Joyce Meyer - Ways The Devil Deceives Us
How many of you know the devil's alive and well on the planet? And you know, it's not that I just enjoy talking about the devil but, to be honest, every once in a while, we need to because for some reason, as much as we know, we kind of forget that he's behind a lot of the stuff that's going on in the world and in our lives. I have to tell you that I went to church for a lot of years and I never heard a message about Satan. I never heard a message about the devil. I don't even know that he was even talked about that much. I mean, to me, I guess the devil was just a Halloween character where a kid put on a red suit and carried a pitchfork and had a long tail and some pointed ears.
You know, I had no idea that a lot of my problems and the issues that I was dealing with were from an enemy, an evil enemy, that hated God and hated anybody who was trying to serve God. And even when I did discover that Satan was a real entity which I found through reading a book, actually it's an old book still in print called "Satan is alive and well on planet earth", and I was, like, "Wow"! It was like an eye-opener for me. But even then, I had no idea that I had any authority over him or that I could do anything about it. And so we need to realize that once we recognize what the enemy's doing, we don't have to just put up with it, c'mon, "Huh, I don't know what to do".
Well, I'm gonna tell you today. That's why you're here, okay? But, you know, I wrote a book 25 years ago called the "Battlefield of the Mind", and it's still our number one book. We call that book the energizer bunny, it just keeps selling, keeps selling, keeps selling, keeps selling, and keeps selling. And it's because we all want peace of mind and we know that our mind gives us a lot of trouble. No matter how much we learn about this, every day I still have to take authority over wrong thoughts. I still have to cast down wrong ones and choose right ones. Does anybody else still have to do that every day of your life?
Okay. Well, that's being vigilant. When you do that, that's one of the ways that you resist the enemy. You don't just, "Whatever, you know". You think the way you know that God wants you to think, speak the way you believe God wants you to speak, and it actually changes things in your life. So Satan is a liar. That's the first thing we've gotta realize. A liar. The father of lies. The truth is not in him. He cannot do anything but lie.
So it's interesting to me. I remember a woman coming one time for prayer and she said, "I am so upset, Joyce. I really need your prayer. The devil's been lying to me". And then she told me what her problem was. And I didn't say this to her but I thought later, "Okay, the lady said she knew it was the devil. She knew he was lying to her, and yet, she was upset about it".
So we obviously don't really believe that he's a liar or we wouldn't believe anything that he says. Does the devil ever tell you, "You're no good"? Well, why do you believe that? That's just a lie from the pit of hell. God says you're valuable, you're precious, he loves you, he's got a good plan for your life. He created you uniquely in your mother's womb. You ever hear the devil say, "Oh, you're all alone. Nobody cares about you"? Well, that's not true because God says, "I will never leave you. I will never forsake you. But, lo, I am with you always, even unto the ends of the earth".
I can tell you the things that I'm sharing with you today about thoughts and words and coming against these lies of Satan, it's one of the main things that has helped bring healing into my life. Because if you're mistreated as a child, you learn how to think about everything the wrong way, everything. You know, the enemy starts early, building strongholds in our minds. A stronghold is a place where the enemy digs in and hides, where he's protected and nobody can get to him. But the Word of God, the word of truth, is stronger than any lie that Satan tells us, amen?
2 Corinthians 10:4-5: "The weapons of our warfare are not physical weapons of flesh and blood, but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and the destruction of strongholds". So we have weapons but they're not guns and knives and bombs and things like that. The weapons that we have are spiritual weapons. And I wanna tell you today that your mouth full of the Word of God is a spiritual weapon. Satan hates what's going on in this building today. He despises that you're here, he despises that I'm here. He hates that all the people got saved last night. He'll do anything he can to try to get you not to pay attention or cause you to forget everything you hear the minute you leave the building.
But I'll tell you what. We are in a war that, if we read the end of the book, we find out we've already won. I'm so glad I've already got the end of the story. So, all we really have to do is walk it out here. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal. They're praise and worship. They're the Word of God. They're prayer, the name of Jesus. You have weapons against the enemy. "Inasmuch as we refute arguments", does the devil ever argue with you? "Theories, reasonings, and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the true knowledge of God: and we lead", I love it, some of our thoughts captive? And we lead a few of our thoughts once in a while captive? No, "Every thought". Boy, sounds like a big job to me 'cause I have millions of thoughts every day. "And we lead every thought captive under the obedience of Jesus Christ".
Now, I don't know where you're at with all this right now, or people watching by TV, I don't, you know, maybe you've never even heard anything like this before but, not to be offensive, but some of you, not all of you, but your mind is just a mess. I mean, it's just a mess. The enemy has controlled your thoughts for so long that you just believe all kinds of wrong stuff. And so the only way you're ever gonna know what truth is, is to learn the Word of God. Learn the Word of God. Watch this program every day on TV. I'll teach you some stuff. I've been through some stuff. Get yourself a Bible, get some good Christian books. Start learning what your rights are as a believer in Jesus Christ, and stop just letting the enemy walk all over you, control your moods, control.
This is gonna be good for us today because we need this every once in a while. Every once in a while we just need to get a good shaking and say, "Listen, you are a child of God. You have rights, you have privileges. The devil has some power but he does not have more power than you do". And then Ephesians 6:12, one more: "We are not wrestling with flesh and blood". Your war is not with your husband. It's not with your wife, it's not with your kids, it's not with your mom or your dad. "We are not wrestling with flesh and blood contending only with physical opponents, but against the despotisms, against the powers, against the master spirits who are the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere".
Now I don't wanna stand up here and sound spooky. If you've never had any teaching on this kind of stuff, you may go, "Egh". But you know what? There's demons all over the place, amen? We don't see them, but thank God there's angels all over the place too. And I'm gonna share some scriptures with you a little bit later about the power of angels that are working in our behalf all the time. And I think we need to learn to see a little bit better into the spirit realm and I don't necessarily mean with your natural eyes but we need to learn to really believe with our heart that no matter what's going on, angels are working in our behalf, God is helping us, and what we have is greater than what the enemy has.
See, I'm the kind of person, I got excited when I first started hearing this kind of stuff 40 years ago because I'm not the kind of person that wants to have a problem and have to sit around and think that I can't do anything about it. I'm a fixer. I wanna fix stuff. How many of you like to fix stuff? I don't think anything frustrates me any more than when somebody brings me a problem and tells me there's no answer. I absolutely cannot stand that. You know why? Because there is an answer to everything and there is a way to fix everything if we're just not lazy and refuse to look for it.
So, one of the first lies that the devil will try to tell you is that he doesn't exist. The next thing is, is even if you do believe he exists, there's really nothing you can do about it. So I just wanna read you maybe three scriptures here: Luke 10:19: "Behold! I have given you authority". Everybody say, "I have authority". He didn't say, "I will give you authority". He said, "I have given you authority". And today I want you to believe that, that you have authority and you have the power of God working in your behalf.
And you know, I think a lot of what I'm talking about today just comes down to I want all of us to have just a more inner determined attitude. It's not so much about going around screaming at demons and, you know, it's just like, "I am not gonna be defeated. I am not gonna quit. I am not gonna give up. I know who my enemy is and, if anybody can have God's blessings, I can have God's blessings". I'll tell you the truth. If you won't fight for yourself, there's not too many other people that are gonna do it for you. And I don't mean there's not people that love us, you know, all kinds of people love us but we've all got our own deal that we're dealing with and we have to learn to fight for ourselves and to believe the Word of God for ourselves.
You can not be defeated. You cannot be defeated if you will take hold of the Word of God and refuse to give up. I don't know if you heard what I said but I'm gonna repeat it again. God is no respecter of persons. If God can bless anybody, he can bless you. C'mon, if God can bless anybody, God can bless you. Don't sit around and think that all this stuff is working for somebody but it's never gonna work for you. If you do and I do with the help of God what God tells us to do, we have to have a breakthrough. There's no doubt about it. "Behold! I have given you authority and power", I want you to pay attention here. "Authority and power to trample upon serpents and scorpions, and I've given you physical and mental strength and ability over all the power that the enemy possesses".
So, this scripture says we have authority and power, I don't want you to miss this. We have been given authority and power but Satan, it says of him that he has power. It doesn't say he has any authority. We have authority. And now, listen to me. The only authority that the devil has is what we give him. And most of that we give him through passivity, through lack of knowledge, through laziness, through disobedience. And we just need to wake up and realize that Jesus paid an amazing price for us to have a good life. And every one of you need to stomp your little holy foot today and say, "I am going to have what Jesus died to give me".
James 4:7, I'll just read you this: "Be subject to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee". Luke 9:1, "Jesus called together the twelve apostles and gave them power and authority over all demons, and the ability to cure diseases". Luke 10:17: "The 70 returned with joy, saying, Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name"! Everybody say, "I have authority. And I have power".
Alright, now one of the things that the enemy does all the time is he works to steal your peace because where there's peace, there's power. There are probably 25 things every day that each one of us could get upset about unless we learn to take responsibility and hold on to our peace. In Exodus when Pharaoh was coming against the Israelites, his army was in back of 'em, the Red Sea was in front of 'em, and they started getting frantic. God said, "Stand still. Hold your peace and I will fight for you. Hold your peace, remain at rest, and I will fight for you".
Philippians 4:6: "Be anxious for nothing but in all things, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be made known unto God and the peace that passes understanding".
Colossians 3:15 says: "Let the peace of God be the umpire in our life, deciding with finality whether things are right or wrong, in or out".
And I just wanna say this today because it was on my heart this morning when I was getting ready for this service. If you're in here today and you're about to do something in your life that you don't have peace about, please don't do it. Please don't do it. If you don't have peace about it, don't do it. Don't marry somebody you don't have peace about, thinking they'll change after you marry 'em. C'mon, that is just, like, super-dumb on steroids. If you're having questions now, you just wait and see how many questions you have after you... Amen?
Psalm 91, verses 1 and 2: "He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty". Wow! Hang out with God and you're gonna get some stability. "I will say of the Lord". What are you saying? "I will say of the Lord, he is my refuge and my fortress, my God: on him I lean and rely, and in him I put my trust"! Okay, now.
Now, watch these promises. "For then he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. Then he will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you shall trust and find refuge: his truth and faithfulness are a shield and a buckler to you. You shall not be afraid of the terror of the night, nor of the arrow (the evil plots and the slanders of the wicked) that fly by day, nor of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor of the destruction and the sudden death that surprise and lay waste at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not come near you. Only a spectator shall you be yourself inaccessible in the secret place of the Most High as you witness the reward of the wicked. Because you made the Lord your refuge, and the Most High your dwelling place, there shall no evil befall you, nor any plague or calamity come near your tent". Here it is. "For he will give his angels especial charge over you to accompany and defend and preserve you in all of your ways of obedience and service".
Now, you know, I'm sure the enemy's already put a few questions in your mind, "Well, you know, stuff happens to me. Where are my angels"? Okay, I had a friend that was in a boat one day. She actually was meditating on Psalm 91 and the boat hit a hard wave and she fell and hit her head on the side of the boat and got a pretty good little bump. So right away, she went, "God, I don't understand why that happened to me. I was just meditating on Psalm 91". And you know what he said back to her? "You're not dead, are you"? C'mon.
You know, we let the devil confuse us about the few things that happen to us that we don't like but what about all the things that God has saved you from that you don't even know about? C'mon, there's more with you than with the enemy. And I think it's just good for us to hear this once in a while but it's also good for you to kind of talk to yourself about it from time to time, to refresh yourself and remind yourself that you do have God's power and you do have his angels with you. Don't let the devil just walk all over you. The spiritual realm is very, very, very real. Even though we're not really cognizant of it most of the time, it's there. And God is always fighting in your behalf. As long as you're believing, God is working. Do you hear me? As long as you are believing, God is working.
Now, Satan knows the danger of pride. And so a lot of the thoughts that he tries to put in our head are pride-based thoughts. When a person thinks they know everything, you can't teach 'em anything. We have to be very careful that we don't always think in every situation that we're right and we won't listen to anybody else. I said something last week at the place where I was preaching and, as far as I know, this is scripturally accurate or I wouldn't have said it. I don't think you can find a place in the Bible where Jesus ever tried to prove that he was right about anything. He was accused of stuff all the time, and he just basically said, "Well, whatever you think. Whatever you think".
And you know why he did that? Because he knew who he was. If we know who we are and we know who we belong to, we don't have to try to prove to other people that we're right about stuff. Well, if we have no humility and somebody accuses us of something then right away we go into defense mode because we don't want them to think badly of us. Can I tell you something? Being right is highly overrated. It really doesn't do all that much for you in the long run. And I know one thing, I spent a lot of years of my life not knowing that because I sure started a lot of arguments trying to prove that I was right.
And I'm just telling you all that is, is the fruit of pride. P-R-I-D-E, pride. Pride also causes us to be very judgmental toward other people, doesn't it? We're right. If they would do everything we do then they'd be better. Satan wants us to focus on things that annoy us about the people we live and work with. These daily annoyances keep us from focusing on what God would like us to see about ourselves. I'm gonna rewind and say that again. The enemy seeks to have us focus on the things that annoy us about the people we're in relationship with. How many of you have somebody in your life that you love but they do stuff that just annoys the living daylights out of you?
Well, we're gonna have a couple of Dave stories. Now, I love, love, love my husband. We've been married 50 years and I wanna tell you ahead of time... Dave, you are not gonna do that. I guess he will. So anyway, can I have my prop? Here's something that Dave does that drives me absolutely bonkers. Now, wait, when he eats cereal... I am, like, "You have got to stinking be kidding". I mean, the cereal is not attached to the bottom of the bowl. I don't make noise when I eat cereal. It's a peaceful thing. The other day, he's down there with two dishes to bang together. The other day, and I'm not exaggerating, he was in the kitchen, I was all the way back in our bedroom, which is a little bit of distance, and I can hear the man banging the bowl. Oghh! It annoys me. Here's another thing that he does. No. You're gonna mess up my message.
Dave: You know what? How many of you do things that you know that might irritate your wife but it gives you pleasure? The more it annoys her, the more I do it.
Joyce: The sad thing is, is that's true. He thinks it's funny. All right, here's another thing that he does which I still don't get this. He puts lotion on his hands and then he sits on the side of the bed and goes... One night I was almost asleep and I look over and he's sitting there, and I'm, like, "What are you doing"? He said, "I'm drying the lotion on my hands". I said, "Well, you put 'em on for moisture not so you dry 'em up".
One more thing. I'm just trying to let you know you're not alone in your battles. One more thing is the man talks through every movie and TV show. He'll say, "Put it on, put it on, pause it, pause it". And so I'll pause it and he says, "Now, you know what's gonna happen here"? I'm, like, "No, and you don't either. We haven't seen it yet". C'mon, give God praise that we can walk in love anyway.
Romans 15:1: "We who are strong in our convictions and of robust faith ought to bear with the failings and the frailties and the tender scruples of the weak: we ought to help carry the doubts and qualms of others and not live to please ourselves". In other words, there's more about me that's annoying than there even is about him. It's just that we don't see what we do because we're so busy seeing what everybody else does. What? Satan has won a battle if the believer sees nothing wrong with himself and a great deal wrong with everybody else. Is there anybody here that has a tendency to be a bit judgmental? Hmm, now, c'mon, don't go lying.
"Well, I wouldn't wear my hair like that, well". Oh boy, shall I go on or just pick on that a little while? Matthew 7:1 through 7. We might as well dive in here. Who cares if I get through many points? "Do not judge and criticize and condemn others, so that you may not be judged and criticized and condemned yourselves". Boy, I'll tell you what. You know one of the best pieces of advice that I could give you today and I'm still learning it myself: mind your own business. I mean, we can save ourselves so much turmoil and upset just by simply minding our own business.
"Well, I wouldn't do that". I have to say to myself, "You know what, Joyce? You're not in charge of it". I don't need to have an opinion where I don't have any responsibility. "For just as you judge and criticize and condemn others, you will be judged and criticized and condemned, and in accordance with the measure you deal out to others, it would be dealt out to you again". I was at Joel Osteen's recently and I did a message on mercy. We need to be more merciful to other people so we get more mercy back. Verse 3: "Why do you stare from without at the very small particle that's in your brother's eye but you do not become aware of and consider the beam of timber that's in your own eye? Get the beam of timber out of your own eye, then you'll see clearly to take the tiny speck out of your brother's eye".
Now let's talk for a minute about prayer. Satan seeks to prevent us from praying. He wants us to forget it, not have time for it, focus so much on how we sound that we can't even really pay any attention to what we're saying. Have you ever caught yourself, especially if you're trying to pray in front of people, you're not even talking to God at all, you're just trying to sound eloquent. I have to really be careful when I'm up here. I mean, I really try. It's like, I wanna be here and talk to God, not stand up here and try to impress all of you with what I'm saying. Because prayer is powerful but it must be sincere in order to be powerful.
"The fervent effectual prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available dynamic in its working". Your prayers and my prayers are a danger to the devil. C'mon, if you know who you are in Christ and you say, "I resist you, Satan, in Jesus' name", heaven hears that and God goes to work in your behalf. Matthew 7:7: "Keep on asking, it will be given you: keep on seeking and you will find: keep on knocking reverently and the door will be opened unto you". Just keep it up and keep it up and keep it up and keep it up and keep it up.
You know, my father abused me sexually when I was growing up and I prayed for him on and off, I mean, not constantly, but I prayed for his salvation 40 years, at least. And you know, different times I'd think, "He ain't never gonna change", you know? Don't let the devil fill your mind with those kinds of thoughts about other people: they're never gonna change. Do you ever think that about people? "You ain't never gonna change". Well, you changed. And I changed. And all it takes is one moment with God at the right time is... Don't give up on people. Maybe if you can't even really be around them because of they mistreat you or something but you still won't have to give up on them.
And so I just continued to say, I mean, I remember where I was at one day in my car and I said, "Lord, you're using me to lead people to you all over the planet. Please don't let my own father die and go to hell. Please save him". And you know what? It wasn't that much longer after that and I got to pray with him and I baptized him and he didn't receive Christ 'til he was 80 so he wasted his life but he's in heaven. Now, I love this one. Satan seeks at all times to push us into extremes. If he can't get us not to do something, he will try to get us to do too much of it, all right? For example, some of you don't save any money and that's not good. Some of you won't spend any money and that's not good. We need balance in everything.
1 Peter 5:8: "Be well balanced for your adversary, the devil, roams about like a lion, seeking whom he may devour". Look at that. "Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), vigilant, cautious at all times: for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring in fierce hunger, seeking someone to seize upon and devour". How many of you would say today, "It's not gonna be me"? Not gonna be me. But you've got to be vigilant.
Now, let me just give you a little caution here. At least, I find this for me. One of the times when I'm likely to maybe give in to the attacks of the enemy is if I let myself get too tired. You've got to be careful how you take care of yourself, 'cause I can tell you, your physical body does affect you spiritually. When I feel really bad, I don't wanna pray, I don't care much about walking in love, I'm, you know. I mean, I do it because I know it's what God wants me to do but I'm just saying that I've learned for me that I've got to get right rest and I have to take decent care of myself if I really want to be strong in the Lord.
Satan wants us to either be unaware of him or excessively focused on him. So he wants us to either be too focused on him or he wants us to be unaware of him, and I find, for me, in my walk with God, there's a lot of things I know but we can't keep all of them in the forefront of our mind all the time. So sometimes there's things that we kind of begin to forget and then the Holy Spirit will have to come around and kind of refresh my memory and that's what happens to me when it comes to dealing with the enemy. I don't go around thinking about the devil all the time. I don't go around thinking about demons all the time. I don't go around talking to the devil all the time. But there are times when God just has to remind me, "Now, you need to tighten the ship up a little bit here and realize that that's the enemy lying to you and don't put up with his nonsense".
How many of you needed a little tightening up in this area? He wants us to either be unspiritual or excessively spiritual. He wants us to have no discipline or be completely legalistic. We need to be aware of extremes. He wants us to talk too much or not talk enough. You say, "Well, can anybody not talk enough"? I think so. I've tried to spend a half a day with somebody that won't say anything and I'm worn out by the end of the day 'cause I feel like I got to keep the whole thing going. He wants us to either have no plan at all or he wants us to have our lives so planned up that there's no room for any kind of creativity. Let me ask you a question. Is there any area in your life that you can think of right now where you would say, "You know, I am a bit extreme in that area"?
Oh, c'mon, you guys. All right, you want me to mess in your business? How many of you eat too much sugar? There we go. How many of you work too hard and don't get enough rest? How many of you don't take time for yourself? How many of you don't get enough sleep? Whoa, we got a messy crowd here today. Can we put the scripture back up, 1 Peter 5:8? "Be well balanced". You know, this is my opinion. You know, I think, for me, I can eat something sweet occasionally but I can't do it every day. You can't. Anything that you have to do all the time, every day, is gonna become a problem for you.
"(Be temperate, be sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times: for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring in fierce hunger, seeking someone to seize upon and devour". Let's look at verse 9: "Withstand him". Uh-oh, you just got a job. "Withstand him: be firm in faith against his onset". The minute the enemy moves against you, learn to recognize him and immediately move back against him. I tell people, "Don't wait until you've been depressed for 6 weeks and it's gonna take a truckloadful of Christians to come along and scrape you up, prop you up again". The minute you start to feel, just say, "No. The joy of the Lord is my strength. I'm not gonna waste this day feeling sad and having a bad negative attitude".
Resist the devil at his onset. "Be rooted, established, strong, immovable, and determined", knowing that everybody is going through something. We're not the only one that goes through things. Another thing that the enemy tries to do, these are ways that he deceives us. He tries to keep us totally focused on ourselves. Jesus said, "If anybody wants to follow me, he has to forget himself, lose sight of himself and all of his own interests and take up his cross and follow me". Now, that sounds like a pretty boring life, doesn't it? It's, like, forget myself, forget my own interests, lose sight of myself. Well, "Who's gonna take care of me"? Well, let's see, God will.
Well, we're talking today about the devil, lovely subject. But he is a real problem in our lives, but he doesn't have to be if we know how to recognize his work and if we know that we have power and authority over him. The Bible says in Ephesians that, "All authority in heaven and in earth have been given unto Jesus", and we belong to him. He's given us his name. He's actually given us, so to speak, a power of attorney.
I took care of my mom, and my dad, and my aunt as they got older and older and couldn't take care of themselves. They all gave me a power of attorney over their life, which meant I could act in their behalf. I could actually use their name and get things done. And when our Heavenly Father gave us the name of Jesus, he basically did the same thing. Now, we can't go around doing things and getting things that aren't the will of God, but when we use the name of Jesus, we don't just pray and tack that name onto the end like some little magic charm.
There's power in the name of Jesus. And I believe that. Let me say again that the Bible says that every knee must bow. "There was given unto him a name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee must bow in heaven, on earth, and under the earth". And so, when we speak the name of Jesus, it has a very good effect on the enemy and stops him in his tracks. And sometimes, if you don't have time to say anything else, you can just say, "Jesus". Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. And I'm telling you, there's power released in that name.
So, we have weapons and we also have armor. With weapons, we attack. With armor, we protect ourselves. And God has given us these things. Our weapons are not weapons of flesh and blood, they're spiritual weapons. The Word of God is a weapon. The name of Jesus is a weapon. Praise and worship is a weapon against the enemy. Prayer is a weapon. When we pray, we release God to work on our behalf and in our circumstances. But I'm just talking about some of the different ways that Satan deceives us, and he really does it all by putting thoughts into our mind. You have to realize that every thought you have is not a God thought and every thought you have didn't even initially start out to be your thought. It only becomes yours if you take it and begin to meditate on it. You can make it yours if you want to, but everything that you think is not initially your thought.
You know, I remember when I used to wake up in the morning many years ago, and not every morning, but a lot of mornings, I would wake up and just think, "I'm depressed". Now, how did I know I was depressed? I wasn't even up yet. But the enemy, I believe he especially likes to get control of our thoughts early in the morning. So, I wanna encourage you to be very careful what you lay in bed and think before you ever really get fully awake and get up. I always try to start my day with thinking some good things even before I get out of bed. Happy thoughts make a happy life. Happy thoughts make a happy life. Happy thoughts make a happy life.
Now, you know, I can wake up in the morning and think, "Oh my gosh, I gotta get up. I don't wanna go get on the treadmill". But you know, none of that's gonna do me any good because I already know I'm going to go do it, and really there's no point in dreading anything that you know you're gonna go ahead and go do anyway. So, you can change those thoughts. You can turn those thoughts around and you can think, "I'm glad I can get up and do this. I'm glad I can walk. I'm glad I can talk. I'm glad I can see. I'm glad I can hear. I've got a good life. I love my life. I love God. I love myself. And I'm not depressed".
"But I feel"... Well, see, the thing is, and I mean, feelings are real, and you know, if somebody's got some chemical thing going in their body, you know, you may need a little help besides just trying to talk yourself out of it, but there's a lot of our bad moods that we can talk ourselves into and we can talk ourselves out of them. You can sit around and feel sorry for yourself, but you don't have to. You can talk yourself out of it. Alright, so, we're talking about different ways that the enemy tries to deceive us and the different kinds of thoughts that he puts in our minds, and so, one of the biggest problems that I had, and I think aggressive people are like this, if God wasn't doing anything about my situation, I was very happy to take over and try to do it myself. It's called fleshly independence. And God does not want us to be independent or separate from him, he wants us to be totally dependent on him.
Like a branch and a vine, John 15, "I'm the vine, you're the branch. Whoever abides in me will bear much fruit". So, if we want our lives to be fruitful and we want them to be good, then we need to learn to depend on Jesus for everything. So, what happens then when there's things that you want to happen, or things that are happening that you don't want to happen, or there's somebody in your life that you don't like some of the stuff they do and you want them to change, or you want some of your circumstances to change? And maybe you've prayed about it. Sometimes, to be honest, we don't even start with prayer. We try everything we can think of first, and then when none of that works, we will finally pray.
But the thing you have to understand is, "Apart from me, you can do nothing", Jesus said. So, obviously we can do things, but they're not things that are ever gonna work long term or bring any real lasting joy into our lives. And so, we try. I would go to church and I would hear messages, you know, things I'd never heard before, like maybe somebody said something about the words of your mouth like I just shared with you. Well, I didn't bother to pray about it. I didn't bother to ask God to help me. I'd just go home and try to change.
Dave maybe would say something, you know, something I needed to change in my life or whatever, and I would just, first I'd get mad, and then I'd try to change. And as God called me into ministry and I felt like I was supposed to do some pretty major things, I tried to make my ministry grow. I was trying everything imaginable. Trying to change myself, trying to change Dave, trying to change my kids, trying to make my ministry grow, and you know what? Nothing was working. And the more it didn't work, the more frustrated I became.
So, I just wanna share a few things with you today. Now, I'm not saying that you can't control any of your behavior, because you certainly can. God's given us the fruit of self-control. But by and large, ultimately, you cannot permanently change yourself, you have to trust God to change you. You have to trust God to work in your life and help you be the person he wants you to be, and it happens little by little. I don't even like the word "Little". Don't care about it at all, but in the earth, there is a law. I like to call it the law of gradual growth, which means everything that's alive is growing.
So, if you're alive, you are growing, but the interesting thing is, is you can't see that growth. The tree in my backyard is growing all the time, but I could stand there and stare at it all day and I would never see it grow. However, I could go away for maybe 5 years, and come back, and I'd be like, "Wow, that's really grown". Well, see, when I first entered into a real serious relationship with God, I had so many problems. And I mean, I was in church every time the door was open. It was back in the, what they call the "Word and Faith" movement, and I mean, it was nothing to go to a 7-10 day camp meeting, 3 services a day.
But the more you study the word, now, listen to me, the more, on one hand, you become encouraged by what God can do in your life, but also the more you study the word, the more you see what's wrong with you. And that part's, like, maybe not so much fun, but it is important. You know why? Because we cannot even cooperate with God to do anything about something that we're totally blind to and don't even realize is happening. You might remember, I shared this morning that one of the things the enemy tries to get us to do is focus on what's wrong with other people, because as long as we focus on what's wrong with everybody else, our hearts are not open for God to show us. Have you ever gone to church and, I don't know, maybe even here today, you thought, "Man, I wish my husband would've come. Boy, I wish my son was here to hear this".
You know, we always think about all the other people that need to hear what the preacher's saying. But the point is, you're here, and so I guess you need to hear what's being said. Learn to appreciate God's chastisement. And when you see something in the word and you can say honestly, "You know, I really need to come up higher in that area", that's a good thing. Don't ever let that discourage you or make you feel bad about yourself. Let me tell you something, God's chastisement is a sign of his love, and I'm so grateful that he loves us too much to leave us alone in the mess that we're in. He never shows us anything that needs to change in our life, if he's not ready to help us change it. Did you hear me? But you can't go home and do it on your own, and it is gonna take time, little by little.
And I'm telling ya, after five years of being in what I thought was a pretty serious relationship with God, I can remember thinking, "I've not changed at all". Anybody ever felt like that? "I mean, I have just not changed at all". But you know what? I can look back now, and my gosh, I'm like a totally, completely, different person than the way I was 41 years ago, when I began to study the Word of God. And as I said earlier, if you don't like waiting then hanging out with God is gonna be frustrating to you. Because he doesn't really do anything in a huge hurry. He takes his time because he's got eternity to work it all out.
So, and then, of course, I tried to change Dave all the time, and I was trying to change my kids, and trying to make my ministry grow, and tryin', tryin', tryin'. And I don't want this to sound wrong, I'll bring balance to it, but God's not asking us to, "Try", he's asking us to believe. He's asking us to go to him first and say, "God, no matter how hard I try, I cannot do this without you. But if you'll give me, 'grace'", and grace is the power of the Holy Spirit to help us overcome our evil tendencies.
Now, it's also, God's undeserved favor. We hear that definition all the time. It's God forgiving us, and being merciful to us, and doing things for us that we could never earn or deserve and there's no real reason for him to do it. But, it's even more than that. And I really wish that more people would bring out the other part of the definition of grace: that it's power. It's the power of the Holy Spirit coming into our lives to enable us do with ease what we could never do on our own without God's help. I'll say it again. I know that was a mouthful. Grace is the power of the Holy Spirit coming into our lives to help us do with ease what we could never do on our own with any amount of struggle and effort.
So, we need God's grace for every single thing that we do. And certainly, we need God's grace to change us, to change the people in our life that need to be changed, and we need to trust God with the timing and the process. Now, there's a scripture that I'm gonna share with you, Galatians 3:1-3, that really was the first scripture that I saw that started opening my eyes to this truth that I'm sharing with you right now. "O you poor and silly and thoughtless and unreflecting and senseless Galatians"!
Paul didn't mince any words. You think I'm tough? And I mean, Jesus was even worse. He called people a bunch of white-washed tombs full of dead men's bones. "Who has fascinated or bewitched or cast a spell over you, unto whom, right before your very eyes, Jesus Christ (the Messiah) was openly and graphically set forth and portrayed as crucified"? He's saying "Okay, now, you know" the message, "You know that Jesus died in your place. So, let me ask you a question: did you receive the Holy Spirit as the result of obeying the law and doing its works, or was it by hearing the message of the Gospel and believing it"?
The 500 people who gave their life to the Lord last night, they didn't do anything to earn that. They came in sinners, the only thing that my message maybe, helped them do was to realize what a mess they were in, and how there was no way that they could help themselves. And so, when the time came to receive Jesus, I'm sure that they were like, "I can't do this. I can't help myself. I need you. You're the only one that can fix my life". And so, we need to learn, and you're gonna see the scripture here in a minute that says this, we need to learn that the same way that we received Christ is the same way we have to live, depending on him for everything.
So, let me go back. Verse 2, "Let me ask you a question: did you receive the Holy Spirit as the result of obeying the law and doing its works, or was it by hearing the message of the Gospel and believing it? Was it from observing a law of rituals or from a message of faith? Are you so foolish and so senseless and so silly? Having begun your new life spiritually with the Holy Spirit, are you now reaching perfection by dependence upon the flesh"? So, what is this telling us? I can't depend on my own flesh to perfect my own self. I have to lean on God. And I'm sure that there's some of you here today that you've been just pretty frustrated with yourself.
Anybody here, you just been pretty, you're just like, "You know, I'm not where I need to be, and you know, my prayers are not right", and on, and on, and on. Well, first of all, you're probably doing a little better than what you think you are. One thing's for sure, the devil's never gonna wake you up in the morning and tell you how far you've come. But he will certainly remind you of how far you have to go, and everything that you don't deserve, and what God's not gonna do for you because you've been such a bad person. That's why we have to have our minds renewed by the Word of God.
Let's go on to another thing that I believe Satan tries to tempt us with. When we find ourselves in the presence of worldly, compromising people, Satan will tempt us to be quiet about our commitment to God. Perhaps out of the fear of embarrassment, or rejection, but the longer it goes on, the more dangerous it becomes to us. You know why? Romans 1:16 says: "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ". We cannot be ashamed of being Christians.
Now, I don't think it's our job to go out in the world and try to cram Jesus down everybody's throat, but neither do I think that we need to be quiet about him. And you know, something that I've found that works really well for me is I just try to be who I am wherever I go. Now, I use common sense. I use wisdom. You know, I don't say some things to some unbelievers that I might say to one of you. But God is just such a part of my life that I just talk about him in my everyday conversation. "Oh, yeah, God really helped me with that", or, "I prayed about that", or you know, whatever.
And I recall one situation where a lady, I mean, she was somebody that helped me in a business situation. She wasn't a believer. And I remember one time, her saying to me, "You know, you talk about God like you know him". Well, see, I think we can, in a polite, right way, we can actually make people curious. You know, because he is a major part of my life. And another thing that I've found that really helps is just, like, if somebody that's not a believer tells you about a problem they're having, don't just say, "Oh, that's too bad". Maybe you can't preach to them right then, but you know, you can say, "You know, I'm gonna pray for you". I've never had anybody yet say, "No, no, don't you pray for me. Don't you do that".
Now, there's a balance, and like I said, you don't wanna go around just trying to be super over-religious and making everybody dread seeing you come. You gotta pray for God to open the right doors. And you know, I gave a good example. I said, "There's a lot of different kinds of fish in the sea, and you can't catch 'em all with the same kinda bait". So sometimes you gotta know what kinda bait to use on what kind of unbeliever. Sometimes you gotta wait a long time.
I remember one woman that I was around her for 20 years in a business situation before I ever got a chance to pray the prayer of salvation with her. But a lot of Christians don't wanna go fishing. They wanna go catching. If they don't get somebody in the hook right away, then they're gonna throw in the towel and give up. Sometimes you gotta be willing to just be a Christian around somebody for a long period of time, and maybe you can't say anything at all until they say to you, "What's different about you? How can you have so much peace with all this stuff that's going on at work"?
Trust me, if you get out in the world and you just be a believer... Don't compromise your faith just to be part of a group that doesn't care anything about you anyway. Satan has scored a victory when he is successful in presenting compromising Christians to the world. Because then we hear the word "Hypocrite". "You're nothing but a hypocrite". And the world hates that. There's nothing more exciting to demons than to see a Christian continue outward disciplines of the Christian faith, like going to church, taking communion, putting a few dollars in the offering plate, saying certain prayers, while his heart keeps moving further and further and further away from God.
You can go sit in the garage all day, and that don't make ya a car. And you can sit in church four times a week, and that doesn't make you a Christian. A Christian is not about wearing a cross around your neck and having a bumper sticker on your car and having a big Bible and knowing how to say a few Christian phrases. It's what is your heart toward God? And if you really have a right relationship with God, it's gonna ooze out of you. Matthew 15:8: "'These people draw near me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me'". We don't wanna be like that. Don't just go to church on Sunday and not think about God the rest of the week. Let him be the center of your life and the most important person to you.
You know what a Christian is who does all the outward stuff but has no real heart toward God? They're a phony. And the last thing I wanna be is phony. You know, I don't stand up here and teach you guys things that I don't apply to my own life. I was talking to somebody the day we got here at lunch, and I forget now how the subject came up, but I said, "I spend the first hour or 2 hours of the morning not getting a message to preach to you, but keeping myself straight with God". I go to him for me. I read the word for me. And I study for me. Because we're not really fit to lead other people to Christ if we're just a phony that has learned how to say all the right words, but we don't have the fruit in our life.
And so, one of the best examples that I've found in the Bible is in Matthew 21:18 through 22: "In the early dawn the next morning, as he", he being Jesus, "Was coming back to the city, he was hungry". And you know, can I tell you that the world is hungry for something genuine and something real? I mean, people are looking. And if they know you're a Christian, they are looking at you. People are watching you. That's why we really can't be phony. We've gotta be the real deal. "And he saw one single leafy fig tree above the road, and he went to it but he found nothing on it but leaves seeing that in the fig tree the fruit appears at the same time as the leaves. And he said, 'never again shall fruit grow on you!' and the fig tree withered up at once and died".
Now, it may sound silly, but I used to feel sorry for this fig tree. I thought, "Well", I mean, I didn't get it. I didn't understand why Jesus cursed the fig tree just because it didn't have what he wanted. He was hungry. He saw leaves on the fig tree. But a fig tree, when it has leaves, is always supposed to have fruit under those leaves. So when he went to this fig tree to get something to eat, all he found was leaves. And I think that's what happens a lot of times with believers. We've got leaves but no fruit. You know, even Adam and Eve tried to cover up their mess with leaves, and it didn't work for them either. And it's not gonna work for us. We've gotta have real genuine fruit.
Another thing the devil tempts people to do is to do nothing fruitful with their time. Just waste all your time in vain pursuits. He tempts people to stay up late staring at a television show they don't like, or worrying about things they can't do anything about. So then they miss out on the sleep they need to be healthy. Then they're tired and they feel bad physically. So they're more easily led into temptation. Then they overeat because they don't feel good. So that makes 'em mad because now they're gaining weight. Now they get easily offended. Come on, things have roots in our life. We can't just look at our life and say, "How did I get in this mess"? You start asking God to show you the root of your problems. Come on, the root of your problems.
I've got an example that I give that I know that refrigerators are not like this now, but when I was a young mom and my kids were little, sometimes I would open the refrigerator and there would be a bad smell in there. Anybody ever had that? It's like, "Eww, what is that"? And so, you know, move a few things around, maybe throw a few things away, but sometimes the stink would stay. And the only way I could really find out what it was, was to just take everything apart and really get down to the bottom where the drain was at and see what was going on. And a lot of times, it was because something had drained, there used to be a drain down in the bottom.
Any of you people remember when there was a? Wasn't it messy? You'd get down there with all that gunk, and boy, you talk about stinkin', but sure enough, you'd clean that up, and it was good. Well, what I usually started out doing was I would spray something in the refrigerator, or put some baking soda in there. And I'll tell ya, we've gotta stop just spraying something on our lives and think it's gonna take care of all the stink. We need to get down to the bottom of what's going on. You might be surprised how much better your life would be if you'd just go to bed at night and get some sleep. "Well, I'm tired". Well, does that give you a right to be grouchy all day with everybody else because you're tired? You know what the answer to that is? Go to bed.
You know, there's a lot of sickness in the world today, and a lot of sickness and disease, and one thing we should make sure of, if we are sick, let's at least ask ourselves, "Have I contributed to this because I'm just not taking care of myself"? I don't think you cared for that much. "Is it because I'm not sleeping? I never exercise. I live on sugar. I drink a 6-pack of soda pop every day that's full of sugar. I never drink water. I've got way too much stress in my life. I'm worried all the time".
If you can't do anything about it, then by all means, believe God for a miracle. But if there is something you can do, you may not like this, but I can tell ya somethin'. If we keep abusing ourselves, God is not gonna just keep us happy and healthy. We need to start cooperating with God. When I get up in the morning and I know I gotta go exercise again, I mean, I heard my flesh say a couple of weeks ago in the gym, you know, your flesh'll talk to you. I was down in the gym and I had just gotten off the treadmill, and I was starting to work out with my trainer, and I heard my flesh say, "Am I gonna have to do this the rest of my life"? And so I answered it back, "Yes, you are".
See, you don't have to let your flesh push you around. You can talk back to it. Because the enemy works through our flesh. Now, here is a great scripture. I don't know if you guys are ready for this, but wow. This is a, "Wow", scripture. Proverbs 18:9: "He who is loose and slack in his work", that means you're lazy. Not you. Somebody who's not here. "He who is loose and slack in his work is a brother to him who is a destroyer and he who does not use his endeavors to heal himself is a brother to him who commits suicide". Have you ever seen that in the Amplified Bible, pastor Tommy? So you know what they're sayin'?
"If you don't do what you need to do to take care of yourself, then you're basically killing your own self". We need to learn how to respect the temple of God. He lives in us. And I'm not saying you have to be a full-on health nut or something like that, but if you'll just start with just some simple basic things. If I stood here and took a survey and said, "How many of you don't drink enough water"? Hands would go up. "How many don't get enough sleep"? Hands would go up. "How many of you eat too much sugar"? Hands would go up. "How many of you feel bad most of the time"? Hands would go up. Well, it's connected.
And here, again, I'm not saying that everybody who's sick is not taking care of themselves. That is not what I said. There's a lot of different reasons for it. But I am just saying that God has got a work to do through you. And he wants you to feel good. He wants you to have energy. He wants you to have enthusiasm. He wants you to be zealous for life. He wants you to love your life. God doesn't want us to just get up every day and drag ourselves around trying to make it through the day. Satan seeks to keep people passive. It doesn't matter what we intend to do that's good as long as we never get around to doing it. Good intentions are not obedience. "I'm gonna clean the house. I'm gonna get out of debt. I'm gonna pray. Yep, I'm gonna get back to church". When? C.S. Lewis said this, and I thought this was good: "The more a Christian feels without acting, the less he will be able ever to act, and, in the long run, the less he will be able to feel".
Now, that's a mouthful so I'll explain it to you. If I feel like that I should or wanna go do something, but then I don't take any action to do it, every time I don't take action, then the next time, it gets harder to take action. And finally, I'll get to the point where I don't even feel like I wanna do it. Passivity is probably, and I don't have a lot of time to get into this, but passivity is probably one of the most dangerous demonic forces that exists. You know why? Because God has given us a free will. And a passive person waits for some outside force to move him to do what's right.
When you to find the strength within you, which is the power of the Holy Spirit, to go do what you believe God wants you to do. "God, I believe that I can do whatever you want me to do". A person may feel like they wanna finish a project that's been left undone, but they don't take any action. Well, pretty soon, if they keep that up, they won't even care about the project at all.
Well, the devil really likes to confuse people about what humility is because if you're truly humble, it's dangerous to the devil. And a lot of people think that a humble person is one who's just like wimpy, and weak, and never will take up for themselves, and you know, they'll just like be sweet, little, weak people. And they have, "I'm no good, I'm nothing". Oh, yeah, a lot of Christians feel like that. I mean, I can go into some circles and say, I get up and say, "I just wanna tell you that I love myself". And man, they're about ready to stone me and throw me out of the building. I'll never forget it.
I was actually in Philadelphia. A newspaper wrote an article and said, "Meyer says she likes herself". Well, I wonder if they would've liked me better if I would've said, "I hate myself". Well, I used to hate myself, but I don't hate myself anymore because God loves me and I've received his love. Come on, stop having a self-depreciating attitude about yourself. "I'm nothing, I don't have any gifts. I don't have any talents. I'm not very smart. I'm not, I'm not, I'm not". No, what you say is, "I have the mind of Christ. And I can do whatever I need to do through Christ. And he loves me. And I'm a child of God. And I have gifts and talents and abilities. I can do things that nobody else on earth can do, and I'm gonna find out what they are and get busy doing 'em".
There's two things that I've found that I can do. Now, there's a lot of stuff I can't do, a lot of stuff I can't do. Well, you'd be amazed if you knew all the stuff I can't do. Like, I am just not good with directions. I mean, honestly, I can get lost in a bathroom. If somebody wasn't guiding me around all the time, there's not tellin's where I would end up. But I'd tell you two things I can do: I can talk and I can write. Now, come on, help me today. Instead of constantly thinking about what you can't do, find what you can do and start doing it with all of your heart. You are a precious person, and Satan does not want you to like yourself. He does not want you to love yourself. He doesn't want you to like who you are, how you look. He wants you to compare yourself with all these other people that you think have it all together.
Can I tell you somethin'? They don't have it together any more than you do. They might just be better at hiding their stuff. We've all got weaknesses, and we've all got strengths. Now, obviously, some people might be further along spiritually. They've had more time to put into it or they've been more obedient to God. But the good news is, is you can catch up. Don't let other people be a threat to you. Let them be an example to you.
Tommy Barnett is an example to me of being a lover of people. He is so friendly and so sweet and so kind. And man, if I get around Joel Osteen, he has an epitome of a smile, and, I mean, I have not smiled as much in my whole life as that man smiles in 1 day. And his whole family is that way. They all cry, and they're all sweet, and they're just such, I mean, I am challenged when I get around those people. "Come on, Joyce, let's smile a little more". Then I come and get around tommy. "Let's love people a little more". But you don't have to feel bad.
Listen to me. You do not have to feel bad about yourself because you're around somebody that can do something you can't do. Okay, I'm gonna say something that's important, not like I haven't already said some things important. True humility is knowing that you're nothing without God, but you're everything with him. You are amazing, absolutely, phenomenally amazing, every single one of you. And the only thing that's holding you back is you don't know it. But you're not amazing on your own. Without Christ, you are nothing, less than zero. But through Christ, you can do whatever God wants you to do. And then you'll give him all the credit and all the glory.
The devil works really hard to confuse people about what love is. Don't let the devil tell you that you're not in love anymore just because you don't feel gooey when somebody comes around you. Love goes way beyond what that is, way beyond. Love is not talk. It's not a theory, but it's action. Love is seen more in what we do for people, even sacrificially, than it is in any other thing.