Joyce Meyer - Simple, Practical Changes With Real Results
Now, you know, some people have a bad day, and it turns into a bad week, and it turns into a bad month, and then it turns into a bad year. And there's just millions of people at the end of the year, about December the 1st are sayin', "I will be so glad when this year is over". And you know what? What a tragic waste of life. I mean, really. What a tragic waste of life. Let's make a decision in this conference to stop letting everything around us control us.
C'mon. Now, that's our big decision this weekend. And for those of you watchin' by TV, I want you to make that decision with us. "It's time for me to stop letting everything around me control me because, as a Christian, I have Christ in me. 'And greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world'". And Romans 8 says: "Right in the midst of all these things", not when they're over, but in the middle of 'em, "We are more than conquerors through Christ who loves us".
Now, this doesn't mean that you're gonna enjoy problems. It doesn't mean that you're maybe still not gonna hurt or go through some things. But I wanna tell ya somethin'. Attitude, man, if we can ever understand the power of attitude. If, you know, there's a lot of things people could maybe take away from you, but your attitude belongs to you. And if you don't wanna have a bad attitude, nobody can make you have a bad attitude. I mean, when we read the life of Joseph, it seems, unless the Bible's left out a lot, that he had a great attitude while he was in prison for 13 years for somethin' he didn't do.
Yeah, amazing. Man, I spent so much of my life with a bad attitude. I mean, if I had a little problem, I could turn it into a big one overnight. Amen? And it's just bad attitudes, just feelin' sorry for our self, and havin' a chip on our shoulder. And you know, "Woe is me". And, "Nobody's got it as bad as me". And you know, we just need to make a decision, "I am not going to waste one more day of my life being miserable". Sound good? Cause, see, I believe with all of my heart that God wants us to be happy. I felt like the Lord just spoke to my heart last week just simple, "Be happy today".
You know, it puts a smile on God's face when we're happy. If you have children, you know you love to see them happy. Nobody wants to see their children miserable. And God doesn't wanna see us miserable. I think one of the things that we can do for him is serve him with gladness. That's what Psalm 100 says: "Serve the Lord with gladness". If you don't know what your purpose is yet, just start with, "Well, I'm gonna serve the Lord with gladness", and he'll lead you into other good things. You know, really, we just got this attitude, "Well, it's just so hard. It's just so hard, God. It's just so hard. Life is so hard. It's just so hard".
But you know what? Really, God gives us super simple answers that produce amazing results in our life. One of the ones I'm not gonna get to so I'll just talk about for a minute. Like, really, we think forgiving people who hurt us is so hard. But do you know what's hard? Bein' bitter your whole life. Now, that's what's hard. And it's really not even very smart when somebody hurts us and then we're still mad and hurting a month later. And they probably don't even know they hurt us. And we're not even sure they care. And they're out havin' a good time. And we're over here bein' miserable. And God gives us a simple answer. "Let it go. Drop it. Leave it. Let it go. Shake it off". Amen.
You know, there are times when I have to say to myself, "You know, Joyce, you've probably hurt people a lot of times and you don't even realize you did it". Believing the best about people when they hurt you is so powerful. Because immediately, that helps you. And here's the bottom line. If they did mistreat you purposely, and God cannot bring them to a place of repentance, and you do what you're supposed to do before God, God will deal with them and he will reward you. So it's simple. Just let it go.
Some of you've been draggin' stuff around with you that happened 20 years ago. I mean, really? I know I did that. For years and years and years I was mad at my mom and dad, and I hated my mom and dad, and I hated the people who didn't help me, and I was mad at them, and I was just mad at everybody. And I'm so glad that I married a man that had a good attitude. You know why? I had never really been around anybody with a good attitude. I just havin' a bad attitude was a way of life.
Maybe you grew up in a negative environment and you haven't heard the good news yet that you can control your attitude and it doesn't have to be a bad one. Turn to the person next to you and say, "You don't have to have a bad attitude". Okay, if you're havin' a bad day, the first thing that I would like to encourage you to do... Are you ready for number one? The first thing I'd like to encourage you to do is have a conversation with God.
Now, I purposely didn't say, "Pray". Although that's what having a conversation with God is. But I'm not gonna use that word right now because I think sometimes we have so overly spiritualized the idea of prayer that sometimes when you hear things a lot, it can just get to the point where it doesn't have much of a meaning to ya. "Oh, I know, you got a problem. Pray".
Well, I'm sayin', let's just say that somebody hurts your feelings. Well, if you'd just take a minute and have a conversation with God, you can just say, "Lord, you know that really hurt my feelings. And so I'm askin' you to comfort me and help me, Lord, not to just have a bad day because of one thing that happened. I love you, Lord, and I wanna do the things that you want me to do. And I know you don't want me to stay upset". Go on about your business. Now you've turned it over to the only person that can really help you.
Now, I said, "Have a conversation with God". And "Conversation" means "Talking and listening". And you know, sadly, man, I was in church for years and years and years before I ever heard that I could hear from God. And there are large groups of even Christians who just, if you talk about hearing from God, I mean, they're ready to just write you off as some kind of a nut. You tell somebody, "I heard from God", and right away, they wanna put you on some kind of medicine. They think you're psychotic or somethin', you know?
I do not know how anybody can read the Bible and think that God doesn't talk to his people. I mean, he spoke to Abraham. He spoke to Moses. He spoke to Joseph. I mean, he, all, he spoke to Isaac. I mean, all the way down the line. And all of those examples I just pulled out of the Old Covenant. When we get to the new and we're born again, he's living inside of us. He said, "I'll not only be with you, but I'll be in you". And so, wow.
Now, when I say, "Have a conversation with God", I'm not gonna say that you're gonna go around hearin' voices all day. That's not what I'm sayin' at all. But I do wanna talk to you for a little bit about a variety of ways that we hear from God. So because a lot of people think they don't hear from God when they do. Because they're looking for something that doesn't really exist. But first of all, just a few scriptures to let you know that God wants us to talk to him and he talks to us.
Psalm 5:3: "In the morning you hear my voice, o Lord: in the morning I prepare a prayer, a sacrifice", so our prayers are like sacrifices going up to God, "For you and I watch and wait for you to speak to my heart". Now, how much plainer can it be? But you know what? I underlined the word "Prepare" in orange because I wanted it to stand out. "I prepare a prayer".
I think sometimes we need to think about what we wanna ask God for and stop just throwin' out a bunch of words so we can get our prayer time in and feel good about ourselves spiritually. I mean, to be honest, half the time, till we learn better, we spend so much time tryin' to impress God with our eloquence. You know, God has tried to teach me in my life, and he has to remind me every once in a while, "Joyce, when you pray, ask me for what you want and need with the fewest amount of words possible". And it's hard because we think we just have to go on and on, and say the same thing four times, and on and on, change our voice tone and the inflection in our voice. You just try it. You just try just sayin', "Lord, I sinned. Forgive my sins. Thank you".
C'mon, I'm puttin' a challenge out. Oh, no, it'd be like, "Oh, God, forgive me. Oh, God, please forgive me. God, if you forgive me, I'll never do it again. Oh, God, please forgive me". Okay, listen, have you ever had anybody come to you... 'cause I've had this. They'll come and say to me, "Can I ask you a question"? "Sure". After they're 7 minutes into talking I finally have to say, "And did you have a question"? I think sometimes God must be that way with us. It's like, "And did you actually want something"?
So, "I prepare a prayer". And that doesn't mean that you gotta sit down and do an outline before you pray. But I think that prayer is so powerful that we need to start treating it like what it is and realize that we are talking to the most powerful being in the universe to whom nothing is impossible. And you know, in Philippians 4:6, and I'll probably get around to this sometime later in the amplified Bible, it says: "Be anxious for nothing, but in all things with prayer and supplication", and the amplified Bible amplifies it to say, "Definite requests".
See, I like that. He's sayin', "Be sure you know what you want, and make it plain". C'mon, is this helpin' anybody? Just be sure you know what you want. But see, we think that we're more spiritual if we say a lot more words. And I don't wanna get myself in trouble here with some people when I say this, but I don't even necessarily think that prayer has to be a long time. I would rather pray my way through the day and have each thing that I say be meaningful than to just do what I did for years, lock myself into a room somewhere and yell at the devil and try to talk to God for an hour to put my time in.
So I could say with everybody else in the group, "I pray an hour a day". If you asked me how long I pray, there is no way that I could tell you. I don't have any clue. And I don't know that you should have to either. I don't wanna just get up in the morning and pray and then say a little prayer before I got to bed at night and try to handle the rest of my day on my own. Every time there's anything hurting me, or bothering me, or pressuring me, or there's a heaviness in my heart, or there's a challenge, I want to have a conversation with God. I don't wanna wait to get help until I pray. I wanna talk to God about it and watch and wait for him to answer me in my life.
Now, having said that, there's nothing wrong with discipline. It's a beautiful thing. I'm very disciplined when I get up in the morning. I spend my first couple of hours with God. 'cause you don't really want to know me until he's had me for a while. Just trust me. It's better if God gets me before you do, amen? And a lot of you are probably that way too. You just haven't figured it out yet. Amen? And I'm very disciplined with that time with God. But I do a lot of things in that time.
I write in my journal. I talk to God. I read. I write in my journal more. I sit quietly for a little bit. And then the next thing I do is I walk every morning, outside if the weather's good, if not, on a treadmill, and I pray, talk to the Lord a lot during that, meditate on scripture, confess scripture out loud. I have disciplines in my life. But I don't have like this set amount of time that I do each thing, thinking that I'm putting in some kind of quota with God.
I want, for me, and I wanna share with the people that God gives me the privilege to teach, I wanna teach you how to do life with God. Amen? Just do life with God. I think it's so tragic when we spend 45 minutes to an hour to an hour and a half, however long your church service might be, on Sunday, and the rest of the week just not pay any attention to God. I mean, how many of us did that for years and years and years? And that's not what Jesus died to give us.
Martin Luther said, "To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing". Now, if you intended to build a big house, you'd have to have a large and a solid foundation. If you know anything at all about building, you know that if you put a big building on a tiny or a cracked foundation, it is not gonna last. And so if you intend to build a large amazing life, you're gonna need a solid foundation and it's gonna have to be built on and maintained by your relationship with God. And it's impossible to maintain good relationship without conversation.
I wouldn't have any kind of a relationship with Dave if we never talked or if I just talked at him. Sometimes I wonder if we're talking to God or at God. We realize that. You gotta have a conversation. I'll tell ya somethin', with a friend, or a spouse, or whoever, the more meaningful conversation you have with somebody, the deeper the relationship gets. I'm talkin' about meaningful conversation where you actually share parts of you with this other person and you trust them and you let them into your life.
Mark 1:35: "And in the morning, long before daylight, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed". So there's evidence all over the Bible that Jesus, first thing, spent time with God. Now, hang on. Before you tell me, "Well, I'm just not a morning person". Anybody can at least say, "Good morning, Jesus. I love you". I mean, if you just are so sleepy and in such a bad humor when you get up in the morning that you just don't honestly think you could have a conversation with anybody, not even God, at least you can start by saying, "Good morning, Lord. I love you. I need you. We'll talk more when I get awake".
The one thing that we have to stop doin' with God is pretending and just approaching him with religiosity. Be real with God. Jeremiah 33:3: "Call to me and I will answer you". Sound like a two-way thing to me. "Call to me and I will answer you. I will show you great and mighty things, fenced in and hidden, which you do not know (do not distinguish and recognize, have knowledge of and understand)".
Psalm 85:8, and if all the rest of these didn't convince you, then this one would have to: "I will listen with expectancy to what God the Lord will say, for he will speak to his people", wow, "To his saints (those who are in right standing with him)". We gotta read that again. Psalm 85:8: "I will listen with expectancy", don't ever say again in your life, "I don't hear from God". Don't say that, "I can't hear from God. I don't hear from God". At least make a decision tonight to change your confession and start lining it up with the Word of God that says, "I talk to God, and he talks to me. I hear from God. I will listen with expectancy to what God the Lord will say, for he will speak peace to his people".
Well, how do we hear God's voice? This is gonna be quick, so grab it. First of all, through his word. That is probably the most primary way that we hear from God. And it's not just through reading the Bible, but studying the Bible. And then also, the more you know of the word, one of the things that the Holy Spirit does, according to John, is he brings things to our remembrance. And so, many times I can be talkin' to God about somethin' and maybe while we're talking and I'm listening then, just a scripture will come to me that I know. And you know, we have to be careful about making amazing things ordinary.
I recall one time sayin' to the Lord, "You know, God, I don't know why you don't do the things you used to do when I was first started walkin' with You". And you know what he spoke back to my heart? "I do the same stuff all the time. You've just gotten used to it". C'mon. I wonder how many of you are having amazing things happen in your life. God's doin' stuff around you all the time and you've just kinda gotten used to it. Familiarity is a bad thing. We wanna always be amazed by God.
We hear God's voice through his word, through inner peace. God says, "I will speak peace to my people". Through wisdom and common sense. I think that's one of the main ways that we hear from God. You know, you might not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but let me tell you something, if you've got common sense, I mean, 'cause there's a lot of people that have a string of degrees a mile long and they don't have one ounce of common sense. It seems like sometimes the more education people get, the dumber they are. And then, God speaks to us through the internal, still small voice that can often sound like your own voice, but yet you have a knowing, a knowing that it's God.
I was walking around the other day, I'd had my time with God and this was a couple hours later, and I was just walking around doing something, and I just heard clearly the Lord say, "I love you". You say, "Well, how do you know it was God"? Well, for one thing, it came from here. It didn't come from here. And if I was just wanting to make stuff up, I mean, I could've made that up an hour before then. I wasn't looking for anything. I wasn't expecting anything.
And let me tell you something, when God speaks things like that to you, you need to not be in such a big hurry that you don't take a moment to enjoy that. I mean, I just stopped and thought, "Oh"! And then a little bit later, it wasn't even 5 minutes, I heard him say a second thing, "Trust me". Let me tell you something, one word from God can change your life forever. You're thinking, "Well, I wish I heard from God like that". That's not why we're here. We're here for you to understand that you can have a conversational relationship with God.
Now, I'm not encouraging you to listen to voices. Some of you have already done that in life and got yourself in a lot of trouble. You know, you might be in counseling now for hearing voices, I don't know. Anything that we hear must line up with the written Word of God. It must line up with the written Word of God.
A woman got up in one of my conferences. She was over in that section of the building over there. But I know none of you are like this. And while I'm talking, she gets up and decides to start talking. So, she's yelling, yelling. Well, first of all, she's saying things that weren't even true. "Jesus is not the Word of God"! And I'm like, you just have no idea how much fun it is to be trying to lead something like this and somebody does that. First of all, you just like everybody... you know. And of course, she wouldn't stop, wouldn't stop, wouldn't stop.
I said, "Well, first of all, you are not hearing from God. You are out of order because God is not gonna talk through me and you at the same time". And she just kept going on and on. Well, then we finally had to actually remove her from the meeting. And here's the sad thing, that woman thought she was hearing from God. But see, you can't think that if you know the word. Nobody who's ever read the word is gonna stand up and start trying to say something they think is from God in the middle of when the person in charge of the meeting is teaching. That just does not happen.
"Well, I just couldn't help it. I just couldn't help it. God just came over me. I couldn't help it". Well, that's not scriptural either, 'cause the Bible says that we're in control of what we say. So, anyway, moving on past that. God speaks through people. He'd rather speak to you himself, but if you don't listen, he speaks through nature, through the conviction of the Holy Spirit, through confirmation in your spirit. It's like, "Yep, that's right. That's right". Through circumstances. And God speaks through simply guiding us. He just guides us.
You know, when you wait for God to speak to you, he doesn't always say something. That's why a lot of people think they're not hearing from God. I think if you live with one ear tuned toward God, always wanting to hear what he has to say, and you acknowledge him at the beginning of the day, then like proverbs 3 says, "Acknowledge him in all your ways and he will direct your steps". So, what that means is you may do something during the day.
You may have prayed for God to speak to you about something. And you know, sometimes we pray about things, we forget we even prayed, don't we? And then, maybe a day or two later, or 3 days later, you get, you're just like, "I know"! And you think you got a good idea. Well, let me ask you a question. If you had a good idea that now solved your problem, why didn't you have it 4 days ago before God had to get involved? I just think our life would be so much more exciting if we really realized how much God is involved. Amen?
Alright, number two, 'cause we're not getting very far. Which is pretty normal for me. If you wanna improve a bad day, have a big dream. And I don't mean go to sleep, and have a nap, and have that kind of dream. I mean see something beyond where you're at right now. See something beyond where you're at right now. Have a hope. Have an expectancy. Believe that things are going to change. Believe they're going to get better.
When we were young and we didn't have hardly any money, which by the way, let me tell you something, when you're young, it's kinda good for you to go through that. You probably don't like me saying that, but it's the truth, because you appreciate what you have so much more if you had to spend part of your life not having it. We make it too easy for people today and they don't have to want for anything for very long. And sadly, then they end up with an entitlement attitude thinking everything is due them instead of feeling like that they actually should work for it for awhile, which is a biblical principle.
So, don't ever just be too aggravated at God if he makes you wait a little longer than you'd like to wait. It might end up being really good for you. But we didn't have much money, so when I went to the grocery store, I mean, I had to be super, super careful. Coupons, calculators, just really making positive that I didn't go over my... Back then we had $70 for every 2 weeks for groceries, and that wouldn't get you very far today, but when Dave and I first got married, that was, if you shopped carefully. But let me tell you something, you bought a lot of chicken and a lot of hamburger. There was no buying steak. There was no buying the top name brand, 'cause if it was 10 or 20 cents more, you needed to save that 10 or 20 cents.
And I remember when I first started learning about faith, and trusting God, and believing God for things, and how powerful my words were, I can remember going to the grocery store, and thinking and saying under my breath, "Someday, I'm gonna be able to walk in this store, and I'm gonna buy anything I want, and I'm not even gonna look at the prices". Amen? So, it helps you, if you're not in a great place, to think about the day when things are going to get better, 'cause you know what? If you stick with God, there is no way that they cannot get better. It's just not possible. "The path of the righteous grows brighter and brighter every day". And God delivers us from our enemies little by little. Don't throw in the towel just yet.
A man overhead several children who were playing together, asking one another, "What do you wanna be when you grow up"? And they all had an answer. One said, "I wanna be a veterinarian". Another wanted to be a video programmer. Another, a nurse. Another, a hockey player. One even wanted to be a worship leader. Now, we know, with children, what they wanna be changes from day to day, but I have 11 grandchildren, and you know, you ask them all when they're little. I mean, we've got one that's 2, and you know, a boy that's 7, and one that's 9. And so, I'll say, "What do you wanna be when you grow up"? And it might be different every month, but they've got something they wanna be. Very few children will say, "Probably nothing. Probably not much of anything. Nah".
You know, don't let life make you sour. Don't let it cause you to lose your ability to dream big. I still remember when my father was sexually abusing me, and I would lay in my bed as a teenager, never knowing when he might come through the door again. I remember laying in my bed thinking, "Someday, I'm gonna do something great. Someday, I'm gonna do something great". Now you're gonna make me cry. But see, I'm telling you that because I want you to have the same dream. God doesn't have favorites. His promises are for whosoever will believe those promises and walk them out in their life. Please do not discount yourself and think because you had something bad happen to you that now you're gonna have to always have a second-rate life. But it will be that way if you don't have a dream.
A lot of adults still don't know what they want. A 1-year-old thinks they know what they want. It may change from day to day, but they've got something. A lot of adults, you can say, "Well, you know, what do you wanna do with your life"? "I dunno. I don't know. I wish I could hear from God". Or they do know, which is even worse, and as soon as it gets a little tough, they give up. The Bible tells us in Matthew 18 to become like little children. I don't think that would hurt any of us just to become a little bit more child-like. I think we need to play a little more.
I don't know, what happened to recess? I don't get it. In grade school, we got a recess. Soon as you got to high school, recess was over. Seems to me like the older you get, the more recess you need. Okay, to see dreams come true, we have to have goals. Actually, I'll tell about my friend, penny. She's been losing a lot of weight and Dave said to her tonight coming over here, "What's your goal"? And she said, "Oh, I don't think I have one". I said, "You will after you hear me tonight".
Here's the thing. Imagine you're a World-Class Olympic Archer, and you've been practicing for years perfecting your craft. When you have a target in front of you and a bow in your hand, there's nobody better than you are. You finally made it to the Olympics. The gold medal is within your grasp. You step up to compete. The cameras are on you. You have your bow in one hand, an arrow in the other, and there's no target to shoot at. The judge says, "Oh, no targets necessary. Just shoot at whatever you'd like".
You know what? That's the way a lot of people live their life. You get up every day, you're just shooting at anything. Not you. I know it's not you. We're just talking in general terms. Maybe there's somebody watching television that needs this. You'll end up with a wasted, fruitless, miserable life. Every day, you gotta shoot at something. You know, your goal may change as time goes by, but you need to have something that you're aiming at every day. If you don't always hit the mark, you don't have to get discouraged. But I have got some kind of a plan every day. I let God change my plan when he wants to. I'm not legalistic and rigid about it. But let me tell you something, if I rest all day, it's because I plan to rest all day. I'm not gonna be controlled by the couch where I've gotta plan to clean my house, and I walk by the couch and think, "Oh, I'm just gonna lay", I lay down here and then I never get up.
Okay, moving on. John maxwell says, "A dream without a positive attitude produces a daydreamer. A positive attitude without a dream produces a pleasant person who never makes any progress. A dream together with a positive attitude produces a person with unlimited possibility and potential". You know, your attitude determines how far you can go in life. Dreams become reality when we go all the way through with God.
Number three, decide to help other people. Any time that you're having a bad day, honestly and truly, if you're having a bad day, the more you sit around and think about yourself and your problem, the worse your day is going to get. Pray for somebody you know that's hurting. I'm gonna tell you what, when you're sick or you got pain in your body, pray for everybody you know that's sick or got anything wrong with 'em. Amen?
Now, if you're gonna help somebody when you're having a bad day, you're gonna have to do it on purpose. You're not gonna do it 'cause you feel like it. You have to understand the spiritual principle behind what I'm talking about here. "It is more blessed to give than to receive". It's more blessed to reach out and help somebody else even than it is to get what we want. You're thinking, "Well, how can that be possible"? I don't know, but it works. And not only that, two scriptures in the Bible I just love to talk about when I talk about this issue. And one of 'em is Psalm 37:3, "Trust in the Lord, and do good, and you'll be delivered". Not just "Trust God", but "Trust God, and do good". And then secondly, Romans 12:21, "We overcome evil with good".
Always care for others. It's an interesting Bible study just to look up in a concordance everything that the New Testament, every place it uses the word "Others". Help others, encourage others, give to others, serve others. It doesn't say nearly as much about self, self, self. How many of you believe that if you help other people, God'll take care of you? Acts 20:35, Paul said, "In everything I have pointed out to you by example that, by working diligently in this manner, we ought to assist the weak, being mindful of the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, it is more blessed (makes one happier and more to be envied) to give than to receive".
So, if I'm having a bad day, here's a scripture that tells me I can be made happier if I will get myself off my mind and think about somebody else. Maybe you could pick your phone up and call somebody that you know has been going through a rough time and just say, "I want you to know I'm praying for you today". Maybe you could send a text message and tell somebody, "I was thinking about you today and I want you to know that you're valuable". It's amazing what just a few words can change somebody's entire day, and sometimes their life.
You say, "Well, I don't know, this, you know, Joyce, how can it happen that if I've got a problem and I give to somebody else, how's it going to make me happier to give to somebody else that would to get something I want"? Okay, well, let's think of Christmas morning. You've shopped. You've sacrificed financially. The gifts are all wrapped and under the tree. The kids are so excited. They been down at the tree a long time before you got up. It's time to open the gifts now. But the best part of the day is not when you open your gifts, but watching others open theirs. You know why? Because you have invested, you have put something into this, you have sacrificed to make somebody else happy. Now, as you watch them enjoy what you did for them, great joy is released in your life. It's the principle that we're talking about. Others, you gotta do it on purpose.
Number four re-examine your expectations. Psalm 27:14, love, love, love this scripture. "Wait and hope for and expect the Lord: be brave and of a good courage and let your hearts be stout and enduring. Yes, wait for hope for and expect the Lord". So, let me just say what are you expecting? "I dunno. Just have a lot of bad days. I probably'll have another one tomorrow. Probably, get stuck in traffic when I get outta here".
You know, if you're having a bad day, you could make your day so much better by expecting something good to happen to you. And to verbalize it. If you wanna make the devil angry, when he throws his best shot at you, be happy and say out loud, "I'm expecting something good to happen in my life". I'mma read you another story. These stories that are in the book, but this will help you see about attitude. "We'll start with nancy. Nancy's a devoted wife and a loving mother, two beautiful children. She goes to church every weekend".
Now, you know, these are made up stories. Just so you're not running around trying to figure out who Nancy is.
Nancy goes to church each weekend, volunteers in the local school system, shuttles the kids to piano lessons, soccer practice, but by all outward appearances, Nancy has a great life without a care in the world, but nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, Nancy isn't as happy as her circumstances suggest. She wakes up each day with a sense of dread, wondering what's gonna go wrong. Is today the day her husband will lose his job? Is today the day one of the kids will get hurt at soccer practice? Is today the day the doctor will give her bad news? You see? There's something I failed to mention about Nancy. Nancy had a very difficult childhood. Her father left when she was young and her mother remarried and divorced several times. As a child, Nancy dealt with disappointment, after disappointment, after disappointment. And I guess nobody ever taught her that she could get reappointed. She learned to expect the worst.
I was exactly like that. I'd had so many painful disappointing things happen. I got to the point where I was afraid to expect anything good to happen to me because I didn't want to face another disappointment. Maybe, somebody, is in that position right now. And maybe, God sent you here tonight, to say, "It's time for you to start expecting good things to happen to you". Amen?
Some people just have bad days that can even turn into a bad life, simply because they just stay so safe that life just becomes super boring. And I'm telling you, if you follow or if I follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit and we stop making our own plans, if anybody could say tonight and mean it, "Holy Spirit, work in me. I wanna follow you. You're the only one who really knows what God wants for me and you live in me and you can reveal it to me", and so step by step, see, we all want this long-range blueprint plan for our lives.
God's not gonna give you that. You're gonna start out, I mean, you may have some idea. I mean, when God spoke to me 40 years ago about teaching the word, I mean, I thought I was gonna fall out of bed the next morning and have this huge worldwide ministry 'cause I heard the Lord say, "You're gonna go all over the world and teach my word".
Well, you know, I didn't know from anything. I had to spend a lot of years just learning the word and getting some experience and letting God chip away at all the junk in my life, but what an adventure it's been with God. I'm not gonna tell you it's all been easy but I am so glad that I paid the price and said yes to God instead of no. And he led me one step at a time. See, you take a step and then God will give you the next step. And even that one may not be overnight. You may take a step and you may be at that place a lot longer than you'd like to be there but God's timing is perfect in our lives. Perfect in our lives. Don't just exist. Live a life.
Helen Keller said, "Life is either a great adventure or it is nothing at all", amen? I believe God wants our lives to be exciting. I think he wants us to have great surprises every day. One of the things that I pray sometimes is, "God, surprise me today". How many of you like to give your kids surprises? You like to work and surprise them? Well, you know, I never had a real dad and so I've taken my Heavenly Father as my daddy and I like to be surprised sometimes. Just surprise me. Adventure means: "Exploring unknown territory, something that is unusual and exciting, perhaps a hazardous experience or activity". So we can either have super-safe or bor-ring.
You say, "Well, I'm just not an adventurous person". Well, you know, don't complain about the exciting life that your friends have. Start making your own exciting. I can kinda see from looking at some of you, you're, like, "Exciting? You know, I get up, I go to work, I go home, I go to bed, I clean the house, I get up, I go to work, I drive in traffic, I come home, I go to bed, I pay the bills". Uh-uh, I'm not living like that. No, no, no, no, no, no.
Listen, I figure if I live to be in my mid-90s which that's a long life, I've only got 20 years left. Now that sounds kind of spooky sometimes when you say that but you guys better listen up to what I got to say 'cause I've only got 20 years left to say it, amen? And I'm just unloading all barrels. Actually, I'm arranging to be able to talk a long time after I'm gone. I got it all recorded. I got it all in books. Man, I hope your grandkids are reading my books and your great-grandkids are reading my books.
C'mon, do something with your life and leave a legacy for other people. Don't you guys from Elevation Worship hope that 75 years from now somebody's listening to some of your music and gets healed, amen? C'mon, let's have some big dreams. Let's don't just go through. "What are you doin'"? "I'm just tryin' to make it through life". Be bold enough to be adventurous.
You know, Peter was the only one that got out of the boat but he was also the only one that walked on water. And Peter had lots of problems. I mean, he had a big mouth. He has a spirit of pride. He thought more highly of himself than he ought to. I mean, Jesus rebuked Peter and basically said, "Satan's working through you", in Matthew 16. And so we might look at Peter and think, "Why in the world did God use somebody like that"? You know why? I think 'cause Peter was willing to get out of the boat.
You know what? When God's got somebody that's willing to step out and find out and they've got a heart that wants to serve God, God can straighten out all the other junk in your life if you just won't live in fear. You can make any day better. You can certainly make your life better. By making a fresh commitment tonight to start really being led by the promptings of the Holy Spirit. And you know what? You're not gonna get it right 100% of the time. I mean, I've made a lot of mistakes. But one man was asked, one great man of God, was asked, "How did you learn how to hear from God so accurately"? He said, "By making a lot of mistakes".
See, we can't really learn anything. We can't ever become who God wants us to be if we've gotta be safe all the time and have everybody think well of us all the time. Who cares what people think as long as you become everything that God wants you to be. Abraham left all that he was familiar with. Just walked away. "Abraham, leave your father's house and everything you're familiar with and go to the place that I will show you". With that little amount of information, he's supposed to walk off? Why did God have to get him away from the people he was with? Because they were idol worshipers.
And maybe you can sense God is calling you away from some stuff. And you're not wanting to leave because maybe you feel like, "Well, that's gonna kind of leave me with nothing. And I don't really know what I'm gonna do after that". Well, you take step one and then God'll give you step two. C'mon, I'm talking to somebody. I'm talking to somebody. Man, I tell you, when God was calling me to step out, he said, "Take your ministry, go North, South, East, and West", and that was after 10 years. I taught Bible studies for 5 years, worked in a church for 5 years. And, "Take your ministry, go North, South, East, and West".
Well, you know, nobody knew me North, South, East, or West, nor did they care. I was on one radio station in the city that I lived in, period. One. I'd never had a speaking engagement outside of my city. I had a good job at my church and God's asking me to give up my good job where I did not have to believe God for my paycheck, somebody else did. And to go North, South, East, and West. Well, I disobeyed him for a long time and I can tell you I might as well have been in the fish's belly with Jonah because I was just that miserable. Amen?
And so finally, I left. I left my job with a calculator and a dented desk, and no paycheck. And I started a monthly Bible study in North St. Louis, East st. Louis, South st. Louis, and West st. Louis. I went North, South, East, and West. It's amazing if you'll just step out with childlike faith and I was so scared. I mean, most of the time I was so scared I could hardly stand it but I kept going forward.
You know, "Fear not" doesn't mean to never feel fear. It means to keep going forward while you feel fear. That's what courage is. Courage is not to be free from the feeling of fear. It's to confront fear and keep going forward because God is with you. God is with you. I can't even imagine Abraham doing what he did and yet he became the father of faith. He became the one that God made the covenant with. Wow. Look how God worked through him and still we're living under the blessings of Abraham because of our faith in Christ. I wanna tell you you have no idea. There's not one of you in this room tonight that has any idea what God can do through you if you will fully surrender yourself to him and stop being so safe.
Now I'm not asking you to do crazy stuff. I'm not asking you to do unwise stuff. But I am asking you to start following the leadership of the Holy Spirit. You know, I'm always interested in when Jesus called the disciples. It says: "And Jesus said, 'follow me,' and immediately they left everything and followed him". I'm like, "How do you work that out"? Well, you know, they didn't ask for all the benefits of the job. "Am I gonna have retirement? What are my working hours gonna be? What kind of hotels are we gonna stay in? What kind of, you know, food am I gonna get to eat"?
We wanna make sure we're comfortable. We wanna make sure that everything is going to be taken care of and Jesus is saying, "Follow me". Follow me and he'll take care of your benefits package. Did you hear me? Follow Jesus and he will take care of your benefits package. I'm not gonna say there's no sacrifice because I'll tell you there will be testing. And God will make sure that you're not following him just for the benefits, that you're following him because you love him. C'mon, I said there will be testing. But there will also be benefits at the right time. God called me and I walked away from life as I knew it.
Now, not everything that God asks us to do is as radical as what he asks some to do but I think back and I've learned so many lessons over the last 40 years. But my gosh, has my life been exciting. Oh my gosh, has it been hard. Boy, but it's been exciting. Man, but it's been awful. Oh, but I've never been bored. C'mon, is anybody listening to me tonight?
See, you're not gonna get one without the other. Like I said, I'm not asking you to do foolish things but, you know, I had to leave my friends behind because when I started doing this, women didn't do this. I lost my friends. I was asked to leave my church. It was hard on my kids. But I felt like the Lord put on my heart to start a Bible study and I didn't know anything about teaching the Bible. When I look back now, I think, "Was I stupid? Did I completely just have a lobotomy or something? What did I do with my brain"? But see, that's what faith does.
Faith will sometimes do things that doesn't even make any sense to your head but you know down in here, you know in your heart, that it's the right thing to do. We've gotta start following our heart and stop listening to our head. Your head will try to talk you out of everything that God wants you to do. Some of you have already been talked out of it. But, like I said, it's never too late. Never too late. Five years I taught a Bible study that had 25 people in it. Five years. I eventually worked in a church for 5 years. I always like to say to people, "You're not fit to be in authority until you know how to come under authority". Hmm, so true.
But I can tell you if we're gonna walk with God, then we've gotta learn how to live in God's rhythm. And he's not multi-tasking and he's not in a hurry as we have all found out. How many of you have found out God is not in a hurry, amen? Now, we're gonna take a little quiz to see if maybe you're doing things a little too fast. Do you check your phone the first thing in the morning for text, emails, and other social media messages? Do you go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and check your phone?
C'mon, how many of you do that? You check your phone in the middle of the night, yeah, go ahead, tell the truth, 'cause you're just so afraid somebody may be trying to get hold of you and goodness knows we are so important that we have to be available to every human on the planet 24/7. I mean, we get frantic if we leave the house and forget our phone. That's like major disaster. Here's a good one. Are you able to have lunch with a friend and not look at your phone the entire time you're with them?
You know what? I am so tired of trying to have fellowship with people that are answering text messages while they're talking to me. I mean, it is rude with a capital "R", amen? Now, if something important happens and you can say, "I'm so sorry, this", or you might even say, "You know, I'm expecting a message that I may have to answer". But if it's not on the urgent list, let's respect one another enough to start giving people our full attention. I really just don't like trying to talk to people while they're...
Okay, I'm gonna get a lot of stuff off my chest tonight. You know, it's so much fun when you're in my position. You can just get up here and just vent... all you want to. Do you get frustrated when the elderly person in front of you is driving too slow? But when you check, they are actually driving the speed limit. And then it's, like, "Oh, you might know it'd be an old lady". Well, you better watch out. David said, "Once I was young and now I'm old". It happens to everybody. Wherever you're at, you're on your way.
Do you find yourself lying in bed in the morning and thinking of all the things that you wanna get done that day and you're actually frustrated and stressed out before you ever put your feet on the floor? Do you choose the restaurant or the coffee shop that you wanna go to based on which one has wi-fi? Are you normally doing several things at one time? Have you rushed around so much that now you have such a habit of rushing that you find yourself rushing when you don't need to rush?
I find myself hurrying up brushing my teeth... Honestly, you can just get in such a... and I'm gonna tell you the honest truth. I mean, I've been working a while on trying to slow down because I'm one step ahead of where I'm at most of the time. I mean, I get out of the car before it comes to a full stop so, I don't know. And I'm not joking either, so. So I'd appreciate your prayers because I've done some really dumb stuff because of hurrying.
For example, I poured the water for my coffee pot into the area where the coffee beans go. Boy, did I make a mess. I've done that more than once. I've made a few pots of coffee in my life and forgot to put the coffee pot under the brewer. I've frequently tried to get out of the car before it comes to a full stop.
One time this year, while I was out on the road, you know when you travel like I do, sometimes you get up in the middle of the night, you forget where you're at. And so I went to the bathroom, got a little mixed up, thought I was sitting on the toilet, was sitting on the bathtub. Now wait a minute, I didn't go to the bathroom in the bathtub! But I fell over backwards and hit my head on the bathtub and it hurt.
One night I got up in a hotel and I walked into the wall and it was a mirrored wall and I about scared myself half to death. I'm like, "Yaghh"! I thought somebody was in the room. See, there's no need to go to a Comedy Club. Just go to church. And then just three more things. A lot of you have probably done this. Run around the house, looking for your cell phone while you're talking on it. Run around frantically looking for your glasses and couldn't find them 'cause you were wearing them.
And then the last one and I do this often. It really means that I do not keep my mind all the time on what I'm doing. I'm, like, you know, I'm off in China somewhere or India or the next conference or meditating on what I'm gonna do on TV or something and women like to change their purses sometimes and so you get out the purse you wanna put your stuff into, you take everything out of the purse that you wanna empty. And I have stood there then and put everything back in the same purse and one day I did it twice. I'm, like, "Joyce! Get a grip"! Oh, and that's just the beginning of the stories I could tell you, so.
But here's my point. I need prayer. And I suspect you do too. We not only need to slow down outside, we need to slow down inside. And I think that's possibly even where we need to start because if you slow down inside, you will slow down on the outside. But as long as our thoughts are rushing from thing to thing to thing to thing to thing to thing, we're not gonna enjoy much of life. You know, I think a lot of times we have bad days because we're just frantically rushing through every day and we're not really enjoying anything that God's trying to provide for us.
I honestly think there's a lot of awesome things that happen in each one of our days, things that God's trying to show us, things that he's trying to speak to us. We can't walk with God if we're gonna be in a hurry all the time. I mean, can you honestly imagine Jesus leading the disciples in the kind of lifestyle we live? "C'mon, guys, get up, get up, get up. We've gotta get over Jerusalem, get this meeting started. C'mon, let's go. Go, go, go, go! Now, up! No time for breakfast. Let's go".
Five important ways to slow down. How many of you wanna slow down? Resist the temptation to over-commit and over-extend yourself. "Write that down", she said, yep. Learn how to say, "No". And understand when you say, "No", people are not gonna like it. So if you're gonna run your life led by the Holy Spirit, I can just tell you right now you may have to make a few folks mad. But if people don't want you to be led by the spirit, then they are not your friend anyway. Resist saying that you'll do things that you know in your heart that you really shouldn't do just because you don't wanna upset a friend.
Now, I'm not saying that we... we all have times when we need to do things that we'd maybe rather not do because we just know it's the right thing to do. Or because it is somebody that's been really good to us and we want to bless them. That's different than knowing that you don't have peace about it, that it's not something that you should be doing and going ahead and doing it anyway. I can tell you if that's what you're doing, you will not have a good day because God will not help us do anything that he did not call us to do.
Seriously think before you commit to anything. Take time. Seriously think, "What is this really going to take out of me"? "How much time am I actually really going to have to put into this"? You know, some things can sound so easy on the front side. And then you get into it and you think, "What in the world have I gotten myself into"?
Well, I think we need to check some things out a little bit further. C'mon. I know, listen, I've about killed myself in the past, saying, "Yes", to favors for people in ministry and taking speaking engagements just because people said God told them I was the one that had to come. And I finally got to the point where I'm thinking, "Well, God didn't told me. Until he tells me, I'm not going". I don't like it when people pull the "God told me" card. We need to stop doing that to people. "Well, God told me that you're the one that's supposed to go". Well, if he wants me to do something, he's gonna tell me and then, you know, we'll have a confirmation together but he's not gonna tell you what I should do and then me do it while I'm miserable.
Pay attention to the pace of your life. I eat fast. Of course, I do everything pretty fast. But I'm learning. My gosh, I had a health doctor tell me that you should chew each bite of food 20 times. I'm thinking, "Lord, have mercy. There is no way. I mean, my jaw would fall off". Have you ever tried to chew each bite of food twen... Well, I hope I've learned my lesson. I think God's trying to get a point across to me because twice this year I have been eating so fast that I got choked to the point where it actually really scared me. You're all looking at me, like, "Are you sure you're qualified to teach us"?
Listen, the best way I know to teach people is to be honest with 'em, amen? Now, you know, people who are busy and have a lot to do and have a lot of responsibility, I mean, you can't just go through life, but you gotta find a healthy balance. I think this is the guideline. Whatever God's called you to do, he's built you for it. And some people are always gonna move faster than other people but when it starts stressing you out, and you start not enjoying life because of it and you start doing really dumb and sometimes dangerous things because you're in too big of a hurry, c'mon, how many of you have ever done something really almost dangerous just from being in too big of a hurry?
Okay, well, I have a friend who moves rather slowly. And it doesn't really do much good try to get this person to hurry 'cause they're just not gonna. And I love this person but I'll tell you the truth, sometimes I just get annoyed. It's, like, I used to think that God wanted her to speed up but now I've finally figured out he wants me to slow down.
Have you ever noticed that sometimes God will put you with people that maybe, maybe even though they irritate you, maybe you need to be a little more like them? I dunno, you know, I've always got a few people in my life that are just really super sweet. I mean, like, dripping with sweetness. Thank you, honey. Yes, dear. Could you please... I've changed. I mean, when God just keeps shoving the same thing in your face over and over and over for 25 years, finally you get it. Have you ever noticed that? That God'll put you around people that just, they're just there to be this sweet little nice example to you?
Oh, Dave is so patient. He is so patient that it just annoys me sometimes. It's, like, I mean, I'm telling you the honest-to-God's truth, I've been married to the man 50 years and in 50 years I've heard him say 2 times he didn't like somebody. Now, you know, that is not normal. I could come up with two a day. Oh, I'm so thankful for the Word of God. I don't know what I'd do if I didn't get to preach 'cause, see, now I gotta study all the time. Oh my gosh, God has changed me so much. He has changed me so much, I'm actually really nice now. Well, I hope the same thing happens to some of you.
Okay, listen. How many of you move real fast and you're in relationship with somebody that's slow? C'mon, we're about to make a point here. How many of you are a little bit, you know, more mouthy and harsh and you're married to somebody that's kind of quiet and real sweet? How many of you are impatient and you're in relationship with somebody that's just, like, so patient they about drive you bonkers? Okay, does everybody see what I'm saying? Does anybody in the building see what I'm saying? God wants us to learn from one another. That's why he doesn't give us people... I mean, how can we learn to love everybody...
Okay, I'm gonna move on. Now, just in case you wonder if I'm just making a lot of this up, the Bible's full of scriptures about not hurrying.
Proverbs 19:2: "Desire without knowledge is not good, and to be overhasty is to sin and miss the Mark". Wow! Boy, do we make some big mistakes when we get in a big hurry.
Proverbs 14:29: "He who is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who is hasty of spirit exposes and exalts his folly".
Proverbs 18:13: "He who answers a matter before he hears the facts, it's folly to him", which means foolishness.
1 Corinthians 4:5: "So do not make any hasty or premature judgments before the time comes when the Lord comes again".
Let's renew our commitment to be really led and guided by the Holy Spirit. Honestly, if we'll follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit, we can avoid some real problems. I remember just an example that I'll share with you 'cause I like practical examples.
I was out shopping one time and I was getting really tired. But I had not done everything I wanted to do. I knew in my heart I should go home because the stuff would be there another day but I was determined I was gonna get it done. So I ignored the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Just kept shopping. Ended up getting so tired that I got grouchy.
Then when I went home I started mistreating people because I was tired and I was grouchy. And then when they said, "What's wrong with you"? I was, like, "Well, I'm tired". Well, whose fault was it that I was tired? It was my fault that I was tired. Then after being grouchy and cranky, then I started feeling guilty because I was grouchy and cranky. C'mon, do we see the pit we're crawling into here? When the whole thing could have been avoided, if I would have simply followed what the Holy Spirit was saying to me and just used wisdom and said, "You know what? I'm really getting tired. I know I need to go home". Is anybody in this building hearing me tonight?