Joyce Meyer - Seven Ways To Increase Your Happiness
I wanna say something from the get-go, 'cause I thought about this, this morning. I felt like God put this on my heart. Our goal in life as a believer, and as believers, our goals are totally different than people in the world. How many of you know that we are called out, separated, set apart for a special purpose and a special use, and that is for God's use? We are his personal representatives in the earth, the Bible says. I love that. And so, as much as I want you to be happy, the main reason why I want you to be happy is to glorify God. And to glorify him means to show forth all of his excellence. And I don't think sad, bedraggled, disgruntled people with a bumper sticker on their car do much for glorifying God. Matter of fact, I think if you're not gonna wear Jesus on your face, then get him off your bumper. Amen?
And so, Jesus wants us to enjoy our life. John 10:10, "The thief comes only to kill, steal, and destroy". That's his only purpose. But Jesus said, "I came that you might have and enjoy your life, and have it in abundance, to the full, until it overflows". And to be honest, really, the kind of happiness that I wanna introduce you to today is truly not based on what's happening in your life, although God does want us to have good things happen to us and he wants us to have the hope of good things happening to us.
And I found it interesting, there's a Webster's dictionary that's an 1828 version, that if you love to study words, that would be a great investment for you to make. It's not even that expensive, but all the definitions in this version of the Webster's dictionary are based on scripture, and so you find a lot of scripture throughout these definitions. And so, I wish that we would've stuck with that, but as we know, gradually, little by little, the world, and Satan is the God of this world, let's not forget that, has gradually tried to remove God and anything about God out of everything concerning our society.
And I don't know why it is so hard for people to see, even people who don't believe in God, I don't know why it is so hard to see that the more people try to remove God, the worse our condition becomes. But God does want us to be happy and he wants us to glorify him. I wanna make Jesus' name famous, amen? But if you go back to that original definition, here's what it says: "Being in the enjoyment of agreeable sensations from the possession of something good". And I'll tell you the truth, if we don't have anything else, we've got the best thing in the whole world because we've got God and he is good. So, we all possess good.
"Happiness comes in degrees. One may be happy or they may be very happy. A person with no pain may not feel particularly happy, but a person who has had pain and the pain ceases will feel very happy now that their pain is gone. The only person who can be really and permanently happy is the one who enjoys peace of mind and lives in the favor of God". God's favor is so amazing, and I've been thinking about just doing a whole teaching on that coming up here sometime in the next few months. Just, we need to pray for favor and believe God for favor, because when God puts his favor on you, it's amazing the difference in the things that can happen to you in your life because you're trusting God to supernaturally open doors for you.
But then joy and enjoy is defined as, "The passion or emotion excited by the acquisition of the expectation of good". So, you can get happy because you have something good, but you can also get happy because you're expecting something good that you don't even have yet. And I really love that. Our privilege is to be full of hope, because that's something we can do on purpose. It's not based on our circumstances. I can be full of hope any day that I wanna be full of hope, and so can you. I can't always make my circumstances line up with what I would like 'em to be, but I can hope that good things are on their way. I can hope, which is believing that something good is going to happen.
So, even if you don't have the good that you'd like to have right now, at least, for goodness sake, expect good to happen. Live every day with this thought, "Something good is gonna happen any moment". Psalm 5:11 says, "Let those who love your name be joyful in you and be in high spirits". So, we're supposed to be in a really good mood, like high spirits. "Well, I just don't feel very happy". Well, your greatest privilege as a believer is you don't have to live by how you feel, you can live by what you know. In Psalm 118:24, "This is the day which the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it".
Now, number 12 on my list of ways to increase your happiness, just in case I don't get to it, is decide to be happy. That's number one. Everybody listening to this, watching by TV, make a decision today, "I am going to be happy and I'm not gonna wait to have some great thing happening to me. I am deciding that I am not gonna waste one more day of my life being sad and sour. I'm gonna glorify God today and notify my face that I'm saved". Now, but leaving number 12 and going to number 1. The first thing that I wanna talk to you about today that will greatly increase your happiness is to believe what the Word of God says about you rather than how you feel or what other people say about you.
My life has been dramatically, dramatically changed by learning who the Bible says I am, and what the Bible says I can have, and what the Bible says is gonna happen to me when I'm finished here on earth, rather than what the world told me before, or what my experience with my father told me, or what the lies of the devil told me. The Bible says that God has a good plan for our life, but the only way we can prove out what that good plan is is through the complete renewal of our minds.
And the only way we renew our minds is through hearing, and reading, and listening to, and meditating on, and finally believing the Word of God. And I don't even know if you even begin to realize how much you're helping yourself today by being here. And it's not because I'm here, it's because everything that this ministry is about is bringing people the Word of God, because God's word is full of power that changes lives. And I am so convinced of that that I will lay my life on the line for it. There's power inherent in the Word of God. When I stand here today and say, "The Bible says that God has a good plan for your life", something happens.
There's something about that Word of God that touches something deep on the inside of you, and no matter how negative your life has been, there's a little, tiny spark of hope. Can that really be for me? And when you begin to claim it as your own and you begin to think like this, "If anything good can happen to anybody, it can happen to me". Sooner or later, you gotta get tired of being on the outside looking in and decide, "It's for me". There's no hope of happiness until a person knows who he is in Christ. We cannot enjoy life if we don't enjoy ourselves.
Do you like yourself? Yeah, well, that was a few. You know what, I lived a large part of my life and I couldn't stand myself. And I honestly believe that that's a large part of a lot of people's problem and they never even know it. They've felt so bad about themselves for so long, and actually it's just disgusting, but sometimes Christians can actually think that's godly. "I'm just a nothing, a nobody", and they think that's humility. That's not humility, that's stupidity. Here's the way you think, "I am nothing in myself, but in Christ, as a child of God, as a believer of the Most High, you better get out of my way, devil".
Now, listen, I wore my power suit today. You know, black is supposed to be a power color. Amen? Because with all my heart, I want you to get this. Know what you're not in yourself. Almost every day, I say, "God, I know that I'm nothing without you. In me, that is in my flesh, dwells no good thing, but I thank you that you're in me and through you I can do all things". See, I actually believe that one radically sold out, committed believer can change the world. I actually believe that. And if you don't have enough faith this morning to go for the whole world, how 'bout your family? How 'bout your neighborhood, your school? How 'bout just maybe one or two other people? You have influence, but you gotta pick your head up and not think you're better than everybody else, but you're not beneath everybody else. You are the head and not the tail, above and not beneath.
So, if I can't get you by the grace of God to do anything else, I would like to send you out of here this morning at least deciding to like yourself. How many of you have children that you love, and boy, nobody better mess with your kids? All right, now, are any of them perfect and do everything right all the time? But they belong to you and you better not mess with 'em. You don't wanna get in my face about my kids. Well, if we feel that way, how do you think God feels?
Now, you know, I don't have time to do everything that I like to do at every one of these meetings, but here's the bottom line, God knew all about you when he invited you into relationship with him. He's not shocked and surprised by our weaknesses and our flaws, and he fully, completely, 100%, unconditionally accepts you and God will help you be exactly the way he wants you to be. That doesn't mean that we don't need to change. I need to change, and I'm sure you all need to change, and I wanna change, but here's the really good news. You can like yourself while you're changing. Amen? "Letting go of what lies behind". Stop being mad at yourself because of something you did or didn't do 20 years ago, or 10 years ago, or this morning, or whenever it is.
So, I need to believe that in Christ... And what does it mean to be in Christ? It just means that I have received him as my Savior, and I am uprooted out of whatever weirdness I was living in, and I am planted in Christ, and now I'm learning how to be rooted and grounded in him, so out of the soil of who he is, I can bear good fruit in my life for him, amen? So, the Bible says, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things have passed away and all things are made new".
Now, if you received Christ last night in the conference or anytime throughout this conference you decide to receive Jesus as your Savior, you don't have to do anything. Everything's already been done. You just receive. And it's basically if you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that he died for you, that he rose from the dead, that he paid for your sins, and you say, "I believe that", then that's salvation. But then along with that, if you believe that, there's gonna be a life change. And that life change happens gradually, from glory to glory, a little bit at a time. We're new creatures in Christ. Jesus was a carpenter by trade. That's an interesting point we don't want to ignore, because God is the builder and the furnisher of all things and God is building your life. He is a builder.
Hebrews 3:4 says, "Every house is built and furnished by someone, but the builder of all things and the furnisher of the entire equipment of all things is God". Everybody say, "God is building my life". And boy, extremely important, 2 Corinthians 5:21, "He that knew no sin became sin that we might be made the righteousness of God in Christ". The righteousness of God in Christ. My gosh, how life-transforming that was, because all I ever thought about was, "What's wrong with me? What's wrong with me? What's wrong with me"? Do you ever feel like that? "I'm not like everybody else. What's wrong with me? No matter how hard I try, I can't seem to do what's right. What's wrong with me? What's wrong with me? What's wrong with me"?
And it's interesting that the first thing that Jesus wants to give us is rightness, not wrongness. "But I do. But I did". Well, sure you did. That's who you were. That's what you were. You couldn't do any different. But when Jesus comes to live on the inside of us, he brings with us everything that he is, and he is the all-righteous one, and so we have righteousness in us. And because it's in us, eventually, with the help of the Holy Spirit, it can be worked out through us and we can begin to do more and more right things. But now, listen to me, you're never gonna do more right if you don't first believe that you've been made right with God.
Now, I know. Hey, it took me about 20 years to get ahold of that. Huh? It would be like if you were thirsty and you said, "Joyce, can I have some water"? If I didn't have any water here, I couldn't give you any, right? But since I have it, I could. Well, it's the same way with right behavior. How can I behave right if I don't have any rightness? How can I love anybody if I've never received the love of God for myself? You can't give away what you don't have. You can't produce what you don't have. And in God's economy, everything begins by believing. It's amazing how happy you get if you begin to believe the right stuff.
Let's look at Romans 15:13: "May the God of your hope", uh-oh, there it is. "May the God of your expectation that something good is going to happen fill you with all joy and peace in believing". Well, stop right there, "In believing". Most of the time, when you don't know what happened to your joy, or why you're in a stinky mood, something is wrong with your believing. Come on, I like these people. I'mma preach to them. Come on, when you're in a bad, stinky, foul mood, check your believing. What are you believing? What are you thinking? And you can change your believing. "I can't help what I believe". Yes, you can. You can believe whatever you want to believe.
See, I have decided to base my life on this. And when I started, I didn't have a lot of real proof, but I sure wasn't gettin' any good out of what I was doin'. So if what you're doin' is not workin', why not try what a few million other people tell you works? See, you'd have to know what I was like. Man, I was awful, and I had been treated so bad. My dad sexually abused me. My mother didn't know what to do about it so she didn't do anything. I had other relatives who sexually abused me. I married the first guy that came along, and he ran around with other women, and wouldn't work, and stole stuff from me.
One night, I woke up and he was tryin' to steal my wedding ring off my finger to go sell it. I mean, I was so dysfunctional. My family was - they were the very definition of "Dysfunction". We invented dysfunction. I didn't know how to have a relationship. I was a manipulator. I was a controller. I was negative. I was sour. I was judgmental, jealous. How much time do we have? And I'm not just up here, you know, like, some spiritual cheerleader. I wanna tell you that Jesus has set me free. He has set me free. "He whom the son has set free is free indeed. That you shall know the truth, and the truth will make you free". It's what you believe.
I've decided to believe what this says, even if I don't understand it in my brain. I do not understand how I could be the righteousness of God, and holy. Yeah, that's what the Bible says, you're holy. Whew, now I wanna tell you what. We are makin' the religious devils in Georgia mad right now. I mean, they are not likin' this meeting, because religion wants you to be loaded down with rules and regulations and things you have to do to be good enough for God.
So you gotta sign off of that plan to get on God's good plan. God loves you. He loves you unconditionally. He doesn't love you because you're worth being loved, because the fact is, you are not. But he loves you because he is good. And the more you see how good he is, the more you're gonna want to behave right, not because you have to, but because God is so good, you can't hardly stand it. So, we better go to point two. Man, whew.
Hey, here's another thing to believe. Believe that you're anointed. You say, "What does that mean"? Well, the word "Anoint" means "To smear all over with", or "To paint". Well, we are anointed with the Holy Spirit. You, as a believer, are smeared all over, rubbed down really good with the Holy Ghost. You know what that means? If you know who you are, the devil's afraid of you. But he's not afraid of this... Ooh. Anointed with the Holy Ghost, that's 1 John 2:20 and 27. When you believe, it changes what you say.
You can find out real quick what you believe or what other people believe just by listening. "Oh, I'm just no good. Every time I turn around, see, I'm always doin' somethin' wrong, always doin' somethin' wrong". Oh, I used to talk like that, mmm. I tell you what, you cannot get me to say somethin' bad about myself now. I will not say somethin' about myself, I will not. I don't care how dumb I act, I am not gonna say somethin' bad about myself. You know why? Because I'm gonna talk about me the way the Bible talks about me. And if we believe God's word first, then guess what? Our circumstances catch up with it.
And, you know, most of you are getting there, but there's a few, just a few of you out there that you're still like... You know why? Because you're like, "Well, you just don't know what I'm goin' through". Will you get over it? Get off of it. This is a new day. And I know. Listen, I was hurt so bad, it was unbelievable. So you can't tell me I don't know how you feel. I know how you feel, but I also know that you don't have to live by how you feel. "We believe, and therefore we speak", 2 Corinthians 4:13. Believe there's a good life available for you. Believe, believe, believe, believe, I gotta get off of this point and go to another one.
Point number two, to enjoy... There's not much chance of 12 is there? I've only... Hey, but we still got tomorrow morning. Live one day at a time and enjoy it. Learn to live one day at a time. I don't know what's gonna happen tomorrow. "What do you think's gonna happen in the world"? I don't know. Nobody else does either. Everybody sits around and theorizes about what's gonna happen in the world. I don't know. All I know is that sometime, Jesus is comin' back, and I wanna be ready. And I know that as a fact. That's a sovereign decree. Christ will come back. Nobody's gonna do away with that one. And just imagine how shocked all the people are gonna be when he shows up who tried to get rid of him. "And every knee will bow and every tongue confess".
And you know what? I frankly don't care if people in the world that don't understand us think I'm crazy. I've just kinda gotten to the point where I just kinda delight in it. Lord, have mercy, I'm happy. Paul said he had learned, Philippians 4:11: "I have learned to be content". And I love the amplified translation of "Content": "Satisfied to the point where I'm not disturbed". Philippians 4:11, Paul learned how to be content in every situation. He learned it. You know what? Bein' unhappy about your paycheck is not gonna help you make more money. Bein' unhappy about the debt you're in won't help you get out of debt. The only thing that's gonna change anything is if you get with God, find out what you can do and do it, and then trust him to do what you cannot do.
You know what? Paul was happy 'cause he made a decision to be happy. This guy was bein' imprisoned for preaching the Gospel. He was being beaten. People were trying to kill him. They were against him. And in the midst of all that, he decided to be happy. He decided to be happy. Say, "I've decided to be happy". And I can hear ya, "Well, I can't help how I feel". No, you can't, and I can't always help how I feel either, but thank God I don't have to live according to my feelings. I have got enough of the Holy Ghost in me to override how I feel, and you do too. Wouldn't it be pitiful if we spent our whole life just bowing down to feelings? "Oh, yes, depression, yes, yes. Yes, fear, here I am. Come and rule my life".
You know, when the Bible says, "Fear not", it doesn't mean don't ever feel fear. It means when you feel fear, dig in both feet and keep goin' forward. You don't have to live by how you feel. You do not have to live by how you feel. You do not have to live by how you feel. We have made feelings the big boss. You need to make the announcement today to your feelings, "You no longer get to vote". And so, tonight, when it's time to come back to the service, and your feelings say, "I don't feel like goin'". You're gonna say, "Too bad. I'm goin', and if I'm goin', you're goin' with me". Isn't that right?
Boy, people who live by their feelings, you might as well just get a big rubber stamp, "destroyed", and go ahead and just stamp it on everything in your life. "Happy are the people whose God is the Lord", Psalm 144:15. "Happy are the people whose God is the Lord". Here's one you won't like. Luke 3:14: "Those serving as soldiers also asked him, 'and we, what shall we do?' and he replied to them, 'never demand or enforce by terrifying people or accusing wrongfully, and be satisfied with your rations, your supplies, and with your allowance (or your wages)'".
"Well, bless God, I just don't make enough money. They just don't appreciate me around here, and"... You can talk to God about that. "God, I need a job that's gonna pay me more, but, man, I am thankful to have anything right now. And I tell ya what, they may not be treating me right, but you're the God of justice, and you can get back to me whatever people don't give me".
You know, I even caught myself doin' this the other day, and I got a little correction from God. You know what? Your paycheck is not your source. I said, "Your paycheck is not your source". Okay, here's a good one. The government is not your source. The government can't give you anything they don't take away from somebody else. If they wanna give somebody else somethin', they gotta raise somebody else's taxes. So then pretty soon, those people don't need anything, and they need somebody to take care of them. And I am not, in any way shape or form, talkin' about not properly taking care of the poor. We need to help the poor, but we don't need to enable laziness. And everybody knows that.
A large majority of my life is spent helping the poor, and I will always continue to do that. But I'll tell ya the truth, it never was the government's job. It was the church's job. So, anyway, I better get off of that. "Happy are the people whose God is the Lord". You can be satisfied with your present circumstances because God himself has said...
Let's look at Hebrews 13:5. This is shoutin' ground right here. "Let your character or your moral disposition be free from loving money don't be greedy, lustful, or crave after earthly possessions and be satisfied with your present circumstances and with what you have right now: for God himself has said, 'i will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. I will not, I will not, I will'", come on. "I will not, I will not, I will not, I will not leave you helpless".
But if we wanna get God's help, we've gotta look to God as the source of every good thing. I mean, if I'm lookin' to God as my source, or if you're looking to God as your source, he may work through your employer to give you more. But if you look to your employer, you're shutting the door for God's help in your life. Same way even with people who, maybe you're in a position right now where you need some kinda government aid. Well, fine, but don't just park there. Look to God as your source and say, "God, you can do more than this. You can provide for me in a greater way", amen? And everything that I say to you, I say for one reason only. It's because I love you and I wanna help you.
And to be honest, sometimes I'm willing to make people mad if it will shake 'em out of their complacency. I mean, I've had people tell me, "When I first started tryin' to listen to your teaching cds, I could take about 10 minutes, and I would throw the stuff across the room". I know I'm a little kinda in your face, and I'm sorry, but this is just kinda the way God made me. But I am so passionate about the Word of God and what I know that God can do for you, but we gotta shake off the nonsense. Just like the apostle Paul when he was on the Island of Malta and the little serpent bit him on the hand. It says, "He simply shook it off".
Well, maybe the serpent has bit you. It's time to stop owning it, and loving it, and makin' a lifestyle out of it, and bein' in counseling forever because of it. It's time to shake it off. Waiting to be happy until you have your manifestation causes you to waste today. Why waste all of your days between the time you prayed and the time you get your breakthrough? Waiting is where we're tested. I prayed on Monday, but if I still don't have it by Friday, do I still believe? Keep saying, "God is working". "God is working. God is working". On Tuesday, you say, "God is working". On Wednesday, you say, "God is working". At midnight, you say, "God is working". Don't let the devil wear you out. You wear him out. There's a sadness about waste.
See, I wasted enough of my days, and I don't wanna waste any more. I made myself a decision about 25 years ago, "No more wasted days". I don't have another day to sit in the house and feel sorry for myself all day because Dave went out and played golf and didn't do what I wanted him to. Come on, I don't have another day to go sit in the bathroom floor and cry because dave's watchin' football instead of payin' attention to me. Hello, come on. I don't have another 3 weeks to be depressed because the person at work that I don't like got the promotion I wanted. Okay. Jesus said, "Gather up all the fragments, that nothing be wasted". He's not into waste.
You don't even have to waste your pain. Make a decision to enjoy your journey. Enjoy your children while they're growing up. Enjoy your home while you're paying for it. Enjoy yourself while God is changing you. Okay, number three way to increase your happiness is stay in peace, oh, hallelujah, stay in peace. You know, peace equals power. Jesus could only speak peace to the storm that everybody else was afraid of because he had peace in him. And here's just a simple example, and God, you know, God uses, and always has, just uses the simple, everyday, ordinary things to teach me great lessons.
And so, we're redoing a room in our house, I'm redoing a room in our house. Dave couldn't care less, I'm sure, but, you know. And so, I had to buy this material to recover our chairs. And we ordered the material, got it all measured. We needed 8 yards of material. Well, they sent us 6 and 1/2 yards of material. I didn't need, I mean, well, they said, "Well, the person who put the order in made a mistake". Now, I'm like, "Okay, I can understand 8 becoming 7 or 8 becoming 9, but how does 8 turn into 6 and 1/2? I mean, you'd have to work to do that".
And so here's the first thing, and these are the kinds of areas I'm talkin' about. The first thing that came up in me was... and I said this, "Why can't people just do what you ask them to do"? Come on, do I got anybody bearin' a witness here? And, you know, you better be careful, 'cause God is always speaking, and sometimes through people you don't wanna hear from.
So my daughter is on the other end of the phone, and she says, "Well, people make mistakes". And I was, like, convicted. And then God just showed me, "Okay, this is an area. See, if you want more power when you get to Atlanta... Just keep your peace over the material". Come on. You know, God does not expect us to be a rocket scientist. I am telling you that you can increase the power in your life, I mean, unbelievably, if you will just really commit to God to work with him to stay peaceful.
Our goal is not just to be happy, although that's a good goal in itself, but our goal is to glorify God in everything that we do. And I personally believe that sad-faced Christians don't glorify God. They're not a great advertisement for salvation, so we need to live our lives in such a way and even have an appearance about us that makes people want to have what we have. And so, I think that the joy of the Lord, which is our strength, and peace, and patience, and different things like that, are very important for us as believers if we really want to be used by God.
And so, Psalm 5:11 says, "Let those who love your name be joyful in you and be in high spirits". So, God doesn't wants us just to have a little bitty, you know, every once in a while, he wants us to be really happy and really in a good mood, and notify our face so the world can tell that we've got something that they need. Amen? And, you know, after having lived a long time, I've come to the conclusion that really, really the bottom line of, what does everybody want? You know what? They just want to be happy. I mean, when you go out and go shopping, you're doing it because you want to do something that makes you happy. You know, we eat 'cause it makes us happy. We overeat sometimes because it makes us happy. We want to be in relationships because they make us happy. You know, so happiness is just like something that everybody wants, but sadly, many people go about getting it all the wrong way.
Now, I'm gonna give you number 12 first. I did that yesterday morning and number 12 is decide to be happy. You're never gonna be happy if you don't decide you're gonna be happy in spite of your circumstances. Amen? Can you decide to be happy in spite of your circumstances? "Well, I never thought about it". You know, happiness or true godly joy is not supposed to be based on what is happening, although if you look at the Webster's dictionary definition, at least one of the original dictionaries written in 1828, it says that happiness is the product of having something good happen to you but it's also the product of expecting something good to happen to you, and that's what I love, that even if something good isn't happening to me right now, there is no devil in hell can keep me from expecting something good to happen to me.
The enemy might be able to mess with your circumstances, but he cannot mess with your heart and your hope. You can be full of hope and expect good things to happen if you decide to. So, I'm gonna say it again maybe a lot of times today, decide to be happy and don't wait for your circumstances to dictate to you that you can have that happiness, decide to be happy. Everybody say, "I'm gonna be happy. I've decided I will not waste another day being unhappy. I am happy".
Now, the number-one thing that we talked about yesterday is that if you want to be happy, you've gotta believe what the Word of God says about you, and especially about you and who you are. And here's the bottom line, you're never gonna enjoy your life if you don't enjoy yourself. So, i, you know, can't go over all that information again but let me just tell ya, if you don't like yourself, then you really need to quickly get over it and make another decision because you are stuck with you for the rest of your life. I mean that's really not rocket science but it really was life-changing for me when I realized that everywhere I went, there I was. So, you're never gonna get away from yourself, not for one second, so you might as well come to some kind of terms of peace and say, "I like me. With all my flaws and all my weirdness, I like me and God is changing me. Next year I won't be exactly the way I am now, but while I'm in the process of changing, I'm not gonna be at war with myself. I like me". Can everybody say, "I like me"?
Number-two thing that we talked about yesterday was living one day at a time and enjoying it. That's very understandable.
The third thing we talked about was staying in peace.
Now, number four, big thing we want to talk about today, if you want to be happy, you gotta learn to give your life away. In God's economy, what you try to cling to and keep is what you end up losing and what you're willing to give away, you get back with interest multiplied many times over. Whatever you give to God, you get something better back. Isn't that interesting? Whatever you give to God, you get something better back. So, if you give yourself away, you say, "God, here I am. You take me. You do with me what you want to do. Use me in your kingdom. Use me to help people. Use me to be a blessing to people".
And don't just pray that one time in your life, pray that every day. Every single day I ask God, "Show many what I can do for you today, Lord. And show me what I can do to be a blessing to other people. Show me what I can give. Show me who I can encourage". You see, I lived a long time where I was the center of my universe, and I can tell you that it will never make you happy. Selfish people are not happy people. Amen? And that's a tweet. Is that the right word? Do we tweet things like that? Yeah, that's it. We tweet that. I get 'em all mixed up. You can't be happy and selfish at the same time, and your life is yours to do what you want to with.
You can spend your whole life just with you as the center of your universe and believing that you should be the center of everybody else's universe, but you're just gonna be miserable. And so, you can decide today, "I'm gonna give my life away. I'm just gonna give it to God and tell him to do what he wants to with it". Matthew 16:24, "Then Jesus said to his disciples, if anyone desires to be my disciple, let him deny himself disregard, lose sight of, and forget himself and his own interests".
Now, you know, forget yourself doesn't mean you're not gonna take care of yourself, but it just means you're just not gonna have yourself on your mind all the time. Amen? Get up in the morning and first thing start thinking about how you can be a blessing to somebody else or think about God, but do something besides think about yourself. "And take up your cross and follow me". Now, you know, there's a been a lot of conversation about carrying the cross. "Well, this, you know, this problem is my cross to bear. This sickness is my cross to bear. You know, this tragedy is my cross to bear". No, that's not v. The cross that we carry is to forget ourselves, lose sight of ourselves and all of our own interests and say, "Here I am, God, a vessel empty of myself. You fill me full of you and do what you want to with me and through me today". Come on, that is shouting ground right there. Amen.
Now, I might as well tell you if you're not used to living that way, you will go through culture shock. It will be hard in the beginning because we are very accustomed to being on the throne of our life and everything we think about ourselves first in everything. And it's difficult in the beginning because there is a dying, a dying that takes place, but I'm gonna prove to you today that in order to really live, you have to die first. And I'm not talking about leaving the earth and going to heaven, that's the ultimate dying to live. But actually, if you ever want to have a real life, a real quality of life where you feel like your life really counts and it matters for something, then you have to be willing to die to self, to not get your way, and to learn to be happy about it. Yeah, well, you're not as happy as I hope you get.
Some of you are thinking, "Well, I already don't get my way". Well yeah, but you're not happy about it. Verse 25, "For whoever", we're gonna go back to 24 again 'cause I want to make sure you get all this, "Then Jesus said to his disciples, if anybody desires to be my disciple, let him deny himself disregard, lose sight of, forget himself and his own interests and take up his cross and follow me cleave steadfastly to me, conform wholly to my example in living and, if need be, in dying, also. For whoever is bent on saving his temporal life his comfort and security here shall lose it eternal life: and whoever loses his life his comfort and security here for my sake".
We don't do this 'cause it feels good. We're not even really doing it for other people, we're doing it for his sake. And let me clarify again that forgetting yourself and losing sight of yourself and all your own interests, that doesn't mean that you never get to do anything you want to do. It doesn't mean that you never make any good plans for yourself. Let's don't take this out of context. What it really means is is you're not going to just live for just you and nothing else. I encourage people to take care of themselves. I encourage people to stay balanced and to do things for yourself that you enjoy doing. But that's a totally different thing than everything being about you, amen?
"For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life his blessed life in the Kingdom of God? Or what would a man give as an exchange for his blessed life in the Kingdom of God"? So, I believe that we should learn to live and give, live and give. I get up every day, everything is not about what's coming to me, everything is about God working through me. To be honest, I don't even have anything to give that's worth having if I don't first receive all of God that I can possibly receive and then let him flow through me. Amen? Trust me, you don't want what I've got to give you, but I've done my best to let God flow through me this weekend so you can have more of him in your life and that's what God wants us to do for every person that we meet.
Now, John 12:24 through 26 are just amazing scriptures, and I'm gonna work part of this message around this so watch this. John chapter 12, verse 24, "I assure you, most solemnly I tell you. Most solemnly I tell you". It's okay occasionally to get solemn in church. "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just one grain: it never becomes more but lives by itself alone. But if it dies, it produces many others and yields a rich harvest".
Well, I want to encourage you later to just read that scripture over and over and over. But here's my best shot at an example. This is the seed of a Georgia peach. My husband lovingly ate the peach this morning, washed the seed, and dried it with a hair dryer. He is so good. He is just so good. Now, unless this gets buried in the ground, it will always just be this, not really that attractive. So, unless you're willing to be buried, so to speak, you're never gonna be anything other than what you are right now, that's it, nothing else. But if you do a little study on seed, what happens when you put this seed in the ground, first of all, it's hidden in darkness.
You know, we don't like the dark times in our lives, but they do have a tendency to break the outer shell off of us and open us up to the greater things that God has already put on the inside of us. See, when you're born again, everything that God is comes into you, a seed of everything that God is comes into you and if you'll allow me to put it this way, you become pregnant with Godliness. Amen? Pregnant with Christ-likeness and Godliness. When a man and a woman who are married come together in love and purity and his seed is planted in her womb, she becomes pregnant. Come on. And as that seed is nurtured and taken care of, then eventually she gives birth. But let me just remind you that birthing also comes with pain. Amen? Just saying, okay?
And if this seed had feelings, we're gonna pretend for a moment that it has feelings. It's probably kind of just enjoying being a seed and all of sudden somebody, we'll say God, comes along and puts it in the dirt, in the ground, in the dark. It's suffocating in there. It's hot in there. There's pressure from the ground but the heat from the ground and the pressure from being buried eventually breaks off this outer hull. Come on now, you're gonna have to go with me spiritually. Amen?
So, here I am Susie Christian. I've got all this great stuff in me but unless God gets to do this work in me, it's just gonna stay buried in me and nobody's ever gonna really see Christ through me because I go to church and go home, go to church and go home, go to church and go home, and nothing ever changes in my life. So, as it stays in the ground, what happens is this breaks open and then all these little rootlets begin to go down and take hold in the ground. See, sometimes we don't understand why a bunch of great stuff is not happening to us if we're children of God. Well, you're gonna have to take some time to just get rooted and grounded. Amen?
Rooted and grounded in the love of God. Rooted and grounded in Christ. Rooted and grounded in the Word of God. And then eventually as this seed is watered, I think it's so cool that God talks about being watered with the word. Amen? As this seed is watered and it's nurtured and cared for, then after a while, nobody knows the exact time but after a while, boop, boop, boop, boop, boop, boop, boop, boop, boop, boop. And after a while this thing that was just this very unattractive, hard, useless seed becomes an amazing Georgia peach tree. And now, this fruit can be picked and sent all over the world.
Come on, is anybody listening to me today? And sent all over the world for other people's nourishment and enjoyment. Come on, give God a big praise. And, you know, just to take a moment and just speak lovingly to our TV audience, you know, these folks that are here, they've got, I know, some level of commitment or they wouldn't be out here on a Saturday morning. And I don't know how much you know about the things of God, or the Word of God, or how much you even fully understand what I'm saying right now, but I just want to clarify again if your life is just all about you and that's all you think about or care about is getting what you want and having everybody else serve you to give you what you want, you are never going to be happy.
And listen, you could even get what you think you want and then you're gonna find out that even that didn't make you happy because it is impossible to be happy if you're not willing to give yourself away. Amen? And I don't even know really how many Christians pray these kinds of prayers on a regular basis, but I tell you, we are just pitiful indeed if all we do every morning is present God the 12 things he has to do right away in order for us to even stay saved. "Well, God, if you don't do this, I just can't be happy. And if you don't do this, I just don't know if I can go on. And if I have to put up with this one more day, God, I just don't think I can hang in there anymore".
Yeah, we all have things we want, every one of us have things that we want. I have things that I want, but you know what I've learned? If you seek the kingdom, God will add the things, amen. And Psalm 37, "Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart". All right now, 2 Corinthians chapter 8, verse 5 and boy, I like this. Mmm, I like this. See, some of ya, you're just starting to feel a little bit freer already just with the very thoughts of, I can just kind of feel that in the spirit today. It's just kind of like, wow.
Come on, why don't some of you just retire from self-care? Let's throw a big retirement party. When somebody says, "Why are you so happy"? Say, "I'm not concerned about myself anymore. I've given myself away and whatever God does with me is up to him. If he gives me what I want, that's good and if he doesn't, that's probably even better".
2 Corinthians chapter 8, verse 5. Now, they're actually talking about a financial offering here, but I love what this says. "Nor was this gift of theirs merely the contribution that we expected, but first they gave themselves to the Lord and to us as his agents by the will of God entirely disregarding their personal interests, they gave as much as they possibly could, having put themselves at our disposal to be directed by the will of God". Now, you know what kind a person that is? Let's just say, like, as a ministry. That's somebody who says, "Oh, Joyce, I really wanna work for you". "Well, what position are you interested in"? "Whatever, I will do anything. I'm at your disposal. I just wanna serve in the Kingdom of God".
Now, the people I get concerned about are the ones who have to have an office and a nameplate on the door and a special parking place, and they wanna know all the benefits and how much vacation they're gonna get, and then I love this one. This is my favorite when somebody wants to come to work for us and they wanna know, "What's gonna happen to the ministry when Joyce dies"? First of all, I ain't dyin' for a long time, but, you know, I guess, in the natural, I can understand the concern. And you know, I've just decided I ain't gonna worry about it, when I'm dead, I'm gonna be happy, so, you know.
The point is, is we're livin' by faith, God'll take care of us. Amen? They gave themselves to the Lord. Paul said, not only did they give an offering, not only did they put some money in the basket, but they totally submitted themselves. And so, even when you give your offerings in church from now on, before you drop it in, why don't you say the Lord, "I'm giving you this little token, little, tiny bit of what you've given me, but Lord before I put it in here, I just wanna reclarify that I'm giving you myself". How about if we put ourselves in the offering basket? Come on, I like that.
The next point that I want to talk about, which would be number five, is don't let other people run your life if you want to be happy. Yeah, I knew I was going to get some action on that one. You know, until we learn how to succeed at being ourselves, which means to follow your heart, not your flesh, your heart, which means to follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit, come on, the leadership of the Holy Spirit, we're never going to be really truly happy.
Galatians chapter 1, verse 10, Paul said, "Now am I trying to win the favor of men, or of God? Do I seek to please men? If I were still seeking popularity with men, I would not be a bond servant of the Lord Jesus Christ". Paul said, "I would have lost this whole opportunity to be an apostle of Christ". And I can tell you right now, if I would have been trying to keep people happy, I sure wouldn't be standing here today in this ministry. It's amazing what we cheat ourselves out of, but what we also cheat everybody else out of. Because God has not only got something for you that will fulfill you, but he wants to use you to bring something to somebody else. And I probably would not be wrong if I said that the largest majority of people miss the fullness of their destiny because the one thing you can be guaranteed of that the enemy will bring against you is the threat of rejection if you dare to fully follow God.
Let's look at Daniel chapter 3. "Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, the pipe, and the lyre", all those other instruments, bagpipes, and, "Every kind of music, if you're ready to fall down and worship the image which I have made good. But if you do not worship, you shall be cast at once into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the God who can save you"? Now, Daniel and his friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, were called into the king's service. Not where they would have wanted to have been, but they were brought into his service. And in the midst of it, they were still determined to behave themselves as godly men.
Now, to me, this is a great example of where we're at today, and I'm sure where other people have been at in every generation. Let me tell you something, that there is persecution for Christians. Now, if you're a sneaky Christian, a secret hidden Sunday morning Christian, then you might avoid the persecution. But if you're a full-on, going to live for God believer, then you're going to have some persecution in the world. So, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were given this message.
Now, here's an image of the king, and everybody's going to bow to this image. Well, they knew they couldn't do that because they weren't going to bow to anybody but God. And so, here came the threat, which we always get the threats. "If you don't bow down, there's going to be suffering for you". In this instance, they we're gonna be put into the fiery furnace. For us, sometimes is that you'll be put out of the group. "We're no longer gonna like you. We're going to gossip about you". You know, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. You know, blah, blah, blah.
How many of you know what that means? All right. Verse 16, "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered the king. O Nebuchadnezzar, it is not necessary for us to answer you on this point". In other words, "That's so stupid I'm not even gonna answer it". "If our God, whom we serve, is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, he will deliver us out of your hand, o God". And it didn't mean like if he's able, if he's capable of it. But what that really means is if that's the best thing, if that's what God wants to do, he will deliver us. "But if not, let it be known to you, o king, that we will not serve your Gods or worship the golden image which you have set up".
So, in other words, "You do what you want to, but we've decided to follow Jesus". You do what you want to, but I've got my mind made up. Boy, "Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury and his facial expression was changed to antagonism". You ever had anybody give you a dirty look? "Against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Therefore he commanded that the furnace should be heated up seven times hotter than normal". I love it. Boy, you stand your ground, you make a right decision, and the problems multiply. "And he commanded the strongest men in the army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and to cast them into the furnace".
Now, I want you to watch carefully. "And these three men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics or their undergarments, their turbans, and their other clothing, and they were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Therefore because the king's commandment was urgent and the furnace exceedingly hot, the flames and the sparks from the fire killed those men who handled Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound", everybody say, "Bound". Boy, this is so good, I don't know if I can preach it. "They fell down bound into the burning fiery furnace".
Boy, they looked like they were in bad shape. "Then Nebuchadnezzar the king saw and was astounded, and he jumped up and said to his counselors, 'did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire'"? Whoo! "And they answered, 'true, o king.'" verse 25, "And he answered, 'behold, I see four men.'" now, here it comes... Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Wait, you're too early! "I see four men loose"! Three of them went in bound, the fourth man got in there with them, and he actually used what the king meant to destroy them to cut the bondages off of their life. Oh man. "Walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt".
Verse 26, "Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the furnace and he said, 'Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, you servants of the Most High God, come out and come here'". Oh, what a message. "There must be something different about you guys. You better come over here and tell us what it is. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out of the midst of the fire, and then the satraps, the deputies, the governors, and the king's counselors gathered together and saw these men, that the fire had no power upon their bodies, nor was the hair of their head singed: neither were their garments scorched, nor did they even have the smell of smoke". They didn't even smell like smoke! Amen, hallelujah!
Now, number six. If we're ever going to have any happiness, we've really got to understand the grace of God. And just to make it as simple as I can for the amount of time that I have, grace is not only God's undeserved favor. So, that means instead of me spending my life trying to kick down doors that I want to go through, I can trust God to give me favor and open the right doors for me at the right time. Grace is what changes us. God's power. Grace is not only undeserved favor, it's God's power coming to us free of charge to enable us to do with ease what we could never do on our own with any amount of struggle and effort. That's my very own definition. You want it again? Grace is God's power coming to us freely. All we need to do is receive it. And it enables us, grace is enabling power. It enables us to do with ease what we could never do on our own apart from God with any amount of struggle and effort.
I tell you, I tried so many years to change myself because I knew that, you know, I had problems. I tried to be happier. I tried to be peaceful. I tried to be a better person. You know, I tried and tried and tried and tried. And instead of it working, I actually was getting worse because the more frustrated we are, the worse we behave. And God began to teach me out of his word that it was only his grace that could change me. To make a long story short, we're saved by grace, we get that. It's like, "Well, here I am, God. You know, I've done everything. If you don't help me, I'm done for".
And we receive. We don't get salvation. I don't like that terminology: "How many got saved"? We've had about 1,200 people receive Christ in this conference. You cannot get a free gift. You receive free gifts. "By grace are you saved through faith. It is a gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast". And the same way that we're saved is the same way we have to learn how to live. Now, grace is about a 20-part teaching series, and I've got about 3 minutes here for this section.
So, let me just tell you that any time that you feel frustrated, it's because you're trying to do something that only God can do. Any time you're frustrated, you're trying to do something that only God can do. And you need to stop and just say, "Okay, I've gotten over into works of the flesh, which is my energy trying to do God's job. I'm gonna back off here, God. Help me. I need you to make this happen. Apart from you, I can do nothing". And then realizing that God doesn't do everything in our timing, nor the way that we would do it. So after praying, we then trust God, and we watch him work. I finally stopped trying to change myself. And lo and behold, I've been changed.
You say, "Now wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. What do you mean you don't try to change yourself? Well, you just can't not try to change yourself". Well, yeah I can. Yeah I can. I pray every morning, "Lord, set a watch over my mouth lest I sin against you with my tongue. Help me, Lord, not to get in trouble with my mouth today. And if you don't help me, I'm definitely going to get in trouble". Now, hang on. And here's how it works. I pray, and then the Holy Spirit reminds me. I'm going through the day, I'm busy going along. See, this is how the Holy Spirit's just with us all the time and he works in our life.
Dave says something, and I didn't care for it. I say something back, and then he says something back, and then I get this little like... How many... Okay, see, you get it, you know. Now, you know, maybe you're not quite where we're at, and you're like, "What's she talking about"? You get this, well, the Holy Spirit lives inside of us, and the Bible says in Romans 7:6 that we no longer live by the law. We don't live by all these rules and regulations of how we have to behave for God to love us, but we now live by the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
So, the truth is if I make 100 mistakes with my mouth today, God's still going to love me, I'm still going to go to heaven, but I want to do what's right because I love him. So, instead of me going around saying, "Well, I'm just not going to say anything today, that way I won't get in trouble". Cause see, all we know how to do is be extreme. "I'm just not going to talk at all, and that way I won't get in trouble". And that doesn't work, we all know that. We might shut up for a while, but boy, when we open our mouth, whew.
But here's what you do. Instead of saying, "Boy, I can't do this today, and I can't do this, and I can't do this, and I can't do this, and I better not do this", you just get up and say, "God, I want to be all you want me to be. Holy Spirit, I ask you to remind me if I'm about to get myself in trouble. Then my part is", and we have a part, you have a part. But it's not like this fleshly effort. It's just a spiritual effort. But it's just to say I want to cooperate with God. "Okay, Lord, you're telling me to zip my lip. And if I don't, I'm about to start a fight with dave". Then I can just shut up. You didn't get that? Was that hard? How many of you are understanding what I'm saying?
Now, two quick things that were on my heart. First of all, I want us to look at 1 Corinthians 15:10. The apostle Paul said, "But by the grace (the unmerited favor and blessing) of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not found to be for nothing (fruitless and without effect). In fact, I worked harder than everybody, but it was not really me, it was the grace of God in me which did the work". Now, I mean, this could initially even sound a little confusing, but Paul is saying, "Look, I am what I am by the grace of God. But when God offered me his grace, I didn't take it in vain. I took that power of the Holy Spirit, and I used that to do the things that God wanted me to do".
Now, Paul's, "Okay, now here I am. I'm a successful apostle, but let me remind you that it's only because of the grace of God". And I can tell you today, I mean, honestly, when I come up here and I preach, and I've done this now for 40 years, but when I come up here and preach, I'm just like, it's almost like I'm somebody else. And well, that probably doesn't make any sense. But it's like, I'm like, because you see, when the grace and the power and the anointing of God comes on you, the Bible says it turns you into another man or woman. We can do things by the grace of God that we cannot do any other way. But let me also tell you, when I come up here, I am not depending on me.
Now, I've studied, I've worked. But even that, I need God's grace to keep doing, I've been doing this 40 years. This may be your first conference, it's not my first rodeo. Amen? And just to wanna keep doing it, just to stay fresh, just to have yet, another message, just to stay in one more hotel, I need grace, grace, and more grace. So, you got to depend on God all the way through. You could stop grumbling about your jobs if you would depend on God's grace every day when you go there. Ooh, I wish I had another day. And in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9, I'm not going to take the time to go there, but let me tell you something. If you are in a difficult situation, you have a difficult child to raise, you are in a difficult relationship, you're in a relationship with somebody that is really hard to be in a relationship with. Anybody? You're in a position where you're needing to take care of elderly parents, and no matter what you do, they don't like it. Yeah.
Now, I want you to listen to me. Any place where God has put you, he will give you the grace, wait, wait, wait, wait, to be there and be happy while you're there. Paul prayed that God would deal with what the Bible calls the thorn in his flesh. Three times he called on the Lord, and the Lord said, "I'm not going to remove it. My grace is sufficient". And the amplified Bible says, "My grace is sufficient to enable you to bear the trouble manfully".
In other words, "My grace can enable you to be in that situation and put a smile on your face, and serve me, and do it with a good attitude". But you're not going to get grace if you get all, "Oh, I got to go to that stupid job again, and drive in this stupid traffic. And I don't make enough money, and I hate this job, and I hate the people". You forget getting grace if that's going to, but you get up and you say, "God, this is where you've got me right now, and I'm going to trust you that when you're done with me here, you're going to put me somewhere else. But in the meantime, I'm going to go there by your grace with a smile on my face. And I am going to represent you, and I am going to glorify you". Amen?