Joyce Meyer - Defeating Giants
I started last night talking to you about "Defeating giants". How many of you have a giant chasing you around right now? Now, you know, there's all kinds of giants. There's little giants, medium-sized giants. There's big giants, really big giants, and then there's some of those giants that you feel like has just taken up residence in your life. They've gotten themselves a room, decorated it. They're quite comfortable and they're kinda letting you know they have no intention of leaving.
You know, one of the things that I find when I'm going through something, and you can let me know if you feel the same way, I find that one of the lies the devil just keeps pounding at me is, "This is never gonna go away". You know, sometimes mentally we think we can handle something if it's gonna be a week, or two weeks, or maybe even a month. But when you get to something that just hangs on, and hangs on, and hangs on, and hangs on, and especially if it's something hurting you, I think one of the fears that the enemy tries to get us with is, "What if this never goes away"? Anybody ever hear that? "What if this lasts forever"?
But you know something, they always come to an end. There may be something else right on its heels, but it comes to an end. And last year, I had a particularly challenging year because I had two surgeries within seven months. I had a hip replaced, and then as soon as I got that over with, I started having a pain here in my leg, and we thought it was the hip that was still giving problems. Turns out it was something in my back, which I think really was the problem all along and I probably wouldn't have had to have the hip replaced. But the point is, is that for about ten months, I had quite a bit of pain. And I kept doing everything I was supposed to do.
You know, when you do what I'm doing, you don't just not show up. You don't just say, "Sorry, I can't come". You press through and you do it. And so, one of the things that I really had to stand against was that lie, "What if you're like this forever"? And I kept saying, "I declare". Like Joel's book, "I declare". I kept saying, "This is gonna come to an end. This is gonna turn out all right. This is gonna come to an end". And I wanna encourage you to do the same thing in your life.
So, I wanna start this morning, actually, I started with this last night but I wanna do it again today. I wanna go to when David fought Goliath and I wanna show you the attitude that he had. So, let's take a look at 1 Samuel 17:42-48. "When the Philistine," the giant, "Looked around and saw David, he derided and disparaged him because he was just a young man, with a ruddy complexion". I need to find out what that is, 'cause I'm not sure what that means. But, "And he was a handsome guy. And the Philistine said to David, 'Am I a dog, that you come to me with a shepherd's staff?' And the Philistine cursed David by his gods", which of course was useless because his gods were nothing. The giant was talking to David, but David didn't just stand there and take it.
"Then David said to the Philistine". You know what? Sometimes we need to talk back to the devil. Jesus talked back to the devil. And actually, the title of this message, this whole message that I'm not preaching this morning is, "You can't defeat Goliath with your mouth shut". You know, we gotta open our mouth and talk back to the devil. So, "David said to the Philistine, 'you come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted". So, he was really getting the point across to him that, "You think you're coming against me. You think you're coming against the armies of Israel. But in fact, you're coming against God". And it's the same way in your life. Your God's child. When the enemy comes against you, he's really coming against God and God will not put up with it forever, amen?
"You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts. This day the Lord will hand you over to me, and I will strike you down and I will cut off your head. And I will give you the corpses of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, so that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. And that this entire assembly may know that the Lord does not save with the sword or with the spear: for the battle is the Lord's and he will hand you over to me.' when the Philistine rose and came forward to meet David", I love this, there's a great message in what I'm getting ready to read, "David ran quickly toward the battle line".
And I said last night, a lot of times we think our problems to death. It's like we stare at the giant and stare at the giant, and the more we stare at him, the more we talk about him, the bigger he becomes. And I love what David did. He had some faith and he didn't wanna think about the giant so long that the giant got bigger than his faith, and so he ran quickly toward the battle line. And maybe there's something that you need to do in your life and you're thinking about it just a little bit too long. And maybe the thing you need to do is just go do what you believe God asked you to do. "Well, what if I'm wrong"? Well, sometimes the only way you're ever gonna find out is if you're right is to take a chance on being wrong. Did you hear me?
All right, so I wanna talk to you this morning for just a little bit, and I'm gonna kinda do the same thing, the second part of this in the second service if you care to stay and hear that. I wanna talk to you about your authority as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. I've been listening to a man who's actually been dead for 40 years. His name is Martin Lloyd Jones. And it gives me encouragement that, hopefully and prayerfully, a long time after I'm not here anymore, people can still be listening to my messages, and maybe watching my program on TV, and reading some of these books that I've written. Because people get old, but the Word of God never gets old. It never gets old.
And he's an evangelical, just a really strong, solid Bible teacher. And he said something that I thought was really interesting. I noticed in his library of stuff that he has so many messages on spiritual warfare and defeating the devil. He has got, I don't know, like 500 and some odd messages just out of Ephesians. And he said something and I want you to get this today. He said one of the biggest mistakes... Now, he said this 40 years ago, so it's even worse now. He said one of the biggest mistakes that the evangelical church has made is we don't talk enough about the devil, his lies, his schemes, his tricks. And we need to inform people that they have an enemy, and they need to know how to watch for him and how to come against him, and they need to know who they are in Christ.
Now, you, honestly, a lot of people don't like to talk about the devil that much. A lot of people don't like to really hear messages about the devil and demonic power. And I hear people say sometimes, and this is a great thing to say, and I get it, I believe it, "I'd rather just talk about the light, and if you just focus on the light, then the light will overcome the darkness". Well, I agree with that, but I still believe we need to be informed. We need to know that we have an enemy, the devil, satan, Lucifer. He's called by many different names. He hates us, he hates God, and he is and will continue to do everything that he possibly can do to keep you from making any kind of progress in your life.
So, I'm gonna talk to you this morning about the devil, because I went to church for years, and years, and years and never heard one message about the devil. I heard a lot of doctrine, good, sound, solid doctrine. I went to a church that taught me a lot about salvation by grace, not by works. But I thought the devil was just, like, I don't know, some character that came out on Halloween in red pajamas and had a long tail and a pitchfork. I didn't really understand that I had a personal giant following me around all the time, telling me lies and trying to defeat me.
So, I think that we need to be a little better at what the Bible calls watching and praying. Watching and praying. And it doesn't necessarily mean watching what everybody else is doing wrong and praying for them to get better. It means really paying attention to the things that are happening in your life, and knowing the real source that they're coming from, and understanding who you are in Christ, and talking back to the devil, and letting him know that he is not going to run your life and he's not gonna win. Come on, give God a praise.
When I heard my first messages 40-some odd years ago that as a believer in Christ I had authority and that I didn't have to just sit back and just put up with whatever was going on in my life, it was life-changing for me. And so, what I wanna do this morning in the time that I have, and continuing some into the second service, is I just wanna help you get a renewed, or maybe for some of you a new, attitude about yourself. You're the head and not the tail, above and not beneath. The Bible says you can lend and never have to borrow. How 'bout that? Who believes God for that anymore?
We all just assume that we gotta charge it, and make payments, and just, you know, live from paycheck to paycheck. There's so many promises in the Word of God. And listen to what I'm gonna say, they're not just going to automatically happen in your life because you receive Christ as your Savior and you come to a great church every Sunday morning. We not only need to believe that Jesus is our Lord and Savior, but we need to believe that what he promises in the word is not just a sermon, a message. It's not just for everybody else, it's for me. And I'm gonna stand my ground and believe God that I'm gonna have it in my lifetime and the enemy is not gonna push me around and end up the winner.
Sometimes when you're going through a lot of problems, at least I find this happens to me, and I've been doing this a long time and preach this stuff all the time. Sometimes I find if the problems are long-standing and one right after the other, I can begin to just feel like, a little weak, a little wimpy. "I don't know if I can do this anymore". You know, "I don't know..." Boy, I don't know about you, but on times like that, I could use somebody like me to preach me the message that I'm gonna try to preach you today. I like what the pastor said this morning about getting your life aligned.
We all hit potholes in life, and sometimes they throw our faith and our life out of alignment and we get a little bit lost out there somewhere. And a lot of being in church on a regular basis or listening to the word is it's not always about learning something brand new that you've never heard before. Every time you come to church, it doesn't have to be like a... My gosh, that was the most awesome thing I have ever heard in my life. It's good to get that, but a lot of times we just need to hear it again because we forgot it. We got lost somewhere. We just need to hear it again. And I know for me as a minister, sometimes when I'm preaching things that I've preached 1,000 times and probably to people that have heard it over and over, I have to remember that we need to hear it again, and again, and again, and again.
So, if I tell you to open to a scripture this morning, and you open it up, and wow, you've got it underlined, that doesn't mean you really know it or that you're living it. You know, we love to color in our Bibles and we really hope that the person sitting next to us sees how much of our Bible is colored in, in yellow. I mean, I got pink in here. I've got orange. And you know, when I get to those sections, it's like, "Whoa". Some of that's like, "Whoa, that is, man, whoo hoo". But you know what? We don't know any of it until we're doing it and it's working in our lives.
Matthew 10, "Jesus called the twelve disciples and gave them authority and power". You have authority and you have power. I want you to go out of here today just feeling kinda strong. Maybe you walked in with your head hanging down a little bit and just feeling like the tail end of everything, but you may go out with the same problems you came in with, but I want you to feel different about yourself. I want you to know, "I can do this. It may not be fun, I may not like it, but God is not gonna abandon me. I don't know how long it's gonna take, but according to the word I've already got the victory. All I'm doing right now is just walking it out".
Luke 10:19, love this scripture, "Listen carefully: I have given you authority," and I love what the amplified Bible says, "That you now possess". Come on, you got it right now. "Well, I don't feel very powerful". Well, you got it right now. And if the devil knows that you know that you've got it, if the devil knows that you know that you've got it, come on. It doesn't matter what we have if we don't know we have it. So, you have power, you have authority, and you actually have more power and more authority than the enemy does. No matter how big the giants are in your life, "Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world".
Come on, you cannot stand around and think 200 times a day, "I can't do this. I just can't do this. God, I gotta have a breakthrough today. I just can't do this". Don't let yourself think like that. Open your mouth and say, "I can do this. God will not let it go on longer than what I can bear. I can do this". Talk to yourself and talk back to the devil. Come on, you talk to yourself all the time anyway, you might as well say something that makes sense. You might as well say something that's gonna... Am I making sense to anybody today?
You know, church is so great. I mean, I thought this morning during the worship, man, I could just stay here and just... But you know what? You gotta go home. We get in here and we forget about all that for a little bit, but I don't have a message this morning to make all your problems disappear. I'm sorry, but I don't. I don't have a message to make all of my problems disappear. But I do have a message that's preached several times in several ways in the Bible that says God will not allow more to come on me than what I can bear, but he will always provide a way out. And you know, see if I can find this real quick. Man, I got this thing underlined and I've been... Whoo.
You know, I'm getting a little older, and I actually hide it pretty well, but yeah. And so, sometimes, you know, when I'm going through a lot of stuff, especially if it's physical, you know, I'll start to think or the devil will be telling me, "Well, you know, you're just getting old and you've done this a long time," and you know, "Well, you're just getting old, and old. I mean, you've had six surgeries. Come on, maybe you just need to take a rest". Well, listen, listen to this. This is Isaiah 46, verse 4, 3, somewhere there. "You have been carried by me from your birth and have been carried in my arms from the womb, even into your old age I am he, and even into your advanced old age I will carry you! I have made you, and I will carry you: be assured I will carry you and I will save you".
See, you gotta be careful about getting this, "I'm too young. I'm too old. It's too much. It's too hard". You can do and I can do whatever God gives me to do because he is with us, giving us the ability to do it. It's easy to get all excited when everything in your life is going great, but we all know that everything doesn't go great all the time. Now, we have authority, but we need to exercise it. And I don't think that having authority over the devil means that we just go around screaming at the devil all the time. "I rebuke you! I resist you"!
You know, when I came into the Spirit-filled move of God back in the '70s, there was a lot of teaching about spiritual warfare. And man, we were taught how to deal with the devil, and I got really good at, "I rebuke you! I resist you! Raar, raar"! And you know what? I rebuked until my rebuker was worn out and I still had some of the same problems in my life. Now, I want you to listen to what I'm gonna tell you, 'cause you're not gonna like it but it's true anyway. Resisting the devil, rebuking the devil, taking authority over the devil does not always mean that you have some powerful way from God to get your problem to go away.
See, I knew you wouldn't like it. Cause see, most of the time, we're not really resisting the devil, we're resisting the problem. That's all right, I don't mind if we just take a little while. "Well, I'm a child of God, and bless God, I am not gonna put up with this"! God put this in my heart one time several years ago and I'm gonna offer it to you. You can have it if you want it. If not, I guess you don't have to take it. But this is what he put in my heart. Resisting the devil doesn't mean that you get rid of every problem you've got. It means that you resist acting like the devil while you've got the problem.
You know, everywhere you look today, there's war, war between nations, wars between churches, wars between people on the worship team in the churches, wars in marriages, wars between siblings, wars between your flesh and your spirit, wars in your mind. The devil is really into war. But here's the good news, you've got what it takes. I'm not gonna tell ya it's always gonna be fun or easy, but you've got what it takes. You have weapons and you have armor, weapons and armor, but they're not natural weapons, they're spiritual weapons. The greatest battle that we fight is in our mind.
I'm sure a lot of you know Darlene Zschech, and you probably know that she fought a pretty fierce battle with cancer here a few years ago. And I remember her saying to me one time, "Man, you talk about the battlefield of the mind", which that's been one of my cornerstone teachings. And it's so much fun to sit in church and hear the messages, and clap, and shout, and say, "Amen", but when you've gotta apply it in your life, when I have to apply it in my life, that's when we need to pull out those messages and put them to work in our life. How many you know it's easier to hear it than it is to live it? All right, so the mind is one of the biggest areas where we do war. You may have this underlined, but I don't care. I'm gonna read it to you again.
2 Corinthians 10:4 and 5, "The weapons of our warfare are not physical weapons of flesh and blood, our weapons are divinely powerful for the destruction of strongholds". What is a stronghold? It's an area where satan digs in, kind of buries himself in some area of your mind, and you may have a type of thinking or a thought pattern that you've had for so long that you don't even realize it's a wrong way to think. Example, I was abused sexually by my dad for most of the years that I was growing up. It's no secret. I talk about it all the time. My mom knew what was going on, but she was kind of a weak, just didn't know how to stand up to things, and so she knew what he was doing, but didn't do anything about it.
And so, for a long time, I had this thinking, and maybe some of you have this now and this will help you. I had this thinking, kind of a sneaky little thing that well, "Okay, I survived it. I'm away now, but I'll always have kind of a second-rate life. I'll never be what I could have been if that wouldn't have happened to me". And that was a lie from the devil. Not only do you have to live a second-rate life because you didn't get a good beginning. We serve a God who takes the worst thing that could happen to us. Come on, and actually works it out for our good. But you see, as long as I believed that lie that would always have a second-rate life, then I was always going to have a second-rate life. But when I started believing, "God, you can take this and you can do something with it. You can take this mess and turn it into a miracle".
I don't know how to work this out in my head, but I can tell you, I know that because of what happened to me, I have a better life than I would have if it wouldn't have happened. And let me tell you something, that is God. So, be careful about things that you have believed for a long time that just are not true things. That's why it's so important to hear the word, and read the word, and study the word, and hear the word, and hear the word, because it is the truth. It's the only truth that we have and anything else that doesn't agree with it is a lie and it's from the pit of hell. Getting our minds renewed according to the Word of God.
Luke chapter 4, every time satan lied to Jesus during those 40 days when he was being tested and tried in the wilderness, interestingly enough, the Bible says the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tested. Why would the Holy Spirit lead you into a tough place? Because we can't just hear this stuff. We have to apply it at some point in our life. It has to be tested to even give us the strength to know that we really do have what it takes. And every time, every time that satan lied to Jesus, Jesus said, it says, "The devil said to Jesus and Jesus said to the devil. The devil said to Jesus and Jesus said to the devil, it is written".
And two times, two of the lies that satan told him was about who he was. "Well, if you are the Son of God. Well, if God loves you, then why is this happening in your life? Well, if God loves you, then why is this still hanging on? Your prayers aren't working". He's a liar, a liar, a liar, and there's nothing that he loves to lie to you about any more than who you are. And I think, just really, I have a simple purpose this morning. I want you to go out of here knowing who you are and what you have. You're a child of God and he loves you.
And we say that over and over and over and over again that sometimes, even as a minister, I forget how powerful that is in people's lives, and we need to not just let that float over us. "Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know I'm the righteousness of God in Christ". Righteousness is part of your armor, but it is a weapon. Knowing who you are in Christ is a weapon, and he will say to you, "Well, if you are a child of God. Well, if you are the Son of God". And Jesus came right back and said, "It is written".
We talked to a man last week, actually Dave talked to him first and he was getting a coffee and saw the gentleman in there. And then I came up right about the time he was leaving so I got to talk to him too. And he said, "Eight years ago, I was in your men's home". We have a Dream Center like the ones that Tommy Barnett started only in St. Louis, and it's a church in one of the worst parts of the city where people just have literally almost nothing. And I wanted to go there because those are the people sometimes that need hope the most.
Part of that program is a men's home, and almost all the men that go through there and have gone through there were living on the streets. They were homeless. They were alcoholics. They were drug addicts. They'd just gotten out of prison. They were veterans who needed help and had just been forgotten about. And he said, "I was in your men's home eight years ago, and now I own my own construction business that is very successful. My wife and I have taken missions trips, and we just started a brand-new start-up church and we're meeting in", he told me the hotel that they were meeting in. And he said, "You know what changed my life"? He said, "When I heard you say, 'God loves you, he's not mad at you, and you are right with God through your faith in Jesus Christ.'" he said, "I'd never heard anything like that. I felt like the tail end of everything. I felt like God was mad at me".
And, you know, I think a lot of people have this little secret vague thinking that God's just a little bit ticked off at 'em. And I want to tell you today, God is not mad at you. And I don't know, maybe everybody in this building today, and those watching online, and those that will see it on TV, maybe you've heard that God loves you, and that he's not mad at you, and that you are the righteousness of God in Christ, but if there's one person in here today, or one person watching TV, or one person watching online that you have never heard that before, God loves you, and he loves you unconditionally. God is not mad at you. Even though you've done things and do things wrong, if you're repentant, God is not mad at you and no matter how bad of a beginning you had in life, you can have a good finish. God is for you. You have power, you have authority, and the devil does not have to run your life if you decide that you're just not gonna let him.
I mentioned this morning that I heard a man that I've been watching online who's actually passed away 40 years ago, a great powerful pastor and Bible teacher named Martin Lloyd Jones. And first of all, it encouraged me that 40 years after he's been gone I'm learning from him. And so, it gave me encouragement that even after I'm gone, my labor won't be wasted, that people can still be reading books and hearing messages, and we probably will try to keep my programs on television until it's obvious that I couldn't possibly still be around 'cause people didn't even wear those kinds of clothes yet or, you know, look that way.
But he said something that really struck me. First, he's an evangelical and he actually pastored in England for a long time. And he said, "The greatest deficit in the evangelical church has been a lack of teaching about the devil". I think that's interesting. I went to church for I don't know how many years, was a believer, and never heard a message about the devil. Never heard a message about how he lies to us, how he attacks us, and that's a shame. You know, maybe talking about the devil doesn't sound like the most exciting thing in the world but people perish for lack of knowledge. You know, and many times you can be fighting with what you think is your enemy and really that's not your enemy at all.
For example, do you know that one of the ways that satan attacks us is through people who actually really love us. I mean, they really do, they love us. They don't realize that maybe they're being used by the enemy. It's not something they're doing on purpose, but the enemy can actually come through people that really care about us. And that actually happened between Jesus and Peter when Jesus was expressing to him that it was about time for him to go to Jerusalem and how much he was gonna suffer there. And Peter said, "Oh no, Lord, this must never happen to you". It actually says that Peter rebuked Jesus.
I don't know what kind of dumb you have to be to rebuke Jesus but obviously pretty high up on the dumb scale. And why did Peter do that? Was he really concerned about Jesus that he didn't want him to suffer, or did he kind of have it already figured out that since he was part of the group, that if Jesus was gonna go suffer, that he was probably gonna get in on a little of it. A lot of times people hurt us and they don't even realize that they are because they're really just trying to take care of themselves or they're trying to get you to do what they want to do.
You know, when God first called me to do what I'm doing, it was unheard of, most unpopular, especially in the denomination that I was in at the time. And people just thought I had lost my mind. To be honest, I lost most of my friends, was ostracized by the family, got asked to leave my church. It was a very difficult time. And those, you know, all those people started out by saying, "Now, we love you. We want you to know we love you". And honestly, they really truly did feel like I was wrong and that I was making a mistake for my life, but the enemy was trying to use them.
And, you know, if there's anybody that we want their approval, it's the people that we care about. You know, if somebody disapproves of you that you don't care what they think, it's easy to not listen to 'em but when it's somebody that you really care about and you want their approval and then that's the person that the enemy tries to use, it gets extra hard.
Well, you know, Jesus, he recognized the source of his problems a lot better than we do sometimes. He was a little bit quicker to get things than we are. And he immediately turned to Peter and said, "Get thee behind me, satan. You are an offense, a hindrance, and you're in my way". That's in Matthew 16. So, what was Jesus saying? "You are being used by the devil to try to prevent me from doing the will of God. Get behind me".
Now, I'm not recommending that you look at your friends face-to-face... And say, "Get behind me, satan". That might not go over too well but the principle is the same that we really need to hear from God and that doesn't mean you never listen to people. There's power in godly counsel but when it all comes right down to it, you have to follow your heart because if you don't, you're gonna always wonder what would have happened if you would have done the thing that you felt like God wanted you to do. So, we war not against flesh and blood. Your fight may not be with who you think it's with. We war not against flesh and blood, but principalities and powers, and wickedness in high places.
This doesn't sound like a very pleasant subject, but there are evil spirits that are everywhere. You can't see them. They dwell in the atmosphere between here and heaven, and they will do anything and everything that they can possibly do to steal your joy, make you miserable, keep you from knowing who you truly are in Christ, and keep you from fulfilling your destiny. One of the number-one tools, if not the number-one tool, that satan uses against people, is fear, feelings of fear. Satan always offers us the opposite of what God really wants us to have and God wants us to have faith. We receive everything that we receive from God by faith, but we actually receive from the devil by fear.
And so, the only way to overcome fear is by faith. And the Bible says that, "God hath not given us a spirit of fear but of power, and love, and a sound mind". And the Amplified says, "And a spirit of self-control". I love that.
Now, just a little quick lesson. Didn't really intend for it to be part of my message, but we're gonna just go with the Spirit today. Fear is a feeling, it's a spirit that creates feelings, and they're feelings that something bad's gonna happen. You can shake, you can tremble, you can have wild and goofy thoughts. And, you know, for years, I kept trying to teach people not to fear, and God finally got a message across to me that has helped me so much as well as it has helped lots of other people. And God never really in all the places in the Bible that it says, "Fear not", I haven't counted them but I heard it's 365, one for every day of the year. When the Bible says, "Fear not", it does not mean don't ever feel fear. What it means is when you feel fear, don't run, stand firm and keep going forward.
Courage is actually forward motion in the presence of fear. I was so afraid when I first started stepping out in the beginning to do what I'm doing. I was so afraid when God told me to quit my job, and trust him, and start preparing for a ministry. I was accustom to taking care of myself. I didn't want to have that much dependence on anybody, but I look back now and I think, what would I have missed if I would not have taken a chance that I was right, taken a chance that I was hearing from God.
Now I'm not suggesting that anybody here be foolish and do goofy things or that you don't have wisdom and forethought, but I am strongly suggesting today that you don't let fear rule your life and that you will, if need be, you'll be willing to be wrong to find out if you might be right. Come on, I think maybe I want to say that again. Be willing to be wrong just to find out if you might be right. I don't know what Joel felt like when he decided to get this building and make this a church. I mean, who would have the nerve to think that they could fill this place? I mean, it scared me for him just thinking about it so I can't even imagine how scared he was. And there might have been a lot of people that thought, "That's not a wise move, that's not a good thing to do". But he was courageous enough, come on.
I want to tell you something, being a good leader, I'm just gonna say it really plain, takes a lot of guts. I mean, it just takes a lot of courage, and I respect people who will step out and give it a try. I'd actually rather try and fail than to live my life in some little safe zone where I'm sure that I never make a mistake and I never look bad to anybody. So, keep in mind that every time that you try to make any progress in your life, the devil is gonna try to find a reason to frighten you and a lot of the fear turns into, "Well, what are people gonna think? What are people gonna think"?
I love what Paul said in Galatians 1:10, "If I were trying to be popular with people, I would not right now be an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ", amen. We all wanna be liked, but if popularity with people is your number-one goal, you might as well forget ever doing the will of God in your life because it just won't happen. And I think maybe God's leading me in this direction for just a little tiny moment because there's some people here today that you're standing on the brink of taking a step that's gonna lead you into an amazing, amazing life, into an amazing new chapter of your life. And the devil is trying so hard to talk you out of it, and don't be surprised if he's not using people that love you that you really, really need them to be for you.
Don't live your life in fear. Do it afraid. I tell a story, I don't know if I'm retelling one you've heard but I'll make it quick. I believed God to get a speaking engagement for somebody to ask me to come to their something and speak whether it was a two-person Bible study or, you know, of course, I wanted something big. I had a big vision and for years, I did little stuff, little stuff, little stuff, little stuff. How many of you know when you're believing for big, little doesn't get you too excited? Amen? But you can't despise the day of small beginnings, that's where your faithfulness is tested.
Long story short, I finally got two speaking engagements back to back. One was in Colorado, one was gonna be in Jacksonville, Florida. Well, the one in Colorado, I don't always get the details right and so Dave, I apologize ahead of time if they're not right 'cause I know you'll correct me soon as we're gone. But there was another well-known speaker that was gonna speak before me and so I felt pretty cool about that because I thought, "I got a guaranteed crowd". You know, everybody knows him and likes him so then even if they get stuck with me, they'll be in the building.
Well, something happened and he had to cancel and it just left me that nobody knew. And I don't remember all the details but I do know by the time I left there, I wanted to just go stick my head in a hole somewhere and hide. And so, that didn't give me much confidence for the next place I was going so by the time I got to that place, I was so scared, so scared. And I remember there were 900 people in attendance. It was a women's conference in Jacksonville, Florida and the only reason I got invited was because a speaker had canceled and somebody that knew somebody that knew somebody that knew somebody that knew me.
So, I was way down the line from actually being the chosen one that everybody wanted to come. And oh my gosh, I got up. I prayed so hard. I mean, I prayed. I prayed, I prayed, I prayed, I prayed. And so, opening night, it was a Friday night thing and then Saturday, and the speakers were sitting on the front row. And everybody was somebody that everybody knew and then there was Joyce. I mean, everybody had a title. Bishop this, reverend that, doctor this, pastor so and so, and Joyce from Fenton... Who nobody ever heard of.
And so, I had this big vision for selling recorded messages. It wasn't even just about making the money. I felt like that God said, "You're gonna go all over the place and you're gonna have a large", back then cassette tape, "Teaching tape ministry". Well, the thing that's interesting now is we are on television in two-thirds of the world in 93 languages and all of those messages go out digital. So yes, turns out to be not, "A tape", like old cassette, but everything is recorded and taped.
And so, we always brought lots of resources with us everywhere that we went. We brought all these CDs. I don't think I'd even written any books yet but we brought all these CDs and so, Dave would load everything up and carry it in. And he'd set it up, and he'd sell it, and he'd break it down, and we were quite a team back then. We had me, and Dave, and one worship leader that played a guitar, a piano, and a drum machine with his foot.
Actually, the other day I watched our fourth, our number four TV program that went on the air 24 years ago. They couldn't find number one. They gave me the soonest one they could have and it was so pathetic. I mean, if you could have seen, well, anyway, I can only watch a little bit and I thought, I can't not believe that I looked that bad. 'Cause, you know, recordings back then, they just, they weren't that clear. And so, that night, Friday night, they said, "We would like all the workshop teachers". See, I wasn't a main speaker. I was teaching a workshop. "And we'd like the workshop teachers to get up, take three or four minutes, and tell people what you're going to teach on".
Well, I mean I was so scared and I'm telling you the truth, when I got up to tell people what I was gonna teach on and I am not lying, I was so scared when I opened my mouth, the only thing that came out was a little squeak. I had a choice to make. Maybe some of you are at a place right now where you have a choice to make. I could either run back to Fenton like the devil was screaming in my ears to do. "Who do you think you are? What are you doing here? You're gonna make a fool out of yourself. You just need to pack your stuff and go home. You remember what happened in Colorado? It's gonna be worse here". Or I knew that I could dig down just a little bit deeper and try one more time.
Come on, somebody's getting a word today. Maybe you've had a few failures, but you need to dig down just a little bit deeper 'cause you just can't get it out of your heart. Maybe you need to dig down just a little bit deeper and try one more time. Well, I told 'em about my workshop. I remember I was teaching out of Galatians 3:1 through 3 talking about that we couldn't be perfected by the works of the flesh, that really only God could change us as we walked in fellowship with him. I did my little teaching and the people rushed out of that room, which there was standing room only in my little room about 400 people were in the room, and I'm telling you what, they bought every cassette tape. They would have brought the tablecloth if Dave would have sold it to them.
And so, I went home with a victory and that gave me a little bit of courage for the next time. Don't think that anybody ever gets to a place of success without having to confront fear. And I'm not trying to speak for him or for the Osteen family, but I can promise you that there've been many times when they've had to stand up to fear and say, "I'm willing to take a chance on being wrong in order to find out if I'm right". Come on, give God a praise.
Now, you are part of the army of God. We literally are soldiers in the army of God and to be honest, if the devil's not bothering you, you're in worst condition than if he is. Because if he's not bothering you, that means you're not bothering him. Come on. You might as well expect to have to fight the good fight of faith at times, which means everything that you say you believe will be tested at sometime in some way. But thankfully, we have weapons. We have armor. The word, the name, and the blood are all weapons. They're things that we can use. When you're in trouble and all you can say is, "Jesus", it's powerful.
Remember the power that's in the blood. Remember back under the old covenant when the angel of death was gonna pass over, and God told them to slay a lamb, and put the blood on the top and the sides of their doorframe, and get inside, and take that lamb and eat it. Take it into themselves and that the angel of death would have to pass over them. We need to go back to some of the things that we've let go of and remember there's power in the Word of God. What I'm doing right now is powerful. It's penetrating beyond your brain and getting into your spirit.
And as you meditate on this, these are the things that will save you when you're fighting those battles in the midnight hour of your life. God has given us an opportunity to have our mind renewed. Talk to you just for a minute about truth. The world says there is no absolute truth now. Everything's just relative to what's going on. "What might be true for me might not be true for you". And excuse me, I don't mean to be rude but that is just dumb. I mean, how can anything be truth if it keeps changing all the time?
And so, Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. And I may not understand all of it. I may not understand why God does some things the way that he does them, but this is the truth. And the only way we're ever gonna really know when the devil's lying to us is if we take the time to learn the truth and make a decision. If you haven't made this decision, make it today. This trumps everything else. We have to get back to the word. Sin is still sin. God hasn't changed his mind because we're more modern now. He never changes, his truth never changes.
Deuteronomy 28:7 through 14: "The Lord will cause the enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before you: they will come out against you one way, and they will flee before you seven ways". C'mon, the devil may be chasing you right now but if you stand firm and continue to believe God you can say to him right now, "You're coming against me one way but the day's gonna come when you're gonna run away from me seven different ways. The Lord will command the blessing upon you in your storehouses and in all that you undertake, and he will bless you in the land which the Lord your God gives you. The Lord will establish you as a people holy and set apart to himself, just as he has sworn to you, if"...
Oh gosh, I wish the "If" wasn't there. You know, in the Bible we see "If" and "But" a lot. And they're actually sometimes more important words than the rest of what we're reading. "If you keep the commandments of the Lord your God and walk that is, live your life each and every day in his ways". Now, these people when they made mistakes they had to make sacrifices to make up for those mistakes. But good news, Jesus is the only sacrifice that will ever be needed and when we make mistakes all God wants us to do is realize it, repent, not want to do it again, and he's taken care of everything else. You're not perfect, I'm not perfect, we're gonna make mistakes.
And here's a piece of good news. A lot of times what people sacrifice when they make mistakes is their joy. You feel like if you've made a mistake and messed something up, that you have no right now to enjoy your life. We get into this self-inflicted punishment. We believe our sins are forgiven but we still wanna carry the burden of guilt. We think we need to feel bad about ourselves for at least a while to make up for what we've done wrong. Well, I agree that we should grieve over our sins, that there's a time of repentance and mourning, but if you wanna make the devil mad, when you do something wrong, when you really mess up, and he comes around and tries to tell you, well, even though you're sorry and even though you've repented, you don't have the right to enjoy your life, that's when you need to say, "You are a liar and I am going to enjoy my life because that's what Jesus died for me to do".
Do you know what? The devil don't want your stuff. He wants your joy. He don't care about your bank account and your fancy job. He'll take stuff away from you hoping that your joy is connected to the stuff and if you lose the stuff then you lose your joy because the joy of the Lord is your strength. And I'll tell you something, I said to somebody just recently, "You know what? I need to laugh more. I used to laugh more than I used to". Laughter makes the devil mad. He doesn't want us to enjoy our lives.
Verse 10: "So all the peoples of the earth will see that you're called by the name of the Lord, and they're gonna be afraid of you. The Lord will give you great prosperity, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your livestock and in the produce of your ground, in the land which God swore to give your fathers to you. The Lord will open for you his good treasure, the heavens, to give rain in your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hands". And I love this: "And you will lend to many nations, but you will never have to borrow".
I wanna challenge you to believe for something starting today if you've never done it before. Believe that you can get completely, 100%, out of debt and that you can live and never have to borrow money. How about that? I think I'll tell you this 'cause I think it's important. It says a lot about God and his word. I learned how to confess the word 40-some-odd years ago. Before I ever heard anybody teach on it, God had me doing it. And one of the things that I said every day and probably still say most every days is "I'm the head and not the tail, above and not beneath. I lend to many nations but I never have to borrow".
And it was just a confession for me but this is the power of words. I cannot even explain this to you but our ministry, by the grace and the mercy of God and good financial management on my husband's part, we have never borrowed one penny. Not ever. Now I'm not saying it's wrong to do that. God leads different people in different ways. The only payment we ever made was we bought a used copy machine from a baptist church for $500 and we made ten $50 payments on that to pay it off and that was with no interest and everything else Dave would save money 'til we could pay for it and then he'd get it.
Now, I probably would have said, "I want it now. I'm gonna borrow the money and pay for it later". But he had more wisdom than me and even the building that we have now, he'd build until we ran out of money and then if he had to he'd just wait a while and then we would build some more. So I'm telling you that the promises of God are possible for us to see them as a reality in our life but we have to believe them. How many of you can believe right now today that you can someday pay cash for your new car?
All right, "The Lord will make you the head and not the tail: you'll be above only, and you'll not be beneath, if you listen and pay attention to the commandments of the Lord your God, which I'm commanding you today. Do not turn aside from them, to the right or the left, nor should you follow other Gods". Now, that's the truth. And if that was working for them living under the law, if that's what God promised them under the law, I wanna ask you today what kind of a life do you think you should have living under grace? A lot of people talk today about, "Well, tithing is under the law. We're not to tithe anymore, that's under the law".
And I used to kind of wonder what to say to people 'cause I didn't have a great answer but God gave me one. If they could tithe under the law, what in the world should we be doing by grace? Everything we have belongs to God and we shouldn't put limits on what we give. Don't worry, I'm not gonna do another offering, just calm down. So in Ephesians 6, Paul told the people that some of their armor was the belt of truth but he said, "Tighten the belt of truth". I like that. So that means when you're in a battle, maybe you've got it underlined in your Bible but you're gonna have to tighten that belt of truth. You're gonna have to hold on to it like never before because maybe nothing in your circumstances look like it's working out the way that it should.
Anybody going through that right now in your life? Maybe it's like... Wow. How many of you got a big giant following you around? All right, I got something specific in my heart that I wanna get to and so I'm gonna skip over a little bit here and make sure that I don't miss it. You know, to be very honest with you, there's a lot of things that happen in life that I just don't really understand. I mean, there's a lot of bad things that happen to really good people and I don't really get that or understand it. Doesn't seem right, doesn't seem fair.
And I found myself last weekend particular thinking about some of the really dedicated, committed, great people that I've known that are in ministry that have given their lives to teaching and preaching and traveling and being missionaries and doing everything that they could, spending their whole life helping other people. And it just seems to me that those people ought to end up in real victory. I think we all deserve that, obviously. I'm not trying to single out people in ministry but, you know, when you give your life to doing what it takes when you're in ministry serving other people, if you're not in that position you just really don't have any idea what it takes.
And that's why I just get so aggravated when people try to judge and criticize people in ministry when they don't have any idea at all about those people or what it takes or the sacrifices they make to do what they're doing. It is the most despicable thing that any believer can do. And so I hate that 'cause I know how hard you work and, no, we're not perfect. We don't do everything right but people should respect their spiritual leaders and they should pray for them and be for them and not against them.
So, you know, I just been thinking about some things. You know, I've had a rough couple of years just one thing after another, two hip surgeries, one back surgery, then you think it's over and it goes right into something else and you kind of get to, like, "Really? I mean, if this is all I'm gonna do, do I have to be fighting something every day of my life in order to do it"? And see, I believe in being honest with God. I think you get a lot further being honest. David never, he wasn't bashful at all about telling God exactly how he felt. He would come back and say, "Nevertheless, my faith is in you", but I just don't get this. This just doesn't seem to be right.
And so I was thinking about one man of God I know that has led literally millions and millions of people to the Lord. And he's fighting a battle with cancer. And, you know, I'm thinking, "Really? Is that the way that it should end for people like that"? Well, first of all, God doesn't owe us anything because we work for him. That's one thing that every person in ministry has gotta get through their head, is God does not owe us anything. We are privileged to get to do what God has called us to do. Every single one of us, it's a privilege to do what we're called to do. And I think the real test of life sometimes comes when you minister something to somebody else all your life and then it just doesn't seem like it's working for you.
Kathryn Kuhlman saw unbelievable healing ministries and she died with an enlarged heart. There's a lot of stuff you just are not gonna figure out. But a couple of scriptures that I want us to look at this morning and I think this'll bless you and you'll get a good lesson out of this. They're both in Romans 8, and the first one is Romans 8:35 through 37. Romans chapter 8:35 through 37: "Who can ever separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? But just as it is written and forever remains, 'for your sake we are put to death all the day long: we are regarded as sheep for the slaughter.'"
Let's think about that for a minute. He's saying, "Look, we're going through stuff and to other people looking on, all those people that we've told how great God is and what victory we have in our life, and yet in our circumstances, it looks like we're like a sheep being led to the slaughter. Yet right in the middle of all of these things, we are more than conquerors through Christ who loves us. We're not a conqueror because we never have to deal with anything. We are more than conquerors if we can deal with it right. Doing it right".
I think one of the things that we need to pray for more than just for our problems to go away is, "God, please let me handle this right. Help me to stay strong. Help me not to blame you. Help me not to question you". I don't know how many of you may or may not know Charles Nieman but he's a wonderful man of God, has a church in Texas, right? Somewhere in, El Paso, Texas, yeah. I've been there a few times but I don't know where I'm at half the time, and his beautiful wife died with cancer a few years ago and he said something to me that really impacted me. He said, "Two things I told God". He said, "Number one, I'm never gonna ask you why". That's a biggie. "I'm never gonna ask you why. And, God, my prayer is 'help me do this right.'"
That meant so much to me. "Help me do this right. Help me be the same in front of my congregation. Help me say the same thing about you, God, in front of people as I would have said if she got a miracle and I didn't have to go through this". How many of you are with me today? Let's don't just pray to get rid of our problem. Let's pray that when we have a problem, we can do it right. "Help me, God, do this right".
So if you look at the two scriptures, one of them is in Romans 8:26 and it says: "For we don't know how to pray as we ought to", so the Holy Spirit prays through us because he knows the will of God. So Paul starts out there and he says there's things we don't know. We don't know. We don't know why things happen. We don't understand. We don't get it. It doesn't seem fair. We don't know. But the next verse says: "But we do know that all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose".
Now listen to me. So he's saying, "Look, there's things we don't know but there's things we do know". And you know what I've begun to think about a lot? I think we focus way too much on what we don't know, c'mon, and not nearly enough on what we do know. I don't always know why something's happening in my life or why it's not getting over with sooner. I mean, c'mon, we all wonder, "God, if you're gonna be able to do this a year from now, why not now? I mean, really, do you have to make me wait a year and go through all that stuff? If you can do it, just do it now". We don't know.
C'mon, how many of you are going through something right now and you just don't get it? Amen? We don't know. Sometimes we don't even know how to pray. But we do know. C'mon, I want you to leave here today determined to focus more on what you do know than what you don't know. And what we do know is it's gonna come out okay in the end. And you know what? To be just flat out honest, even if we don't get our victory while we're here on this earth, we are still more than conquerors because, boy, soon as we pass out of here, we got it. And the amount of time that we live here is so nothing compared to eternity.
And you know, I was thinking this morning about John Osteen. Actually, I started thinking about him yesterday and I thought, now, great man of God. I mean, back in the time when he was ministering and preaching, he was one of the most popular speakers, had this great church. Not this building but in another building and he just, sought after speaker, had some of the best speakers into the church, and yet all the time he's helping other people and trying to bless other peoples, he's fighting different health things. Dodie told me that really even when he was younger, there was always stuff that he was dealing with.
Now, I think Dodie said he was about 77 when he went home to be with the Lord but, you know, that's not really that old these days. And so it kind of seems like, well, what a loss. What a waste. I mean, if you're gonna serve God all your life, I mean, did he really have to die in that condition? Could he not have gone out some more victorious way? But I'm gonna tell you what I think's funny.
You know, pastor Lisa wanted me to come to the church and do one of my conferences for a long time and she kept trying to get him to let me come. And he didn't want to. Not 'cause he didn't like me or didn't believe in women preachers. He was all for women being used by God but, back in those days, people lived in camp meetings and conferences and people like me who didn't have a set building to have their meetings in, they were wanting to use people's churches to have their meetings. And so his experience had been that a lot of times people didn't take care of the property right, they didn't treat things right, they didn't always do what they said they should do. So he just kind of had a standard that he was just across the board not gonna let people use the building to have their own conferences in.
So for that reason, he wouldn't let me come. But as we know, Lisa's persistent and so she kept after him. Well, finally, he said, "Okay". And I may not have the exact number of weeks right but I think he had only passed away a couple of weeks, two weeks, before I was supposed to come. Well, of course, you know me, I'm thinking, "Wow, that's gonna be a tough atmosphere to walk into and try to preach in". And I remember Joel, he won't mind me saying this, I guess. If you don't like it, you can tell me later, but he was so scared because his dad wanted him to be the one to take his place in the pulpit. He was so scared.
And I remember Joel sitting right over in here somewhere in the old building and, I mean, you were, like, locked in. You needed a word from God. You wanted a word from God. But here's the thing that I thought of. We don't know why things happen the way they happen but here's what we do know today. We know today that he's watching this service from heaven. He's not gone. He's just not here with us. But he's watching everything and I bet he's saying, "I like that woman. I'm glad I let her come".
And I bet he's so proud of Paul and Joel and Victoria and Dodie and all of his kids and Lisa, and I bet he's so, like, "Wow, you guys have done a phenomenal job. Look at that step of faith that Joel took. Look at that building they've got. Look at what my kids have done". C'mon, we don't know why some things happen the way they do. But we do know that all things work out for good when you love God and you want his will. Thank you, Jesus.