Joyce Meyer - The Great Exchange

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I'm gonna do a little message this afternoon that I've called the exchanged life. And you see this store here that we have built for you. That's one of my little bright ideas and this is, we're calling this the exchange store. And actually, there is one that we can all visit anytime we want to. It never closes. It's rarely ever busy. There's not ever much of a wait in line because, you see, very few people even know that it's there. And even the ones who do know that it's there, probably wouldn't believe what a great deal it is so they probably wouldn't really bother to go visit.

This exchange store is someplace where you can take anything old and worn out, useless and all messed up, that you've got, and you can take it, trade it in for a brand-new one at no cost to you. See, you're not believing me yet, but you'll get there. Yeah, I said at no cost to you. I said at no cost to you because the cost has already been paid, amen? And gosh, people just try so hard to live the Christian life, and can I just tell you the truth? You really can't live the Christian life.

You say, "Well, then what do you got us here for? What is it exactly that you're trying to do"? I'm trying to tell you that you've gotta give up trying to do it and let Jesus do it through you. The biggest question that people have is, "What can I do? What can I do? When can I know"? We did a survey in our office one time and asked people, "If you could ask God any question you wanted to, what would you want to ask"? And a number of people said, "How can I know when I've done enough? How can I know when I've done enough"? And see, here's the thing, you can't ever do enough. You can never do enough. And I can never do enough.

And so, then somebody might say, "Well, then what's the point"? Well, the point is, is not that you do good to try to earn something from God that he already has provided for you as a free gift but because you see what he's done for you, what great things he has done for you, because of that, you get up every day and you want to do the very best you can, not to get anything from God, but to just say, "Thank you", for what he's already done for you. And this is the hardest thing for us to get through our heads. People constantly say to me, "So now, what can I do? When I go home, what is it? Is there a certain thing I can study? Is there a certain scripture I can read"?

Well, the thing is, is God will guide you. He'll lead you but I'm not gonna give you some program. I'm not gonna give you some written-out, pre-planned program if you pray from 5:30 to 6, and then you speak in tongues from 6 to 6:30. And then you make your confessions from 7:30 to 8. You know, or if you're catholic, if you go to mass every morning or, you know, whatever it might be. Eh-uh, you're not getting that from me. What I'm gonna tell you is fall in love with Jesus. Just fall in love with Jesus and just let him love up on you, believe what he says in the word, and do the best you can every day, but know that every day you're gonna fall short and you're gonna need Jesus once again to forgive you, to give you mercy.

And I will tell you the truth, I mean, I am passionate to do the right things. Sometimes I will say to God, "I hope you're pleased". 'Cause I really, I really, really, really want to please God but not because I think I have to, not because I think he's gonna love me anymore if I'm a better little girl. That's what we get from people. That's what I got from my parents and what they gave me really wasn't even love to start with. That's not even what he wants from us. He want us to serve him because we just love him so much that any little thing that we could do, I try to do what's right because I love God, not because I think that I have to.

And see, when you fall in love with Jesus and you let him love you and when you give him everything that you are, and especially everything that you're not. We're gonna go slow this afternoon. When you give him everything that you are, but especially, everything that you're not. You stop trying to hide what you're not from God. Could I please tell you something and have you get it? You are no surprise to God. He is not saying, "Oh, my gosh". It's not like the Father is turning to Jesus and saying, "Son, I had no idea that she was gonna be like this. We have got the wrong woman because we are trying to use her mouth and at home, she still is getting herself in trouble". He's not surprised.

The Bible says that he knows every word in our mouth that we have not yet spoken. Everything you're ever going to do wrong, he already knows it and guess what. It's already paid for. So, here we're back to the same dumb thing again. So, then what's the point in trying? Because you can't help it. You just can't resist trying to do your best for Jesus because you are so crazy in love with him. You are just so crazy in love with him that, what else could you possibly do with your pitiful self but try to love him more and more? Here's your homework assignment, go home, love Jesus, let him love you.

Okay now, let's just say that I've had this purse for like ooh, oodles of time, lots of time and it's like, man, the handle's falling off, the zipper's broke, the kids got it and colored on it. It's just bad. And I heard about this store called the exchange store and somebody told me that anything that I've got that's old and worn out, I can take it back there no matter how old it is, no matter how long I've had it, and they'll give me a brand-new one. That's just really hard to believe. But let's just try it out. So, let's see here. You know, oh, open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I like that store. It never closes.

Ginger: Hello!

Joyce: Hello.

Ginger: Can I help you?

Joyce: Yes, well, first of all, what is your exchange policy?

Ginger: Oh, well do you have your receipt with you?

Joyce: No, no receipt.

Ginger: Doesn't matter. Okay, here's our exchange policy. One rule.

Joyce: Ask and you shall receive?

Ginger: That's it!

Joyce: That's it? One thing? Ask and you shall receive? Well, this is really pretty bad but...

Ginger: Yeah, you have well worn that.

Joyce: I'm asking if I could trade this in for a brand-new one.

Ginger: You said the right thing.

Joyce: Can I make a little special request?

Ginger: Sure, we'll listen.

Joyce: Can I have one with sparkles?

Ginger: You want sparkles?

Joyce: I like sparkles.

Ginger: You know what? We knew that.

Joyce: Okay.

Ginger: All right, we're ready. How about this one?

Joyce: Whoo, whoo, whoo! Thank you so much!

Ginger: You're welcome.

Joyce: I'm gonna come back here again.

Ginger: See you next time.

Joyce: Is this just not the best ever? This is so good.

Okay now, as excited as I am about this, there's other things that I'm more excited about. 'Cause I tell ya what, I can have a great purse but I can have one messed-up soul. And no matter how great my purse is, if I'm still dragging around all my junk and ashes from my broken, burned up, miserable past... Are any of you old enough that when you were growing up you had an ash pit in your backyard, anybody? It's everybody that's, I can't use the "Old" word, Dave don't let me. But let's just say that everybody who raised their hand had gray hair.

So, we had an ash pit in our backyard when I was growing up and you took all your trash out there and you threw it in the ash pit, garbage, all the paper trash, you know, all that kind of stuff, and then you'd actually set fire to it, burned it up and it would become ashes. And then when the ash pit got full, the ash man would come along with his truck and he'd take the ashes out.

Well, guess what. There's something else you can do with your trash now. We think we're brilliant that we came up with the recycling idea. Well, God's been recycling trash forever. Amen? And he, you know, I mean he's recycled so much junk in my life. He's taken so much junk and given me back some of the most awesome, amazing, unbelievable things. The Bible says in 2 Peter 1:3, "His divine power has bestowed upon us all things", not some things, not a few things, "All things that are requisite and suited to life", life, zoe life, life, "As God lives it and Godliness, and Godliness".

Through the knowledge that your pastor has through your godly grandma, through your mom who has lived on her face praying for you. No, he's bestowed all these things on us, and how do they come to us? "Through the full, personal knowledge of him who called us by and to his own glory and excellence", excellence. You know what the word "Glory" means? We talk about the glory of God, and glory be to this, and glory be do that. The word "Glory" means the manifestation of all of the excellencies of God.

Come on, when we're glorified, we begin to show forth all the excellencies of our God that were planted in us at the new birth and now we've let the Holy Spirit work with us long enough. And we've let him change us from glory to glory to glory from a little excellent to more excellent, to more excellent, to more excellent. Come on, hey, we're on a journey and I'm just gonna give you a little relief here this afternoon. It doesn't really matter where you're at on your journey as long as you're still moving. Come on. I said, it doesn't matter where you're at on your journey as long as you're still moving. Thank God we don't have to compare ourselves with somebody else.

Man, it took me so long to learn that. When I was first into this, man, I might be praying seven whole minutes in the morning. And just making a little connection with God, and I just thought I was a spiritual giant until I had lunch with sister super Christian and she shared about her prayer life and how she gets up at 5 A.M. Every morning and prays till 9. Somehow or another, now I go away feeling like the dumbest, worst, least of everything. And this has actually, happened to me.

So, then I decided I'm gonna pray four hours every day so I can be like sister super Christian. Only problem is I pray five minutes and then I start snoring. Come on. Here's why, you beautiful people, God is never gonna help you be somebody else. I said God is never gonna help you be somebody else. Uh-uh. And I'm so glad that I've been set free from trying to be anybody but me and then I actually have come full circle to just I kind of really rather like myself. You know, I've had a blast being with you guys but to be honest, I'm kind of looking forward to getting home and being with just me. Amen?

You know, Lord, I don't care if I never get off page one of this message if they just get a little bit of it. "His divine power has bestowed upon us all things". How many things? All. "That are requisite and suited to life and Godliness through the full, personal knowledge", that means you gotta put a little muscle into it. "Who has called us by and to his glory and excellence". Let's just say that somebody said something this weekend that just really like hit you and is like, maybe it was Chris, maybe it was Beth, maybe it was something I said or something I will say.

You're like, "Whoa, I got that". Well, you know what? If you want to keep it, you better go home now and put a little muscle to it and study it yourself some more. And you better do a little work, and look up some definitions, and write some things down, and find more scriptures that go along with it because then what happens is you can take what a person taught you, you can go get with God, and now you can get some real stuff from the Holy Ghost all by yourself.

People are forever asking me, "What do I do"? There it is again. "What do I do when I spend time with God"? I don't care. Doesn't matter. I can tell you what, it's not so much what you do when you spend time with God as it is that you came to spend time with God. That's the thing that gets him tickled. You know what? I love it, love it, love it, love it, when one of my grown children come by just to hang out. And I love it in particular when they're not in a hurry. I don't want just like a courtesy visit. "Hi, I got two minutes, how you doing? Bye". No, just come and just hang out. Just sit down on the couch, and let's drink something, and just ask me how I am and, you know, it doesn't have to be any big thing.

Man, that just does a lot for me when they come and just hang out. And, you know, that's what Jesus is looking for, somebody to have fellowship with. He did not die so we could all have our own little brand of religion. He died so we could have a deep, intimate, personal relationship with him where we don't have to try to be anybody else, or somebody else, or something else. Oh my gosh. I just hope that somebody can see how much God loves you. "For he loved us so much that he sent his only son to die for us that whoever believes in him might not perish but have a real life". A real life, not just where you barely make it through every day, but where you look forward to every day, and you're excited to live that day with Jesus, and you can hardly wait to see what he comes up with next in your life.

Why don't you just gather up all the ashes out of your ash pit? C'mon, I got some over here somewhere. Why don't you just gather up all the ashes out of your ash pit. I got mine right here. See, the thing is, is if you wanna exchange with God, you've gotta give up the old stuff to get the new stuff. That means I can't hang on to these. You know, he said, "I'll give you beauty for ashes", not beauty and ashes. And so I've gotta get rid of all this stuff.

I don't get to have a pit day where I go sit in my pit and feel sorry for myself and go over all my ashes again of my messed up life. You know why? Because whoever and whatever this represents died on the cross with Jesus Christ and I've been resurrected to a brand-new life and a brand-new me and I'm not waiting for God to do something in my life. He's already done everything in my life that he needs to do. He's waiting for me to believe it. Amen?

If just by the mercy and the grace and the goodness of God, he would touch you this afternoon and you would go home and say, "I'm just gonna believe what you say, God. If you say you love me, I believe you love me. If you say I can do anything, I believe I can do anything. If you tell me all things are possible with you, then I believe all things are possible with you. I don't care how I feel. I don't care how long it takes. I don't care what it looks like. I don't care what people say. I don't care what the devil says, I believe".

Ginger: Hey, gorgeous.

Joyce: Hey! Whoo-hoo, I like that. Can I hear that again?

Ginger: Hey, gorgeous.

Joyce: You see this mess?

Ginger: Ooh, mm-hmm, uh-huh.

Joyce: That's my life. I can't keep 'em?

Ginger: Just dump 'em right out here. Just get rid of 'em. Put 'em right there, honey.

Joyce: Okay, sweetie.

Ginger: Yeah, all right.

Joyce: But wait, what do I get?

Ginger: We're gonna take this away. We're gonna take this one.

Joyce: What do I get?

Ginger: Just the right thing for you. Look at this.

Joyce: Ohhh! Look at that! I am so excited. I am so excited! Whoo hoo-hoo-hoo!

You know, I love beautiful things. There's a word that they use in Australia a lot that I really wish we had enough sense to use here. Beautiful. Darlene Zschech's a good friend of mine. Is one of the most precious people on the planet and she always says, "Beautiful". Half the time you don't even know what she's talking about, but it's just beautiful. You know what? I love beautiful people, and I'm not talking about beautiful on the outside. I just love to hang out with beautiful people, people that make you feel good. People that are just fun. They're just not so intense.

I tell you what, I've had enough intense to last me five more lifetimes. I don't want any more, "Let's sit around and be intense". I just want beautiful. Oh, Lord, you are beautiful. What can you say about Jesus except, "You are beautiful, beautiful, beautiful"? The exchanged life: I give him what I am and especially what I'm not, and he gives me everything he is and everything he has. In myself, I'm a poor, miserable sinner. In him I am the righteousness of God in Christ. Okay, check this out.

Isaiah 64:6, "For we have all become like one who is unclean ceremonially, like a leper, and all our righteousness (our best deeds of rightness and justice) is like filthy rags or a polluted garment".

Megan, can you come out here, please? This is the way we are in our own self. This is Megan's pre-Christ filthy rags, messed up, miserable life. If we could exchange that for something else, would you like it? You tired of this? Tired of living like this, dragging these chains around, hanging your head down, being miserable all the time? Well, let's see. Let's see what we've got over here for you.

Ginger: Hello.

Joyce: Hello.

Ginger: Aww.

Joyce: Aww. But you know what? She told me she's sorry that she's lived like this and she wants a new life.

Ginger: That's my favorite one to do.

Joyce: Is it? That's the favorite one to do! Okay, let's see if we can trade this for something, okay.

Ginger: Yeah, let me have that old dirty rag.

Joyce: Let's see what we got here that we can trade for this.

Ginger: All right, I'm gonna take this one. You don't need this anymore.

Joyce: No, you'll never get that back again. Let's see what we got here now.

Ginger: Look at this.

Joyce: Uh-oh! Man, I know what this is 'cause I got one. The robe of righteousness. Whoo! Hallelujah! Whoa, let's see that pretty face of yours.

Okay, let's get you all fixed up here. Whoa. I'll tell you what. Okay, now we see there is a little problem. It's a mite big for her. But boy, here comes the good lesson. When we get the righteousness of God, it's too big for all of us. But now, is she gonna grow into this dude, amen? And if you look at this from a spiritual standpoint, one of the reasons why we can't believe what God's done for us is because it's, like, well, we just can't believe it. It's just, like, how could, "I possibly be the righteousness of God"? How is that possible?

It's possible because God says so. And looking at it spiritually, and I had this whole deal planned out, I'm gonna bypass just to save time where we had another person that was a little bigger and another person that was a little bigger and another person that was a little bigger and then pretty soon we got to somebody this thing would fit. But you see, what happens is, as you keep growing, I said as you keep growing... But here's the thing. While you're growing, you don't wanna, you cannot miss this. If you miss this, I have missed my whole point today. While you're growing into this, it's still 100% yours. C'mon, c'mon. And I've got a secret for you. It's always gonna be a little bit big and that's God's plan. C'mon, give God a big praise. Thank you, Megan. Whoo-hoo-hoo, hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo.

Oh, Jesus, this is so much better than I thought it might be. You gotta learn how to receive mercy. Now, I'm gonna tell you something, and I certainly don't mean to sound overly spiritual 'cause I'm certainly not. But I suffered so terribly with guilt and shame, and especially guilt. I tell you, if I didn't feel wrong, I didn't feel right. Did you hear what I said? I said if I didn't feel wrong, I didn't feel right. Feeling guilty and wrong was a way of life for me. It started when I was a little girl and my father was sexually abusing me and I, somehow or another, the devil convinced me that it was my fault, which is stupid. Why would it be a little five or six year-old kid's fault if their grown father is sexually abusing them? But the devil always says, "It's your fault". Are you out there? He always says, "It's your fault. If you were better. If you were different. It's your fault".

And so many people suffer with guilt their whole entire life over something. Even if it is something you did, it's something that has been taken to the cross. Our sin not only... In the Old Testament, sin was covered, but it was still there, just covered. It was like a big lump of dirt under the carpet. C'mon, when I was a kid, I used to do that. My mother'd tell me to clean the table and I'd swipe all the crumbs off on the floor and stick 'em under the throw rug. And that's what we try to do with our lives. We try to cover up the junk. But we know it's still there. And so we just keep feeling bad about it and keep feeling bad about it. Well, Jesus didn't cover it up. He killed it. He killed it. He took it to the cross and it died there with him. He died: and when we died with him, the Bible says in Romans 6 that we died to sin.

Now sin is not dead. It's still out there tempting us and threatening us, but we're dead to it. I don't do that anymore 'cause I don't wanna do that anymore. That's not what I wanna do anymore because I'm a new creature in Christ and when the devil tells you, "You do wanna do it", you are listening to the wrong person, because if you're born again, there's a deeper part of you that does not want to do what's wrong. You want to do what's right. God's mercy is new every day. And I figured out that's because we used up all of yesterday's yesterday. He needs to make a new batch every day for nobody else, just for me.

Joyce: Well, it's so reassuring to know that we can go boldly to God's throne and receive his mercy. He gives us a brand-new life for our old life. Ginger joins me now with some of your questions on this topic. Well, Ginger, is there anybody out there that wants to exchange their ashes for his beauty?

Ginger: I don't know anyone who would not want that, and a lot of really good questions about the particulars of, 'cause it sounds so good, you know? Now how does it work? And so we'll just start out with kind of the basics, but this question from Lisa: "Please explain the meaning of his beauty for our ashes". Cause we see it, but what does it really mean?

Joyce: Well, ashes come from sometimes burning a pile of trash or the logs left over in your fireplace when the fire's gone out. And a lot of people have really broken lives. They have a lot of messed-up things in their past, hurts, pains. They've been abandoned, they've been abused, and they just don't really, they just feel like their life is just a big pile of a mess. And so the Bible says that he'll give us beauty for ashes.

So we could just say that ashes are like any kind of a miserable past: and his beauty, of course, is the life that he sent Christ to die for us to have. He wants us to have a good life, enjoy our life, have peace, bear good fruit, do great things, have a good relationship with ourself as well as with him and with other people. And Christ died not so we could just be miserable here on earth and then someday go to heaven. He died so we could actually enjoy the journey. And this beauty for ashes thing, although there's a lot to it, it's also very simple. You can't keep the ashes and get the beauty.

And I call the ashes like, you know, sometimes we just like to sit around and remember how bad we've been treated, and it sounds kind of funny to say somebody would like to do that, but we have a tendency to wanna do that, to feel sorry for ourselves and I've been treated this way and I've been treated that way. I know I went through that myself. It's like, "Well, every problem I had was because of what had been done to me". And so, God put on my heart that I had to give up those ashes if I wanted to have his beauty. We have to stop feeling sorry for ourselves and stop blaming.

I recently heard this statement: I think it's very good. In order to be healed or to be whole, you have to take 100% responsibility for your life. And so, even though many things that we struggle with are because of something that happened to us, we can't let it become an excuse to remain that way. And so to me, that's what it means to have his beauty for our ashes.

Ginger: And that's not always an easy thing to do, to take that 100% responsibility and that's where a lot of these questions come in. And that's a great description, and the beauty that you're talking about is so broad. I mean, it's all the good things that he wants us to have. So here's another question from Denise from Ohio: "I was emotionally broken a few years ago. I started to go to church and was doing much better. But now I'm back to being an emotional wreck again. I just feel empty and like something is missing. I went from ashes to beauty, but now back to ashes again. What can I do"?

Joyce: Well, whatever she did the first time that got her started on a good path. I think she needs to go back and see what she changed that got her in a better position. And then what she changed to get her into a not-so-good position again. You know, sometimes just reflecting, just asking God, "What happened here? Where did I take a misstep? Where did I get off the right path"? Did she stop going to church? Did she get involved with negative people that were dragging her down? Did she stop taking responsibility for her thoughts? Did she let her thoughts just go haywire and go back to poor me and this is what happened to me and, you know, and blaming other people? Sometimes too, I find that God takes us to certain places, and then there's something else he requires of us in order to go to that next level. So, for example, I think I forgave my father in stages for sexually abusing me, if that makes any sense. I feel like I forgave him as a decision, but I didn't start praying for him to be blessed and to have a good life for several more years, then God showed me I needed to do that. And then the final step came when he wanted my husband and I to take my mom and my dad, bring 'em close to our home, put 'em in a home, and take care of them until they die.

Ginger: That God wanted you to do that?

Joyce: Yeah, and so then when God wanted me to do that, it was, like, "You've gotta be kidding". So that was kind of like the final stage in forgiveness and so, maybe God has brought her to a point of needing to forgive people. She hasn't been willing to do that. Or maybe there's something in her own life that God's asking her to walk away from now or lay down and she won't do that. You know, when we ask God to heal our lives, we don't just kinda sit back in a chair and wait for him to do everything. Part of that involves listening to him and taking each step that he gives you to take and doing what he shows you to do. You know, John 8:31, 32 says: "If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed and you will know the truth and it will make you free". But the obvious point is, is you know the word, you obey the word, and then it makes you free. It's not just I can hear a sermon and read the Bible and think that I'm supposed to be free so I claim that freedom, there's nothing for me to do. It's a journey. And it's sometimes a painful journey and sometimes a lot longer than we want it to be. So you can't give up quick.

Ginger: Well, and where Denise is, is where many people have been. I make three steps forward and two steps back, you know? It is cyclical sometimes and we have to keep persevering. We have to keep walking through it. And I love what you said about God does want to show us the steps. He doesn't say, "Hands off, go figure it out yourself". When we ask him, he reveals a lot to us.

Joyce: And I think sometimes too, Ginger, people get tired of doing the right thing. It's like, you know, when your life's in a real mess or you've been hurt real bad, you can start doing the right thing, but you maybe don't get a right result right away. Sometimes you have to stick with doing the right thing. It's kind of like, you know, it's easy to gain 20 pounds and seems like you gained it so fast, you can't imagine how you gained 20 pounds. But then it seems like it takes a lot longer to lose it than it does to gain it. And so, you have to stick with the diet and you've got to stick with the exercise and you stick with it and you stick with it and you go through. Some days are easy, some days are really hard. And so, in anything like that in life, you have to be willing to go the distance.

Ginger: Yeah, well, and that leads us right to this question from Maria from Connecticut. "My question is: it's so painful to survive the ashes to see the beauty. How do I hold on when the pain is so tangible and the beauty relies on faith"?

Joyce: I think sometimes if you can't hold on, you just have to cry out to God to hold on to you. And he doesn't leave us, nor forsake us. He won't abandon us. And when I'm going through a difficult time, I have to remind myself of the same thing over and over. You know, most people talk to themselves, but a lot of times, they don't talk to themselves in the right way. And I find that I just have to have some good chats with myself. You know, the other day I had to tell myself, "Now, Joyce, why don't you just believe what you preach", you know? Because it's easier to tell somebody to do it than it is to do it yourself when you're in a real struggle. And sooner or later, we all have to come to the place of realizing that there's only so much that somebody else can do for us. Somebody else can teach you. Somebody else can pray for you. Somebody else can be there to encourage you. But sooner or later, it's gonna come down to you and God, and you have to make a decision if you're gonna trust him and believe him and go the distance or if you're gonna quit and give up. It is challenging to hold on sometimes, and so I don't think there's any problem with saying, "God, I'm weak. I don't feel like I can hold on to you but I'm trusting you to hold on to me".

Ginger: Yeah, well, I like this. This is from Carol from Virginia: "I love that scripture verse that says: 'I will give you beauty for ashes'. To me, God doesn't say, 'I'll give it once,' but it seems like a continuing flow of beauty for the ashes of our lives. Am I on the right track"?

Joyce: Yeah, I think that our walk with God is progressive from the moment that it starts until he takes us home to be with him. I'm still learning, I'm still growing, I'm still changing. I'm still facing challenges in my life. Sometimes you think, "Well, surely the hard part's over", and then all of a sudden you'll come up against something that where you have to apply every single thing. But the enemy comes against us one way, but the Bible promises that he has to flee before us many ways. So, yes, she may have more challenges, but she's also gonna have more beauty at the same time. Every hard place we go through if we don't give up, it opens up into a brand new level of freedom and victory for us. So we've got a lot to look forward to, maybe a lot to go through, but a lot to look forward to also.

Ginger: Like you said, God is there with us every step of the way.

Joyce: Yes, he is.
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