Joyce Meyer - Developing Discipline And Self-Control
First of all, I want us to look at 2 Peter chapter 1, verses 3 through 8. I really felt from the Lord that this is what I was supposed to teach here. Not just here for you, but I'm sure for a lot of people that will get this on television at just the right time. I've just been thinking a lot about discipline and self-control. And I can tell you that, everyday of our lives we have to say no to something that we would like to do. And yes to something that we would prefer not to do. Amen? And it's not ever going to stop. It's going to be that way everyday the rest of your life. But discipline and self-control are actually good friends that God has given us.
Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. And it's actually last on the list. The list starts with love, and joy, peace, patience, goodness: ends up with self-control. And I think that's interesting. I call 'em like the two bookends of the fruit of the Spirit. All the fruit of the Spirit come out of love, but they're all held in place by self-control. You can't be kind if you don't have any self-control. Can't be humble if you don't have self-control. And I hear people say frequently, and I'm sure, you do too, and maybe you even say this, you know, "I'm just not disciplined. I just can't control myself in that area". And that is absolutely 100% not true. And you need to stop saying that. Come on, don't make me say everything three times. You say, "Well, but I'm not". Well, you start by confessing what God says you have. And it helps renew your mind and before long you start believing that you actually, have what he says you have. And then, as soon as you believe it, the devil might as well get out of your way because then you'll start producing it. Amen?
So, you need to say, "I am disciplined and I have self-control and I do what God tells me to do. And if he tells me not to do something, I don't do it". Amen? Now, being a Christian is not for weak-minded, wimpy, lazy people. We get everything from God. We get a starter load, you might say, when were born again. God is holy, and he can't be anywhere that's not holy so, his grace does a wonderful work in our spirit so he can come and live there. He cleans us up. He forgives us. He comes to dwell in us. He gives us his nature. He makes us a new creature. The fruit of the Holy Spirit is in us. But it all comes as a seed. I love what the Bible says in 1 John, I think it's three, it says that, "Anyone who is in Christ cannot continue to purposely live in sin". Doesn't say he never does anything wrong. But it says he can't purposely continue in sin because Christ lives in him. Actually, the amplified Bible says, "The divine sperm of God is in him". And I love that.
Christ is called the seed. Capital "S," and he is in us. He's put in us as a seed. And we all know that seeds have to be watered and you have to keep the weeds away from them and they have to have the sunshine. Well, the word is referred to as the water of the word. And so the more of the word we study, the more of it we believe, the more those seeds grow and become things that people can actually see. You know, when God first started with me, I had love on the inside of me according to the Bible, but I sure couldn't find it anywhere. I mean, I wanted to love people but I just was not a very loving person. I wasn't a very nice person. I'd been hurt and wounded, and I hadn't been healed yet. And so, I was busy taking care of myself and trying to make sure that I never got hurt again. And I just wasn't very nice. And God had to teach me a lot of things, and the more I studied the word, the more I learned. And the more I learned, the more it changed me. And the more it changed me, the more my behavior changed.
God works on us from the inside out. He plants in us everything that we need to live a great life. But now, I want you to pay attention to these scriptures. 2 Peter, chapter 1 beginning in verse 3. "His divine power has granted to us all things say all things, that pertain to life and Godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence". Well, I could just stop right there and preach on that one sentence all night. We are called to be excellent people with excellent behavior, who treat people excellently, and live excellent lives. Not sloppy, not lazy, not undisciplined but excellent. And it says were called to glory. Well, you know, we throw a lot of words around and don't even know what they mean. And so, the word glory means the manifestation of all of the excellencies of our God. So, God has given us all of these things as a gift that pertain to life and Godliness, through the knowledge of him, you have to know what you have or you don't even realize you have it, who has called us to his own glory and his own excellence.
Now, an excellent person always goes the extra mile. They never do the least they can do, they always do the most that they can do. An excellent person always keeps their word. They always do what they say they're going to do. And we'll just stop there and let it suffice to say that we live in a world today, that is not excellent. And it is getting worse all the time. And we, those of us who represent Christ, and that's what you are if you're a Christian, your a person who's here to represent Christ. We have to turn the lights on, turn the lights up, and start being excellent once again, because that's what the world needs to see. Our God is an excellent God and he's called us to be an excellent people.
Now, there's some area for every single one of us where we can come up higher. Where we can make a decision to be more excellent in that area. And, a lot of excellence begins with little things that the Holy Spirit deals with you about, that might not even make sense to somebody else if you told them. But, we begin by being excellent in all the little things that God prompts us and then it gets to be more, and more, and more, and more in our life. And I know that excellence is God's desire for us, because I'll tell ya, when you are filled with the Holy Spirit and you get into a serious relationship with God, you start getting convicted about little things that didn't bother you at all before he came to live on the inside of you. Nobody came and told you, but all of a sudden now, you know that's not the way to do things. Just a simple example. You're shopping, you're going through a rack of clothes, you knock a piece of clothes in the floor, you start to walk off.
Come on, how many... And the Holy Spirit says, still small voice, a knowing, "Pick it up". Anybody ever get that besides me? Well, sometimes, he even has me clean up all the other stuff that people drop in the floor. Now, that's when it starts to get really aggravating. It's like, I told him one time, "Why should I clean up their mess"? He said, "Would you like to have somebody clean up your messes someday"? I said, "Yeah, that sounds good". Now, I want you to listen what I'm going to say. A lot of times, when God asks you to do, or prompts you, we're going to use the word prompt a lot. Because that's the way the Holy Spirit deals. He prompts us. He doesn't yell at us. He doesn't scream. Doesn't try to make us. Doesn't threaten us. He prompts us. There's just a little like, this is the better way to do that. Every time that we do that, we're opening the door for some blessing that God wants to bring our way in do time. Every time we don't, we probably miss something that God wants to do for us that we'll never even know what it was, maybe until we get to heaven.
Now, you can think what you want. Some of you may think, "Oh, that stuff doesn't make any difference at all". But I can tell you right now, that the word of God is much more practical and for our everyday life than what we think it is. Don't try to take the Bible and make it some deep doctrinal thing that floats around way up here somewhere. Where when you leave, you don't even know what people said. "Boy, that was heavy". "What do you mean by heavy"? "Well, I couldn't understand it, so, it must have been really heavy". Well, I'll send you home with at least one thing you can remember. When you knock something off of a rack in a store... Pick it up and put it back where you got it. Amen?
That's just one example. But how many of you agree that if you won't be excellent in little things, now, listen to what I'm gonna say, when nobody's looking. This is where character is tested. It's not what you do on Sunday morning in front of your Christian friends. If you want to find out who a real Christian is, go look in their home. But, here's the thing. And, we need to have a reverential fear and awe that God is watching all the time. And I don't mean a fear like God's going to hurt us. God loves us. He's not out to hurt us. But if we really want to live to please him, then we should have a certain reverential fear of not pleasing him. And so therefore, if he prompts me to do something, the Bible tells us don't do what's right just as a pleaser of people, but be a God pleaser. I have to laugh, and I, we have wonderful employees and I don't mean this is a downer on any of them. But, it's always interesting to me, if I walk in a department and four or five people are gathered around the desk and they're talking, it always amazes me how they disperse when I walk in.
And like I said, they're great. I don't mind them having a little conversation. But, if you're sitting and playing on the internet, doing personal stuff, and your boss walks by, you'll stop. But see, God saw you anyway. Now come on, I'm very serious about this. This is not about just going to a few meetings and collecting a few Christian books and having a bumper sticker on your car. This is how you live when nobody is watching you but God. So here we go, "His divine power has granted unto us all things that pertain to life and Godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted unto us his precious and very great promises".
There are over 5,000 promises in the word of God. "So that through those promises you may become a partaker of God's divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this reason," because of all that God has done for us and in gratitude for what he's done for us, "Make every," what, what? Efforts? Who wants to make an effort? "I mean, I prayed and asked God to do that for me". Well, I believe in prayer but you know what I'm finding out? More and more in the last few years, I've realized when I pray and ask God to help me, he usually shows me something to do. Not all the time. Sometimes there's nothing I can do. But sometimes it's, "Oh God, I'm so tired. Please help me. I'm so tired all the time, God. Please heal me". Well, go to bed at night and get some sleep. There are some simple answers to some of our huge problems believe it or not. Amen? "Oh God, I'm so tired. I feel so bad. I don't know what's wrong with me. I fall asleep in the middle of the afternoon".
Well, don't eat a pound of sugar everyday. Okay, I'm moving on. "For this reason make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue". Now virtue means Christian character. It means the development of Christian character. "Supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with," uh-oh, "Self-control, and self-control with steadfastness". You know, steadfastness is stick-to-it-iveness. It means you can hang in there when things get tough and you can hang in for however long it takes. And you can't do that without self-control. Anybody who lives by how they feel, when things get tough they're going to quit and give up. "And then with steadfastness you add Godliness, and with Godliness, brotherly affection, and with brotherly affection," you finally get around to love.
See God's goal for us is to walk in love. That is the whole goal of the word of God is that we learn how to love the way that God loves, to love unconditionally. And love is an effort. It's always going to cost you something. It's easy to love people that are easy to love. But God is asking us to love people that are not easy to love. And they're not easy to love, because they have not been loved, they've been wounded and hurt and they need to see the love of God. And they're not going to see it unless a Christian shows it to them. No, Christian should be bored because you're all called into ministry. You may never be behind a pulpit preaching to a room full of people, but the world is your pulpit. And you can preach and never say a word. You can preach with your life. Amen?
Come on. I said, every one of you, when you go out into the world... It's not up to a bunch of preachers to do everything. The five-fold ministry was put together to train up the saints that they might do the work of the ministry. You get that? You shouldn't just keep going to church every Sunday just to get helped. After a few years, there should be a transition and you should go because you want to help somebody. And one of the reasons why people get weary of going to church, and I hear it all the time, you know, "I just don't feel like I'm being fed anymore". "I'm not getting anything out of it anymore". It's because they still keep going, "Gonna get my blessing". "Well, I'm not being blessed anymore, not getting anything anymore". Well, maybe there's nothing left for you to get. Maybe there's no room in you to put anything and maybe you need to start giving something out. Maybe you need to go to church on Sunday with the prayer, "God, show me somebody today that I can help". Don't just go sit with all your buddies that you're gonna be comfortable with, find somebody that looks lonely, that doesn't know anybody, and go park yourself next to them. Make a little effort. Uh-oh, there's that word again, effort.
Proverbs 16:32, "Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit is better than he who takes an entire city". Wow, so he's saying that a person who can control himself is a powerful person. It's somebody that's more powerful than even an army that can go and take an entire city. The Bible says, "Be angry and sin not". Over in, I think, it's James. "Be angry and sin not". Well, how can you do that? You feel anger when your mistreated or somebody treats you bad. But, you can be angry and sin not by controlling how you behave with that anger, and by being quick to forgive. Which, let me ask you a question. Does forgiving people who hurt you take any self-control? Yeah, about a boat load full, right? Especially depending on how bad it hurts.
Hebrews 12:11, "For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant: but later it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it". That's such a good scripture. You know, some people live like there's no tomorrow. But listen to what I'm going to say. Tomorrow always comes. Thank you for being excited. And, if you don't choose to do the right thing today, you won't like tomorrow. So many times, we come to a point in our life where it seems like everything is falling apart. And we want to blame the devil and rebuke the devil. Which, he is the root cause of all of our problems, but the Bible says, "Resist the devil". That takes a little self-control. Says it two times. It says it in James and it says it in Peter, "Resist the devil," "Submit yourself to God, resist the devil and he will flee". "The devil roams about like a lion roaring in fierce hunger seeking whom he may devour".
Whom resist steadfast. We resist him. We resist the temptation to not do the right thing, and then we're going to be happy when later on comes, later on. I love people that will invest now for later on. Invest now for later on. Amen? There's gamblers in the body of Christ and there's investors. And when I talk about gamblers, I'm not talking about somebody that's going to the casino every night. I'm talking about people who do the wrong thing hoping they'll be the one person that will get by with it and still get a good result. They're gambling. "I can do the wrong thing and still have a nice life and get a right result". But then there's investors who will suffer a little bit on this end. They'll say no to their flesh and suffer a little bit on this end, because they know that if they invest now, it will pay off later on in their life. Amen?
Psalm 106:12-16. Now, God had just parted the Red Sea and the people we're pretty happy. You know, we love miracles. Mmm... They didn't have to do anything. They just stood there and God parted the Red Sea. "Then they believed his words: and they sang his praise". Well, sure. "But they soon forgot his works: and they did not wait for his council. But they had a wanton craving in the wilderness, and put God to the test in the desert". They tested God by murmuring and complaining by the way. They started out good, but they didn't have any staying power. The Israelites were okay, as long as they were getting everything they wanted out in the wilderness, but they got tired of manna. Got tired of that miracle after a while and they wanted meat. And so, they grumbled and complained until it says that, "God gave them what they asked for, but sent a wasting disease among them".
I don't know what that is, but I don't want one of 'em. And this happened, "When men in the camp were jealous of Moses and Aaron, the holy one of the Lord, and the earth opened up and swallowed them, and fire broke out in the camp," and then they just got dumber and they made a golden calf and started to worship it. Now, I want to say something and I hope you don't forget this. Don't ever be jealous of what somebody else has if you don't want to do what they did to get it. Amen? "Well, it must be nice to have that kind of money. Must be nice". We resent people sometimes whose lives are blessed. I mean, there maybe a few people that have a lot of stuff handed to 'em. But, the biggest majority of people that have a really good life, they've done what 1 Peter 1:3-8 says. Especially, if we're looking at it from a Christian viewpoint. They've taken a hold of the word of God and they've said, "I am not going to miss the best life that God has for me".
If Jesus could do what he did for me, then surely, I can cooperate with the Holy Spirit and let him guide me into a life that would be so amazing, that people that are not saved are going to want to know the God that I serve. Amen? How many of you realize that you're not just here on the earth just for yourself and just to make yourself happy? I don't think we realize that like we should. I think some people just get into a relationship with God because they've got all kinds of problems and they just want God to fix all their problems and everything becomes about them. And God wants to do all that for you, but he also needs you. We are the hands and feet of Jesus in the earth today. And he needs every single one of us, ready every day, to do whatever he asks us to do, whatever that might be. Come on. I wonder who'd be willing to say to God tonight, "God, I'm going to say an eternal yes to you before I even know what the question is. I'll just say yes. And you tell me what it is. I'll just say yes, and you tell me what it is later that you want, but my answer to you is yes".
God is so good and he's done so much for us. What Jesus went through on that cross,i mean, I'm studying for another series of messages that I'm not preaching here this weekend, but I was having to go through some of the material about Jesus willingly laying down his rights and privileges as the son of God and coming down here and taking on an earthly human form to do what he did for us. And it's not anything he had to do. He did it because he wanted to. And we think we can't resist temptation, but when he was in the garden of Gethsemane, he was being tempted by the devil not to go through with what God had called him to do. It says that he prayed and resisted temptation to the point of sweating great drops of blood. And so, think about that when you're having a hard time resisting some little something that you know is not the right choice for you to make. Amen?
Think about what Jesus resisted for us, and what that's done for us. I got so excited studying, I can't wait to preach that series. Bible says, "Faith without works is dead". And it's not works of the flesh. Which is just our energy trying to do God's job. Us making up stuff trying to do it apart from God. But there's a difference in works of the flesh and doing the work that God calls us to do. Making that effort and getting up and spending time with God in the morning before you go out and do anything else, because you're smart enough now, to know that your day is going to be lousy if you don't start it with God. Amen? And I know all of you can't manage your life the way that I do. I can get up and have two hours with God, but even if it's five minutes, be smart enough not to go out of your house without first saying, "God, I need you. God, I love you. Thank you for all that you've done for me". "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these other things will be added unto you". Amen?
But, let's just think about believing for a minute. You know, believing takes some self-control, because we're tempted to doubt. I love this scripture in Mark 11:24-25, says, "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours". Another translation says, "Believe that you have received it and you will get it". But, it doesn't say when you will get it. So, how many of you have prayed for somethin' and it's been 10 years, you're still waitin'? Well, how many thousands of times have you been tempted to give up on that particular thing? Okay. Well, this is where the discipline and self-control comes in, because you say, "No I'm not giving up on God. Just shut up devil, I'm not giving up on God. I don't care how long it takes. I believe the word of God is true and I will not give up". I mean, what do you have if you don't have hope, and faith, and some positive expectation that something good is going to happen? "Well, nothing good ever happens to me".
Well, stop saying that. Don't worry, one of these messages is going to be about the mouth. I won't tell you which one because I don't want you to decide, "I don't think I need that". I hope you still love me when I'm done here. 1 John 3:21-22, "Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God: and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him". Well, it doesn't just say ask for anything you want and you'll get it. It says, if we keep his commandments and we do what he asks us to do. Now, I'm not saying that God never does anything for us when we're disobedient, because he's merciful and he does. He helps us if we cry out for help. But, I am going to say and I believe that I can prove this from a hundred different scriptures, that you can't live in known, habitual disobedience and expect God to manifest all the good things in your life that you want. This is a partnership. God says this is what I want to do for you and these are some things that I'd like you to do for me.
Now, the thing about a lot of this, and we'll get into this a lot more tomorrow, that I think gets hard for some people, is there's a lot of things that you can do wrong and still go to heaven. 'cause your salvation is not purchased by your works. But I'll tell ya what is. Your rewards. Now only one person's clapping. What is going on? Now, did you hear that? Your salvation is not based on your works and the whole room goes, "Yeah... Nothing for me to do". And I said but your rewards are, and it died down to one woman right here in the middle. Come on, there's scripture all over the place. He says, "I'm coming soon and I'm bringing my rewards with me to give to each person according to what they've done". I mean, can't we read? "If you sow to the flesh you'll reap from the flesh, ruin, decay, and destruction. But if you sow to the spirit you'll reap from the spirit, life and life eternal. Do not be deceived. God is not mocked. For whatsoever a man soweth that and that only is what he shall reap".
I can throw clothes off the hanger in the store and when the Holy Spirit prompt me to pick 'em up, just ignore him and keep going. I'll go to heaven. That's got nothing to do with not going to heaven. But there'll be something else in my life that I'll miss. Are you listening to me? And I think, to me, one of the most exciting things about my relationship with God is still and always has been, but still after 40 years, it's all the little stuff between me and him that wouldn't even make any sense to somebody else. That's why some of you, when I talk about picking up clothes that I knocked off of a hanger you think, "Oh, come on. I got a problem". Well, maybe you should have been back there picking up clothes that you dropped on the floor. Come on, you've heard me preach this. You go to the grocery store and you're starving. You put everything you can find in your basket, and by the time you get to the aisle that's got all the stuff in it that you really need like the milk and the eggs and that kind of stuff, you realize I can pay for all this.
So now, you gotta start taking stuff out and putting it back. And so, you put the lettuce in with the cleanser and you know... Come on, I know. Been there, done that. I used to do that all the time, but after I was filled with the Holy Spirit and got into this serious relationship with God. I mean, he started saying, "Put it back where you got it". I never heard that before. I'll tell you what, messing with God is a dangerous business. He is going to turn your life upside down. Amen? He'll turn it upside down, and then turn it right side up. And then, whoo! Are you going to love the life that you've got? There is nothing better than knowing that you did the right thing. Just think about that. Think about the times when it's been so hard for you to do the right thing, but you did it. And how good it felt just to know that you did the right thing. It's lunch time and you're sitting at the lunch table with a whole bunch of people. They don't like their job, and they don't like the boss. They're gossiping about so-an-so. "Did you hear what so-and-so did"?
You know, the Holy Spirit prompts you, "You don't need to listen to this. Just, go take a walk and pray or something". But then you think, or the devil puts a thought, well, you don't want the people to think that you think you're too good for 'em. He don't care what those people think, he wants you to sit there and listen to that poison, and then get you involved in it. And you're just gonna feel bad the rest of the day. But if you just obey, you'll feel so good that you did the right thing. It just feels so good to just do the right thing. "Be not weary in well-doing. Be not weary in doing what's right for in due season you shall reap: if you faint not". Sometimes you have to do the right thing for a long time before you start gettin' the right result. And that's where it takes the self-control. Discipline, James 4:17, "So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin". There's sins of commission and sins of omission. There's things we do wrong, but there's things that we know to do right, like cleaning up your own messes.
I'll give you another one. How many of you, when you use the last of the toilet paper... Come on now, don't make me come out there. You know what I really can't stand when I'm in a public bathroom, and I used the last of the first roll, and God makes me try to get to that second one up there. And, I never know how to work it. And I'm in there wanting to just... Well, we won't say what I want to do. But I tell you what, I have made my mind up that I am going to obey God and all the little things that he tells me to do. And, I'll bet you that every time we do that, the devil is just having a flat out fit somewhere 'cause he hates it when we obey God. Come on. Now, how many of you have heard me talking about putting your grocery cart back? I'm gonna show you a little somethin'. Somebody sent this to us and my son said, "Mom, I think this may be your greatest testimony when you're gone".
So, John, are you ready with that little thing that I asked you for? Now, just watch. Oh, I'll tell you what. You start with the little stuff and it's practice for the big stuff. And it won't be very long and they'll be major things that God's asking you to say no to, that your flesh really wants to say yes to, or the other way around. And it won't be that hard because you've been practicing all the time. We all can go to the school of the Holy Ghost. Maybe you can't go to Bible college somewhere, but how many of you would love to enroll in the school of the Holy Spirit? Hey, I'm not messing around, don't stick your hand up if you don't mean it 'cause I'm getting ready to pray for you. Amen? 'cause here's what happens when you say "God, I want your will in my life". Come on. "I want your will in my life. I want to be that excellent person that glorifies you. And I know it's going to take discipline and self-control". When you say that, well, just get ready. Amen? Let's all stand up.
Father, we pray in Jesus name that you would help us. Lord, help us, help us, help us, help us. It's easy to say yes in here, but now we got to go out and live it. Father, help us be excellent people. Help us go the extra mile and always do what you would do, Jesus, in a situation. Whether it's little things or big things. Help us to exercise that muscle of self-control and not let the flesh rule us, but to choose with the Holy Spirit, and always say yes, to you. And we know you'll help us. We know that no temptation is so great that you haven't provided a way out. And we thank you for that. In Jesus name...