Joyce Meyer - The Warfare of Love
I am so excited about what I'm gonna share with you tonight. Not because I've never shared it before, because i, in fact have, but I've been really praying that tonight, you're gonna finally hear it. You see, just because we sit in a chair and listen to something doesn't necessarily mean that we get it. That's why the apostle Paul said, "It doesn't bother me at all, to tell you the same things over and over". Because to be honest, we need to hear the same things over, and over, and over, and sometimes, about the 25th time you hear it, something clicks and you're like, "Oh"! And it's like, it's brand new to you, but God's already given it to you several times.
Now, I'm gonna start in Matthew chapter 24, verse 4. And it's about the signs of the end times, which I think, all of us probably know that we're in those times. Now, I know every generation thinks they are, but one thing's for sure, we're further in than any other generation's been. And everybody's always interested in what are gonna be the signs of the end times? Well, if you read Matthew 24, and look at what's going on in the world today, surely, you have to say we're in here pretty close. One thing, and it doesn't say this here, but it says that there will be so much deception, and we know deception comes from the devil. We said last night that deception means to believe a lie. We're deceived when we believe lies.
Like, for many years in my life, I believed that I would always have a second-rate life because my father had sexually abused me. I just believed that, you know, that had done damage to me, and damage to my life, and whatever I would have been, or could have been, I couldn't, that was gone. Well see, that was a lie. But as long as I believed it, then it was my reality. And when I found out that God would heal me, and not only heal me, but if I would trust him, he would pay me back. The Bible says he will pay me back for the shame of my youth. God is our recompense. But if you keep trying to collect your own debts... C'mon now, if you keep trying to collect your own debts, then God can't get involved and do it for you. That's why he tells us to forgive, and to even go so far as to love and pray for our enemies, not because they deserve that, or not because it's easy for you to do, but it allows him to work.
And let me tell you something. When God goes to work on somebody, the devil might as well get out of the way, because God's gonna win. But the Bible says, "That in the last days, the deception coming on the earth will be so great that if God did not shorten those days for the sake of the elect, that no man", now get this, "No man could withstand the deception coming on the earth". We gotta get our heads out of the sand, and realize that we are living in extremely dangerous times. But I'm not afraid to go and live my life, because I'm in God's hands. I'm not in the devil's hands. I'm in God's hands. And I'm in God's hands because I know how to work with God, to keep the devil, not from attacking me, but to keep him from winning, when he does come against me.
"The enemy will come against us one way and flee before us seven ways", if we know how to stand up to him properly. So, starting verse 4, it says, they wanted to know, "When are all these things gonna happen? What what should we look for"? And so, "Jesus answered, 'watch out that nobody deceives you'". So, you can't just assume that you are above deception, because I can tell you, that you're not. There's nobody in here that is so spiritual, that it is impossible for them to be deceived. That's why all over the Bible, it tells us to watch, and pray, and watch, and be alert, and be on your guard. "'Watch out that nobody deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, "I am the Messiah", and will deceive many.
You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you're not alarmed. Because these things must happen. But the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. And all these are just the beginning of birth the pains'". Now, we're having more, what is called, natural disasters, today, than at any other time. I think. I mean, unless they just had no way of reporting them a long time ago, and they've always been around. But our ministry has been involved in helping people in 168 national disasters, just in the last few years. Houston was flooded a year ago, and now, they're flooded again. Thirty inches of rain, the airports are closed, people that were on the way to this conference, couldn't get their flights out.
It's a hurricane here, and a fire there, and a... I think, last year, we were in California, it was all the fires up in redding. There's so many people that are being hurt. And people wonder, "Well, what's going on? Where's God in all this"? And you know, there's a scripture that says that, "The more that sin increases", now listen to this, "The earth groans, waiting for the redemption of the children of God". So, I think our earth is groaning. I think it's crying out, that even it can't last much longer under the weight of the sin and the unbelief in the world today.
Now, I'll be honest with you, even though, I'm in front of millions of people via television, and I'm out in the public like this all the time, I live a fairly isolated life. And that probably sounds strange, but I do. And when I talk to people in ministry, that are really like, out and about and involved in a lot more things than I am, to be honest with you, I've always just kinda felt like, I just need to stick to my business, and do what I feel like God wants me to do, stay on the path he gave me to walk on. And it's working pretty good, so I'm not gonna try to fix it. Because sometimes when you get out and you get involved in too many things, unless you're really, really strong, which, a lot of people are. It's easy to get sucked into stuff that really, doesn't make any sense at all.
But some of the things that I'm hearing, are like, so stupid. I mean, honestly, just stupid. I mean, somebody told me somethin' today, and actually showed it to me online, of this group of people that once were very strong Christians are now confessing their sins to plants. And I'm like, "Ugh". Now, I know that'll get me in trouble, but somebody needs to tell you the straight-up. God made the plant. And the plant can't forgive your sin. And, to me, that stuff is so ridiculous. I'm like, "How could anybody believe that"? That's why we have to keep preaching the truth, and keep, you know, not sugarcoating it, and not trying to get it sweet and nice so everybody can swallow it.
If you think that I'm tough sometimes, you shoulda heard Jesus preach. "You snakes". "You buncha vipers". "All you are is a bunch of hypocrites", he said. "White washed tombs full of dead men's bones". I think I'm pretty nice. I get kind of protective of God's reputation, sometimes. Chris Caine and I were shopping together one time, and we went in this store. We're looking around and mentioned that we were visiting. And she's, "Oh, what are you doing here"? "Well, we're ministers and we're gonna hold a conference". And she said, "Oh yes, I'm spiritual, too". Well, right away, that kinda puts up my antennas. It's like, "Oh, you're spiritual". She didn't say she was a Christian. She said, "I'm spiritual".
And so, we went on talking a little bit and she cuts off with a four-letter word. And then, she said, "Oh, I'm sorry". But she said, "Tell you the truth, I think God cusses, too". Okay, now, I get my back up. I'm gonna protect God's reputation. I lean across the counter and I said, "God does not cuss". And Christine Caine kinda leaned in right in front of me, and she said, "But he loves people who do". And what God spoke to me later is, "You were trying to clean the fish and we hadn't even caught it yet". So, you know, she's an evangelist at heart, and she wanted to get the girl saved. And I'm a teacher, and all for spiritual maturity, and I wanted her to straighten-up, right then. But, there is some weird stuff out there. Lord, have mercy.
"'Then you'll be handed over to be persecuted and put to death'", and you know, Christians, are now, the most persecuted group in the world. And it's getting here, too. Right in America. This place was founded so people could have religious freedom. And now, every kinda religion has freedom except Christians. And we better stand-up and fight for our rights, in a right way, not a violent way, but in a right way, or we will lose 'em. "'Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. And at that time many will turn away from the faith'", which is happening today, "'and will betray", get this, "'and will betray and hate each other'".
And that's what's got me so concerned, right now. There's so much anger, and hatred, and strife, and judgment, and criticism, and gossip, and unforgiveness, and bitterness, and resentment, and because of it, the church has no power. The anointing abides where there's peace and unity. And we have nothing if we don't have God's anointing. And some of you, maybe, don't even know what that is. God's anointing is so precious. It's his power and his presence in your life. And the Bible says, if you have the anointing, you have no need for anybody to teach you.
Now, that's not talkin' about like, a teacher, like, I'm a teacher. That's a gift in the body of Christ. But it means you don't need to tell, have somebody else telling you what to do all the time because the presence of God in your life will show you whether to go to the left, or the right, or to say, "Yes", or to say, "No". You need God's anointing, not just to preach, but you need his anointing to raise kids, to go to work and come home sane. I'm just gonna say it plainly. You are not gonna have God's anointing and hate somebody at the same time.
Now, I know this is not the first message that you've heard on forgiving people, and that's not all I'm gonna talk about tonight. But if you're still gettin' mad at people and staying mad, then you still need to hear the message because you haven't gotten it yet. And I know, we're like, "But you don't know what they did". It doesn't matter. And I don't say that to hurt anybody's feelings. Of course, your pain is important and what you went through is important. But if Jesus could do for us, what he did for us... He died for us when we didn't even care. C'mon, don't just look at me like you don't know what I'm talking about. There is nobody that's done worse to me than what I've done to God. And he forgives me over, and over, and over again. And whatever he gives us, he expects us to give away. This is, now... You trust me? How many of you trust me?
I'm gonna tell ya that I believe this is one of the biggest, number one problems that we have in the world today, is all the hatred and the anger, it's just... It's terrible. It's absolutely terrible. People hate each other because the color of their skin. They hate each other because of the church they go to. They hate each other, they don't even know why they hate each other. I mean, people are just mad. I think people are mad about what's going on in the world. And they don't know what to do about it, so they just get mad at everybody else. And you gotta resist that. You gotta stay away from it. You gotta watch for that because every time you get your feelings hurt and you take offense, you're playing right into the devil's hands, every single time.
In 2 Corinthians chapter 1, I think it's verses, 10 and 11. Paul said, "We forgive to keep satan from getting an advantage over us". You don't forgive because it's easy, you forgive because you don't want the devil to have an open door into your life. I prayed before I came over here, "God, please, let people hear what I'm saying tonight". I mean, I want you to really hear it. I want you to get it enough that you're gonna go home and make some changes. I don't want anybody to leave this conference mad at anybody else. Well, do you have even a drop of faith for that? I don't know. I mean, I'm sorry, but I can't just give you whipped cream and cake, tonight. I mean, if you just want another bowl of sugar, go somewhere else. We're having meat and vegetables here, tonight.
C'mon, now. I'm about to get to the part I like. "And at that time many will turn away from the faith will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people". Now, here it is, verse 12. "Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold". That's one of the signs of the end time, is the love of the great body of people, growing cold, because even they get caught up in all the wickedness going on in the world, and all the problems in the world, and so we're all mad, and you know, mad at God, and we don't understand, and blah, blah, blah. And what we're supposed to do, is realize it's the devil. It's the devil. It's the devil. Can somebody say, "It's the devil"? It is.
And realize that love is the highest form of spiritual warfare. Please, get this. We're talking about how to defeat the devil. And I want to tell you that there's only one way to overcome evil and that is by being good: doing good, loving people, giving, helping, serving. Well, if I'm gonna go by the looks on your faces to determine whether or not you're getting this, I'm in trouble up here. I gotta find somebody that's on page one with me and, you know, I might just wanna jump off the platform and say, "We need to change". And we need to get ourselves off of our minds and not be the center of our universe. What does the Bible say? If you wanna be my disciple and come after me you gotta forget yourself, "Lose sight of yourself and all your own interests, and take up your cross and follow me". And you're like, "Well, what's gonna happen to me"?
I'll tell ya what'll happen to you. If you will forget yourself and serve God by serving people, God will come in the back door and he will take care of you, and it'll be more than what you could have ever done for yourself. Go ahead. I just double dare you to try God, and see if he can't do a better job of taking care of you than you've ever done yourself. Come on, I've lived a long time, long time. And I'm telling you, that I lived a selfish, self-centered life. Oh, I was so excited when I found out about faith because I thought I could use my faith to get everything I wanted. And God said, "Well now, that I've taught you what faith is, I'm gonna show you what I really want you to use it for. And it's not for you to get everything you want", come on.
Joy doesn't come from getting everything you want. Joy comes from giving, and serving, and doing for other people. I was unhappy, and unhappy, and unhappy, and, "If my ministry would grow I'd be happy", and the ministry grew and I still wasn't happy, and I was unhappy, and unhappy. And I finally, said to God, "I have been doing this church thing for 20 years. Why am I still unhappy"? And boy, he answered me. He said, "Because you're selfish". I wonder if there's anybody else in here that, maybe, needed to be there the day I prayed that. "What about me? What about me? What about me"?
But Chris said an interesting thing to me today, when we were talking about this. She said, "Maybe you need to tell people what love is". 'cause, see we love ice cream and we love our cat and we love the movies, and we love our house, and we love God, we love people, and... You don't love ice cream. You may like it, you may like the way it tastes, but we don't love it. And I think we need to understand what love really is. Love is something that you can see and feel, and it can touch you, and it can touch other people and it can change lives. It can change you and it can change the people that you love. Let me tell you something, if you're a Christian, you're already taken care of, you're going to heaven.
So, let me tell you something, really for all intent and purposes, you're a done deal. Your name's in the book, your mansion's being built. And you're here for a reason, and it's not to keep trying to make yourself happy, it's to let your light shine. Come on. Be salt and be light, let your life make somebody else thirsty. Be a light in somebody else's darkness. Get yourself off your mind and I'm telling you God will do more for you in five minutes, than you could have done in a whole lifetime. And you'll be so happy you won't hardly to be able to stand yourself. I know 'cause I've tried it both ways. And I've been in pursuit of a love walk for lots of years, and I'll tell you if you really wanna walk in love, you gotta aim for it, go for it, chase it, study it, pursue it, because everything in our natural, old, fleshly nature, is me, me, me. Am I right? What about way back up there in the top, am I right?
Now, see, I know when you come to something like this, you'd rather, maybe have somebody tell you how awesome everything's gonna be in your future, and all the miracles God's gonna do for you, and how your gonna be famous and stand on the platform someday, and... Here I am telling you to get yourself off your mind and give everything away, but you know, do you wanna be happy? How many of you really wanna to be happy? Okay, well, this is the way you get there. 'cause I tried the other way, and now I've tried this, and this works so much better. I mean, I can honestly tell ya, and you try this, if you wake up and you're feeling depressed and you can, you think, "Eh, this is gonna be a bad day", go park yourself somewhere, in a chair, sit down and just say, "God, show me what I can do for somebody else today".
Now, I'm not making this up. I do this, "God show me who I can be a blessing to today". And I don't know, maybe an hour later, somebody will come to your heart and you just feel like you should call them and just say, "I just want you to know how much God loves you and you're an important person and don't ever let the enemy make you think anything different". And how many times have I had people say, "You have no idea how much that meant to me"? "Oh, you changed my day, you changed my life today". Isn't it amazing that you could, you like to play around on the internet, go ahead and send your text and your tweets and your twerks and whatever they are, but say something worth hearing! Amen?
Don't write me when this is over and tell me everything you didn't like. I'll tell you why. They're not gonna let me see it anyway. Ha ha. My staff protects me and helps me stay happy, 'cause everybody's happier when mama's happy. Okay, now I want you to listen to this, 1 John 4:8, I mean, this is, if you don't have any reverential fear of God, this oughta give you a little. "Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love". "Whoever does not love, does not know God, because God is love". And "where love is", it says in 1 John, "God abides".
So, you wanna walk in God's presence? You wanna be close to God? You want to feel his presence in your life? Go love somebody. You say, "well, what is love"? Well, somebody asked one little boy that, and he said, "Love is when grandma loves to have her toenails painted, but she gets arthritis and she can't bend over anymore. So, grandpa bends over and paints her toenails for her all the time, and he did it even after he got arthritis in his fingers". Love is just, it's a whole lot of little stuff, that builds people up and encourages people, it's a kind word, it's a smile, it's playing a single mother's rent for a month.
Stop praying for God to help somebody with something that you could help 'em with, and just don't want to. Come on, I'm gonna say that again. Stop praying for God to help somebody with something that you could help 'em with, and just don't want to. Well, one group of ministers were praying about a conference that they were gonna have and asking God to give 'em the money to pay for that conference, and another minister got up and said, "Wait a minute. We don't need to pray that. All of us together can easily pay for this conference. We'll just take care of that, and ask God to do some other stuff that we can't do". Amen? You don't have to sit around and be unhappy every day, just see what you can do for somebody else.
So, I'm just gonna throw a question out. Don't answer me out loud, just go home and ponder it. What are you doing to make somebody else's life better? "Well, I go to church". Well, whoopie. "I got a bumper sticker". "I wear my Jesus pin". "I take my Bible to work". But what are we doing?! Come on. Faith without works is dead. Works without faith is dead, but faith without works is dead. Nobody can see your faith, if you don't help them. That's why we're so big on the missions that we do out of the country, because these people are hurting so bad, it's not gonna do any good to go and tell them "Jesus loves you". They don't know what that is, they don't know... What does that mean?
But if we go in and love them, if we go in and dig them a water well, and if we provide clean water for their village, and we feed their kids, and we build a school, and then they say, "Why are you doing this"? Then, we can tell them, "Because Jesus has loved us into wholeness, and he sent us here to show you his love". Well, now, they can feel that love. So, it means something to them. Love is not theory. It's not talk. It's not a word that we throw around. It is something. And the Bible says it clearly, "Love is patient, kind, meek and humble, always believes the best of every person". Boy, could we use that? Is not easily offended, is not touchy, is not fretful, is not resentful, is not self-seeking. Love never quits, it never gives up. And I love this, love never fails. You can take the meanest person on earth and if you show them the love of God long enough, it'll break them down.
Very quick, shortest version I can possibly do, you've probably heard the story before, but I got to get it in here. My father sexually abused me for, I don't know 12... That's all I ever remember, so I don't know if it was 12 years or 15 years, but it was all the years that I can remember being at home. These were not an isolated handful of cases, this was week in and week out, week in and week out. My mother knew what he was doing. I told her when I was nine, he said I was lying, she believed him. She caught him when I was fourteen, she walked out of the house, came back two hours later never said another word about it.
So, my father abused me. My mother abandoned me to the abuse because she was afraid. She was afraid. And so, I hated my father. Oh God, I hated him. I prayed for him to die, I prayed for my mother to leave him. I was born again when I was nine years old and that's the thing that really kept me from going insane. And I would lay in bed at night and think, and I know this was the Spirit of God in me, I would think, "Someday, I'm gonna do something great". I had no idea what it was. But my father told me I'd never amount to anything, and I couldn't never even make it without him, and I'd lay there and think "Someday, I'm gonna do something great". I could not wait to get out of that house.
So, the minute I was 18, I left home, married the first guy that came along and paid any attention to me, because I thought nobody would ever want me because I was used merchandise. And I knew that was a mistake, he was dumber than I was. And that's what hurting, messed-up people do, they marry other people that are messed-up and you just mess each other up more, and then have kids and messed them up, and... Thank God we got away from each other before we had one child but, he's now the head of our world missions, so God fixed him. And interestingly enough, I named him David, and then met Dave. God has a plan. Even in the middle of your biggest mess, God's got a plan. And there's nothing you've done that he cannot redeem and work out for the good of his kingdom, if you'll let him! C'mon, you are not a hopeless case, you are not a lost cause. It is not too late for you.
Now there, there was some sugar, did you like that? Oh, I tell you what, I just feel like if Christians don't start acting the way they're supposed to act, that I am just gonna bust. Our first response to offense should be forgiveness. So, I got away from my dad. You know, I didn't want nothing to do with him. You know, we had to go a little bit on Christmas and little bit on whatever, but I saw them the least amount that I could. Couldn't wait to get away from 'em. You understand? I hated him, you got that? Well, when I started becoming a serious Christian, I prayed the Christian, "I forgive you" prayer. But I hadn't really forgiven him. Because when you really forgive, there's some things you have to do to work through it. You forgive, as a decision, not a feeling. You pray for the person who hurt you.
It's very hard to pray for somebody everyday and keep hating them. God knows what he's doing. And you pray for them to be blessed and you're thinking at the same time, "But, I don't want 'em to be blessed". But the first thing God blesses them with is some revelation of what they've done. You bless them. Uh-oh, what does that mean? Well, first of all, that means you don't get to talk unkind about them anymore. And secondly, if they're in trouble, you'll help 'em. Uh-oh, I've lost you again. You need more sugar.
Okay, so my mother's like 77, my dad's 80. They're both on walkers, things aren't going well, they live in Southeast Missouri, like, a three and a half hour drive away from us, they didn't have good doctors there. And so, I'm praying one morning, "God, who can I help"? So, I'm just gonna tell ya, praying that's a little dangerous. And I felt the Lord, or the devil I wasn't sure who it was. I'm telling you the truth, put in my heart to move my parents to st. Louis, buy them a house, get them a decent car, and make sure they were taken care of until they died. "I rebuke you, satan". Come on. I thought, "There is no way that God would ask me to do that". And I said to God, "What did they ever do for me"? Well, that's just the whole point, isn't it? God does stuff for people who did't care about him at all. C'mon, is anybody still breathing out there?
See, I know if you can just see this, and yes, I can get back up. I don't know why I'm down here but I just feel like saying, "Please, for your own sake, get this". As long as you stay angry, and mad, and full of bitterness and resentment, and selfish, and self-centered, the devil has got you exactly where he wants you. And the people who hurt you continue to hurt you everyday of your life. But when you let it go, the burden lifts and you're free for God to get involved and intervene, and start doing what you can't do. So, I thought, "Well, I'm gonna go ask Dave. Dave's not going to spend that kind of money on them". And he said, "Well, if God told you to do it, you better do it". And I thought...
Anyway, long story short, we did it. You know, for 3 years my dad still, he just stayed as mean as a snake. He didn't say, "Thank you", "Oh, you're wonderful", "I appreciate this". He was just like, "What else you gonna do for us"? But after three years, got a phone call one morning, my mom said, "Your dad's been crying for about two or three weeks and he wants to talk to you". Okay now, he's 80, and I don't know how old I was by then, but you know, probably over 50, and he had never apologized to me. Never. And when I went over, he was crying and he said, "I want to apologize to you for what I did to you when you were a kid". And so, I told him I forgave him. He looked at Dave and he said, "I'm sorry Dave. Most men would have killed me. And you've never been anything but just nice to me. You never shown me anything but love". And we took care of them and they lived a long time.
Well, I'm just telling you the truth. There were in such bad shape, you know, I thought. So, we went through the whole assisted living thing, when they had to sell the house and get assisted living. And then they couldn't even do that anymore and we had to go into the nursing home. And I mean, those things are expensive. And then I had a widowed aunt, who was my mother's sister, and my uncle, who had already died, was my dad's brother. And so, I promised my uncle when he was on his death bed, that I would take care of her. So, at one time, I was paying for three people in nursing home care. Ok, now, look at me. Did I want to do it? No. Did I like doing it? No. Was it fun? No. Did I like spending that much money on three people who had never really done anything for me? No. But I did it, for God. And I did it because it was the right thing to do.
Now, listen to me. When are we going to start doing what's right, because it's right and not because we're gonna get something out of it? Many times to do what's right, it's gonna cost you, and it's gonna hurt, and it's going to require sacrifice. But I'm gonna tell ya, and I mean this with all my heart, that is the single, most powerful thing that I've ever done and it was the worst blow that I have ever given the devil in my years of living. And I didn't even know it. My dad got saved. I baptized him. And when he came up out of the baptismal fount, walked across the front of the church on his walker, "Praise the Lord". "Praise the Lord". And you know what God whispered? "You thought you were buying a house, but you bought a soul". Come on. And you know what? He's hearing me tonight, and he's happy for the message. And he says, "Hey, I'll see you when you get here". Now, we've all got our story, but I just want you to know, that I know that is not easy to forgive and to show people love, that have hurt you. Love is the greatest thing in the world. I mean, it is absolutely, far over and above anything else, the absolute greatest thing in the world. But love is not just a word, it's gonna to cost you.
Ginger: Our question today comes from Laura, in California. She says, "My husband has ADHD, depression, and anxiety. My 20-year old son has autism since he was 23-months old. I am mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually spent. Help me".
Joyce: He is the God of all comfort. And maybe she's not taking enough time, to really just spend quiet time with God.
Ginger: It would be hard to find it, wouldn't it?
Joyce: And maybe she's not taking enough time for herself too. You know, when you're in a situation like that, where I mean, there's a lot of negative and bad emotions coming at her all the time, it can drain you pretty quick. And so, no matter what it takes, if it requires having somebody else come into the home to help with the child once a week, she needs some time for her, to do some things that she enjoys. And then also, I highly recommend being around some really, like, funny or encouraging people, because she needs to separate herself from all these things that are draining her. And she's not being selfish to do that. If she falls apart, she's not gonna be able to do anybody any good. And so, I really encourage her to get for herself the things that she needs, and to make spending time with God. When I say spending time with God, it doesn't have to be like, a four-hour stretch. I mean, even if she can just start everyday with 15 minutes, really trusting God, that he can enable her to do what she can't do on her own without him.