Joyce Meyer - Taking Back What Belongs To You
Well, I'm doing a little series here this weekend about transformation, about how we can be changed into the image of Christ. And how, as believers, according to the Bible, we become new creatures in him, old things pass away, all things become new. But I think sometimes, that can be a little bit confusing to us because we think, "Well, if I'm so new, then why do I still act so old? You know, if old things have passed away, why do I still do old things"? And the thing is, is we are in a process called transformation, which actually means complete change.
And it's interesting because we all crave and want and need change, and yet most of the time, we're really, really afraid of it. You know, we're done with the old, we don't want the old, we want the new. But yet somehow, we're afraid to let go of this old thing because we're not real sure what the new thing is gonna be yet. And we're gonna talk more about that tonight, the process of change, and how our emotions act during change, and all those different things. But the thing that we always have to realize, and it took me so long to learn this, but it was so helpful to me when I did, that boy, when we're born again, mmm, we receive the nature of God in us, but it comes as a seed.
All the Fruit of the Spirit is in you, but it's in you as a seed. And seeds have to be what? Watered. And they have to take root. And then after they take root, they will eventually begin to produce fruit. And so I'll just tell you ahead of time, if you're going to be impatient, and want everything right this moment, and if you're not willing to make any investment of time or study, or put any effort or energy into anything, you may go to heaven, but you will not have victory here in this life and you won't really enjoy the journey, and chances are your life will not be much of a witness to anybody else. Because if there's anything that the world needs, I don't know so much that it's another sermon that they need.
Sermons are great and I'll continue to preach sermons, but what they really need is to see the witness of changed lives, and people with peace, and people that are joyful, and people that walk in love, and people who can actually have a testimony and say, "This is what happened to me, but now over these period of years, God has worked in my life and I can say that I'm free". A woman asked me the other night, she said, "Now, are you really free from all that"? She said, "I mean, like, are you really free"? And I said, "Yes". Now you know, that doesn't mean that I never have anything that I have to deal with from my past because there are certain things that I still do have to deal with. But freedom is not ever having to deal with anything, it's understanding what you're dealing with.
Now listen to me, it's understanding what you're dealing with and being able to say, "That's fear and I'm not gonna bow down to it". It's not that I never feel fear, but I don't have to let it control me anymore like I did all the years that I was growing up. And so, what I'm trying to teach you this weekend is that you can be completely changed. When Adam and eve sinned in the garden and that sin nature was passed on to all the rest of us, seems like a bad deal, I know, but you know, it kind of gets fixed whenever Jesus did everything right, and that gets passed on to us. So God did fix it, amen? And what he wants for us really is to totally return and be able to go back to his original plan for us, which was to be blessed, and to walk in victory, and to be a blessing, and to enjoy God, and to enjoy our lives, and to have peace, and joy, and good relationship with him.
So today, I'm calling this "Taking back what belongs to you". And the first thing I'd like to say is we've been robbed. One of the first revelations that I received after I started really diligently studying the word. And I always say this. I was a Christian a long time before I became a serious Christian. So there's a difference in being really committed to this. And I'm sure most of you are or you wouldn't have taken the time to come out here on a Friday morning. But we're ministering also to tons and tons of people that are watching from all different parts of the world. And I just need to say that you need to make a full-on commitment in your walk with God, and not have one foot in the world and one foot in the kingdom. Don't be a Christian on Sunday morning and something else on Monday morning. Amen?
So when I really got serious, and I got serious because I finally realized, look, I am just miserable. I'm miserable, I'm a Christian, I'm going to church, we're tithing, we love God, but I am just miserable. And I think we need to realize that a miserable Christian is an oxymoron. Surely we can understand that the two just don't mix. And I'll tell you what, there are a lot, a world full of miserable Christians. I mean, that's just the truth. It's one thing to be a miserable sinner, but who wants to be a miserable saint? I don't. I think there should be a change somewhere in there. So you know, let me just tell you, if you've got a problem, don't just put up with it. Get around to saying to God, "What is wrong"? You'd be amazed what God will show you if you'll just ask him, "What is wrong"? And be open to the fact that it could be something in you.
We really would prefer that God tell us it's somebody else. I love the it's the devil thing, don't you? I like that one, "Well, it's the devil". But when God started giving me a lot of revelation, a lot of it was it was me, it was things that I needed to learn and change. So, one of the revelations I received was I've been robbed. And boy, it made me mad at first. Because you know what the biggest thief was in my life? Religion. Now, when I say that, I'm not talking about your religion or my religion. You know, we get that phrase all mixed up, you know.
You say, "Well, what religion are you? I'm a baptist, I'm a Methodist, I'm a Catholic, I'm a Lutheran, I'm a, you know, Pentecostal, whatever it is". That's really not what the Bible's talking about when it uses the word "Religion". If Jesus had a beef with anybody in the New Testament, it was the religious people of his day. And he said, "You load people up with rules and regulations, but you won't lift a finger to help them. You see certain people as better than other people. There are certain people you wouldn't even let in to your church, let alone up close to the front". We pray for revival, but most of the people that need help might not smell good, they might not look like you, they might not cut their hair the way you cut your hair. And the truth of the matter is not all churches, but many churches are not even remotely ready to handle people like that. They would tell them they needed to clean up, cut their hair, do this, do that before they could come in and be a part of anything that was going on.
Religion can tell us what to do, but it never gets around to telling us who we are in Christ. And that is the greatest tragedy of all. It's like, "Do this, do this, do this, do this, do this". And then we fall into the trap of thinking, "Well, if I read enough of the Bible, and if I pray enough, and if I do a few good works, and if I go to church on a regular basis, then I'm okay with God". But boy, when you miss one of those things, now you feel guilty because you think God's mad at you. So, people just stay on that treadmill of trying to do enough to think they're making God happy, and yet somehow or another, they never feel like they're making him happy. Well, can I tell you something? God's already happy. Amen? And he already loves you.
And I told the people last night God will never love you one bit more than he does right now, no matter how many good works you do. You are loved completely, perfectly, unconditionally right now. Now, that doesn't mean that we don't need to change, but me changing has nothing to do with God loving me. God is love. It's not something that he does in degrees. It's not like, "Well, you're not so good, so I'm going to love you a little less. And you're a little better than that guy, so I love you a little more. But oh wow, boy, I really love this person because they, like, read the Bible through every year or something, I don't know, you know".
And sadly, very sadly, that's where so many people live. And the scripture that we share a lot is John 10:10, "The thief comes only to kill, steal, and destroy". But Jesus said, "I came". Aren't you glad he came? I tell you, I could take those two words and just preach. But, "I came that you might have and enjoy your life". Wow, I never knew you could enjoy life. I felt guilty if I was having fun and enjoying myself. I felt like I needed to be working all the time. "I came that you might have and enjoy your life, and have it in abundance, to the full, until it overflows".
Well, the thief we always assume is the devil, which it is the devil, but if you really read all of John chapter 10, the thief that he's really talking about is the system of religion. Amen? Which is perpetrated by the devil. The last thing the devil wants you to know is how much God loves you. The last thing that he wants you to know is what you already have in you as a gift from God. And that really, the whole thing that's supposed to be happening now is the Holy Spirit comes to work with you in your life to help work what's in you out of you, and to work this transformation and this restoration in our lives. And here's the good thing about the Holy Spirit. He's the only one who knows just the right timing in your life, and just the right way to do things, just the right person that can help you and minister to you. And I'll tell you the truth, he is the counselor. And if you go get counseling from anybody else, you better make sure they're getting counseling from him. Amen?
In my life, for example, when I was so desperately needing to recover from all this abuse in my past, I thought when I walked away from my father's house that my problem was over, but I had it in my soul. It was in the way I thought. You know, some of your problems from the past are etched into the way you think. And you don't even realize that your thinking is not right. And the only way you'll ever know it's not is to compare the way you think with the Word of God. I was in church years and years, and I didn't know that it was a problem for me to hate my father. I didn't know that. I thought he deserved it. Why would I not hate him after what he did to me? I didn't realize that if I forgave him, that I was helping myself. It really didn't have much to do with him. It was helping me. My soul didn't have to continue to be poisoned by something that happened to me a long time ago. So, I wasn't really learning what I needed to learn.
And I mean, thank God for the church, amen? Thank God for all the wonderful churches. But I'll tell you the truth. I don't want to make anybody mad, but you know, if you're going somewhere where you're not learning anything, and you're not growing, and you're not changing and you're not serving, and you go out of obligation and you can't wait to get out of the place, and you're bored silly the whole time you're there, then you really should seriously consider putting your time into something that's gonna bear really good fruit in your life. Amen? There's lots of wonderful churches. You just need to be in one where you're challenged and growing. I hope I do make you a little bit uncomfortable in some area today. I don't think our job is just to bring people in and do nothing but pat them on the head and feed them dessert. Amen?
So, I'm going to say some really cozy, comfortable, ooey-gooey wonderful things, like God loves you as much right now as he ever will. Doesn't that feel good? That feels great. But I may say a few times in here, "Straighten up". But that doesn't mean that God's gonna love you more when you do. It means you're responding to his love, come on now, by saying, "God, I love you so much. I appreciate so much what you've done for me. I want to do everything exactly the way you want it done. Please help me". And so, this is how the Holy Spirit works. So I'm floating along in my little, you know, thing there. And God was just really starting to open my eyes and work in my life.
And so, boy, I did something that we normally didn't do. I went to a meeting at another church, ooh, where they had a guest speaker. And she was somebody who had been sexually abused by her father. And Dave bought me her book. I didn't really know what was in it. I had no idea what the Holy Spirit had up his sleeve when Dave bought that book. The next morning, I opened it up, and boy, page one, she's saying exactly what happened to me, and here came all the pain. I took that book and threw it across the room, I said, "I'm not going to read this". And I mean, I clearly heard the Holy Spirit say, "It's time". But see, he knew the right time. And he had me in the right place at the right time. I wouldn't have even had enough sense to have bought the book for myself, so he urged Dave to buy me the book, who probably didn't even really understand what he was doing.
Let me tell you something, God uses us when we don't even have a clue what's going on, amen? You know, that there's people that, you're watching right now and you think you accidentally turned the program on. I don't believe that there are accidents where God's things are concerned. I think he guides and directs us. So, I knew nothing of being victorious over situations that came against me, moods that attacked me without warning. How many of you know every storm is not in the forecast? You thought it was going to be a sunny day, and lo and behold, one of the worst storms you've ever had in your life. Hate those days, eww.
That's when it's hard to say, "I believe that all things work out for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose". I knew nothing about living without guilt and condemnation. Had no peace, I had no joy, didn't have any real intimate, personal relationship with God. I thought prayer was a last ditch emergency effort, something you did when you were way over your head. I had no idea I was way over my head every moment of my crazy life. I didn't know that I had been robbed.
Let's look at Isaiah 42:22. "But this is a people robbed and plundered. They are all of them snared in holes and hidden in houses of bondage. And they have become a prey with no one to deliver them, a spoil with no one to say, 'restore them.'" so, I'm here today to say that God is in the business of restoration. Amen? And I have good news for you in case you've never heard it before. God can completely and totally restore you, and bring you back to a position better than you ever would have been if you woulda never messed your life up. Now, if that's hard for you to believe, let's go back to last night for a minute, where the title of the message was "Dare to believe". Dare to believe that no matter how long you've had a problem, that with God, all things are possible, amen? The only thing that never changes is God. But he's in the business of changing everything else.
Isaiah 61:7 and 8 are a couple of scriptures that, man, these scriptures kept me, I used to turn to these things so often when I was going through hard times. What a great promise. "Instead of your former shame you shall have a twofold recompense". That word means reward. How many of you know what it's like to have shame in your life? See, I had a shame-based nature because my dad had abused me. It wasn't even so much about what he did to me. I became ashamed of myself, thinking something was wrong with me. And boy, the devil loves to get that message rooted in your head, "What's wrong with me, what's wrong with me, what's wrong with me, what's wrong with me"?
Does anybody else have a copy of that record? That may be the best-selling record of all times. "What's wrong with me"? And the first thing that Jesus gives us is what's right with me. "He that knew no sin became sin, that we might be made as a gift of God, by his grace, the righteousness". Because the devil wants you to do nothing but think about what's wrong with you, and concentrate and focus all the time on your faults. And the more you focus on your faults, it just gives him more and more strength over you. I'm not going to tell you to break bad habits: I'm going to tell you to form new habits. And when you work with the Holy Spirit on forming new habits, then there's no place in your life for the bad habits. I'm not going to tell you, "Don't you walk in the flesh". I'm going to say, "Walk in the spirit and you won't fulfill the lusts of the flesh".
You don't have to get up every day and try real hard not to be mean, and not to be mad, and not to be impatient... What you do is say, "God, I want to follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit today. Help me follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit". Because if you follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit, then you won't walk in the flesh. And thankfully, when you do, when you make a mistake, you can receive forgiveness and just go right on. Because remember, God already loves you before you ever start trying to do better. "Instead of your former shame you'll have a twofold recompense. Instead of dishonor and reproach, your people shall rejoice in their portion".
Here it comes, "Therefore in their land," not just when they die and go to heaven, "In their land, they shall possess double what they forfeited and everlasting joy shall be theirs". Now, I tell you when I was going through the process of working with God to let him change me, which I might as well just tell you it can sometimes be quite traumatic and painful. How many of you know that? Alright? I'm not gonna lie to you and say, oh, just say, "Well, God changed me".
You know, I want you to say that but I also want you to realize that there may be some days where you're gonna feel like you've just been dropped over the belly of hell and nobody understands what you're going through. You don't even understand what you're going through and you're halfway in between where you were and where you want to be and you don't know how to go back and how to go forward. And all you can do is just sit there and go, "Oh...God". Does anybody in the room know what I'm talking about? "In this land you will possess double what you forfeited".