Joyce Meyer - The Upside-Down Kingdom
Okay, I've been talking about the Kingdom of God, which is an invisible kingdom. The Bible talks a lot, in the New Testament, about the Kingdom of God. Jesus' first message was, "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand". And his disciples thought that kingdom was gonna be an earthly kingdom where he would set up a palace somewhere with a throne and be the king. Well, he is king Jesus, but it's over an invisible kingdom.
And we read this morning how Jesus said to his disciples, "Who do people say that I am"? And they said, "Well, John, the baptist, Elijah, different prophets". He said, "Well, who do you say that I am"? And Peter said, "Thou art the Christ the Son of the Living God". And he said, "On this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it". The rock he was talking about was the rock of faith. "Unto every man is given the measure of faith".
You have faith. Even if you're not a believer, you've got faith. You may be using it for the wrong thing but you have to have faith to even sit in a chair otherwise, you'd be afraid that it would cave-in under you. But faith is a force that dwells on the inside of you. And God gives every person, however much they need to do whatever it is he's called them to do or to be in whatever situation you're in. You maybe in a really tough situation, but I believe that God will give you grace for your place. Amen? And you know what happens when you have grace for your place? You can do things that to other people, they'll look at you and think, "I have no idea how you do that". But yet, you have grace for the place that you're in. God never allows more to come on us than what we can bear. But with every temptation he also provides the way out.
So, I really want to encourage you, if you're in a difficult place right now and your mind keeps wanting to say, "I can't do this," you ever hear of that? "I can't put up with this one more day". And tomorrow, it's like, "I can't put up with this one more day". And tomorrow, you're like, "Really God, I can't put up with us one more day". But you can do whatever it is that you need to do and still enjoy your life because when God gives you grace, grace is equivalent to being well-oiled.
You know, grace, or the Holy Spirit in the Bible is sometimes depicted as oil. And when you have a piece of machinery that's well-oiled it glides, and slides, and works very easy. We've got a lot of gym equipment in our house 'cause Dave and I both work out. And every once in a while, we'll have to put some oil on different parts because they'll get squeaky and hard to operate. And sometimes when your life is getting hard, all you need is a little extra time with the Holy Spirit. You need to oil the dry places, once again.
So, I want to say again, whatever it is that you're dealing with, don't get that mindset, "I can't," keep an, "I can," mindset because God always gives you enough faith and enough grace to do whatever it is you need to do. I'm going to say it again. God always gives you enough faith and enough grace to do whatever it is that you need to do. Maybe one more time. Maybe just one more time 'cause I feel like somebody's still... I'm trying to push you over the edge to believe it. 'Cause see, here's the thing. No matter what God's given us, if we don't believe we have it then to us it's gonna be as if we didn't have it. That's good. Think about that. No matter what God's given us, if we don't believe we have it, to us, it's as if we didn't have it. Amen? So, even like, I've been talking about being more conscious of the fact that you have angels with you all the time. I think just thinking about that will make you feel more safe, and more powerful, and less likely to feel like you can't do anything.
In Psalm 91, it says, "He will give his angels charge over you to defend and protect you in all your ways of obedience and service". Angels aren't gonna help you disobey God. But if you're a person who's determined to obey God, then he will give you angels to help you do that. So, you have all the grace and all the faith that you need to do whatever it is that you need to do. If you're in a tough marriage, but you feel like God's told you to stick it out. If you have a special needs child and you really wanna take care of 'em and do whatever it is you need to do right, God's not gonna give you that child without giving you the grace to be able to do it. And I'm not gonna say that you're not gonna have hard days or tough days, but God will always come through and give you just what you need at just the right time.
I heard a message a while back called, "The good hard life", by a woman who'd been in an accident, and had a stroke, and just had a lot of different things wrong with her. And she did such a good job of talking about how her life was really hard, but it was really good. And so, I know a woman who has a special needs child and I just felt like I was supposed to share that message with her. And so, I emailed it to her and just said, "I think you'll enjoy this. I felt like God told me to send it to you". And she's not even somebody that I'm with a lot or know real well. I just, I know her. I know of her. And she text me back and she said, "You had no idea how timely that was for me. I felt like I was about to go over the edge, and that really helped me".
Now, see, that's the way God works. When you feel like you can't take one more step, God will send you the encouragement that you need to help you do what you need to do. So, we live in this kingdom that, for the sake of what I want to share this afternoon, we're gonna call, "The upside down kingdom". Because we have spiritual laws or principles that we live by. Not laws, like Old Testament laws, but there's a way that the kingdom operates. And there are keys to that kingdom. And faith is, "The main key". But there are other things that are also keys that if you work those things, there will be a release of one of the promises of God in your life. God promises to take care of us financially, but it says, "Give and you shall receive".
So, if you don't use the key of giving... hello? Then don't be surprised if you end up with a bunch of needs in your life that are not being met. Or if you don't use any wisdom, and you just have all kinds of credit card debt, and you have no discipline with your money, and you're buying all kinds of stuff you don't need, don't be surprised if you have financial problems. You know, we can't just live like we don't have any brains at all and expect God to just come and get us out of everything that we get ourselves into. Amen? And amen. I'll say, "Amen," even if you don't want to.
And, so, we really live in a kingdom that's upside down. The first time I preached this message, first and only time, I preached this entire series, was actually 21 years ago. I think it's interesting that the word never gets old. I'd kinda like to compare this to what I said 21 years ago and see how much I've grown since then. I'm pretty sure this series probably sounds totally different than the one 21 years ago did. But when I first preached it, I called it, "The upside down kingdom that is actually, right side up". Well, see, the world looking at us, thinks we're upside down. Like, "Well, nothing you do makes any sense". But, to us, nothing they do makes any sense because we've done that and we've seen the result. Amen?
So, the first thing that you've gotta get through your head, if you're gonna enjoy this kingdom life, is that everything that God asks you to do is not gonna make sense. God's got strange arithmetic. One God, three persons. In what economy does one equal three, or three equals one? You're not gonna figure that out. Why would God send his only Son to die for a bunch of people who were still yet in sin, didn't even care anything about him, suffer the way he suffered, why would you do that? I don't get it either, but I'm gonna be like those little kids, "Thank you". Amen?
Just so it makes sense for the teaching, if you didn't see that part of the message, I brought ten kids up here that didn't know me and I didn't know. And I gave each one of 'em $2. And all they said, all any one of them said was, "Thank you". "Thank you". Then, I went back and gave 'em all $5, and the, "Thank you," got a little bit firmer. "Thank you". "Thank you". And you know, the more God does for us the louder we ought to get. "Thank you". "Thank you"! "Thank you"! "Thank you"! "Thank you". "Thank you".
An attitude of gratitude is one of the best attitudes that you can have. And so, we're gonna look at some of these upside down principles. But first, I wanna talk to you a little bit more about this key of faith that unlocks the kingdom. And I just wanna tell you to turn your faith loose. I'm glad I'm preaching today on faith 'cause I'll tell ya, I was talking to pastor mike during the break and we've known each other for 30 years. So, he knew me when I was still just doing a Bible study at the church that we both went to. I'm so grateful that I learned about faith because I stepped out in faith and did so many things that I look back now and think, "How did I even have the nerve to do that"? What would have made me think that, that would work?
But see, that's the thing. I wasn't thinking with my head. I was walking by what the Holy Spirit put in my heart. And there was sacrifice involved, and it wasn't always easy, and everybody didn't always agree with me. Matter of fact, a lot of people thought I was nuts. I lost friends, ostracized by family members, it wasn't easy. But just because you, nor anybody that you know, thinks what you're doing makes any sense, if God puts it in your heart, and you stick with it long enough, and you learn how to operate these kingdom principles, you will succeed. Come on. Faith is a power that resides on the inside of you, comes as a gift from God, and you gotta hear this. Faith must be released for it to do you any good. So, from a practical standpoint, how do we release our faith? I'll just give you three simple ways: by praying, by saying (faith-filled words are very powerful, and by action), by taking a faith-filled action.
When Joshua was taking the Israelites across the Jordan to go into the Promised Land, the water didn't part until they put their foot in it. And some of you, the only thing that's left between you and success is you need to put your foot in it. Sometimes we have to let go of what we've got to see what we can get. Did you hear me? Imagine Abraham when God said, "Leave the place that you're at, leave your family and all that you know, and go to a place that I will show you". I mean, come on, let's think practically about that. Walk away from everything you know and once you get going I'll show you where to go. I would have said, "Well, show me and I'll go". And he said, "Go, and I'll show ya".
Come on. You know, I'm not gonna take the time to go back and tell you all the stories, but I mean, some of the stuff that I did, "By faith," just really didn't make any sense. And so, you have to understand if you're gonna really be victorious in this kingdom living, you see, it just makes me righteously angry, and there is a righteous anger. It makes me righteously angry to see so many people, 'cause I was one of these people who love God, you've received Christ, you wanna do what's right, but you don't know how to operate these principles. You haven't been taught properly. You don't need to go to church every week and have somebody just tell you how bad you are. You already know that. Nobody needs to keep pounding it in. We know that we're imperfect and that we make mistakes, but you need to be told, not just who Christ is, but who you are in Christ. Do you understand that? Who are you?
Well, he's seated in heavenly places, at the right hand of God, and we're seated in him. So, kingdom living, I'm here, but I'm there. And if you're gonna be there, you're already there. Although you're not there, you are there. And you're there in heart but you'll be there in reality, in due time. Come on, I can talk in riddles all day, if you'd like me to. You're holy. The Bible says you're holy, but you don't act holy all the time. But you are holy because you have holiness in you, you're just in the process of working with the Holy Spirit to get it from out of your spirit through your soul and out here where people can see it. That's why for so long, I was so confused, but 'cause I would hear, "You are the righteousness of God in Christ," but then, I would just act so bad. "You're holy," but I didn't act holy. "You're this, and that, and you have this and that," and none of it seemed to be a reality.
And then, I finally, gained understanding on Philippians 2, it says, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling". We don't work, "For our salvation," that's a gift of God's grace but we work with the Holy Spirit to work it out of us because, see, Christ can't come to live in you unless he makes your spirit holy. So, everything in there is all polished up, and nice, and there's nothing wrong in there. It's all great, but it's gotta get out here where somebody can see it. And so, that's what I'm trying to do. I'm trying to help you give birth. I'm your birth coach. You get that. Amen? Yeah, "Thank you". Sometimes when the pain is so bad you feel like you can't stand it the doctor says, "Push"! You think, "I'm never doing this again. I'll tell ya..." But then, soon as you have that baby, all the pain's forgotten.
And I'll tell you what, I had so much labor pains trying to get from where I started to where I am. I mean, just me trying to learn how to be submissive to my husband, I thought would kill me. Just absolutely kill me. And I mean, I had a good husband. I didn't even have one that should have been hard to be submissive to. I mean, Dave's great. But I had a spirit of rebellion in me because of the pain that I'd had in my childhood. But you know what? Now, that I've given birth to the dream God put in my heart, I don't sit around and think every day about how hard it was. I'm glad that I went through what I went through because now I can help you get through the same thing. So, your faith has to be released and that happens by praying, by saying, by taking action.
Listen to James 5:15-16, "And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven". When you see sick people, don't just say, "That's too bad," pray. Pray. And if it's not a situation where you can pray with them, then pray for them. "Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you might be healed". Now, listen to this. "The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working". The amplified Bible, I love what it says. It says, "The prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available dynamic in its working".
So, prayer is a dynamic force. We should just pray our way through everyday. Pray for little things, pray for big things, pray for things you think are possible, pray for things you think are impossible. And pay attention to how God answers prayers, and don't forget to say, "Thank you". It's amazing. I mean, just in the last two years, I think I've learned the power of prayer more than any other time, just praying specifically, for things. Like, that situation I told you about where I was in the hotel and all the water on our floor went off. And I had to take a shower by 7:00, if I was gonna be ready to get over here by the time I needed to be here.
And when you're in my position, you can't just not show up. And it would not have been good if I would have shown up without cleaning up. All my secrets would have been out. It ain't as good as it looks on TV. And I prayed specifically, "God, I need this water to come back on by seven o'clock. 6:59, the guy working on it, knocked on my door, "Water's back on". "Thank you, Jesus". Hallelujah.
And I don't have time to go into all that either, but how many of you know, God does answer prayer? And so, when you see prayer answered, don't, "Oh, I'm lucky," or "What a coincidence". No, remember that you prayed. So, you release your faith by praying, the prayer of faith makes tremendous power available. You release your faith by saying. That's why it's so important to be positive and not negative. That's why it's so important not to pray for something and then turn around and talk about it like it's never gonna happen. Honestly and truly, our words are very, very important.
And I'm not just talkin' about a "name it, claim it" doctrine, where you can just say whatever you want and get whatever you want. I'm talking about getting into agreement with God with your words. To agree means: "To say the same thing as". Amen? And we need to speak the word more. And we need to speak it out loud. When the devil lied to Jesus, Jesus said, "It is written," and he came right back at him. He didn't fight with the devil, he just said, "It is written," because he knew the Word of God was more powerful than the lies of satan.
Come on, let's get a little sharper. Let's wake up and pay attention. The devil's trying to lie to us all the time. Constantly trying to discourage us, and defeat us, and get us to quit, and give up. But we just get off in this la-la land and we don't even realize what's going on. God wants you to succeed but satan wants you to fail. The devil's got a plan for your life, but God's got a better plan.
Confessing the Word of God out loud is one of the most important things that you can do. And I still do it every day. I had so much trouble with guilt and condemnation because of the abuse in my childhood, and thinking for so many years it was my fault and something was wrong with me. I don't think I ever miss a day saying, once and sometimes, two or three times, "I am the righteousness of God in Christ. I am made right with God. There's no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus".
Every time you speak the Word of God, it helps renew your mind because you, not only speak words, you hear what you speak. And to be honest, you believe more of what you say than anybody else. How many of you ever say bad things about yourself? Come on, get those hands up. I don't want none of this stuff. Okay, don't do that. If you would just make a contract with God, today, "Help me, God. Help me not to say negative things about myself". "I'm so stupid". "I never do anything right". "I'm fat". "I'm ugly". "I'm dumb". "I'm..." You know. No. "I am powerful". "I am smart". "I am anointed". "I am creative". "I'm a child of God". "I'm changing everyday". "Everyday, I get better and better in every way".
Come on, it's time for you to make the devil mad. God calls those things that don't exist as if they already existed. So, I guess if God can do it, we can do it too. We're his children, talk like daddy. And Abraham, it says, "In hope, he believed against hope". Well, that might be hard to understand but what that really means is he had no reason at all to hope, but he hoped on in faith. As he looked at his circumstances, there was no reason at all, he looked at Sarah's barren womb, "He looked at his dead body," the Bible says, and there was no reason, it was impossible, how are they gonna have a child? But it said, "He hoped even though there was no reason to hope," that he would become the father of many nations.
Come on. Maybe you can't find one reason to hope today, but I'm asking you to hope on in faith. Come on. I've only got 29 minutes left with you. We gotta get this. I want you to leave here today, saying, "Something good is gonna happen to me. God loves me, and my life is not over, and it's not too late to begin again. I'm not too old to do something great". "I'm not too young to do something great". Don't let doubt and unbelief steal your faith. You know what the Bible says in Romans 4 about Abraham? "No doubt or unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God. But he grew strong as he gave praise and glory to God," more thank you's. They keep you strong. Ask in faith and don't doubt.
"But let him ask in faith, with no doubting", James 1:6 says, "For the one who doubts is like a wave at sea that is driven and tossed by the wind". Now, everybody's gonna be tempted to doubt. I mean, doubts are gonna come to our mind, but we can doubt our doubts. Matter of fact, when you believe God's spoken to you, and you're believing God for something and doubt comes, you can just know, right away, that's the devil trying to steal from you. And so, just say, "I doubt that doubt. I choose to believe God".
Do you know that somebody, who wasn't born again, and maybe there's somebody here this afternoon, somebody drug you here, or brought you here, or promised to feed you if you'd come, or whatever... Maybe, you've not received Christ yet, and I sound pretty loony to you, right now. You're like, "What? Huh? Release your faith, and step out, and claim you have things you don't have, and what? What are you talkin' about"? See, the Kingdom of God, to the world, seems upside down but we know that it's right side up. You get it?
Okay, Mark 11:22-24, very important scriptures, "And Jesus answered them, 'have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, "Be taken up and thrown into the sea," and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.'" my goodness. "'Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe you have received it, and it will be yours.'" The amplified Bible says, "'Believe you have received it and you will get it.'" So, I gotta believe I've got it before I get it.
Now, see if you're hearing me with your spiritual ears, then this makes all kinds of sense to you. But if you've not been enlightened by the Holy Ghost, I sound crazy. Okay, "'Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will become yours.'" But then, there's another verse that we, sometimes, like to just avoid. And it says, "'And when you pray, if you have anything against anyone,'" Come on, we gotta talk about it. "That sounds great, ask for whatever you want, and man, you're gonna get it. Whoo! Power, power in prayer. Yes, hallelujah". "'But when you pray, if you have anything against anyone... (leave it, let it go).'" So, guess what? None of this works if you're gonna have unforgiveness in your heart.
"Well, now, wait a minute. You don't know what they did to me". No, I don't but I do know what was done to me. See, that's one of the upside down kingdom principles. The world says, "If somebody hurts you, get 'em back". But God says, "If somebody hurts you, forgive 'em". "What? Why should I do that"? See, this is what... We're gonna deep-dive now. And you're gonna go out of here saying, "You know, some of the stuff I believe, really is kind of kooky, but it works".
Let me tell you something. You're going to be a whole lot happier if you have no unforgiveness in your heart and no offense, than you are if you're angry and bitter and resentful and got a chip on your shoulder. I mean, if somebody hurt you, you can just keep letting them hurt you by hating 'em. Did you hear me? They don't care that you're mad at them. They're out having a good time. They don't care that you're mad. You're not hurting them by being mad. You're hurting yourself. I mean, just listen to how upside down this sounds. "But to you that are listening, I say," now see, if you don't listen, you're not gonna get this.
So, quit playing with your phone, quit thinking about what you're gonna eat when you leave. Quit worrying about what time it is. You know how hard that is to do in the beginning? It gets easier after a while because you see what it does in your life, and how powerful it is. You don't have to fight your battles, God is your vindicator. But before God goes to work in our life, we have to let go. Did you hear me? Man... "'If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn the other one.'" I don't quite know that I'm there, just yet. Some of this I've got mastered, but I don't know about the slapping thing. "'Uf someone takes your coat, give them your shirt.'" This is Jesus talking. This isn't even one of the apostles. This is, himself. Red letter. Uh-oh, "'Give to everyone who asks you. And if anybody takes what belongs to you, don't demand it back.'"
I gotta sit down, this is... Whoo, it's making me weak in the knees. "'Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that? Even sinners love people who love them? And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that? And if you tend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners will lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, be good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great.'"
Come on. Then when will our reward be great? When we stop living like the rest of the world and start living like Jesus tells us to. I wonder how many angry people there are in here right now, that are just squirming in your seats? See, you don't have to feel like doing something to do it. It doesn't have to feel right, for it to be right. And you know what? When you do what God asks you to do it breaks the power of that thing off of you. Sometimes you have to treat somebody right a long time before they'll start treating you right.
Come on, there's some people here that are in some relationships that need to hear that. Sometimes you have to treat somebody right a long time before they start treating you right. "Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your father in heaven is merciful". Sounds upside down but it works. The world says that the way we look, our appearance is the most important thing. But 1 Peter says, "it's the hidden man of the heart".
See, you can dress it up and take it to church. You can put makeup on it and... Come on, are you out there? You can sit on the front row and look at the overhead and sing the songs, while looking at somebody and thinking, "I can't stand you". I mean, Jesus said in the law, it says, "If you commit adultery, it's a sin. But I say unto you, if you even look at a woman to lust after her, it's sin". Oh, boy. I'm just having so much fun. The world says, "Take care of yourself first, be greedy, store up everything you can get your hands on". But the kingdom says, "Give and it shall be given unto you". The world says, "Save money in order to be rich". The kingdom says, "Store up treasure in heaven if you desire to be truly rich".
You see how it is? "The first will be last and the last will be first". Whoo, and then that sermon on the mount, man, is that ever upside down? Most famous sermon, "Blessed," the amplified Bible says, this is what blessed means, "Happy to be envied and spiritually prosperous with life, joy, and satisfaction in God's favor and salvation, regardless of your circumstances". So, to be truly blessed is not just to always have good circumstances. We get so mixed up. But you see, those of us who live in the Kingdom of God, we can be happy when all of our circumstances are messed up. Why? Because we know a secret, we have already won the battle.
"Blessed are the poor in spirit (the humble, those who rate themselves insignificant)," and that doesn't mean to have a bad opinion about yourself. But it means those who know they're nothing without God. "A humble person," it says, "Stays under". "Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, that in due time, he may exalt you". That means a humble person doesn't try to push themselves forward. They'll stay back and wait for God to do it. A humble person doesn't have to try to impress people, they trust God to put them with the right people. You know what the world says you have to do to be promoted and to succeed? You gotta to sin. You gotta compromise. You gotta sin. You gotta lose your moral standard.
I don't want that kind of success. I don't want that. Well, it's rough out there in the world and you gotta stand strong. "A humble man is quick to obey God and careful about how he treats people". Can I just tell you that it does not make God happy when we mistreat other people, or when we talk ugly about them behind their back. "Blessed are the meek".
Well, the world wouldn't be for that. Because meek people are looked on as weak people. But if you've never done this... I looked up the definition of meek in the Greek. And do you know what it means? Strength under control. It doesn't mean that you can't do anything about it, it means that you won't move without God's permission. Okay, let's all stand up together. We're gonna all pray a prayer together, 'cause I want to make sure that everybody here has given their life to Christ. Alright, let's all pray this together.
Father God, I love you. Jesus, I believe in you. I believe you paid for my sins. You died on a cross for me. You took the punishment I deserved. I'm a sinner. And I'm sorry for my sins. I turn away from sin. I want you in my life. I receive you now, Jesus... As my Savior... And my Lord. Teach me how to live for you. Thank you for saving me. Now, I believe that I'm on my way to heaven. And I pray that you will help me... Be a blessing to you... While I'm on my way. Amen!