Joyce Meyer - Philippians Bible Study
Starting here this weekend the book of Philippians. I think you're gonna learn some very valuable things. First of all, let me say that although, Jesus was a man of many sorrows and acquainted with grief, he possessed a deep joy beyond anything that the world could offer. As he faced the terrible death on Calvary, he spoke to his disciples and said, "These things I have spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full". He said, "I'm telling you these things because I want you to have joy, and not just any kind of joy, but my joy".
John 10:10, is one of my favorites, "The thief comes only to steal, to kill, and destroy but I came that you might have and enjoy your life". So, let me just ask and you don't have to give me any visible answer, but just to get you to think about it, how many of you are really enjoying your life? You see, a lot of people are, but a lot of people aren't because a lot of people think to enjoy life you have to have no problems, way more than enough money, everything that you want.
And, when Jesus said he wanted us to have his joy, it's a joy that we can have when not much of anything is going right in our lives. In the book of Philippians Paul mentions joy 19 times. It's the epistle of joy. No matter what our circumstances are, it is our privilege as a child of God to be full of joy. Although, Paul wrote this book while imprisoned, he still found joy. What was his secret? Well, he mentions the mind and our functions of the mind 16 times, in the book of Philippians. So, joy he mentions 19 times, the mind and thoughts, he mentions 16 times.
So how many of you already know that your mind, the thoughts you allow in your mind, or the thoughts you choose to think on have a lot to do with your joy? Do you know you can think yourself into being miserable? And, honestly, you can think yourself into being happy. If you sit around and think about what you don't have, and what people don't do for you that you think they should do, you can have a miserable day anytime you want to have one. Just get up and start thinking the wrong stuff in the morning, and just be as miserable as you want to, and feel sorry for yourself all day, and the devil will join your party and just think it's marvelous. Or, you can say, "No, I'm not thinking like that 'cause I know my thoughts are gonna affect my actions. My thoughts are going to affect my moods. And, I'm not gonna give the devil one more day of my life. So, I'm gonna think about what people do for me, and I'm gonna think about what I do have, not what I don't have. And, one thing I always have is Jesus in my life, and if I have him, then I don't really need anything else to keep me happy".
We absolutely must remember and be reminded often that our time here on earth is so short. Let's don't make too much out of it because when your life here is over, it's not over. You're gonna go somewhere else and there's only two choices, either heaven or hell. And, if you've read anything at all about what hell's gonna be like, I think it's obvious that heaven is the best place to choose. And, the only way to get in there is to believe in Jesus, to believe that he is the Son of God, that he came and he paid for your sins, he died for you. And, the only way that you can have a real relationship with God is through Christ.
Spend your life here developing a close, tight, intimate relationship with Jesus. He did not die for us so we could have a religion. He died for us so we could have a relationship with him. I'll say this again later in my teaching but one of the statements that I ran across studying for this, you know, a lot of this is about the apostle Paul and you know, he had everything right. He had all the religious things that you should have to be the right kind of person.
And, I read a statement that said, "Paul had to lose his religion to find salvation". Anybody relate? You know, sometimes we're so religious and we think we're doing all the right things. I can't stand it when I ask somebody if they're saved and they say, "Well, I go to church". You can go sit in a church all day long and that don't make you a Christian any more than sitting in a garage will make you a car. So, we need to know him and the one thing that you have to invest if you want to really know somebody is time. And, you need more than 45 minutes to an hour, or an hour and a half once a week, or a couple times a month on Sunday morning. The devil is working too hard out there, and we've got to be feeding ourselves the Word of God on a regular basis. How many of you don't want to just do this, you wanna have victory? Amen. And, how many of you don't want to just go to heaven you want to take some people with you? Alright.
So, 19 times he talked about joy. You know, it's very important for people to see happy Christians. We should be the happiest people on the face of the earth. And that doesn't mean we have to go around giggling and being giddy all the time. But, it means that we should be able to have the same problems that other people have and yet handle them in a completely different way. Amen? The joy of the Lord is my strength. The devil doesn't want your stuff, he wants your joy.
So, Paul wrote this book while he was in prison, now keep that in mind as we go through Philippians, and he still found joy. What was his secret? He thought about the right things. He chose to have a positive perspective. Even the worst circumstances cannot steal your joy if you won't let 'em. For example, when you experience a loss in your life, do you focus on what you've lost or what you have left? As you deal with people, do you focus on their weaknesses or on their strengths? You know, most people that get divorces, get divorces because they have focused on what's wrong with their spouse for so long that, that's all they see. But, if you stop and think about some of the things that you like that caused you to want to marry them in the first place...
Come on, well, I got one woman that agrees, I don't know about the rest of you. As you look at yourself, do you focus on all your faults and your weaknesses and what's wrong with you, or do you focus on the mercy and the forgiveness of God, and the fact that every day is a brand new day and his mercy is new every day? Our joy or the lack of it, speaks a message to the world and the Bible says that we are the light of the world. Now, Philippians chapter 1 verses 1 and 2. "Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and the deacons: grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ".
Now, normally, you wouldn't think that you'd get anything out of the greeting, so we just read over the greeting and never even really think about what it says, but there's lessons just in the greeting here. First of all, and I want you to notice, that Paul did not call himself by a fancy title. He said, "This letter's from Paul and Timothy. And, our identity is servants of Christ Jesus". He didn't call himself reverend, or bishop, or doctor, or you know. You know, I'm not putting that down, you know, they're titles of respect and I think that's fine. But, I do think it's interesting that Paul didn't call himself by any of those things.
You see, sometimes when people get in a place of leadership, they begin to think more highly of themselves than they ought to and they begin to see themselves as the boss, rather than a servant. And, I think anybody in leadership needs to talk to themselves, every single day, and remind yourself that you're nothing without Christ and you're only in the position you're in because God put you there and he can take down what he put up. Nothing aggravates me worse than a preacher with a bad attitude. Amen.
So, servants of the Lord Jesus Christ is exactly what we're supposed to be. And, I want to share with you that I had a very good opportunity to practice my servanthood just as last week, and Dave gave me that opportunity. Dave just is so kind to me, he makes sure that I follow after the Lord. Well, what happened was he hurt his back and of course, that wasn't funny at all. But, I mean, something just went out of place kinda like over here and he's fine now, but, I mean, he couldn't get out of a chair for like 30 minutes. And then, when he finally did get up, he had to lean on me and I'm not just like, big enough to really lean on.
And so, I finally got him to the recliner and I put it back but I almost put it back too far and he was like, "Whoa, wait a minute"! However, that was payback for something he did to me one time after I had surgery... And, he almost dumped me in the floor head first, backwards. But, with ice and taking some aleve, he got some relief but he still couldn't do certain things. So now, I had to put on his undies, put on his pants, put on his socks and his shoes and tie his shoes. Well, he got to likin' it a little bit too much. So, in the morning, he would say, "Where's my dresser"?
So, I have now become Dave's valet. He can do most stuff now, except tie his shoes. So, every morning he's like, "I need you to tie my shoes". "Well, do you mind if I get done with what I'm doing"? "I gotta go, I need you to tie my shoes". I told him, "It's about time you tie them yourself because tomorrow I'm tying them together". Now, only Dave and I would do this, but when he was hurting so bad that we got tickled. Because, I mean, when he walked he was like... And, he could just barely move.
Well, I'm sorry, but I had to laugh. I mean, I just... I didn't mean it to be mean but it was just funny. I wouldn't tell just everybody this but you guys are family, Dave was hurting so bad he said a dirty word. 52 years of marriage, I've never heard him do that. I called the kids, I said, "Dad is cussing". So then, I thought, "I'mma wash your mouth out with soap if you don't behave". So, I just want you guys to know that I'm not just preaching this thing about being a servant. I have practiced this week and I am well qualified now to bring this word to you.
Okay, but now, seriously, I want you to pay a lot of attention to what I want to say tonight about others and serving others, and not being self-centered or self-focused or selfish. I believe with all my heart that it is impossible to be selfish and be happy. And, I know as a Christian doing everything that I knew to do. I was teaching a Bible study, in leadership at my church. We were in church every time the door opened and took part in everything, and I just was not happy. And, I kept thinking it was this and thinking it was that.
And so, in talking to the Lord about it, it's amazing what God will tell ya if you just ask him. I said, "Why am I not happy"? And, I heard back just as plain, "You're selfish". Do you know that Christians can be very selfish and self-centered? All of our prayers can be centered around what we want and what we need. If you're not careful, you can even serve God, "Supposedly," but just in hopes of getting what you want. You haven't been able to get it for yourself so now you're trying to get God to give it to you.
Come on. Would you serve God if he never did one thing you wanted him to do? It's something to think about. I don't like this idea of just serving God because we have needs and we want him to meet our needs. He does want to meet our needs, and it's perfectly acceptable and you should ask God to meet your needs, but I think we need to not make that the central focus of everything we do. What we need to do is pray, ask God what you need, and then the second thing to ask him is, "What can I do for you? Who can I help today"?
I want to challenge you every morning, ask God, "Who can I help today"? And then, you just wait a minute, and you wait and see, somebody's name will come to you. A lot of times for me, it's just, God will put a certain name on my heart and I'll just call somebody and encourage 'em. Just, "Hey, I was thinking about you, thought I'd call you," or I'll send a text, "Want you to know you're doing a really good job," maybe I send a text to some guy in England that we know 'cause I've been listening to some of his stuff online and just told him how good I thought it was and how much I enjoyed it. And, of course, he text back, "You'll never know how much that means especially since it came from you because we love you so much".
You have no idea that you have the power to change a life. And, I want to beg you tonight to get your mind off yourself and onto what you can do for other people. Let's see ourselves as servants. Come on, don't look so excited. How many of you could do more for others if you just would? Okay, well, I think it's time that we stop just teaching about things and start doing things. Amen? So, he calls himself a servant, but you can't serve God and not serve people. See, I think that's the thing that is a shocking revelation. We think we're serving God because we go and sing some songs and put some money in an offering plate and listen to a sermon. But, serving God means serving people. Jesus is all about people. He's a lover of people. Amen?
See, Paul knew something that we need to recognize here tonight, and he knew that he did not belong to himself. He said, "I'm not my own, I've been bought with a price". Do you know, when we say, "We are redeemed," do you know what that means? Jesus bought us back from the devil with his blood. Literally, we were under the power and the deception of the devil who was ruining our lives and Jesus bought us with his death, his shed blood, and his resurrection. And, the Bible says, "You are not your own, you were bought with a price". But, I wonder how many people really think like that? "I don't belong to myself. I belong to God".
Now, of course, you can make your own decisions. You can do anything you want to, but if we really wanna get with God and have the kind of relationship with him that he wants to have with us, we have to stop thinking that we get to do, "Well, I can just do whatever I want to do". Well, yeah, you can but you're not gonna like the outcome. It's all about surrender. And, anybody who's gonna have a real close walk with God, I can just tell ya right now, you're not gonna get everything you want. And, you're gonna need to stay happy, anyway.
Come on. Wonder how long you'll live? You know, when you're 20, you think you got all the time in the world. You want this, you want that, you want somethin' else. You're kind of even afraid of the thoughts of dying because my gosh, you've got so much living to do and so much you want to do. And, you know, by the time you're 50, which when you're 20, you don't think you'll ever be 50. But then, all of a sudden, before you know it, you're 50 and you've done most of what you wanted to do and you've got most of what you wanted to have. And then, by the time you're 60, you realize that all those things that you wanted when you were 20, and 30, and 40 really weren't all that important after all.
And then, when you get 70 or 75+. My thinking has changed so much. I just can't hardly stand to shop now. And, I used to live in the shopping mall. I mean, I would come home from a conference and right away, I'd go shopping. Buy more stuff, take more stuff home, and now, I'm like, stuff annoys me. Is anybody here, gotten old enough that you've experienced that yet, besides me? It's like, I don't want to just bring more stuff into my house. And, I've thought more about heaven in the last year than I have in the last 74 years. I want to be happy and I want to be a servant of Christ and I want to be a blessing to other people every single day of my life.
You are the house of God. I am the house of God, God lives in here. And, he lives in you through the Holy Spirit. And, the Holy Spirit's main two titles are, "The comforter" and, "The helper". So, if the spirit of God is living in us, how can we not want to help? I mean, I would say if you don't want to help anybody, something's wrong. You might want to go back and check about your salvation. Because if Christ is in us, his nature is in us, we're going to be grieved when we mistreat people. We're gonna want to go back and apologize. We're gonna want to treat people good because we know that God doesn't like it when we mistreat his people.
I'll tell ya the truth, good number of years ago, I got an understanding on this and I have a reverential fear on me of mistreating people. It's just not something that God likes. Amen? You're awfully quiet out there. Now, Paul also had Timothy with him, who was a much younger man in the Lord, and he was mentoring him in ministry. And so, I just wanna say to you if you're a more mature Christian, you need to watch for younger Christians that need a more mature influence in their life. And, not only will you be helping them, but you will be helping yourself. And, mentoring doesn't mean that you find somebody that's gonna ask you about every move they make and now you got somebody to boss around all the time. It means that you teach them, not only by word, but by example how they should live.
Paul almost always started his greetings with this term, "Grace and peace be unto you". And boy, that's another, I mean, I could get a four-part series out of that. Because you can't have peace if you don't understand grace. And grace is God's undeserved favor but it's also, the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives to accomplish through us what we could never do on our own with any amount of struggle and effort. In other words, it's basically, "Apart from me, you can do nothing".
So, if we learn how to talk to God about everything, and ask him to be involved in everything, and to strengthen us in everything, as I said earlier in the exhort, "Pray your way through the day". "God help me get my contacts in". I thought one morning, "Oh, that's silly. I don't need to pray about my contact lenses". And, I didn't and I liked to have never got them in my eyes. I thought, "Okay, God, I'll keep praying". "God help me get these in". "Help me fix my hair". Ask God to help you in everything. That should just be a non-negotiable thing. You need help in everything you do, "Apart from me, you can do nothing".
And so, Paul said, "Grace and peace be unto you". If you live by the grace of God, then you're going to have peace in your life. He said in acts 17:28, "For, 'in him we live and move and have our being.'" wow. "In him". This is about so much more than just going to church. In him we have our life. "Apart from him, we can do nothing". Now three through eleven would be the next group of scriptures that we would put together to study, and I'm gonna read it and then do some teaching. "I thank my God in all my remembrances of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of our partnership in the Gospel from the first day you heard it until now".
Now, keep that in mind, there's such a lesson there. "And I'm sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ". Now, you know, we like to just pick out scriptures we like and use 'em. But, if you notice here, he says, "I thank God for you all the time because of our partnership in the Gospel". Paul shared spiritual wisdom with them and they supported Paul in his ministry so that word could be taken to other people. And, he said, "And," meaning because of what he just said, "I am sure that he who began a good work in you is well able to complete it and bring it to its finish".
And, I believe that if we're stingy and all we do is take, take, take, we will reach a point where we cannot grow any more spiritually. And he said, "It's right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and the confirmation of the Gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all". If you listen to some of the words of Paul, he loves these people. He's not just like, somebody who gets to tell them what to do or the great apostle that comes to town that everybody admires. He says, "I came to serve you and I yearn for you. I have a longing in my heart for you".
Boy, you need to be under leadership that cares about you. People who really love you, who pray for you, who really want to see you be the person that God wants you to be. Amen? And, if you're not under that kind of leadership, I'd keep looking till I found somebody that was not just gonna tell me what to do but that was going to love me. Amen? "And, it is my prayer that your love may abound," boy, we're gonna talk about that. "And that you may approve what is excellent," we're gonna talk about that. "And be pure and blameless till the day of Christ," that's another message. "Filled with the fruits of righteousness that come through Jesus Christ, to the glory and the praise of God".
Now, Paul was very thankful for the partnership of the people in helping him spread the Gospel. You know, we ask people to partner with us, they talked about partnership earlier. And, he thanked God for them every time he prayed just as we pray for our partners at the ministry. And, this amazes even me but he says that they became a partner with him from the first time they heard the Gospel, and they continued until the present day, whenever Paul was writing this. So, Paul didn't have to try to talk them into giving. They were so excited about what they heard.
Come on, maybe we're just a little bit too used to Jesus. Maybe we need to be refreshed in what we really have. My gosh, your sins are completely forgiven and washed away. You've been justified. Made just as if you've never sinned. Your name is written in a book called, "The book of life". Jesus is in heaven preparing a place for you, "That where he is, you may also be there". We don't need to just be excited about what God can do for us, but just excited about him. My gosh, you're not going to hell.
So, Paul was very thankful for these people. I want us to look at a minute at 1 Corinthians chapter 8, the first four verses. I don't know exactly what these people had that we're missing today, but they sure didn't have to try to talk them into giving. 2 Corinthians 8, alright, now just listen to this, just imagine this. "We want you to know, brethren, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of letting them take part in the relief of the saints".
Come on, beg me to let you give. I have never had anybody come to me and say, "Oh, please, please, please can I give"? You know stingy people, the reason why they can't get to a point where they can't receive is because their hearts are just little, but, generous people, I love that word generous. And, I'm focusing on being more generous. Now, that doesn't mean just in money, but just generous in every way. Always doing a little bit more than what I would have to do. Stretching myself just a little bit. I don't ever want to stop growing. Partnership is not a one-sided relationship. There are two or more parties each who have a responsibility. Paul helped them through preaching and they helped him through continuing to finance the preaching of the Gospel.
Now, I have to tell this story because it makes the point better than anything that I've ever heard. And, it's a real story and it makes my point about, if you don't start giving back... I mean, you know, you don't really have to as a new believer, just soak it in. But, you'll get to a point where God's gonna start putting it on your heart to give, and if you don't and you keep not doing it long enough, you'll get to the point where you can't take anything in anymore.
I had a woman come to me one time and she said, "I'm embarrassed to tell you this, but," she said, "I feel like I'm supposed to". She said, "I've been coming to your conferences for years and I've loved 'em, I've grown so much, you've taught me so much". But, she said, "I have to be honest and tell you that the last couple of years, I haven't really gotten anything out of 'em". And, she said, "I actually, thought that maybe you had sin in your life and you were losing your anointing, so I started praying for you".
Now, come on, this goes on all the time. "Well, I'm not getting anything out of going here anymore. Think I'll try a new church so I can get something". And, she said that, "As she was praying for me one day," to recognize my sin and repent, so I could get my anointing back, so she can enjoy my meetings. She said, "God just spoke to her and he said, 'there's nothing wrong with joyce. The reason you're not getting anything is because you are so full, there's no room to put anything else. And until, you start putting something out, you're not gonna get anything else.'"
Come on. I think we all know that, "The church" and I don't mean any particular church, but just, "The church" has problems. We're the most selfish generation that ever lived and we have more than any generation that's ever lived. So, really the more stuff you have, sometimes the more selfish you get. We have so much that we can use to be a blessing to other people. But, no, we want to keep it in case we ever need it and then when you do need it, you don't know where it's at, and go buy another one, anyway. Come on. I mean, I put things away, so I can find 'em when I need 'em, but do you think I can find 'em when I need 'em? No. Isn't that story she told me absolutely amazing.
So, you might just consider, if you're going somewhere and you're not getting anything anymore... Yeah, I love those guilty giggles. You're not getting anything anymore, maybe you need to start asking God, "Well, maybe you're wanting to do a change here and you don't want me to go to get, you want me to go to give". Come on. When was the last time you wrote your pastor a note telling him how much you appreciate all the hard work he does? Or, when's the last time you gave him a gift card to take his family out to lunch? Or, when's the last time you gave a single mom in your church a gift card and told her to take her kids out to lunch? Don't tell me that you want God to show you what your ministry is.
I think sometimes people who pray that are just looking for a platform. There's opportunities to minister everywhere you look, all you have to do is do it. And, listen, the reason why I'm telling you this is because you're gonna have more joy. Honestly, it is more blessed to give than it is to receive. Because nothing is better than joy. Come on, Paul talked about joy 19 times in this epistle. He wants people to be happy. In verses 7 and 8, Paul mentioned his affection for the people and how he holds them so close in his heart.
You know, I can honestly tell you, and I'm not just trying to say something cute, I'm doing this at this point in my life because I love the people and I really, really, really, really want you to have the life that Christ wants you to have. I mean, a miserable sinner is one thing but a miserable saint is a miserable mess. Amen? I so want us to live to glorify God. The church could shine so brightly and draw so many lost people into a relationship with Christ if we would just get ourselves off our minds long enough to look around us and realize that everywhere you go there are hurting people.
See, I'm talkin' about something you can do when you leave here. And then, Paul says, "I pray that your love would abound yet more and more". There's so much in that statement, 'cause you know what he's saying? They were walking in love and he told them he was proud of them, but he said, "I want your love to abound". He's saying, "I know you're walking in love, but I want you to grow in walking in love". You know, one of the worst things we can do is get complacent and get satisfied with our stuff. "Well, I'm doing pretty good". No, no, no. No. No, that's not it. I want to do better because I want to glorify God more. I want to abound in love. I really want to learn how to love people the way Jesus loved people.
Can anyone of us say that we really know how to give unconditional love? So much of our love is still based on how people treat us. The word abound means to exist in large amounts, to be packed, to overflow, to be crowded with, to be full of, to do more than you have to do. He wants them to have more knowledge and more discernment. Man, I can preach for an hour on discernment. Whoo, we need discernment. Paul didn't pray for the people to get everything they wanted. He didn't even pray for their problems to go away. He prayed for what they really needed.
And, you know something? A lot of times I don't think we even know what we really need. We keep going after what we want, instead of getting smart enough to ask God for what we really need. If nothing else just tell God, "I'm not even smart enough to know what I really need. So, God, just give me what I need. And if what I want isn't what you want then please don't give it to me". Oh, and then he prayed that they would learn, "To prize and approve what was excellent". How does an excellent person behave?
Well, they always do what they say they're going to do. Hmm... They're on time for their appointments, they get to work on time. They don't leave messes for other people to clean up. They don't park in handicap parking spaces if they're not handicapped and especially not at church. They replace the toilet paper when they use the last of it on the roll. They don't tinkle on the seat out in a public restroom and leave it for somebody to sit in it. Eww, I hate that. When they take the last kleenex they go get another box. If they're given too much change, when paying a bill, they return it. They put their grocery cart back in the space marked off for grocery carts.
Okay, I'm gonna make a statement. Maybe you didn't come for anything but this, but get this. What we do when nobody's looking is who we really are. I have too much to tell you and not enough time. We need more of the fear of the Lord back. Not afraid God's gonna hurt us, but a reverential fear that says no matter what I do, where I am, God sees. God sees everything we do, everything. And so, don't be excellent to get somebody to notice how excellent you are, be excellent because you serve an excellent God. Amen? And, I mean, I've told God I want to come up higher in this. Can't preach something and not pray it and live it.
And, it's amazing all the little things that we'll do a halfway job on and start to walk off, and I'll just know in my heart, "Go back and do it right". Nobody there, but me. I don't have to fold the towel right. They're my towels, I can cram 'em in the drawer if I want to. "No, go back and do it, right". Come on. "Oh joyce, I was hoping for a word tonight". And, then, in Philippians 1:12-20, Paul talks about the importance of advancing the Gospel. He says that his imprisonment has actually only served to advance the Gospel.
This guy was so positive. I mean, he would have really annoyed a negative person. I mean, he was imprisoned, he was beaten five times, hungry, had to hide, deserted by everyone at his first trial, but you know what he said when everybody deserted him at his first trial? "God, I pray that you'll forgive 'em, and I know you'll take care of it". He didn't worry about what people did to him. He prayed for 'em and just let God take care of it. How many things do we get in a fuss over that we could just give to God and go on about our business and not let 'em make us unhappy? Come on. "Well, you didn't treat me right. You didn't treat me, right". Paul rejoiced when he was in jail. He rejoiced when he was in hiding.
Today we're in the second chapter of Philippians. And Paul starts out in the first four verses, and he says, "So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind". So, what do we get out of that? Well, if we just read over it probably not too much, but Paul is basically saying here, "So if you want to encourage me, if you want to bring some comfort to me, if you want to participate in the spiritual work that I'm doing, if you have any real affection for me or any sympathy for me, the one thing you can do for me that will make me really, really, really happy and complete my joy, is if you will just get along".
So, we're gonna talk about a couple of really important things today. We're gonna talk about how to get along, unity, and how important it is to get the strife out of our lives. Now, when I said the word, "Strife," some of you don't even know what that word means. I had somebody ask me recently, "What is strife"? Well, strife is bickering, arguing, heated disagreement, but it's something else that is very dangerous, it's an angry undercurrent. And, you know what an angry undercurrent is? It's when everybody is smiling at each other, "Praise the Lord brother. Glad you're here. Thank you, Jesus". But, you're gossiping about them behind their back or you know, you really don't like them.
I'm not surprised at all that the world is not impressed by us. We, as Christians, must lay aside our pride, come on, our pride, and our vanity. And, we have to learn to stop fighting in our homes, in our churches, in our neighborhoods, in our schools about things that really when you take a look at it in light of eternity, are just so petty. So, totally, completely petty. You know, if you've been married more than 20 years or who here has been married more than 30 years? Okay, now, how many of you can remember things that you argued about year one, two, three, four and five that you look back now and think, "How stupid"? Only four or five people that have been married that long have realized that?
Well, I might have to change my message. I mean, so many things that Dave used to do that made me so mad and now I think they're funny. All those things that we think drive us crazy about a person is really what makes up that person. And, we love them as a whole but we try to pick everything apart that they do. When we first started our ministry, God said, "I'm gonna tell you three things I'll want you to do, and if you do 'em, I'll bless your ministry". And, every one of these was news to me. I didn't even really, fully understand what they were. But, he said, "Do what you do with excellence, be a person of integrity," first thing he said. And, basically, being a person of integrity means you keep your word.
So, even in the very beginning, what God put on my heart is if you've taken a speaking engagement from say a small church and all of a sudden you've committed to them, but you get a huge opportunity to speak in a big conference, I want you to keep your word to the first people. So, it's things like that from the very beginning, from the foundation of our ministry, God was dealing with us about truthfulness and keeping our word. And, he said, "Do what you do with excellence".
I talked a little bit last night about excellence. Being an excellent person, somebody who always goes the extra mile. And, being excellent or doing something with excellence doesn't mean extravagance. Some people think if they don't have a boatload of money, they can't do things with excellence. But, all it means to be excellent is to take what you have, however little that might be, and do the very, very best that you can with it. Even if you have an old car, you can keep it clean. Amen? If you're gonna roll down your window, your car window at a stop sign and throw your trash out, get the fish off your bumper sticker. Amen?
If we would just follow one thing the Bible says, and we even call it, "The golden rule". I guess that phrase means, "Hey, this is like the most important thing". And it basically, is so simple. It says, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". What would happen in a family or in the church if people would just treat other people the way they would want to be treated. Or not say anything about another person that you wouldn't want somebody to say about you. Each one of us is responsible to maintain peace in our lives and as much as it's possible to be a peacemaker.
Now, here's what I'm gonna tell ya and this is very important. We don't hear a lot about the anointing today, but when I first started coming into a really strong walk with God, teaching on the anointing was abundant. And, the anointing is basically the presence of God and the power of God on your life to accomplish something. When you're anointed, you might say you're well oiled and there's a flow in your life, that everything's not hard but hard things become easy when you work under God's, and with God's anointing.
How many of you are with me so far? Well, to be honest, because I've been doing this such a long time, I can pretty much tell within a few minutes if God's anointing is on something or if it's not. And, if it's not I just start backing off because I've lived long enough now to know that if it's not anointed by God you are gonna be struggling, and frustrated, and fighting with something all the time. And one of the things that keeps the anointing is unity. Psalm 133 says that where there is unity there is blessing and anointing. And, we'll go through the scripture a little bit later.
But, I really want to establish this point with you that Philippians is considered to be the epistle of joy. Paul mentioned joy 19 times in the four chapters of Philippians and he mentioned the mind or thoughts 16 times, indicating that you're not gonna have joy if you don't do the right thing with your mind. And so, we have to be very careful and wise how we think about people. How we judge people. My goodness, we are so bad about judging things that we don't know anything at all about. We don't have any idea what that person's been through or what they're going through. You know, unless we start getting along, the world is not gonna be impressed by us. And, you can't even hardly find two people that can get along, let alone, a whole church full of people.
I read a story that I hope was a joke, but, about two people who got stranded on an island. And, they were both Christians and so, after a while they built a small, little church 'cause they wanted to worship together. And, before long, there were two churches on the island instead of one. And, when they were rescued they said, "Why do you have two churches for two people"? They said, "Well, we couldn't get together on our doctrine so I go to this church and he goes to that church".
So, I'm gonna ask you to do everything that you can to get along within your family. Make keeping strife out of your family something that is very, very important. Teach it to your children. There's so many people today that are mad. If I asked today, "How many people in here are angry at somebody"? You would be shocked. And, you came with your bumper sticker and your Bible... And you're taking notes and you're singing the songs and yet, you're breaking one of the most important things that the Bible says which over and over says, "Forgive, forgive, forgive, forgive, forgive, forgive. Let it go, leave it, give it to God, he's the one that will bring vengeance".
Come on, aren't you tired of being mad about somethin' all the time? And I hope this comes across sounding right but we need to toughen up a little bit, you know. "Well, you hurt my feelings. You didn't..". You know. Oh, get over yourself. Amen? "I'm insecure and that hurt my feelings". Well... Grow up, get over it. So, Paul said, "Listen, if you really want to do something for me, if you really appreciate all the hard work that I've put into your life then get along". Well, Paul was only displaying the heart of God.
And, I believe that God wants to say to us today, "Will you please make a stronger commitment than ever before to do your absolute, utmost to just get along with each other"? "To stop fighting, to stop criticizing, to stop judging," amen? And, don't listen to the stuff either. Here's just a few, little, handy, helpful things about how to get along. First of all, believe the best instead of the worst. Now, that right there. I was going through something last week with somebody and I realized I was believing the worst about every situation. And, the Bible says that love always believes the best of every person. Instead of assuming that somebody was out to get you or they hurt you on purpose, why not just say, "They probably got something going on in their life acting out of their own pain they didn't even mean to hurt me". Be quick to forgive.
Come on, don't you leave here today mad at anybody. You might have even come with somebody you're mad at. Oh yeah, Dave and I used to go to church, and I'd be mad at him almost every Sunday. The devil would stir something up and I'd get mad at him. And, we'd fight and argue all the way to church. But, let me tell you, when we got to the front door, we got the church face out and put it on. "Well, praise the Lord! Whoo, whoo, thank you, Jesus, whoo. I feel the spirit". I can remember standing next to Dave mouthing the words on the overhead to what I was calling, "Worship," and thinking, "If he thinks I'm cooking him anything to eat today, he's got another thing coming. As far as I'm concerned, he can starve". And, we call that worship. Wonder why things aren't working? Why there's no anointing and, you know? Why we've always got trouble with the devil?
Come on, the Bible says in Ephesians 4, "Don't let the sun go down on your anger. Don't give the devil any such opportunity". Those of you that are mad in here today at somebody and you won't forgive 'em, all you're doing is just playing right into the devil's hands. "Well, you just don't know what they did to me". Doesn't matter. Yes, nobody wants to be hurt. And, when I say it doesn't matter, I don't mean that I don't care that you're hurting, but I mean God didn't say in the word, you must forgive except on these occasions.
Is there anything that God won't forgive you for? And, does he have a limit on how many times he'll forgive you for it? So, we're supposed to behave like him. If we wanna have the life that Jesus died to give us, then we can't act like ordinary, fleshly human beings who just do what they want to and treat people however they want to. My, this is better than I thought it might be. Be the first one to say, "I'm sorry". Hmm... Gotta let that soak a minute. Say you're sorry even if you don't think it was your fault.
Now, I'm not saying that there's not certain truths that we need to stand up for and stand our ground even if it does cause an argument, but I'm talking about all the petty, silly, goofy stuff that we argue about and fight about that don't even make any sense. When I look back, I mean, I used to get mad at Dave and wouldn't talk to him sometimes for three weeks in the very beginning of our marriage over some silly thing like he went and hit golf balls on a day when I wanted him to stay home and dote on me.
Okay, here's another one, be willing to be wrong even if you're pretty sure you're right. I told you yesterday, Dave hurt his back and he actually, hurt it three times in a row. He was doing something that was... No, it was 3. See... How many of you are married to somebody that just disagrees with pretty much everything you say, just? Okay, I'm working on a new book and I'm gonna title it, "Let the man". Let the man be right. Oh, you're bucking up against that one. I can feel. I mean, some women just went. Let the man have the remote. Let the man drive, however, he wants to drive, don't... This is how you stay married. This is the reason why Dave and I are still married after 52 years.
Do you know that being right is highly overrated? And, a lot of our fighting is just over who's right. And so, even this thing with his back, I know that his back went out on him three times and now he swears it was twice. So, we started last night, he said, "It was twice". I said, Dave, it was not, it was three times. Remember this time", he said, "No, it was twice". Then finally, I thought... Come on ladies, if you have to, just clamp your hands over your mouth and run out of the room. You know the main reason why I've learned to shut up? I want my anointing. I can't afford to lose my anointing over arguing with somebody over who's right about some silly thing like which direction to go to the hardware store. Or who a certain actor is on TV?
Come on, I can remember staying up till midnight not getting any sleep just so I can prove to Dave. Is anybody out there? Alright. You know how hard it is to just say, "Well, I think I'm right, but I may be wrong, you know. I could be wrong and I'm sorry". I mean, that just about kills you. You feel the pain ripping through your soul. Well, don't you? But, do it for God. Paul said, "Look, if you want to make me happy, get along". And God is saying to you through my mouth today, "If you want to make me happy, get along".
We've done four verses in Philippians two. Philippians 2:5-8, "Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but he emptied himself, by taking on the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross". Now, can we even begin to comprehend how challenging it must have been for Jesus, who was and is God, was here before the foundation of time, involved in creation, all-powerful, all-knowing, to empty himself and be willing to come here and do what he did for us?
It would be like me saying, you know, "I really am concerned about all the ants in the world. And so, I'm gonna become an ant so I can save them". That's a terrible way to try to explain it, but maybe it helps in some way get it across. Jesus was called, "The son of man," and, "The Son of God". In other words, he was a man, just as human as we are, filled with God. He brought God to earth and put on a human form. We show up with a human form and then we have the opportunity to be full of God by receiving Jesus as our Savior and our Lord.
So, he is the firstborn among many brethren. A human filled with God and we are humans filled with God. Come on, get it. He humbled himself. You can't do what God wants you to do if you're not willing to humble yourself. The Bible says, "Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God," but I would like to tell you that if you won't humble yourself, he will do it for you. You can be humbled privately or you can be humbled publicly. And, privately is so much better. I remember our oldest son saying to me one time, he said that, "I can honestly tell you that every single time you and dad had to come and correct me," and this was after he was working for us. He said, "Every single time you and dad have come and corrected me, God has already tried to tell me several different times and I wouldn't listen".
Come on, if you do get corrected by somebody, even a friend who loves you enough to say, "You really shouldn't be doing this," or, "You shouldn't be acting like that". If you're honest, you'll say, "God had already shown you". But, God loves us enough that he's not gonna let us get by with just ridiculous behavior. And so, he deals with us first, the Holy Spirit dealing with us in our spirit, and if we'll learn to follow that how much easier life is gonna be. Won't have to go through all the tragic stuff. "Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God and in due time he will exalt you".
Let me give you an example of how you can have peace. Somebody at work that you don't care for anyway... Now, you understand, you love them with the love of the Lord. We understand that. You love them with the love of the Lord, but you just can't stand 'em. Aren't we hilarious? "I love you with the love of the Lord". I don't know what that is, but it never seems to work out very good. "Well, where were you when I needed somebody to help me move"? Well, the love of the Lord doesn't go that far. So, somebody at work gets a promotion that you really felt like you deserved.
And so, now, you're mad. You're mad at your boss. You're mad at the person who got blessed. You're even, to tell the truth, a little mad at God. And, if you let that fester long enough, you're gonna get a little bit of bitterness in there. And, bitterness is exactly what it is, it's bitter. It makes everything in life sour. And then, you can, of course, go around and be the office gossip and talk about this person, and talk about how unfair conditions are there and you can just boil yourself up a mess. And then, you get yourself in such a dither you go home and you take it out on your family, and you're grouchy and cranky. You all look so innocent.
It's so wonderful because in God we have options. Or, you can say, "You know what Lord, I really wanted that promotion and I think I should of had it but obviously, you don't think I should of had it because I didn't get it. And so, I'm going to keep a good attitude with your help. And, I'm gonna be happy for that person who got promoted. And, I'm gonna pray for them to do well in their new job. And, I'm gonna trust you to give me even something better than what I thought I wanted, when the time is right". You can even put things like that in the offering plate, not physically, but...
Dave and I did this one time, we started on a radio station, a big one that I won't name, and it was one of the first stations we went on and it was very expensive and we were on once a week and we had built up a decent audience and they just took us off, just like that. No reason, they just changed the programming and just took us off. Well, that hurt us so bad. I was just brokenhearted. And so, I was mad about it. I was angry about it. I was talking about them. "You won't believe what they did and..."
And so, Dave and I decided one Sunday at church that instead of being bothered about it, we were gonna give it to God as an offering. So, when the offering plate came by as well as putting in our financial tithe, we gave that sit, we said, "We're giving this to you. We're offering this to you. We're not gonna keep it. We're giving it to you and you do whatever's right with it". One year later that same station called us and asked us to go on, not once a week, but everyday. We lose so much trying to vindicate ourselves instead of letting God do it for us, but that requires humility.
Humility doesn't mean you're weak. Jesus was meek. And, the word meekness is kind of... It's not a good sounding word to us. We think of meek, it's like... But you know what the word meek means if you look it up in the original language? It means strength and power under control. In other words, a meek person could do something about it but they're humble enough to not move without God's permission. So, they will suffer unjustly rather than try to take revenge and they'll wait and see what God does for 'em.
Do you have any idea what you may be missing by not waiting to see what God will do for you if you give him time to do it? Come on, I'm talking to somebody today. God is a God of justice. And, the Bible says in several places that he will give us back double for our trouble, yeah. Job got back twice as much in the end. We all talk about what the poor old guy had to give up but let's read the end of the story. Come on, your story's not over yet. There's gonna be an end to your story, and what you do in the middle of the story partially depends on how it's going to end.
Job's friends really let him down when he needed them, instead of helping him, they accused him. And, at the end he prayed for his friends. It says it so plainly, and Job prayed for his friends and God gave him back twice as much as he had. Don't make me come down there. Come on, job prayed for the people who hurt him, and God gave him back twice as much as they'd lost. We didn't keep our offense against the TV station, we put it in the offering plate. Never said another word about it, didn't say another bad thing about it, didn't grumble about it anymore, and a year later we got back five times what we gave up. I mean, this is real stuff. "Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God and in due time he will exalt you".
Jesus humbled himself and took on the form of a man, and he humbled himself to obey even to the point of death on the cross. But, Sunday always comes after Friday. You with me? You can't have a resurrection without a crucifixion. Come on. Yeah, we need to toughen up a little bit. We need to be willing to go through a few things. And maybe be treated unjustly and keep our mouths shut and trust God to see what he will do for us. You wanna see the miracle working power of God in your life? Start doing it according to the way he tells you to do it. "And then he was exalted on high and 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 the earth, and under the earth".
Come on, you might feel like your dying, bearing the pain of being unjustly treated, but the time will come when you'll be lifted up in power. Whoo! "Have this mind among you which is in Christ Jesus. Empty yourself of yourself so you can be full of God". Paul prayed unique things for the church. He didn't pray like we pray. In Ephesians 3:20, Paul prayed that they would become just bodies wholly filled with God. Come on, pray that for yourself everyday. "God, let me just be a body wholly filled with you". Oh, we're doing good.
Philippians 2:12-16, "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only in my presence but much more in my absence," please get this, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and a twisted generation, among whom you are seen as lights in the world".
Now, let's go back to, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling". Now, that's about a 10-part series, right there. 'cause you know one of the reasons why, and I don't mean this to be offensive I'm just trying to get in what I want to get in, why we have such moral sloppiness in the church? And, you know what I mean by moral sloppiness, just compromise, and one foot in the kingdom one foot in the world. You know, you wouldn't even believe some of the questions that people send in and ask me. I'm like, "How could you be a Christian and not know the answer to that"? You know, "Is it okay for me to have sex before marriage"?
Well, you know, no. Nope, that's not okay. "Well, but you know, it's the 21st century and everybody lives together today," and, you know... No. Doesn't matter what everybody's doing, no. And, you know what I said? "If I told you anything other than, 'absolutely no,' you wouldn't even respect me". People actually, want the truth if they can get somebody that's bold enough to tell it to 'em. Amen? If we had more reverential fear of God... Oh, I would love to write a book on the fear of God and think somebody would buy it.
Somebody made a suggestion this morning that I thought was good. I said last night, "I'd love to write a book on dying to self, and the crucifixion of the flesh, and suffering. You know, people won't buy those books". And she said, "Why don't you write a book and title it, 'the book that nobody wants'". And, that would make us want it. The fear of the Lord, it's not being afraid of God. It's not being afraid he's gonna hurt you or afraid you're gonna live under some kind of curse if you don't follow every rule and regulation.
Jesus became a curse for us. We don't live under the curse anymore, we live under the blessings of God. But still, we need the reverential fear of God, and that basically means that I know that God means what he says and if he says do this and be blessed, then if I do that I'm gonna be blessed, and if he says do this and you're gonna have a life of misery, I know that if I do that I'm gonna have a life of misery. Therefore, I've got enough reverential fear, awe, and respect, and love for God to do what he tells me to do whether I want to or not.
Come on. What did he mean work out your own salvation with fear and trembling? Well, we know that we're not saved by works, but by grace. No man is saved by anything that he can do but only what God has done, so, he didn't mean to work for your salvation but he said work out your salvation. Well, one little boy said, "Well, you can't work out what hasn't been worked in". And see, the good news is God puts it in. Come on, now, when you're born again, the seed of God is planted in the womb of your spirit and you have just a little bit of everything that God is, it comes in seed form. Just like if a husband's seed is planted in the womb of his wife, she'll get pregnant. Well, you're all pregnant with God. Come on.
Well, my daughter-in-law, my sweet daughter-in-law, she's pregnant with our 12th grandchild and she's just now starting to show. We call it, "The baby bump". Well see, some Christians it takes 'em a while to start showing. But, some of you have been pregnant 50 years and you're still not showing. Come on. Some of you are still trying to decide if you're gonna abort or jump ship, or if you're gonna go all the way through with God. Come on, you know exactly what I'm saying.
So, he's saying now: Okay, I've worked it in, I've made you right with me by the blood of Christ, now you work with the Holy Spirit and let that righteousness that's in you, be worked out through you so the world can see I don't know how you're still in your seat, I really don't. God never expects you to show something you don't have. You have a new nature. You have the Fruit of the Spirit in you. God has filled you full of love. And now, he's asking you, "Let it show". Let it show, bear down and give birth. Let it show. "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling".
We have to realize, like I said last night that God sees every single thing that we do. We're not hiding anything from God. You know what, basically? Paul's an apostle, he's a very anointed teacher, and he said, "He labored". He made himself sick sometimes just laboring and working. And, he said that Christ might be formed in you. And, I can tell you, we had 450 people last night receive Christ as their Savior and I am so excited about that. But, I'd like to have about five years with you to get you from that baby stage.
So, that's what's good about me being on television every day, teaching the word, because if you are born-again at one of our conferences, we want you to get plugged into a good church, but keep listening, read the books that are available, and listen to the teachings. And, you know, it's almost like, if you decide you want to be a doctor, you don't expect to be a doctor unless you study. And, you're looking at a lot of study and a lot of hard work. Well, it's the same way with being a victorious Christian. You don't just get it because you said a sinner's prayer.
You know, the minute you receive Christ he works it in you. Now, Paul is saying, "Work it out, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, not in your own strength, for it is God who is all the while at work in you". God doesn't just throw you the football and say, "Now, you make the touchdown". He gives you what you need, and then he sent the Holy Spirit to come and be your teacher, the one who walks alongside of, who convicts you of sin and convinces you of righteousness. Come on, get on your feet and give God a big praise.