Joyce Meyer - Focus On The Positive Things In Life
Well, thank you for joining us today. I believe that you're gonna enjoy the word that God put on my heart to share with you. You know, there's nothing difficult or hard to understand about what I'm gonna say today. I just wanna simply talk to you about learning how to focus on the positive things in your life. You know, what we focus on is what becomes larger in our life. And so if we focus on what's wrong with everything and everybody, then we'll get to the point, honestly, where that's just all that we're gonna see. You can focus on what's wrong with your job, you can focus on what's wrong with the person you're married to, you can focus on what's wrong with your children.
I actually remember being foolish enough at one time in my life, I sat down in prayer, that's what makes it really foolish, and made a list of all the things that I thought was wrong with my husband so I could pray and ask God to change them. And little did I know that my attitude was the worst problem that we would ever have. Not too long ago, I sat down and made a list of all the things that I love about Dave, all the things that just really make him who he is and the things that I have appreciated the most over the years. Maybe you need to think about doing that. Maybe you're in relationship with somebody and you need to actually sit down and physically write a list. Write out a list of the things that you appreciate about the people in your life. Or things that you appreciate about your job.
You know, I did a teaching recently and I had to do some research for this. Seventy percent of all people hate their job. Now that's just terrible. And a lot of it is probably because they're focusing on what's wrong and probably there is somebody would like to have your job. Now that doesn't mean that your job is perfect, it doesn't mean that maybe you don't wanna get another one but I can tell you something. The way you leave one is the way you're gonna enter the next one. And so if you're gonna go do something else, you need to at least be thankful that you had a job, even if everything about it's not perfect.
Let me tell you something, we can always find something to be thankful for. But you know what? The flesh without God is not naturally grateful. I mean, it's just not. I can tell you most of you are not gonna have to ever try to be negative. At least I don't, you know. But you will have to make an effort to be positive. I love the fact that we can do the right thing on purpose. We don't have to wait to feel like doing the right thing. We can do the right thing on purpose.
Now, I wanna start with John 14, verses 7 through 9. Jesus said, "'If you had known me if you had learned to recognize me, you would also have known my Father. From now on, you know him and have seen him.' Philip said to him, 'Lord, show us the Father cause us to see the Father, that's all we ask: then we'll be satisfied.' and Jesus replied," now listen to this, "'have I been with all of you for such a long time, and yet you do not recognize and know me yet? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you then say, show us the Father'"?
I thought that was such an interesting group of scriptures. Here they'd been traveling with Jesus, most of them, for maybe the full 3 years that he was here on the earth. And I mean, like, traveling with him, like, all the time. Surely they had to get to know him, but yet they didn't really know him. And you know why I believe they didn't? Because even in the situation they were in, they didn't focus on the right things. Hebrews 12:2 says, "Looking away from all that will distract unto Jesus". How many distractions do you think the enemy puts in our lives every day? How many things do you think he gives us to distract us from our purpose, to distract us from being grateful, to distract us from the Word of God? You know, in Mark 4:19, the scriptures in Mark 4 around that, they're talking about how the sower sows the seed, which is the Word of God.
Well, that's actually what I'm doing right now. If you've turned your television on, maybe you accidentally came across this channel. You really didn't but you may think you did. And right now I'm sowing the Word of God in your life. And the Word of God has the power to change us. It has the power. The things that I'm saying to you right now have the power to turn your whole day around, if you'll really listen. But Mark 4:19 says that the devil sends distractions and cares and anxieties to steal the word. So often, when we hear the word, it's something that really helped us and we need to go and think about it more. We need to meditate on it. We need to maybe study a little bit further in that area. Right away, the enemy will try to distract you.
How many people can even leave a teaching or a church service and by the next morning even remember what they heard? I mean, it's just like the truth. I mean, you can say, "Boy, the sermon was really good today". "Well, what did the pastor preach on"? "Umm, I don't know". And so, we're not paying full attention while we're there or we forget it so quickly that it never has an opportunity to really take root in our lives. And see, we need to be rooted and grounded in the word. We need to be rooted in the love of God. And the only way that's gonna happen is through meditating or thinking about over and over the Word of God. So be careful about letting the enemy distract you. Even if you're trying to listen to me right now, there's all kinds of distractions going on in your house. Don't let the enemy steal from you.
Learn how to recognize and celebrate good things, instead of constantly grieving excessively over the bad things. I can pretty much guarantee you that every one of you, you have more right in your life than you do wrong. But if you've got a couple of pretty huge problems right now, that may very well be all that you're seeing. When it comes to our own faults, boy, the devil wants us to focus on what's wrong with us. I've never yet woken up in the morning and had the enemy say to me, "Before you get up today, I wanna remind you of all your good qualities". But if you're listening to the Lord, he'll tell you that.
See, but it's hard for us to even take that. It's like we almost feel embarrassed sometimes to think that we might have good qualities. And I've done that too. I've taken a piece of paper and I've written down everything that I think is wrong with me and then all the things that I think are right with me. And you know what? Honestly and truly, I have more right with me than I do wrong with me. And that list just keeps changing and I keep growing and growing, because that's the nature of God in our lives. Romans 12:21 is actually one of my favorite, favorite, favorite scriptures in the Word of God. And it's so simple. It simply says, "We overcome evil with good". Wow, we overcome evil with good.
So I wanna encourage you today to think about all the good things you can, talk about all the good things you can. What do we hear on the news today? Bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news. I mean, I've even heard, don't know this to be a fact, but I've heard that at the news stations, if it's good news they say it's no news. And see, I still really believe that even though there's a lot of bad stuff going on in the world, I have a feeling that there's still more good going on than bad but we just don't hear about it. We don't hear about the good things that people are doing or how people are helping one another. And we need to focus on the positive things in our life. If you really wanna upset the devil's plan for you, you just start being positive.
Now I grew up in a very negative home and I was actually taught, yes, taught by my father, to be negative. I heard things like this, "Well, there's no point in expecting anything good to happen because then you won't be disappointed when it doesn't". "You can't trust anybody. Everybody's out to get you". And by the time you see, that was just like, that became my roots and I was so negative, I was such a negative person. And I can tell you that if I can change, anybody can change. And I absolutely just can't hardly stand negativity now. I mean, you talk about something that will irritate me, it's like, look, if you just wanna be in a bad mood all day and have nothing to talk about but everything that's wrong then please go do it somewhere else because I prefer not to spend my time with you.
Now sometimes we need to sit down and let people vent and share their problems with us. That's part of being in relationship with people. But honestly, if you've got a friend and that's all they ever wanna do, then I wouldn't call that much of a friend because, really, what they're doing is just sucking the life out of you. What God is doing is always greater than anything the devil is ever doing. I'm gonna say that again. What God is doing is always greater than anything that the devil is doing. Even Galatians 5:16 can be an eye-opener for us because it talks about walking in the Spirit. And it says, "But I say, walk and live habitually in the Holy Spirit responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit: then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and the desires of the flesh (which is human nature without God)".
You say, "Well, why is that so important, Joyce"? Well, because what we usually do is instead of focusing on walking in the Spirit, we focus on trying not to do the wrong things that we do. Hey, hear what I say. So I'm gonna get up today and I have this and that problem, whatever, you know. I eat too much or I eat the wrong things or I say things I shouldn't say. So I'm gonna get up today because I love God and I'm gonna really try. I'm gonna try so hard to be good and so I'm focusing all day long on what my problem is, what my problem is, what my problem is. But this says if you walk in the Spirit you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh, see? So what does that mean? It means that I'm fellowshipping with God, I'm being thankful, I'm talking to him about how powerful he is and what I believe that he can do in my life. I really want to be led by the Spirit and so I'm focusing on hearing from him. I wanna grow in the Lord.
And see, if I focus on Him instead of on everything that's wrong with me, if I focus on being led by the Spirit, then I won't fulfill the lusts of the flesh. They might still be there, but I'm not gonna fulfill them because that's not what my focus is on. I wrote a book a few years ago called, "Making good habits and breaking bad habits". And I gave it that title, instead of saying, "Breaking bad habits and making good habits," I called it "Making good habits and breaking bad habits," because I think what we do is we try so hard to break the bad habit. We focus on breaking the bad habit. What we need to do is focus on making a good habit and then as we develop the good habit, there'll be no place in us for the bad habit.
See, good always overcomes evil. So focus on the things that you know you're gifted at. Don't spend 80% of your time trying to be strong in 2 areas where you're weak. You know, if you're, like, a 1 in an area now on a scale of 1 to 10, you're, like, okay, you're a 1 or a 2 at this thing. If you focus all your strength on it, you might someday be a 4. But you'll never be a 10. However, if you have a skill, a real gift, and maybe you're at a 7 on that, if you focus on that, you could become a 10 at that. So don't focus on the wrong things in your life. Don't do that.
Now, Luke chapter 15 is the story about the prodigal son. And the thing that I find that's interesting about this is, I mean, this boy made some really bad mistakes. I mean, he squandered his dad's money, he lived a life of debauchery. I mean, it was not a good situation. And yet, when the prodigal returned home, now let's think about this, the father focused on the one good thing out of the entire situation, "My son has come home". Isn't that amazing? I mean, he didn't say, "Well, you know, how are you gonna behave in the future? Before I open my heart up to you again I wanna know are you gonna do the same thing again? I don't know if I can ever trust you again". He didn't rehearse everything the boy had done wrong. What he said was, "Let's celebrate. Let's have a party".
And so I wanna talk to you for a little bit today about having a little more celebration in your life. I think that we don't wanna be like the elder brother. You see, the elder brother, he was not gonna go to the party. He said, "I'm not going to the party". His father begged him to come in and he said, "No, I won't go in". But, you know, I finally learned, God's having a party whether I wanna go or not. Amen? And I think that we don't do enough celebrating in our life. Let's take, like, a birthday, for example. How many people, maybe they're 42 or 43 or 58 or whatever, and they're, like, "Egh, no, no, it's just my birthday. No big deal".
Well, I wanna ask you a question. If we go to the extreme measure that we do to celebrate a 1-year-old's birthday, I mean, we got the cake, we got the balloons, we invite everybody over. We don't care, they can rub that cake in their hair, they can smear it on their face, they can throw it on the floor. We're just celebrating our child's 1-year-old birthday. Well, if God has kept you alive 42 years, c'mon, then how much more should we celebrate? But by then, you know, we can't have the cake 'cause there's calories in it. We can't throw the cake on the floor 'cause we'd be the one that would have to clean it up. And so all we do is think about what would be, so, you know, the party's just too much trouble. I'm not gonna do it. We're too busy to celebrate these days. We don't have time to celebrate anything.
You know what? I decided when God gave me this teaching a few years ago, when I have my birthday from now on, I'm not celebrating a day. I'm taking a whole week. I mean, my birthday. I'm so excited about being alive another year, that it's gonna take me a whole week to get over being excited about it, amen?
The elder brother only focused on what the boy had done wrong. He couldn't go in to the party. But the father said, "One good thing has happened. My son has come back. Let's have a party". You know, God commanded the Israelites to celebrate victories with parties that lasted several days. Now I think there's something in here to see. This was the Old Testament when they were living under the law which was not much fun. We now have a new covenant with Jesus, the covenant of grace and if they were commanded to celebrate, I wonder how much we should celebrate.
Let's look at some of the things they were commanded to celebrate and they did it by keeping feasts. The first recorded day of celebration was the sabbath which was a celebration of creation, a rest at the end of a week of work. I wonder how many people actually would even think about taking a day off just to celebrate. Made it through another week, Lord. I'm not gonna just spend this whole day working and being miserable. I'm gonna find something to rejoice about. I'm gonna rest. I'm gonna have myself some kind of party. I don't know what it is. Passover was a feast and a time of celebration, remembering how God had delivered his people from the angel of death when all the firstborn were killed as a judgment on Pharaoh.
What would happen if we took a day, even four times a year, just to remember all the great things that God has done for us in our life, and to just say, "Lord, I'm just gonna take a day of celebration just to remember all the good things that you've done for me". See, I think a lot of times we remember what we should forget and we forget what we should remember. We remember the things that were painful. We remember what we went through as a child. We remember and then we don't remember all the great things that God has done for us in our life. You know, Dave and I still enjoy very much if we're having lunch or something just talking about the beginning days of the ministry and the faithfulness of God and the little things and the big things that we saw him do for us.
Some of my most precious memories and some of the things that have brought me the closest to God are some of the little things, little things, that God did for me. They would seem little to somebody else, but they were huge for me. I remember one thing in particular, we didn't have hardly any money. I had quit my job to prepare for ministry by studying the word and we actually had more bills than income. And so literally, everything that we needed we had to ask God for it. And it actually was a great opportunity to grow in faith but, back then, I saw it as a problem. And I recall one time needing some new dishrags and I actually still have the journal at home right now where, like, 38 years ago I wrote in that journal, "Lord, I need some new dishrags and dishtowels. Would you give me a dozen new dishrags"?
Now, just imagine my joy when a couple of weeks later a lady that went to our church rang the doorbell and I wondered what she's doing here and she seemed a little nervous and she said, "I hope you don't think I'm crazy but," she said, "I keep feeling like God wanted me to bring you some new dishrags and dishtowels". Well, I was, like, "Yeahh"! You know? I mean she probably thought I was crazy. I was so excited. And you know what? To some people, some of you, you wouldn't even think about asking God to give you dishrags.
Here's the thing you need to understand is God cares about everything that concerns you and there's nothing in your life that you can't talk to God about. But instead of focusing on everything that's wrong in your life right now, why don't you take a day or an hour or 30 minutes and just remember some of the great things that God has done for you in your life. You know what? If you're having a bad day, I'm telling you something that can turn your day around. If there's things that we can do to make our day better, then why not do it? Why just sit around and be miserable when there's an answer to your misery?
The feast of unleavened bread began immediately following passover. Sometimes, they just had party after party. They didn't even take any breaks in their parties. And it was celebrating the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. Next came the feast of firstfruits. It was a celebration at the time of barley harvest to remind people how God had provided for them. Can anybody here in this room today remember a time when God provided for you and you just thought, "There's no way. How is this gonna work out"? And yet God provided for you.
The next time you go to lunch with one of your friends, instead of complaining about your current problem, why don't you talk about that? Say, "Boy, you know, I remember a time when". Let's say some good things to people. The feast of passover came next. And it was a day of thanksgiving for the harvest that God brought in their life. The feast of trumpets was next, a 1-day feast expressing joy and thanksgiving to God. You know, I have certain days, it's not always the same day, but I take days where all my prayer that day is focused on thanksgiving to God. I make lists. I've been trying recently, and it gets challenging, to make a list of ten things every day that I'm thankful for but everything on the list has to be something new.
You know what I found myself thanking God for this morning? Something I've probably never thanked God for. I thanked him for color. As I was walking around outside and the sky was blue and the trees were green and, you know, the houses are painted different colors, I thought, "Wow, God, thank you for making color". How boring would life be if everything was one color? I mean, I don't care if it was even my favorite color. How boring would that be? Let alone if everything was in black and white. Hey, I remember when all TV was black and white. Boy, we thought we'd had a major upgrade when we got some color. And you know what I think? I think a lot of you have a lot more color in your life, c'mon. I think a lot of you have a lot more color in your life than what you're seeing. Don't let the enemy steal celebration from you.
These people would have never even considered not keeping these feasts because they were commanded to do it. And you know what? I think that I could say and say I believe that God is saying this to us today, "I command you to start celebrating. I command you to start thinking about what you do have instead of what you don't have. I command you to remember the good things that I've done for you". Why don't we all just make a decision that we are gonna just do the most we absolutely can possibly do to give as much good news as we possibly can.
Lord, we pray that you would help us not to be negative, not to focus on the negative things in life. Help us learn how to celebrate all the good things that you've done, talk about them, focus on them. Attitude is so important, Lord. Please help us.