Joyce Meyer - Seeing Myself
Tonight, I'm gonna teach on three of the parables that are all about prayer. Prayer is astounding. It is absolutely amazing when you think about it, that the God of the universe, the God who can do absolutely anything has invited us to come to him and ask him for whatever we need, not only for ourselves, but we can intercede for other people, stand in the gap for other people who don't know how to pray for themselves. And there's two ministries that God has given to every Christian. One is the ministry of intercession, and the other is the ministry of reconciliation. We are to be used by God to help sinners be reconciled back to God. And every single one of you can be a minister right where you're at in your world by going to work and actually acting like a Christian. Amen?
And I can tell you, and I feel this firmly, too many Christians have gotten too much of the world in them, and the world can't tell much difference between us and them, and we need to realize that we are living in extremely important times. I mean, I honestly believe that the days that we're living in are the most evil that we've ever dealt with. And I don't wanna be negative, but I don't think it's gonna get better. I think it's probably gonna get worse because I think that we're getting closer to the time when Jesus is going to return.
And even if he doesn't return in our lifetime, we should live every day like he's going to. I wonder how many things we'd change in our life if we knew Jesus was gonna come in the morning at 8 o'clock. And so, we should live that way, and you, if you're alive in this day and hour, now, listen to me, you are very important to the cause of Christ. And each one of you, you are very important. Don't ever let the devil convince you that you have no importance, that you just don't have a purpose. Every single one of you is important, and you can just, in your neighborhood, in your schools, when you go to the marketplace, your place of employment, just bein' happy, just bein' peaceful, just bein' good to people, you'd be amazed how quick people are gonna wanna know why you can be the way you are, and once they start asking you questions, then you don't have to feel like you're trying to share Jesus with somebody who doesn't want to hear it.
And so, you're important to the cause of Christ. Every one of us have that ministry of reconciliation, and we have the ministry of intercession. We should pray for other people. I think prayer is a privilege. It's not an obligation. It's something that we should be excited about doing, and I think, in many ways, it's taken on too much of a religious connotation. It's like something we feel that is our duty that we have to do. And I'm all for havin' set times of prayer. I have certain times, a time every morning, that I spend with God, but I think we need to learn how to do what I call, "Pray your way through the day". And God not only invites us to pray, and I want you to get this, but he tells us to come boldly and to be persistent.
Imagine that, "Come boldly because I'm able to do more than you can ever hope, ask, or think". God doesn't want us askin' for little things. He wants us to ask for things that we can't even wrap our mind around it. It's like, "God, I'm havin' a hard time believin' that you would do this for me, but I'm gonna ask anyway because you say you can do more than I dare". And maybe some of you need to be a little more daring in your prayers, and you need to start asking God for bigger things. And of course, we're not worthy. We don't deserve it. By all rights, God shouldn't do anything for us. But that's the great thing about it, is he doesn't do things for us because we're good. He does them because he's good. But never forget this. He says in James, "You have not because you ask not". So, some of you need to get your asking stirred up again.
All right, the parable of persistence in asking, Luke 11:5 through 13: "Then he said to them, 'suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight and says, "Friend, would you lend me three loaves of bread: for a friend of mine who is on a journey has come to visit me, and I have nothing to serve him".'" Now, I've learned a lot from this just about my ministry and my preaching. It's like you come to me for help, but I have nothing to give you unless I go to my friend Jesus and ask him to give me what you're asking me for. And we all need to realize that we really don't have the ability to help anybody or to do anybody any good if we don't constantly go to God, asking him for what we need to give them. Amen? The minute you become independent and think you can do it on your own, that's the minute that you start towards failure and decline.
"And from inside he answered him, 'don't bother me: the door's already been shut and my children and I are in bed: I cannot get up now and give you anything.' but I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything just because he is his friend, because of his persistence and boldness," persistence and boldness, he will get up and give him whatever he needs. So I say this to you, ask and keep on asking, and it will be given to you: seek and keep on seeking, and you will find: knock and keep on knocking, and the door will be opened unto you". It almost sounds like God is saying, "Come on, just see if you can bother me". I mean, I've gotten ahold of this, and I tell God, not in a disrespectful way, but if there's somethin' I know that is a promise in his word that somehow or another the enemy has taken from me or is blocking me from having, I will tell God, "I am not going to shut up about this until I see a change". You know why? I have scriptural backing that tells me that God likes that, amen?
"For everyone who keeps on asking persistently, receives: and he who keeps on seeking persistently, finds: and to him who keeps on knocking persistently, the door will be opened". I wonder how many of you have given up on prayin' about somethin'? Maybe you've prayed about it a year, and nothin's happenin', and so you just, "Ehh, you know, it's not gonna happen". You go on to somethin' else. I prayed for my father's salvation on and off for 30 years, and I remember one day, I just got really bold and I said to the Lord, I said, "You know what? If nothin' else, I'm askin' you to save him, do it as a favor to me because after all the abuse and what he did to me in my life, and now you're allowing me to help all these other people around the world, I don't wanna help all them and see my own father go to hell. So, I'm askin' you, even if he don't wanna be saved, do it as a favor to me". And you know what? He was 83 or somethin' when he received Christ, but he was a changed man. I got to baptize my father who had abused me, and he passed away three years later. He never had a good life because of the way he lived, but I'm tellin' you, don't give up. Don't give up.
If it's somethin' that you really believe that God has put in your heart or is in the word, don't give up. Now, you don't wanna be belligerent or have any kind of a, "You owe me this," attitude, but it's not wrong to just tell God, "This is in your word. This is your promise, and I am not gonna leave you alone," come on. Don't sit around and watch your kids go to hell. Keep at it. You be bold and tell God, "These are my kids, and I'm not gonna sit around and watch them go to hell. The devil is not gonna have them". "And, God, I am gonna bother you until I see a change in their life".
God loves somebody that is persistent. Now, I called this message tonight "Seeing myself" because you can learn so much about yourself by the way you pray. And you know what? One of the greatest things that we can do is know ourselves. Learn to be very even painfully honest with yourself about yourself because you can admit that you have a problem and still not come under condemnation. God doesn't reveal problems in our life to us or things that need to change to condemn us. The devil does that. But he does convict us, and what he wants us to do is own up to it and admit it. And so, here's one question I wanna ask. Are you the kind of person who gives up easily? How long can you last if the devil just keeps it up and keeps it up and keeps it up and keeps it up and keeps it up? How long before you get mad at God? How long before you get a bad attitude? How long can you have a problem and keep being nice to other people? Come on. Amen.
You know, it's interesting. We spend 40 years livin' a life of sin and doin' everything wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, then you become a Christian and you think you do a couple things right and everything should turn around. Let me tell you, you've gotta be ready to do what's right over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over. And I don't even suggest that you do it with a motive of getting some kind of reward. I don't think that's good either. I think we need to do what's right because it's right, come on.
It's the same way I feel about giving. I don't think that we should give to get. I don't think that's a good motive. I think we should give because we love God, we appreciate what he's done for us, and we wanna see other people helped. And there's a promise attached to that, that "If you bring your tithes and offerings into the storehouse, I will open the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing so great that you cannot contain it". "And my God shall supply all of your need according to his riches and glory by Christ Jesus". Don't expect to have God meeting your needs if you're not giving. Persist in it, even when you're havin' financial issues, persist in doing what's right.
I wanna see a few people get a few more spiritual muscles here tonight and just maybe shake off some of that lethargic, "Ehh, ehh, ehh". Just get rid of that and just say, "No, there's a life that Jesus died for me to have, and I am going to have it". "What father among you, if he asks for a fish, will instead give him a snake? Or if he asks for an egg, what father would give him a scorpion? If you, then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give," now, I want you to watch what he says, "The Holy Spirit to those who ask and continue to ask him"!
Now, we're gonna have our eyes opened tonight some about prayer because I think a lot of times we just, we pray wrong. We pray for our problems to go away, which go ahead and do that, I do that too, but you're not gonna find a prayer in the Bible that tells us to do that. I mean, I've thoroughly examined and preached on the prayers of the apostle Paul. They're in Ephesians 1, Ephesians 3, Philippians 1, Colossians 1, and you cannot find one prayer that he prayed where he asked for anybody to be delivered from their circumstances. What he prayed was that they would endure whatever came with a good temper. So, how often do you pray for that? "Well, God, I want this to go away, but until your timing is right, help me continue to be good to people. Help me not to get bitter. Help me not to blame anybody. Help me not to be jealous of other people that aren't having a problem right now". How many of you are with me tonight and you understand what I'm saying?
See, really, what God wants more than giving us everything we want is he wants us to be stable. Not up and down with our circumstances, but, like Jesus, the same all the time. And that can be your greatest witness to your family, and that can be your greatest witness to the other people that you're around. To be honest, I think you can preach every day and never open your mouth. Amen? And so, here we see that he goes through this, "Ask and keep on asking, knock and keep on knocking, seek and keep on seeking". And then the example he gives of what we should ask for is more of the Holy Spirit.
Now, let's talk for a minute about the Holy Spirit because, first of all, he's the one who helps us pray. He shows us how to pray when we don't what to pray for. And he's our advocate. He stands before God and pleads on our behalf in intercession. Anybody who's born again has the Holy Spirit. But the Bible also talks about being filled with or baptized in the Holy Spirit. And there are some denominations that teach that, and some that don't, but the Bible does, and so we're gonna go with the Bible, not denominations, okay? And we are going to be in serious trouble if we stop realizing that we need to be filled and ever filled with the Holy Spirit.
In Ephesians chapter 5, verse 18, it says: "Be filled and constantly guided by the Holy Spirit". Another translation that I like even better says: "Be ever filled with the Holy Spirit". I think every day in your prayers, one of the things you should ask for is, "Fill me full to overflowing with your Holy Spirit. I don't want to just have the Holy Spirit. I want the Holy Spirit to have me," amen? So, maybe you've been struggling a little bit in your prayer life, and if you wanna take a few notes, I'm gonna tell you lots of really cool things that you can pray for, and it's gonna really perk up your prayer life.
Pray every day that God would strengthen you to be able to behave the way that you should behave. Don't just get up every day and try 'cause I can tell you, you'll fail. Without God, you'll fail. "Apart from me, you can do nothing". But the Holy Spirit is our strengthener. Paul prayed in Ephesians 3:16: "We pray that you might be strengthened with all might and power in the inner man through the Holy Spirit himself, indwelling your innermost being and personality". Pray that the Holy Spirit will fill your personality every day. How many of you could use a little more personality upgrade, amen? You're gonna be amazed at what God will do for you even in the material realm if you stop praying for everything in the material realm and start praying for spiritual things that you need. God will take care of the rest. "Seek first the kingdom, his righteousness, and everything else will be added unto you".
Here's what God said to me one time, and I think he wants me to share it with you. You take care of his business, he'll take care of yours. You take care of his people, he'll take care of you. I'm gonna say it again. You tend to God's business, which is people. You take care of other people, God will always take care of you. He will always take care of you and meet your needs. Don't you ever just get worn out from trying to take care of yourself? I mean, really. Some of you are just exhausted from trying to get what you want. Dearly beloved, I'll act like the apostle Paul. Realize that if you're doing what God wants you to do, he will give you everything that is right for you to have. And if God doesn't want you to have it, why do you want it anyway? Because it's not gonna make you happy.
So, the Holy Spirit is our helper. I don't know about you, but I need help every day. Not just some days, every day. He's our teacher. When you open up your Bible to read, "Holy Spirit, teach me". Don't just sit there and try to understand it. "Holy Spirit, teach me from the word today". When you come to somethin' like this and you're gonna hear a speaker, "Holy Spirit, teach me". Because if he doesn't help me, I can't help you. He's our guide. Oh, my goodness, do we need so much guidance in our life these days. Our strengthener, our intercessor, our advocate, our comforter, my goodness, our comforter. We need so much comfort today because the world is pretty uncomfortable.
And then I love this part. I don't know if you've got around to loving this or not, but I love, love, and so appreciate that the Holy Spirit convicts me of sin. I mean, I absolutely love it when God makes me aware. "You don't need to say that. Don't act like that. You just need to go back and apologize". Having the Holy Spirit filling your life and guiding you and helping you and teaching you and convicting you of sin, it's the only way we're gonna get through this life and not just fall apart. Every day, pray, "Holy Spirit, fill me, baptize me afresh with the power of the Holy Spirit".
Now, with the Holy Spirit, there also comes gifts that we don't talk about nearly enough in the church, supernatural endowments of power. I mean, you would have to be, like, not a very bright bulb in the package if you didn't want all the supernatural endowments of power that you can get. Because the more power you have, the easier life becomes. And so, if you've never heard about these gifts, I have a whole teaching prepared that I'm gonna do sometime this year on this, but word of wisdom, knowing what to do in a situation where you don't know what to do. Word of knowledge, so many people say, "Man, I can't believe you said what you said when you were preaching. That was... how did you know"?
Well, you know, the gifts of the Spirit can operate through you and you don't even really know it's happening, and he does it for the good and the profit of all. It's not just for you to show off and say, "Look what I can do," but it's to help people. God is all about helping people. Discerning of spirits, knowing when somebody's off the wall, having that check about "I don't think so. Nope, I'm gonna check you out a while first," amen? Some of you ladies that have gotten yourself in trouble with some guy, if you would have used a little more of that discerning, you know? You knew when you started it. You had that, but you're lonely, afraid you'll never have anybody so, "I believe I can change him". No, you won't. Trust me, you'd be better off to be alone than to be with somebody that makes you miserable all the time.
And there's miracles, and gifts of healings, and the gift of faith, and speaking in tongues, and interpretation of tongues, and prophecy. And you might be thinking, "Don't tell me you're a tongue talker". "Mabel, we gotta go". You know what? Be single minded but don't be close minded. Man, if there's something that God's got that you can have and you don't have it, then you need to say, "God, I want to know about that". Get a good book and read. Look at what the Bible says about it. So often people want to teach us based on what they have and don't have but just because some friend of yours has never experienced some of these things, that doesn't mean that it's not biblical, and you need to go for everything that God wants to give you. Start praying about these things.
See, your prayer life can be different starting in the morning. "Fill me with the Holy Spirit, strengthen me today so I can behave myself no matter what's going on in the world. Use me in the gifts of the Spirit". Learn 'em, name 'em, word of wisdom, word of knowledge, discerning of the spirits, gift of faith, tongues, prophecy, interpretation, healings, miracles, "Use me, God, I want to see those things in my life". Is anybody out there tonight?
So, how much of your prayers are for what you want and how much of them are for what you really need? And I can tell you, we need spiritual strength, much more than we need a bigger house, or a date, or that promotion at work. See, what God wants to give us for our inner life, that's where your real life is at. God respects persistence and I'm gonna tell you something that you may not want to hear, but I'm tell ya that you need to expect opposition.
If you think that being a Christian is a walk in the park on a Sunday afternoon, you have got another thing coming because the devil hates you and anytime, especially if you are on the verge of making any kind of progress, if you start to read a book, it's gonna help you. If you decide to go to church, if you decide to join a Bible study, if you decide to have a regular prayer time, you decide you're gonna help more people, you decide you're gonna give more. Every time you take a step in the right direction, the devil is gonna take a step and see if he can move you back and so you have to be ready to fight the good fight of faith sometimes.
I have three scriptures I want to put up and have you look at them. 1 Corinthians 16:9, "Because a wide door for effective service has opened to me in Ephesus, a very promising opportunity, and with it there are many adversaries". You know, little things like we're on our way here tonight and our driver gets a call, there's a wreck on such and such and traffic is just backed up unbelievably and I'm just like, well certainly. Of course. They give you all these keycards for your hotel rooms and we get like four, five different people on our team have keys to different rooms and none of them work. Well, of course. Why don't you stop being shocked? "Well, I don't understand why this is happening to me". You should just laugh and say, "Of course. But let me give you a little message, devil, I'm not giving up. I'm not quitting. I'm not giving up".
Romans 12:12 says, "Constantly rejoice in hope because of our confidence in Christ, be steadfast and patient in distress, stay devoted to prayer continually seeking wisdom, guidance, and strength". Not continually seeking for your problem to go away. And like I said, yes, we're all gonna pray for God to deliver us from our problems, you know, we're too human not to do that, but that's not what you need to camp on top of. Really, the message in 2 Chronicles where the Lord told Jehoshaphat, "This battle's Mine, not yours". I mean, if you go back and study that when Jehoshaphat took his problem to God, he talked to God about a whole lot of things and then he just kind of mentioned his problem as a side note. Everything else was prayer and praise and how great God is and how we know you keep your promises. "And oh by the way, we've got 12 different groups of people trying to kill us. Could you help us with that"? Anybody there?
All right, and then one more, James 1:12, "Blessed, happy, spiritually prosperous, favored by God". Man, the favor of God is something else, whoo! "Favored is the man who is steadfast under trial and perseveres when tempted: for when he has passed the test and been approved, he will receive the victor's crown of life". Now, how many of you love having a good testimony? Well, have you ever noticed that the word "Testimony" begins with the word "Test"? So, when your deal is over, are you gone have a testimony or are you just gonna have the monies? Yeah. Don't be surprised. Quit being like, "Well, I don't understand why this is happening to me". Well, why not you? It happens to everybody else. You're not that shocked when it happens to them.
All right, another parable about persistent prayer. Luke 18, "Now Jesus was telling the disciples a parable to make the point that at all times they ought to pray and not give up and lose heart, saying, 'in a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and had no respect for man. There was a desperate widow in that city and she kept coming to him and saying, give me justice and legal protection from my adversary. And for a time he would not: but later he said to himself, even though I do not fear God nor respect man, because this widow continues to bother me, I will give her justice and legal protection: otherwise by continually coming she will be an intolerable annoyance and she will wear me out. And will not our just God defend and avenge his elect his chosen ones who cry out to him day and night? Will he delay in providing justice on their behalf? I tell you that he will defend and avenge them quickly. However, when the son of man comes, will he find this kind of persistent faith on the earth?'"
So, what does Jesus want when he comes back? He wants to find you standing strong, still being determined until you draw your last that you're gonna have the best life that Jesus died to give you and that you're gonna be used by God to help other people. You can still be standing. You know, if you've been sick for 12 years, keep praying that God will heal you. Don't give up on God just because something is taking a long time. And I say that, "God, I am not giving up. It's in your word and I'm not giving up. I don't know why this is happening. If you want to tell me, I'd like to know". But, you know, God usually doesn't tell us too much. "But I'm not quitting. I'm not giving up". Come on, I don't want you to forget what I'm saying tonight. I want you to be stronger and last longer. And stick with things. If it's in God's word, if anybody can have it, you can have it. Did you hear me? If anybody can have it, you can have it. Because you're no worse than all the rest of us. None of us deserve what we ask God to do for us.
I think these parables are interesting. I mean, he's basically inviting us to bother him. Come on, see if you can annoy me. Just keep it up and keep it up and keep it up until I finally just give in. Think about lot when he was in Sodom and God said he was gonna destroy the place because there were no righteous there. Well, Lot got bold and he said, "Well, if I can find five righteous". Well, say he started with 50. "If I can find 50". God said, "Yeah, I'll do it for 50". "Well, what if I can only find ten"? "Well okay, I'll do it for ten". "Well God, one more time can I approach you and say, what if I can only find five"? You see what I'm saying? He just kind of kept inching in a little closer, a litter closer. He didn't want him to destroy the people there and so he just kept narrowing the margin a little bit. I don't know what it is about God, but he likes that. He likes it when we just refuse to give up, you know why? Because we're basically saying when we do that, "I believe that your word is true. And I believe that you're good. And I don't believe you're holding out on me. I think the enemy is hindering me, and I know that prayer is powerful".
You remember in the book of Daniel when he was fasting and praying for 21 days for an answer about something? And when the answer finally come, God said that from the moment he started praying, he sent an angel with the answer but the prince, the demonic prince that ruled over that area, had been withstanding that angel until finally God had to send the Michael to get the job done. See, God may send out somebody to help you and if the devil's able to resist them, you keep praying, he'll send out another batch, somebody stronger than the last one.
"For a time he would not answer her but later he said to himself, even if I don't fear God or respect man, this woman's gonna keep bothering me until I give her what she wants". You know, the construction in the wording and the meaning in this parable is very similar to the friend at midnight parable. The judge was unjust. The widow continued to bother him and be persistent until he gave her what she wanted. So, that's kind of an interesting principle that Jesus is using that if you bother people long enough, they'll give in. "And they're evil people, well, I'm a good just God so what do you think you could get from me if you just stop giving up so easy"? Come on.
Are you seeing what I'm saying? The interesting thing about the friend at midnight mentioned in Luke 11 is he wasn't even asking anything for himself. He was being that persistent for somebody else. So, I ask you again, how much do you pray for yourself compared to how much you pray for other people? How persistent are you about... I mean, I've seen things. I mean, I've dealt with people. A woman that I know very well was so sick, I mean like for three years she just felt bad almost all the time and pretty much every morning I would pray. And now she's just like probably 80% better. You know, you just keep it up, keep it up, keep it up, keep it up.
You can tell a lot about a person's character by how they pray. Now, in these two parables and the next one that I'm gonna talk to you about two men who went up into a temple to pray, we have opportunities to see ourselves. Let me ask a few questions. How quick are you to complain when your circumstances are uncomfortable? I'm smiling. You know, if any one of us can get through one day without uttering one word of complaint, it would be a minor miracle.
I recently told my daughter, she think... my kids think I'm so funny, especially the older I get, the funnier they think I am. And I think when you get older, you just feel like you have a license to take more liberties than you... you know, you can get by with a lot when you get older. For one thing, you can act like you didn't know what you're doing. I recently told my daughter, "You know what I have realized about myself? I really don't like being uncomfortable". And she laughed she said, "Well, all the rest of us know that. Are you just trying to find that out"? You know, complain if it's cold, complain if it's hot, complain if the seat's hard... And I've been at this 42 years. We all need to keep seeing ourselves, amen? Do you get a little put out when God doesn't give you what you want? How do you respond when you have to watch God give you something else what you want and you aren't getting it and you're pretty sure they don't deserve it nearly as much as you do? Oh man, that's a flesh burner.
This next parable in Luke 18, beginning in verse 9 is definitely a parable for the "me generation" that we live in today. The parable the persistent widow has given to teach the disciples to be bold and confident in their asking but in this parable that we're gonna read, there's also a warning not to be arrogant or impudent. So, there's a difference in being respectfully bold and persistent. I mean, I know it works. I mean, it works in the natural because I've had people that have asked me to come and speak at one of their events or whatever. I've had to tell them no. And they asked the next year and I've had to tell them no. And I've had people who say, "Well, I'm gonna keep asking till you come". So finally, I kind of figured, well, if I might as well just do it then, get it over with. I mean, it does work, doesn't it?
I mean, how many of you give into your kids if they just keep it up and keep it up and keep it up? It's like oh just do it, you know, just, just get tired of hearing it. So, when I say that, you know, we want to be persistent in our prayers, I'm never talking about being arrogant or coming across sounding entitled. You basically say, "God, I'm doing this because it's what you tell me in your word to do". And that's why I'm giving you these three parables so you got scriptural backing to say, "God, you tell me to be persistent, and to keep on asking, and to be bold, and so I'm doing what you've told me to do".
Now, as far back as the 1970s, this generation was declared the culture of narcissism which means self-absorption. Narcissism defined in the just— I got it off an online dictionary — means excessive interest in yourself, extreme selfishness with a grandiose view of your talent and a craving for admiration. Our culture has moved away from being God-centered to being self-centered. The world says that our own personal happiness is more important than anything else. We hear phrases like, "I owe it to myself to have the best. There's no greater love than self-love". Humanists strip away the truth that we're formed in the image of God and they say that nothing is higher than the human being. New-age teaches that there is no God out there and the only God there is is the God in us. Well, as Christians, we know that Christ does live in us but let me be clear, we are not God, amen?
I have to read these five verses of scripture. 2 Timothy 3:1 through 5. They are some of the most depressing in the Bible, but we're living in the midst of this. "But understand this, that in the last days there will come dangerous times of great stress and trouble, difficult days that are gonna be hard to bear". Can I tell you something? I have empathy for every person alive on the planet today because to be honest, raising kids in this generation is so much different. I mean, if you don't need the guidance of the Holy Spirit every day and to be full of the Holy Spirit, to have his wisdom and discerning of spirits, oh my gosh, you need to be discerning about what your kids are doing, and what they're watching, and where they're going, and who they're hanging around with. And boy, do you ever need to not just preach to them, but be an example in front of them. Model the life you want them to live. Did you hear me? Consistently model the life that you want them to live. It's tough out there today. It's easy to get discouraged. It's easy to want to quit and give up, but that's not what God wants us to do.