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Joyce Meyer - If at First You Don't Succeed, You're Normal




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If at first you don't succeed-you're normal. Amen? Everybody is gonna go outta here feeling better about yourself tonight than you did when you came in. How many of you walked in here tonight feeling guilty about something? Okay, that's better than 50% of the people, and probably, some of you are too tired to put your hand up, so you, just you didn't. You know something? I want you to remember this. We're not built for guilt. God has not designed us or put us together in such a way, where we can function properly with guilt.

And guilt can have some very adverse reactions, even on your health. They've actually, proven that when people feel guilty that they produce hormones that lead to disease. I remember being in a mental institution one time, going there to minister with a group of people, and I still remember there were a lot of people walking around saying, "It was all my fault. It was all my fault. It was all my fault". You know, you're forgiven before you ever even sin. Because Jesus already paid for all of our flaws and weaknesses. And all you need to do is repent, wanna turn around and go in the right direction, and then just receive what God has already provided.

I think, sometimes, we spend a lot of time asking God for things, but we don't spend any time receiving. I'm gonna suggest to you, tonight, that at least three times a day, you say out loud, "God loves me". And then stop and just kinda swallow those words. "God loves me". When I was trying to get over all the abuse that I went through and I had felt bad about myself for so many years. And there are people here tonight, that you just feel bad about yourself. You don't like yourself, you spend way too much time comparing yourself with other people and trying to be like other people. The devil has assured you that you're some kind of an oddball because you're not like everybody else.

Well, thank God you're not like everybody else. What a boring place it would be if we were all just alike. And I would hear that God loved me, but I wasn't getting it. You know, you can hear something and know that you need it, but you still don't feel that you've got it. And I'm pretty big on confessing the word or declaring the word out loud because I believe that every time you hear something, even if you hear yourself say it, that it helps renew your mind. And whenever you make a good confession or a bad one, it drops back down in your ears and goes back down on the inside of you. So, I think what we believe about ourselves is way more important than what anybody else believes about us. Amen?

And so, one of the things that I did, one of the things, and there were many, but one of the things that God led me to do during that period of time, and it took a fair number of years for me to overcome what I went through in my childhood. But one of the things I did is I would go and look at myself in the mirror, in a full-length mirror and point at myself and say, "God loves you". And you need to do that until you get that revelation. This is something we hear all the time in church. And I know Joel well enough to know that you probably hear that in some way, shape, or form every church service that you're here. And I thought about that when I thought about starting my message with that again tonight. But I don't care how many times you've heard it, until you get it, you need to keep hearing it more, and more, and more.

And the Bible says if we know we're loved that we won't live in fear. Perfect love, and only God can give us that, casts out fear because we know that if he loves us enough to send his only son to die for us and suffer the way he did that surely, he will take care of us in every situation that comes up in our life if we will trust him. Amen? You are in good hands. It's normal to be imperfect and make mistakes. Now, Matthew chapter 22:36-39, says, "'Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law'? And Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and the greatest commandment. And there's a second that is like it, love your neighbor as you love yourself'".

So, I believe that the love that God has for us and gives to us is meant to be a cycle in our life that we work with God to complete. God loves us. We receive that love, which equates to loving yourself in a balanced way. Yes, I said you should love yourself in a balanced way. Yes, I said you should love yourself... See, we kinda think maybe something's wrong with that. It's like... "Um... I don't, mmm... I don't know". I didn't say, "Be in love with yourself". I said, "Love yourself". If God can love us then surely, we can love us.

One time I went up to the front of a church service with a friend of mine, early on, in my walk with God to get prayer. And the pastor asked her what she wanted prayer for, and she said, "I hate myself". And he had the strangest reaction. He backed off and put his hands on his hip and he said, "Who do you think you are? After God sending his Son to suffer and die for you the way he did, and him loving you so much unconditionally, who are you to hate yourself"?

And so, if you really look at it like that. See, we forget sometimes, what God has done for us in Christ. And I've been thinking, matter of fact, I was thinking about it during worship. I'm gonna do a teaching just called, "What does it mean to be born again"? And I know a lot of people would probably think, "Well, I don't need that. I'm already born again". But I think most people, even that are born again, don't really know what they've got. I think we'd have a lot more victory in our lives if we really understood what it means to have God living on the inside of you, and to have him be your partner in life, and to really believe some of these things that we sang tonight, that if that, "Same power that raised him from the dead dwells in you".

And see, to be honest, these are the things we need to be thinking about not everything that's wrong with us all the time. You need not be concerned if there's something about you that needs to be corrected, God will let you know. But his conviction should never become condemnation. If God convicts you and you start to just feel guilty about it, you can't get over it. God will never convict you of something wrong if he's not ready to help you overcome it. Amen?

How many of you do that? You get convicted about something, you hear a sermon or you read something and your like, "Oh yeah, yeah... Yeah", and then, you just go away feeling guilty. Well, that's not receiving correction. Receiving correction is just saying, "You know, Lord, you're right". And you know, correction is just direction, it's not rejection. Remember that, correction is not rejection, it's direction. We better thank God that he loves us enough to show us what's wrong with us. And wouldn't you hate to just be left alone in the condition you're in right now and think that you'll never change anymore and just always be the way you are?

"No, I want it. God, bring it on. Convict me, show me what's wrong in my life". You know why? I know that it really is God loving me. I used to not think that. I'd think, "Oh boy, another thing wrong with Joyce". But then, I finally learned that, that's really God showing us that he loves us. Amen? Come on. You can look a little happier than you do. You notice, it says, "Love your neighbor as you love yourself", and you can't love somebody else if you don't love yourself.

It took me so long to learn that. I'd go to church and hear all these messages about walking in love, and I tried so hard to love people. And they just made me mad. And I wanted to change 'em all. Come on, you're laughing 'cause you know it's true. But I didn't understand, if I wanted to so bad, why I couldn't. And God taught me, it's because you don't love yourself. You may have heard me say this before but I think it's worth saying again, you cannot give away what you don't have.

Some of you need to be a little more merciful with yourself. And if you were more merciful with yourself, you'd be able to give more mercy to other people. Some of you need to go ahead and just forgive yourself for all that stuff that you've got against yourself because God forgave you the first time you asked him. Amen? Stop talking to God about stuff he's already forgotten. The Bible says that he forgives us and he forgets it and he removes our sins as far as the east is from the west. So, stop talking to God about stuff that he doesn't remember anymore. Come on. Somebody tonight, needs to be set free.

"God demonstrates", Romans 5:8, "God demonstrates his own love for us: that while we were still yet sinners, Christ died for us". Just imagine, when you were in the bar hanging out with all the wrong people and doing all the wrong things and into all kinds of immorality, didn't care a thing about God, Jesus died for you. It's unconditional. He doesn't love us because we're worth loving. He loves us because he is love, and love has to give itself away. It can't do anything else. Love must give itself away.

And there's other really great scriptures in the Bible about love. It's something that I suggest that you study. But I wanna read you two verses in Psalm 139, "For you created my inmost being: you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you", this is David, "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made: your works are wonderful, I know that full well". So, it kind of sounds to me like David is saying, "I'm pretty wonderful".

Well... See, every time I try to get you to say or think something nice about yourself, you get all quiet on me. You're special. You're unique. And you're wonderful because God doesn't make any junk. How many of you believe God created you? Okay, how many of you believe that God is wonderful and does wonderful things? Okay, so why would that exclude you? Yeah, that's a good question. Thank you, brother. That's a really good question. Now, I'm gonna say some things tonight, that you may go home scratching your head, but hopefully, it'll get you thinking.

John Maxwell says that we can fail forward. Well, what does he mean by that? He means that when we fail at something, if we're willing to learn from our mistake, it can actually help us further down the road in our life and in our walk with God. But now, listen to this. As long as you're feeling guilty about the failure or the mistake, you can't learn anything from it, so you'll just keep doing it over, and over, and over again. And I'm gonna say that again, 'cause I can tell you need me to.

Okay, let's just say that, which I'm not gonna do this tomorrow, but let's just say you come tomorrow and I teach a rousing message about the mouth. And boy, everybody in here's convicted. You make your mind up, "That's it, man, I'm gonna be careful about my words. I heard that, Lord. Yes, and amen". But you go home and you just feel real guilty about the things you've said and the way you've talked to people. And so, if you do that, that guilt will keep you from learning what you need to learn so you can improve by the grace of God and not do it again.

Do you hear me? As long as you're feeling guilty about your past mistakes, you cannot learn from them. You'll just keep repeating them. Maybe one more time, and we'll get it. This is really a pretty deep truth. 'cause, see, we think that we're supposed to feel guilty. Well, the Bible says grieve over your sins. There's a time to mourn but there's a time to let go and go on. I'm not suggesting that we take our sins lightly, and just laugh and giggle about 'em. Naturally, if you love God, you're gonna grieve if you feel like you've done something that has hurt him. But you can very quickly receive the grace of God, thank him for showing you that. You don't have to feel guilty. And if you do, as long as you feel guilty about your mistake, you'll never learn anything from it and you'll just keep repeating it and doing it over, and over, and over again.

I think you're finally, maybe, starting to hear me. Can you hear me in the back? Alright. Oh, I got another one here for ya that's gonna really burst your religious bubble. Failure is not final and it's not fatal. It's not really how you begin, it's how you end that makes all the difference in life. Failure is part of the human condition. If you make mistakes, you're normal. See, I had a real problem with weakness because my mother had kind of a weak nature. She was fearful and she was afraid of my dad. And so, she knew that he was sexually abusing me, but she didn't do anything to protect me.

And so, thankfully, I never did despise my mother. I seem to have some kind of understanding that she just couldn't help it, but I hated weakness. And I determined that I was never gonna be like that. That I would be strong, and I would stand against things. And so, I tell you what, when I started my walk with God and he started trying to show me things that I needed to turn over to him and let him help me overcome, and believe me from what I went through as a child, I was one messed-up lady. And I needed all the help that I could get. But oh, I couldn't take it if I failed or if I tried something but it didn't work out, or if it was obvious that I'd believed that God told me something and it turned out that it wasn't God. I didn't know how to be wrong. I didn't know how to make mistakes.

And I remember when God said to me, and you may think this sounds strange, 'cause I did. But he said, "Joyce, you have permission to have weaknesses". Now, see, initially you think, "Well, wait a minute, now. No, you know. You go tellin' people that and then they're just gonna think they can have sloppy lives". No, here's the thing. If you love God, nobody can talk you into trying to sin on purpose. So, I can stand up here and give you some freedoms that will help you be the person that you wanna be, and I'm telling you that you're not gonna go from now till the end of your life and never make mistakes. Sorry.

Now, this is an important statement, so listen to it: There is a difference in weakness and wickedness. If you got a wicked heart, you and God are gonna have a problem. But if you've got weaknesses, that's why he sent Jesus. Don't we understand that if we had no weaknesses and we could do it all and we were strong in every area, we wouldn't need Jesus. He didn't come for the well, he came for the sick. He came for those that are sick in their soul, those who have issues, who have problems. And it's so freeing, when you learn that the world is not gonna fall apart every time you make a mistake. And it's even, so wonderful when you're free enough to say, "You know, what? I thought I heard from God, but I just missed God".

How freeing is it to be able to openly say, "You know, I made a mistake. I'm sorry".? That could save some marriages if you'd let it. Do you know how wonderful those words are? Instead of two people arguing, arguing, arguing, each one trying to prove they're right. My oldest son, David, was like that a lot. And he said something a few years back that I retell sometimes. He said, "You know what? Being right is highly overrated". You're not gonna get as much out of it as you think you will. So, just say, "I was wrong, I'm sorry". Well, you're still not taking that much, but one person over here clapped a little.

Okay, let's look at a few people. King David committed adultery and murder, and yet, God said David was a man after his own heart. Now, how you gonna figure that out? I felt like God showed me something today. And I think, if you can just get this, if you don't get anything else I say... I know it's gonna help me and I hope it helps you. You know why he could say that about David? Even though David had that time in his life when he really showed weakness and got into adultery and then, to try to cover it up, he had Bathsheba's husband killed and lied about that. It took a whole year before he even repented. He kept trying to hide from it and run from it. And what about Peter? He denies Christ three times and yet, he becomes one of the greatest apostles.

Here's what I felt like God put in my heart. David did more right in his life than he did wrong. And I think that God looks at our whole deal here. You know, one of the things that helped me learn how to rest... Since I almost fell apart two years ago and had to learn that I couldn't keep working like a crazy person all my life. And one of the things that helped me to rest was God said, "Look at all you've accomplished in your whole life, not what you've accomplished today". It's okay if you don't work for a week. It's okay if you wanna lay on the couch, once in awhile, and watch movies all day long. It's okay.

Look at what you've done your whole life, not just what you're doing today. How many of you feel guilty when you try to rest? Okay, when I see... Bingo, you should have just been set free. And I'm gonna tell you something. You will do more right in your life than you will do wrong. And I especially, felt Nancy, that you should tell the girls that in the homes. You can tell 'em that mama Joyce sent them that. That in their life, they will do more right than what they've done wrong and God sees everything not just these little things that we do. So, I've decided, and this is where I... You may draw back a little, I've decided that I'm gonna start taking a few liberties, and just to myself, I'm not gonna go around, sound like a braggart to somebody else.

But you know, when I get back to my hotel room tonight, if this all comes off good, I may say, "You know what? I did a good job tonight". Instead of going back and letting the devil get me to wondering, you know, because one person maybe left while I was preaching. "Oh boy, that was really stupid. I wonder if I had the right message. I, you know, I don't know". How many of you see how easy the devil gets us? You know? Now, as long as I know in my heart between me and God that I can do nothing apart from him, and that I'm not good but that he's good. And if I do good, it's because he did good through me. I think that's a way of praising God and giving honor to him. "I did a good job".

You know, that book I wrote, "Healing the Soul of a Woman", that's a good book. I mean, it's a really good book. And "Battlefield of the Mind", is a really good book. Amen? Matter of fact, I haven't written a book that I don't think is good, if you wanna know the truth. And I am not in any way talking about having a flippant attitude toward our mistakes, or our failures, or weaknesses, or the things that we do wrong. My gosh, when I do something really wrong, especially, like, if I mistreat somebody, I mean, I have a revelation on how much God hates that. And if I mistreat somebody, oh, it grieves me so bad. But it's not gonna help me get over it to feel guilty about it. Guilt is our way of trying to pay for our sins. And Jesus paid and doesn't need your help.

Now, Elijah, he was a mess, boy. I mean 1 kings 19:1-5, "Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword". One translation says he killed 450 Baal prophets and chopped them up in pieces. Now, don't just read that. Think about what a job that must have been. To kill and chop in pieces 450 people, I might need a break after that. And then, he had the rain thing and the anointing came on him and he ran 20 miles. So, he kills all these prophets, he runs 20 miles, now, he gets the message: "Jezebel has heard what you've done, and she said to tell you that you're gonna be dead by this time tomorrow".

Well, this great prophet who just did these amazing things, now, it says that he was afraid. Weakness. "And he ran for his life. And when he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness". You know, if you wanna have a pity day, you like to be alone. So, he told his servant, "No, you just stay here. I need to be alone, isolate myself". "He came to a broom bush", whatever that was, "Sat down under it and prayed that he might die". C'mon, you've had days like this. "'I've had enough, Lord,' he said, 'take my life: I'm no better than my ancestors'".

The day before, he's chopping up 450 prophets. I mean, made an absolute fool out of them. I mean, he said things like, they had these sacrifices and they poured water all over 'em and he said, "Now, you see if your Gods can send fire down and lick it up. And then, I'm gonna do the same thing and we'll see what my God does". And so, they jumped around and had all their dances and incantations, and no help from their Gods. And he even got smart with 'em. He said, "Well, maybe your God went to the bathroom and he just can't, you know, come down here". And then, of course, when he called on God the fire came. And then, he killed 'em all with a sword, cut 'em up in pieces, ran 20 miles, and the next day...

C'mon, are you ever like that? One day you are just like so spiritual and so, wow, you're just loving, and you say everything right, and you feel the presence of God. It's just like, whoa. And then, the next day you don't get your way about somethin' and you have a pity party, and have a fit, get upset, and... Come on. See, and I love this part. You know what was wrong with him? He was tired. And you know when we act bad the most? When we're tired. And we oughta have enough good sense to just get off by ourself somewhere and rest, and then we won't take it out on other people. So, "He lay down and he fell asleep. And an angel touched him and said, 'get up and eat.' he was sleeping and an angel touched him and told him to, 'get up and eat.' he repeated the process again, and then God said, 'now, get back to work'".

So, I love it. The guy had serious adrenal fatigue. He was fallin' apart, needed some anxiety medicine. And God said, "Have a nap, get a good meal, have another nap, get another good meal, now get back to work". God didn't throw him out of the prophet-hood ministry. "Well, you can't be a prophet anymore after the dumb way you acted". No, I think God remembered the 450 prophets. Some things I've learned from my mistakes: don't do things you don't have peace about. If you're getting ready to make a decision right now, and you don't have peace about the way that you're getting ready to go, back off 'cause you'll be sorry.

I've learned that we all have limits. No matter how much we don't want to, we do. I've learned in the last two years that we cannot do what we have always done. C'mon. No matter how much you like what you're doing, someday you're gonna have to give some of it up. You know, there used to be a time when Dave and I ran the whole minis, we ran the office, we did everything. I mean, there was nothing bought or nobody hired, we were in on every single thing. And you know what? We're not even qualified to do that now, because of all the technology, we don't even know what's going on there half the time.

Our two sons run the place and they're smart in all that stuff, and they, you know, I mean, I'm calling 'em up, called my son the other day, I said, "I'm listening to a teaching on my computer and I can't get the sound to go off. I've turned the guy off, but he just keeps talking. I don't know how to get rid of the sound". And he laughs at me so hard. I can't do that anymore. I have to do what I'm really gifted to do, not just what I can do. C'mon, did you hear that? Don't just do what you can do, do what you're gifted to do.

Another thing I've learned is that trying to tell a man he's wrong is useless. Now, ladies, I'm just gonna save you a lot of trouble in your marriage: men are right. And even, if you know they're not, let them think, you think they're right. Oh, I saved myself so many arguments. It's like, "You're right, Dave. You're right". Everybody's different we need to celebrate their differences instead of trying to change them. Oh, each one of these is a sermon, you know. If you're a controller and a manipulator, people are not gonna like you. If you're a fault finder, people are not gonna like you. Obeying God right away saves a lot of agony. I've learned that I don't know as much as I think I do, and other people know more than I thought they did. Amen?

I've learned that making excuses for my problems or bad behavior, only puts off the inevitable fact that in order to be free, I must face truth about me. And other things... I'm gonna encourage you to give yourself a break. Quit being so hard on yourself. We all need to be a little bit kinder to ourselves and realize that we're human beings with limits. And we need to receive God's forgiveness, laugh at ourselves, and enjoy ourselves.

Now, you know, men and women are different, if you didn't know that. I thought I'd pass that on to you. Men are never gonna understand women. And ladies, you just might as well get that. He doesn't understand. He's not gonna understand. Even if he tells you he understands, he's just doing it to shut you up. He really does not get it. "Well, it's my time of the month and you just don't know how I feel".

Alright, but now, men, you're great. You're wonderful and awesome, but I gotta take a few minutes here, to build up some ladies. Women take care of things for people. We fix things. We rescue people. We give advice whether it's wanted or not. We nurture. We hover. We multitask. We care. We cry. We empathize. We work. We think we always need to be available and we don't know that we can say, "No". Now, I'm gonna end with a story. This little story's called, "Going to bed".

Mom and dad were watching TV, when mom said, 'I'm tired and it's getting late, I think I'll go to bed.' she got up and went to the kitchen, made sandwiches for the next day's lunches, rinsed out the dessert bowls, took meat out of the freezer for supper the following evening, checked the cereal box levels, filled the sugar container, put spoons and bowls on the table, started the coffee for the next morning. She then, put some wet clothes in the dryer and put a load of clothes into the washer, ironed a shirt, sewed on a loose button, picked up the game pieces left on the table, and put the telephone book back in the drawer. She watered the plants, emptied a wastebasket, hung up a towel to dry.

She yawned and stretched and headed for the bedroom. She stopped by the desk and wrote a note to the teacher, counted out some cash for the school outing, pulled the textbook out from under the chair, signed a birthday card for a friend, addressed and stamped the envelope, and wrote a quick list for the supermarket, she put both of them near her purse. Mom then, creamed her face, put on moisturizer, brushed and flossed her teeth, trimmed her nails. Hubby called, 'I thought you were going to bed.' 'I'm on my way,' she said.

She put some water in the dog's bowl and put the cat outside. Then made sure the doors were locked. She looked in on each one of the children, turned out a bedside lamp, hung up a shirt, threw some dirty socks in the laundry basket, had a brief conversation with the one child still doing homework in his room. She set the alarm, laid out clothing for the next day, straightened up the shoe rack, added three things to her to-do list for the next day. About that time, her husband said, after he turned off the TV, 'I think I'm going to bed.' And he did.

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