I'm just expecting it, something good's gonna happen out of it, you know? I mean, at this point I'm just kind of, like, excited to see what God's gonna do. And no, I didn't stay home to nurse my wounds. Right here doing what I should be doing and when I'm done with you guys in Minnesota, I'll go get a new hip and then I'll be where I'm supposed to be a month from now. I may have a little limp but I'll tell ya, Jacob had a limp, but he limped away with his blessings. Whoo, hope, what would have become of me had I not believed that I would see the Lord's goodness in the land of the living?
You know, we talk about waiting on God and we are to wait on God. The Bible says in many places, "Wait on God, wait on the Lord". But it's not a passive state of just... You may not be doing anything in the natural but spiritually, you are believing that something amazing is about to happen to you at any moment, something that only God could do.
How many of you want to see something in your life that only God can do? I like that kind of stuff. It's like, "God, do something that only you can do". So no man can take credit, no circumstance can take credit so everybody has to say, "Well, that has to be God". We need to get more aggressive in our believing and expect good things to happen to us. And you say, "Well, I think that would just be a little presumptuous, you know, how can I expect good things? I'm not a very good person". Well, God doesn't bless you because you deserve it.
Let's look at Isaiah 30:18. Okay now, this is long in the amplified Bible but this is a wow scripture. "And therefore the Lord earnestly waits", so, even God's waiting. And what does that word mean? "Expecting, looking, and longing, to be gracious to you", that means that God is waiting to be good to you. Get this picture. "And therefore he lifts himself up, that he might have mercy on you and show loving-kindness to you. For the Lord is a God of justice".
That means he makes every wrong thing right. "Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are all those who earnestly wait for him, who expect and look and long for him for his victory, for his favor, for his love, for his peace, for his joy, and his matchless, unbroken companionship"! So, get this picture, God is in heaven looking for somebody to be good to, and he can only be good to somebody who's looking for him to be good to them. Everybody say, "Something good is gonna happen to me". Now, if you start saying that about 25 times a day, you might get your mind renewed.
Let me read you a testimony. I wrote a book on hope called, "Get Your Hopes Up". I call it my happy book. Everybody needs the happy book. And it's about this teaching. And this testimony came in shortly after the book came out. "On March the 6th, 2016, my 31-year-old wife and mother of our 5 daughters, all under 8 years old" I'm already praying for them and I don't even know what their problem is. "Suffered a sudden cardiac arrest while shopping out of town. Ninety percent of people that suffer SCA die, many within minutes. By the time I reached the hospital, she was in a coma and I was told to make arrangements.
I'm catholic so a priest came and gave her last rites. They put her into a state of hypothermia to save her organs. I was told that sometimes people in a coma can hear people speak to them but after saying everything that I could think of to say, I ran out of things to say. She watches Joyce every day so I ran out to purchase a book and came back with 'Get Your Hopes Up' and started to read it to her while she was in the coma. It turned out that the wisdom in the book helped me cope as the seconds ticked away and as I stopped reading, God stepped in. She wiggled her toes, opened her eyes, and beat the odds. I'm now on my way to the hospital to pick her up and bring her home".
Right in that impossible-looking situation, God was spoonfeeding them hope. Don't give up, keep believing something good's gonna happen. You say, "Well, what if it don't"? Well, shake it off and believe again that something good's gonna happen. Everybody say it again just to make me happy, "Something good is gonna happen to me". All right. Today... You've been watching my program.
All right, the third thing I want to talk to you about today is what I think is probably one of the greatest secrets in the Bible, it's a scripture that it's not even really that many words. Let's see, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, a fourteen-word scripture. Romans 12:21, "Do not let yourself be overcome by evil, but overcome and (master) evil with good". This is why God tells us to forgive our enemies and to bless those who abuse us, and misuse us, and are hateful and mean to us. And it seems so unfair and so unreasonable but what he's basically saying is, "I'm giving you a secret weapon. I'm showing you how no matter what comes against you, you can still be a winner in life if no matter what happens, you will continue to do the right thing".
Well, you know, we don't necessarily do what's right because we always feel like it or even think it's fair, but we do what's right because it's right. "Be not weary in doing what's right for at the right time and in due season you will reap if you faint not", Galatians 6:9. And I just want to throw this out, maybe you've heard me say this before but I think this is helpful. You may have to treat somebody else right for a long time before they start treating you right. But let's don't let other people's meanness change who we are.
I have to remind myself of that. You know, somebody hurts my feelings and then, you know, we have our plan. "Well, I'm not gonna go around them. I usually call them every day but I'm not calling anymore". And, you know, God has to remind me, "Don't let what they did change who you are". Come on. Don't let what somebody else does to you change who you are. You be the same person loving God, living for God, expecting your reward to come from him.
Now, I'm not saying that we lay down and become a doormat for everybody and let them just walk all over us. But even if you have to get away from somebody that's abusing you, you can still pray for them. You still don't have to talk evil about them. Just because somebody hurts me, that doesn't mean I now have a right to go ruin their reputation and make sure that nobody else on the planet likes 'em, mmm. Oh yeah, oh yeah, I'm talking to somebody. You know how hard it is to be nice to somebody that doesn't treat you good?
"I mean, I don't even want to speak to you. I don't want to be in your airspace, let alone pray for you to be blessed". But I don't have to feel like doing what's right to do what's right. Amen? And I might say that maybe out of all the things that God has taught me that right there may be one of the most important ones that I cannot sit around and wait to feel like doing what's right. You make a lot of progress when you do what's right when it still feels wrong. I'll say it again, you make a lot of progress. Man, you are growing spiritually big time when you choose to do what's right before you feel like doing it.
Psalm 37:1 through 3 goes right along with this Romans 12:21. What do you do when you have a problem? You say, "Well, you trust God". Well, I'll tell you a secret, that's not all you do. Verse 1, "Fret not yourself because of evildoers, neither be envious against those who work unrighteousness (that which is not upright or in right standing with God). For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) in the Lord and do good". Uh-oh, trust God and do good. One of the best series that I preached this last year was called "Trust God and do good". Trust God and do good, somebody hurt you, you trust and now you do good. You keep being a blessing to somebody else.
See, why do I need to sit home this weekend and dread what I gotta do on Monday morning? I might as well get myself out here and just do what I'm supposed to be doing and let God take of it. I'm trusting God but I'm out here doing good. And see, I believe that when we trust God and we do good, now we're sowing seed for the harvest that we need in our life. I'm just saying that we can fight evil with good. Don't let the devil win, "You can throw your best shot at us but we are gonna continue to do good".
What do people normally do when they're hurting? They withdraw, shrink back in a little corner, nurse their wounds, feel sorry for themselves, don't want to be around anybody. I don't know, I may start a revival at the hospital, I have no idea. But I'm planning to do something good and I'm planning to laugh a lot. But I mean you have to realize how mad it makes the enemy when you refuse to give up your joy and you continue to do good when you're hurting, yourself.
When you've been disappointed, go be a blessing to somebody else. I wish that I could tell you how serious I am about what I'm saying right now and that you would really listen to me, and leave this place, and put this into practice in your life. Don't let this part of this message be something that you hear and just clap because it sounds good. And then the next time somebody makes you mad and you're tempted to go tell somebody else what they did to you, instead of that, remember what I'm saying you keep your mouth shut about what they did and they pray for them that God will bless them. Your flesh isn't gonna like it but your spirit will.
Galatians 6:10, "Be mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of the household of faith". What does it mean to be mindful? "So then, as occasion and opportunity open up to us, let us do good morally to all people not only being useful or profitable to them, but also doing what is for their spiritual good and advantage". Be mindful, have your mind full of ways that you can be a blessing. Do it on purpose. Think up ways that you can be a blessing. Before you go out of your house in the morning, ask God to show you something you can do for somebody else.
I've learned how to do this and it's been life-changing for me. Just sit down and make a list of all the people that you know that they need a compliment. They need encouragement. They need a hug. They need a smile. They need somebody help 'em pay their rent. They need somebody to watch their kids. You know, just all the people that you could do something for and then, man, just start ticking that list off and saying, "I'm gonna not sit around here and feel sorry for myself anymore. I am going to get busy helping other people".
How many of you, you just don't understand it? You know, the good thing you intend to do, seems like, as soon as you try to do the good thing that you intend to do, then the enemy comes against you. And so, then, we end up like the apostle Paul. You know, the thing I wanna do, I can't do, and the thing I don't wanna do I'm always doing. What is my problem, anyway? And then we go to God, "God, I'm trying. I'm trying. God, I'm trying so hard. I'm trying". And then, we get melodramatic, so we give up. "I just give up, God" just give up and then, I'm sure God laughs and you know... Lord, have mercy.
And so, obviously, we do need to change but one of the greatest revelations ever, to my life, was that I could not change myself, only God could change me. Oh, Lord... Can anybody feel the relaxation in that? God loves you right where you're at today. He's working in you. Philippians 1:6, "He that hath begun a good work in us is well able to complete it and bring it to its finish".
God began and God will finish. Our part is to trust God and study his word. It doesn't do me any good to, "Try", to keep my mouth shut, but what does help me is to study scripture on the power of words. Are you home today? It doesn't do me any good to just try to be nice, or to just try to be patient. Man, I've tried to be patient. Whoo. And I've improved but I got a ways to go, so I have to keep studying patience. Keep studying patience. You know why? The Word of God contains the power to save our souls, and the word is Jesus. Jesus changes us.
Don't let the reason for your pain become an excuse to stay that way the rest of your life. Jesus says, "Do you really wanna get well"? Are you serious about getting well? I'm gonna tell ya, if you got a big mess in your life, getting well is not gonna be easy, but it's gonna be much better than laying there for another 38 years waiting for somebody to come along and do for you what only you can do for yourself. Jesus said, "Get up, pick up your bed, and walk". So, he not only told him to get up, he said and clean up the mess you made while you were here.
See, sometimes it's not about just getting well and going on with your nice little life. I mean, I had some messes I'd made that I had to go back and straighten out. Sometimes, there's a few people you got to go back and make a few things right with, and there might be a few things that you need to go back and say you're sorry for and get straightened out in your life. Amen.
That's lesson number two, we got 20 minutes left. Luke chapter 5, the first 8 verses. Now, Dave and I went to a bookstore one time and we both picked out some books we wanted, and for some reason, when we got in the car, I pulled one of the ones that he bought out of the bag. And there was something about it that just struck me and I knew that I wanted to read it. And the title of it was, "Experiencing the depths of Jesus Christ", by madame Jeanne Guyon who lived in the 1600's. And I didn't really understand the title on the front of the book, but I felt that I was supposed to read it.
And lo and behold, next couple of days I was, not only starting to read the book, but I came across Luke chapter 5 in the Bible and it is talking about coming out into the deep and getting ready for a haul. You know, you kinda know when God's trying to get your attention on something, don't you? When he is, you hear it on the pulpit. You hear it on the radio. You see it on the TV. You get it in the mail. It's like, "Okay, God. I'm not really that dumb. Four confirmations and I know you're trying to say something to me, okay"?
And so, this book that she was writing was really like one of my first real understandings about the fact that God lives in us. And I'm not gonna say that I'd never heard it, I'd been in some good churches, but I just wasn't really getting it like she was bringing it across, that God lives in us and we can talk to him a silently. All prayer doesn't have to be verbal prayer that we pray out loud. And she was really talking about living a deeper life, and really learning how to live inside-out, being led by the Spirit rather than being led by our flesh.
And you know, Jesus said that we are to be rooted deep in his love and we are to be rooted deep in him. And so, the Bible talks a lot about going a little bit deeper. And for me, that means learning to walk by the spirit rather than walking by what I think, what I want, and how I feel. We live a lot on the surface level. We live a lot based on, "Well, this is what I want, and God, this is what I'm asking you to give me". And we base a lot on how we feel, and what we think, and how things look.
How many of you agree with that? We just base a lot on this exterior realm. And it's really called, "The flesh". And God doesn't want us to walk according to the flesh, he wants us to walk in the spirit. And that means, we have to really pay close attention to what's in our heart of what we feel like the Holy Spirit is leading us to do. And guess what? If our flesh doesn't happen to agree then the spirit has to win. And if the flesh doesn't like it, then it just has to suffer and get over it because God needs to get his way if we ever really wanna be happy in our lives.
So, having said that, Luke chapter 5 the first eight verses, "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). And he saw two boats drawn up by the lake, but the fishermen had gone down from them and they were washing their nets. And getting into one of the boats, the one that belonged to Simon (Peter), he requested him to draw a little bit away from the shore. And then he sat down and continued to teach the crowd of people".
Now, this is just kind of a side note, but one of the reasons why Jesus had 'em move a little bit away from the shore was because they didn't have the microphone and the sound systems that we have and the water kinda carried the sound over to the crowds of people. And so, he had all these people out here waiting to hear the message, he got in this boat, said, "Pull away from the shore", and he's standing there teaching the people. "And when he had stopped speaking, to the people, he turned to Simon (Peter), and he said, 'put out into the deep water, and lower your nets for a haul'".
Now, some of you are waiting for a haul of blessings in your life. You would love nothing better than if the biggest dump truck in town, would back up to your driveway and just load you down with blessings. And Jesus said, "If you want that you're gonna have to go out into the deeper places". "'Go out into the deep and lower your nets for a haul.' Snd Simon (Peter) answered, 'Master, we toiled all night exhaustingly and we caught nothing in our nets'".
So, what's he saying? "Now Jesus, we've been fishing all night and we are bone tired. And we have come in now, and we've washed these nets", and that is a big job. And in essence, Peter was saying, "I don't think this is a good idea. I don't think it's gonna work. I don't feel like doing it". But now, look at the next thing he said. "'But on the ground of your word'", I love this, "'But on the ground of your word, I will lower the nets again'". So, he's saying, "I don't want to, I don't think it's a good idea, and frankly, I don't think it's gonna work. But if that's what you say to do, that's what I'm gonna do".
Now, let me tell you somethin'. When you decide to live on that level, you might as well get ready for a haul of blessings in your life. C'mon. You know, if I said to you right now, how many of you are sitting here tonight, and you know that there's something that God has told you to do and you still haven't done it, how many of you would have to put your hand up? My gosh.
Man, we got the right message for the right group tonight, don't we? Hey, don't feel bad every crowd does that. I mean, we can laugh about it, but to be honest, it's sad if there's that many of us that are gonna say, "I know I'm not doing what God's telling me to do". It's not gonna do us any good to keep rebuking the devil, if we're not gonna at least do the things that we know that God has told us to do. "I don't want to. I don't feel like it. Maybe, if I put it off long enough, God'll change his mind". No, he won't. We will change our mind or we'll keep being miserable.
God does not change his mind. He has one message. Jonah tried it. God said, "Go to Nineveh", Jonah went the exact opposite direction. Exact opposite direction of where God told him to go. So, we know what happened to him. He went on a ship headed in the opposite direction. A great storm came up. He knew he was the cause of the storm. They threw him overboard. A whale swallowed him. C'mon, he spent a few nights in the whale's belly, and he finally, cried out to God, and I love this. He cried out to God and worshiped from the belly of the whale.
See, sometimes, you gotta start worshiping while you're in your mess. You can't wait till you don't have it anymore. You gotta start worshiping while you're in it. And it says that God caused the whale to vomit him up on dry ground, and God looked at him and said, "Go to Nineveh". God never changed his mind. He coulda saved that whole trip, c'mon. Some of you can save yourself another trip around the mountain... If you'll just go ahead and start doing some of those things that you know that God has told you to do.
Can I tell you somethin'? The longer you put it off, it's not gonna get easier, it's just gonna get harder. You know why? And I believe this. If we do what God tells us to do when he tells us do it, there's an anointing on it. There's a grace and there's an anointing. But if we wait for our time, it may be a lot harder. We need to learn to move in God's time, not in our time. "And when they had done this", verse six. When they did what Jesus told 'em to do, "They caught a great number of fish: so many that their nets were at the point of breaking". And I love this, "And they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and take hold with them. And they came and filled both boats, so they all began to sink".
So, you know what this is telling me? If I'll go deeper, no matter what I think or feel, if I'll do what God's telling me to do, I'll not only will have my needs met, I'll not only will have blessings in my life, but I will have an overflow of blessing in my life so I can now begin to bless other people, also. C'mon, amen, amen. I love those stories. So, what have we learned so far? Be well-balanced, don't lay by the pool another 38 years waiting for somebody to come along and do for you what you oughta do for yourself.
Let's live a little bit deeper and start doing what God wants us to do when he wants us to do it. Mark 11:13-14, "And seeing in the distance a fig tree covered with leaves, Jesus went to see if he could find any fruit on it for in the fig tree the fruit appears at the same time as the leaves". Now, prior to this, or perhaps it's in another one of the Gospels it says, "And being hungry". Jesus was hungry and he saw the fig tree in the distance, and he saw the leaves on it so he went to it to get something to eat because when a fig tree has leaves, it's supposed to have fruit. "But he found nothing but leaves, for the figs had not come into season yet. And he said to it, 'no one will ever eat fruit from you again.' he cursed the fig tree and his disciples were listening to what he said".
Now, you know, we read a lot of stuff in the Bible we don't understand and sometimes we need to camp on top of it for a while and see what God will give us out of it because there's some amazing lessons in here that we miss, and we just gloss over things and read them. Chances are, even some of those things that I've already read to you, you've read them hundreds and maybe, more than hundreds of times. And yet, you didn't get out of it what we got out of it here, tonight. And so, I used to feel sorry for that fig tree. I used to just think, "Now, it's not fair to curse the fig tree. It wasn't the fig tree's fault that it didn't have fruit".
But here's the lesson that I get out of that. A lot of people in the world are hungry. They're hungry for answers. They're hungry for peace. They're really looking for Jesus. But you are the only Jesus they're ever gonna see. We are the only Jesus they're ever gonna see. Most people who need Jesus are not going to church to find him. They sit across the aisle from you at work. They go to school with you. They're in your neighborhood. They're in the grocery store where you shop. And you may have a bumper sticker on your car and maybe you wear a piece of Christian Jewelry.
Last night, I had a real nice cross on. I gotta little thing on up here that represents love. We can carry our Bibles and even keep our Walkman in our ears with all of our Christian music playing. But you know what? That's all just leaves. What people are looking for is fruits. You will know them by their fruit. If you want to, you can even take all the Christian Jewelry off and just walk in love, and be patient, and be joyful, and be kind, and at least, if you're gonna wear the stuff put the fruit to go along with it. Don't just look like somebody that might be able to help them because you got a bumper sticker on your car, but then when they come to you... Amen?
You know, interestingly enough, Adam and Eve tried to cover up their mess with leaves and that didn't work for them either. C'mon, we need a little bit more than leaves if we're gonna impress the world. We need to have really good fruit. And you know what? Nobody knows what kind of fruit they got till it's squeezed. You can go... I did this one time. I went to the store and I was hungry and I bought an orange and I paid a dollar for this orange. And that's been probably, 20 years ago. So, that was a lot of money for an orange. And I got that thing out to the car and I was so hungry and I broke into it and it was dry and tasteless. It look pretty on the outside. But it was so dry and so tasteless.
Well, many times our lives are like that. We look pretty on the outside. We got the outfit on. We got the bumper sticker. We got the right Jewelry. We got the right Christian lingo. We go to the right church in town. We go to the biggest church in town. When somebody squeezes our fruit, it's another story. I'll tell ya, one of the guys that works for us, he got his fruit tested this morning, and I'm glad it was him and not me, 'cause I'm not sure I woulda passed the test. He went to get Dave and I some breakfast. And it was ten minutes past the time he was supposed to be back with it, and finally, he called and he said, "I'm still trying to get this order right. I've had to send it back three times".
And so, I had to know, I asked him later what the story was. I mean, he asked for certain things, you know, I wanted extra eggs and no meat and Dave wanted something else. I mean, long story short, we had no extra eggs, we had meat, dave's was on the wrong bread. I mean, he had to literally, send the girl back three times to finally get the thing right. Well, I was just laughing my head off when he was telling me the story. I thought it was hilarious. But I can tell you, if it woulda happened to me, I wouldn't a been laughing.
Come on, don't wear a cross around your neck and then get in the checkout lane at the grocery store and have some kind of a fit of impatience because the clerk is new, and she's not quite getting the register right. C'mon, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Amen? So, let's make sure that we've got fruit and not just leaves. Alright, are you learning anything? Whoo, good grief, I may get six done. You never know. Oh, I don't have time to do that one, that's too long. Alright, we'll do these two short ones. Okay, if you ever wanna have any kind of a right relationship with God and if you ever wanna enjoy yourself, you have to understand the amazing thing that God has done for us through Christ in making us right with him through faith.
2 Corinthians 5:21, "For our sake he made Christ to be sin who knew no sin, that in and through him we might be made the righteousness of God in Christ". That means to be, "Approved, to be acceptable and to be in right relationship with God, through his goodness". Knowing that you're right with God is one of the most valuable things that you can have. Can I give you some good news? God is not mad at you tonight. He's not mad at you.
You say, "Well, he probably is Joyce. You don't know how I behaved today". Well, see, the thing is, is even if this was one of your really bad days, I mean, like, really bad days, you know what? God still loves you. You know why? 'cause he sees your heart. You're here tonight, aren't you? And that's what he sees. He sees that you're still pressing on. And so, I had to learn in my life how to separate what I call, "My who", from, "My do".
In other words, what I do doesn't determine who I am in Christ. We're still his children. He still loves us. And it took me a long time to get this down because I just felt, I had a record playing in my head all my life, "What's wrong with you? What's wrong with you? What's wrong with you"? Do you ever hear that record? "What's wrong with you? What's wrong with you? Why don't you act like everybody else? Why can't you do? Why can't you do anything right? What's your problem? What's your problem"?
And that's exactly what the enemy wants you to think is something's wrong with you. And I find it very interesting that the first thing that Jesus wants to give us is rightness, not wrongness. He wants you to know that you're not wrong with him but you've been made right with him, not by what you do right, but by who you are in him, through Christ. And here's the thing, if we keep trying to do what's right without knowing we are right, we're just spinning our wheels and we're never gonna make it. But if you know you're made right with God, then out of knowing who you are, you will begin to produce right behavior, and you just can't help it.
If you went to a grove of peach trees, you would not see the peach trees standing there going... Do I have peaches yet? It would just stay rooted in the soil that had the nutrients and the nourishment to push that life up through the tree and up out on the branches. And then, sure enough, if it stays there long enough, here's gonna come fruit. And you know what? That's the same thing. If we stay rooted and grounded in Christ, we stay in the right soil, the right atmosphere, knowing who we are in Christ, that good fruit is gonna pop out on our branches, and we can be everything that God wants us to be. Amen?
And last, because I now, have six seconds... Two, but you'll give me one minute, right? All right, and last, John 10:10, the scripture off of which we base the name of our TV program, which is, "Enjoying everyday life". I don't even know how to tell you what good news it was to me when I learned that, "The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. But Jesus came that we might have and enjoy our lives, and have it in abundance, to the full, until it overflows". Amen? C'mon, stand up with me. I never got to be a child. The devil, through my father's abuse stole my childhood. But you know what? I am having a blast now. Amen.