Joyce Meyer - Living Beyond Yourself
Well, thank you for joining us today on, "Enjoying Everyday Life", and we really want you to enjoy every day of your life, but even more important God wants you to enjoy every day of your life. And I'm sure some of you think, "Well, with the problems I've got, that's impossible", but I'm gonna tell you one way today that really can help you enjoy your life. I want to talk to you today about living unselfishly. I've called it, "Living beyond yourself". You know, most of us think if we can just get what we want if we can just get the things that we want, then we'd be so happy, but the truth is, is that things cannot keep you happy. You may get a momentary thrill when you get 'em, but that new thing becomes an old thing and then you have to have another new thing to make you happy again. But I have found in the Word of God and by my own experience, and experience is important, because the Bible says that we learn by the Word of God and life's experiences.
And you know when I read something in the Bible that's a promise, but then I experienced that myself, it makes it doubly effective. And so, the Bible teaches us that one of the ways that we can be really happy, and I've discovered this, by the word and by experience, is to get your mind off of yourself, and do as much as you can for other people. In Galatians 6, it says, "Be mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of the household of faith". So, if we break that down, it means to have your mind full of ways that you can be a blessing to other people. But in order to do that, we have to ask God to help us get self out of the way.
So, let's see what the Bible says about this. God's word tells us that there's a higher life and a lower life, and the lower life would be the one lived according to the world's standards. The higher life would be the one lived according to God's standards. So, if you think about it, the world would say, "Get everything you want for yourself, you deserve it, make yourself happy and life will be good". But actually, that's the lower life. God says, "Get yourself off your mind, ask me for what you want and need and then cast your care on me and trust me to do what I know is right for you", and spend time, and money, and resources, and effort being a blessing to other people and then you're living the higher life, and you'll have a joy that you can never know living the lower life.
Mark 8:34-35 says, "And Jesus called to him the throng with his disciples and said to them, 'if anybody intends to come after me'", you're not gonna like this next part, but don't turn your set off, I want you to listen. "If anyone intends to come after me, let him deny himself", ouch! "Forget, ignore disown, and lose sight of himself and all of his own interests". Well that doesn't sound like much fun. You couldn't get very many people to clap and say, "Amen", on this scripture. "And take up his cross and follow me".
So, the cross that we're to carry is not poverty, and sickness, and disease, and disasters, and misery. How many times have we heard people say, "Well, this is just my cross to bear in life". That's not what the cross is, the cross that Jesus wants us to carry is to live unselfishly. And yes, do things for yourself, take good care of yourself, but don't get out of balance to where you're number one in your life, make other people a priority, and live to help them. Now, I'm not saying be a people-pleaser, that's not what I'm talkin' about. But in helping other people because of your love for God, you become a God-pleaser. And I can tell you if all of us were doing that, the world would already be so impressed with what it means to be a Christian that you could not find room in one church to put anybody else.
The problem is, is we preach to people and then they see us do the opposite, but one thing you can't ignore is real love. You know, we do a lot of mission works, and I believe very strongly that a lot of people are hurting so bad that they can't hear what you preach to them, but if you show them the love of God, then they will listen to what you say. So, we feed people and we provide clean water in villages for people in third world countries, and we help with delivering women who have been trafficked into the sex industry, we help women that have been battered, we help orphans, we build schools to help educate children that don't have schools to go to, we do anything that we can. We do prison ministry, we do nursing home ministry, anything that we can, you know why? Jesus said, "Don't forget those people". And he said, "If I was hungry and you fed me", and they said, "Well, when were you hungry and we fed you"? And he said, "If you've done unto the least of these my brethren, you've done it unto me".
When are we going to get it through our head that God is not just in our lives, he didn't just send Jesus so we could get everything we want, but so we could be a blessing to other people. And I'll tell ya, if you do all you can for everybody else, the blessings of God are gonna chase you and overtake you. You will be so blessed, your needs will be met, but you won't be spending your time trying to do it for yourself. You take care of God's business and he'll always take care of yours. "For whoever wants to save his higher, spiritual, eternal life, will have to lose the lower life, and whoever gives up his life, which is lived only on earth for my sake and the Gospel, will save his higher spiritual life".
So here's the thing, you can't have a low life and a high life. If you're gonna have a high life, you gotta give up the lower life, and if you won't give up the lower life, then you're gonna miss the high life. Paul said, "I'm determined. My determined purpose is to know him and the power of his resurrection". Paul wanted to live that higher life, and he said, "In order to do that, I'm gonna have to be determined". Now, I want you to listen, you know, we have lots of problems in the world, all kinds of problems in the world today. I mean, big problems, everywhere you look people are talkin' about the problems. The news is full of all the problems. Sometimes it can just get so discouraging, you have to look away and find something on purpose to look at that's good.
But in 2 Timothy 3:1-5, little bit lengthy, but you can handle five verses. It says, "But Mark this: there will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves", that's why I'm preaching this message today, because we don't want to be lovers of ourselves. Now, we need to love ourselves in a balanced way, because God loves us, because if you don't love yourself, then you're certainly never gonna be able to love anybody else. But I'm not talking about being in love with yourself in a selfish, self-centered way. I'm talking about loving what God has created you to be. "People will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, no self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God", almost finished, "Having a form of Godliness, but denying its power". And then he says, "Have nothing to do with such people".
Can I take a few moments to tell you that who you spend time with is very important? Especially, the people that you spend a lot of time with. Now, we don't wanna ignore sinners and we don't want to act like we're better than them, and we wanna spend time with 'em, Jesus spent time with sinners all the time. But I always say, "Spend time with people like that, as long as you're affecting them and they're not infecting you". But you have to be very careful who you spend a lot of time with, because you do become like what you're around on a regular basis. If you'd listen to me every day on TV, before long, you'll start saying things the way I say them. Same thing for me, if I listen to somebody all the time, I'll start picking up some of their habits. So, you need to choose who you're around, very carefully. Be aware of when you're being drawn into these kinds of situations and resist them, stay away from them.
Now, let me tell you a story about a young man who had it so good, but he didn't realize how good he had it, and he wanted his father to give him his inheritance, even though he was just a young man, and the thing you may not understand about the culture he lived in at the time was, that it was so insulting to say to your father, "Give me my inheritance". Because in essence, he was sayin', "I wish you were dead and I could have the money". Well, it's interesting to me that the father gave him what he wanted. And you know, sometimes God gives us what we want, because it's the only way he can prove to us that it's not really what we want after all. Do you know that some of the things right now that you may be thinking that you want, could be the very worst things for you? So, you gotta be careful how hard you try to get what you want, and make sure that you're letting God give you what he wants you to have. But here's the story, "The younger son said to his father", there are two brothers in this story, "Father, give me my share of the estate".
Now, I have a circle drawn around the words 'give me,' because those two words is what almost ruined his life. And do you know that's what the world is full of today? People that are sayin' "Give me, give me, give me, give me, give me". They're not looking for ways that they can give, or ways that they can be a blessing, they're looking for what everybody else can do for them. "So the father divided the property between them. Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, and set off for a distant country and there he squandered and wasted all the wealth that his father had given him".
You see, he wasn't old enough or mature enough to know how to handle those kinds of blessings properly. And sometimes we may not understand why God is not giving us more of this, or more of that, but the truth is God will give you what he knows you can handle. If you been making yourself miserable wanting things that you don't have, why not just settle down and say, "God I want your will, don't give me what I'm asking for if it's not what you want me to have". Now, listen to this, "He squandered all of his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything that he had, there was a severe famine in the land, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a pig farmer and his job was to feed the pigs". But before long, all he had to eat was the same thing that the pigs were eating.
Now, here's this young man who lived at home with a wealthy father who loved him, and had a great life, but he wasn't satisfied. Maybe you're watching today and you've allowed yourself to get dissatisfied, but if you really, really think about it, and look around, you've got a great life. Do you know if you got a roof over your head and food to eat you're more blessed than probably two-thirds of the people in the world. It's a bad thing when we forget our blessings and start only looking at what we don't have. So he finds himself eating with the pigs, and I love the way the Bible says this, it says, "And he came to himself".
And you know, many of us, we need an awakening. Do you need to have an awakening in your life? Do you need to come to yourself? Do you need to wake up today? Have you drifted away from God and this is a wake-up call for you? You know, we need to stay strong everyday, keep our faith stirred up and I mean, hang on to God with everything we've got. Don't let the world take him away from you. He came to himself, and he realized here I am eating with the pigs and he said, "I know what I'll do. I'll go home to my father and say father, 'I'm not worthy to even come in your house, but will you take me back'"? He said, "I will set out and go back to my father and say father, I have sinned against heaven and against you".
Now you know, God is so good! And he is the master of second chances and third chances and fourth chances. And I don't know where you're at right now, but I believe I'm talking to people today, many of you, you need a second chance, you need a third chance. And maybe the devil has convinced you that God won't have you back, well, he's a liar. I wonder if this young man on his journey home, thought, "I wonder if my father will have me back". So he got up and went to his father, and actually, it says that the father came running to him, and older men in those days did not run. His father was so happy to see him. He ordered that a party be given, that they kill the fatted calf and to bring out a robe for him, and to bring out a special ring. The son was repentant, and so all the father cared about was bringing restoration to him.
And you know what? If you've fallen into sin and you're repentant, God just wants to restore you and he wants to do it right now. He's not gonna be mad at you, and punish you and remind you every five minutes of how bad that you've lived. So if you find yourself in a pig pen, so to speak, you can repent and you can go back to your father and say father, "I have sinned and I wanna come back home". You know, there's another young man in the Bible who went to Jesus and said, "What is it that you want me to do? What do I need to do to be right with you, to be doing what you want me to do"? And he said to him, "Keep my commandments". And the young man, all full of himself said, "Oh I've done that. I've done that". And Jesus said to him, "Well, there's one thing you lack".
And you know that's somethin' we need to realize about ourselves, is no matter what we think we have done, there's always something we lack. And that's really good news because that means that no matter how many good things we think we've done, there's no amount of good that we can do that would put us in right standing with God, that's why we always need Jesus. There's always that one thing that we lack and Jesus wants to come in and make up for that. And so, Jesus said to the young man, 'cause the young man was very wealthy. He said, "Sell everything you have and give what you've got to the poor". And the Bible says that the young man went away very sad, because he was very wealthy.
Now, let me tell you there's a deeper message in this story than what we may get out of it. What do you think would have happened if the young man would have sold everything he had and given it to the poor? I can tell you, if he would have done that, he would have ended up with a lot more than he had when he started. God always wants to bless us, but he never wants our money or our possessions to keep us from obeying him. You know everything that you have belongs to God anyway, and you wouldn't have anything if he hadn't given you somethin' to start with. Be careful that you don't let your money and your possessions make you selfish and self-centered. Everything you get, be sure you share it with other people.
Another way that you can not be selfish is by not being easily offended. Are you a touchy person that get your feelings hurt every time you turn around? Well, you know, the Bible says that love is not touchy? Mark 4:14 says, "The farmer sows the word". And then going on from there, verse 15, "Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown and as soon as they hear it Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once they receive it with joy". It says in here as you read this whole story that some of them become offended, some become deceived by the deceitfulness of wealth and riches. The devil will do anything to keep you from letting that word take root in your heart.
You know, you could go to church and hear a wonderful message by your pastor, and maybe see him drive out of the parking lot and he's got a better car than you and all of a sudden now you're offended and you're judging him and saying, "Well, ya know, he shouldn't be driving a car like that". You know what? You're never jealous of anybody if you have what they have. You only get jealous of people who have more than what you have. And here's the moral of that story, you could have loved his message that day, and it could have been a wonderful word that you really needed, but if you get offended before you get home, the enemy can steal that from you. Be careful that you don't let offense ruin your relationship with God.
Matthew 24 talks about signs of the end times, and in verse 10, it says, "And many will be offended". Well, you know, there's a lot of angry people today, it doesn't take much at all to make people angry. And one of the reasons is because people are so selfish and self-centered and if you don't give them exactly what they want, then they get mad. But love is not easily offended. Another thing that we can be careful about is not to think about ourselves excessively. Just try getting yourself off your mind for a while and asking God what you can do to help somebody else. Romans 12:1-3 says, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, offer yourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, and this is your true worship. Don't conform to the world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind".
Now listen to this, verse 3, "For by the grace of God. I say to everyone of you: do not think of yourself more highly than you ought to". Or maybe it could even say don't think of yourself more often than you ought to. "But do I look alright"? "What do people think of me"? "What are people saying about me"? "Am I important enough"? Get yourself off your mind and onto something that involves the higher life. And don't focus too much on your faults, either, because that can make you selfish too. You say, "It can"? Yes, it absolutely can. Well, this is wrong with me, and that's wrong with me, and this is wrong with me, and that's wrong with me. Even that can keep you from focusing on what God wants you to do. Don't focus all the time on what you need and what you want, but focus more on what you can do for other people.
I made a habit out of making that part my prayer time every morning, "God, what can I do for you today"? I don't know how many of you have grown children. I have four grown children and you know, by the time you have children that are in their 40s or 50s, or however old yours might be, you've gotten tired of doing everything for them, and you want them to do a few things for you. And I love it now when one of my grown children says, "Let me know if you need anything or is there anything I can do for you, while I'm here"? You know any parent wants their children to reach a turning point where they're no longer like, "Mom, I need this. Mom, can you do that? Dad, can you do this"? Give me, give me, give me, they want to hear, "What can I do for you, mom. What can I do for you, dad"?
Well, God's the same way, he doesn't want us always just to come to him with our hand out, he wants us to ask him, what can I do for you? How can I serve you? How can I be a blessing to you? And many times God's going to point you to a person in need. Because remember, Jesus said, "If you've done it to the least of these my brethren, you've done it unto me. And if you haven't done it to them, then you haven't done it to me". And then lastly let me say today, get over being concerned about what other people think of you all the time. Oh, my goodness, we just get so rattled about "What are they going to think"? "Do they like my outfit"? "Do they like my hair"? "Do they think I'm smart enough"? You know what all those people that you worry about, "What are they thinking about you"? They're probably not thinking about you at all, if you wanna be honest. So, let go of all that and get your mind on God and what you can do for him and how you can be a blessing to other people.
Now you know, this is just a short, little 25-minute message today about not living a selfish, self-centered life, but it is one of the most important messages that you can hear because Jesus came so that we might not have to live to and for ourselves, but to and for him who died for us. I've got some more help for you today. I have a devotional called, "Love Out Loud". There are 365 devotions in here about loving other people. You say, "Well, I don't know if I want that or not". Well, it's one of the best things that you can get, because of all the things that are important, love is the most important. This is what the Bible says, "The first and greatest commandment is love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, all your mind and all your strength. And the second is like it, love your neighbor as you love yourself". And Jesus said, it's recorded in John 13, "One new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another just as I have loved you, by this shall all men know that you are my disciples". Now, we're offering this devotional to you today for your gift to the ministry of any amount. We trust you to the very best that you can and I want you to remember that God has a good plan for you, seek his direction for your life and let him use you to be a blessing to other people. God bless you and have a great rest of the day.