Joyce Meyer - Get Over Your Sweet Little Self
I wanna talk to you today about an unselfish attitude. Do we have any selfish people here today? I see one hand, way up, and in a few kinda like... I think it's one of the biggest battles that we fight. I know for myself, growing up in a household of abuse, sexually abused by my dad, and he drank a lot, and just everything was about him. He was a manipulator, and a controller, and he was violent. He would come home drunk and slap my mother around and sometimes even beat her up. And he abused me sexually, for about 15 years on a regular basis. My mother knew about it because I told her, and then one time she caught him, but she just was so afraid of him and not being able to live life on her own.
And so, basically, I never had anybody really take care of me. I went to work when I was like 13 years old. And my father never wanted to, he wouldn't buy my class ring. He wouldn't buy my graduation pictures. He wouldn't buy my graduation dress. They just never really did anything. Yes, they fed me, and I had a place to sleep, but I didn't feel loved, and cared for, and taken care of. So, and many of you will relate to this, I quickly got the idea, "Well, if you don't take care of yourself, nobody else is going to". Anybody else have that problem? Okay.
So, when I married Dave, I should say, when he married me... I had already been married for five years to somebody else, and that was just another five-year nightmare. I thought nobody would ever want me, so I just took the first offer that came along. And he had more problems than I did, if that was possible. And how many of you know, desperate people do desperate things? Okay. And so, I knew down deep inside that it wasn't right and wasn't gonna work, but I did it anyway. And we got divorced, he was unfaithful, ran around with other women.
I had one child from that marriage that I named David, interestingly enough. And of course, Dave adopted him right away, and we never call him the stepchild, or the stepbrother, or the stepsister. He's just as much Dave's son, as any of our other children. And Dave was a good man, and he loved me, and wanted to take care of me, but I didn't really know how to let anybody do that because I could not believe that anybody would have my best interest in mind.
So, when it came to this whole theory of being submissive. It just like, was not in my DNA. I just like, you know, I could not believe that if he made a decision for our family that he made it with our best interest in mind because I grew up in a household where every decision my father made was what was gonna be good for him. Anybody with me, you know what I'm talking about? And so, learning how to trust God and trust people was very challenging for me, and I was very selfish. I just always wanted to make sure that I was taken care of.
And I think I mentioned last night, that I'd been a Christian, I was even teaching by then, and I loved God, but I just was not happy. You know, you think at first, "Well, if my ministry would just grow I'd be happy", and, "If I'd lose ten pounds, I'd be happy". And you know, we're always gonna be happy some other time. And I made the wise mistake of asking God what was wrong? He's happy to tell you, if you really wanna know. And he just told me, he said, "You're not happy because you're selfish", and you cannot be happy and selfish at the same time.
Now, I'm not gonna let you just look at me with blank stares, I want you to get that. You cannot be happy and selfish at the same time. We are not created by God to turn in, and always be trying to take care of our self. But we're created by God to reach out to others, to actually, I'll read you a scripture in a minute that says, "Forget about yourself". "Well, what about me? Who's gonna take care of me"? Well, the key is, is that if we will reach out to other people God will take care of us. And if you've never tried it, oh, I want you to try it because it gets so wonderful when you have a problem and you finally have enough faith in the power of prayer that instead of driving yourself nutty trying to worry an answer into life, or trying to make something happen yourself, to just pray about it.
If God shows you to do something, do it. If he doesn't, go ahead and enjoy your life while he's working on your problem. And I did not understand how God could expect me to trust people after what had been done to me. And we were having a heated conversation one day, me and the Lord, about me being, having a submissive attitude toward Dave, because, I mean, really even just trying to read those scriptures in the Bible, just made my skin crawl. "Admire your husband"... And I just... Any other woman in here know what I'm talking about? It was just like, "No can do, because nobody is gonna take care of me if I don't take care of myself".
And so, I'm asking God, "How can you expect me to trust a man to take care of me after what was done to me"? He said, "I'm not asking you to trust man. I'm asking you to trust me with the man". You see, God can control people, but we can't. And so, I've learned so much about, you know, Dave loves me and he wants to take care of me, and he does make decisions that are for my benefit. And he wants me to have really anything that I wanna have. He says to me very often, "I just want you to be happy. I just want you to be happy". "If you wanna a dog, if it'll make you happy, get a dog". "If you wanna, you know"... "I just want you to be happy".
Well, it just took me years to get that through my head that anybody else could just really want me to just be happy. But see, that's how love behaves. Love wants the other person to be happy and they will sacrifice in order for that person to be happy. Come on, keep me awake. Philippians 2:4 and 5, "Let each of you esteem and look upon and be concerned for not merely his own interests, but also each for the interests of others". Now, this doesn't say that you can't have any concern for yourself. It says, "Don't just be concerned for yourself, but be concerned for other people". "Let this same attitude and purpose and humble mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: let him be your example in humility".
Now, humility has to come before unselfish behavior. Because if we don't have a humble mind then we think that we are above others, and that they should always do for us and serve us, we can't serve because that makes us feel lowly. And we need to realize that if we don't think more highly of ourselves than we ought to, we'll realize that we are all equal. Just because somebody can't do what you can do, does not make you better than them. Because I can promise you, they can do something you can't do. And then this wonderful scripture in Mark 8:34 that tells me to forget about myself. This scripture's could just make you mad, I don't know. "And Jesus called to him the throng with his disciples the said to them, if anyone intends to come after me, let him deny himself forget, ignore, disown, and lose sight of himself and all his own interests and take up his cross, and follow me".
Now, what is this cross we're supposed to take up? We're not supposed to crawl up on a wooden cross like Jesus did and be nailed to it, and hang there, and die again. The cross that we carry, in life, is to get out and live an unselfish life. What do you think would happen if you started living for the joy of others? Oh, my goodness. Can I just say, in light of what Dave taught us this morning? If every Christian actually was walking in love, we would not have the problems in our nation that we have. You know why? Because Jesus said, "One new commandment I give unto you, love one another just as I have loved you, by this shall all men know that you are my disciples".
So, the way that we are gonna make an impact in the world is to forget about ourselves. Stop trying to take care of ourselves all the time. How 'bout if you retire from self-care and throw a big retirement party for yourself? I mean, honestly, aren't some of you just worn out from trying to take care of yourself all the time? I just don't have the energy to do that anymore. "God, I belong to you. I live my life for you. And I am expecting you to take care of me".
I remember when God told me to stop giving Dave the responsibility for my joy. And there's some other ladies here that need to hear that, and probably some men. Don't make the person you're married to responsible to keep you happy. Oh, boy. You should have a totally different attitude when you get married. "My goal in life is to do everything I can do to keep you happy". Now, I don't want to see yawning, and you know? Boy, you got quiet when I said that. But see, here's the thing that you can't miss. If your attitude is: "I'm gonna live to make other people happy", then God will make you so happy, you won't hardly be able to stand it.
Here's the thing, we're so afraid of getting left out. But you won't get left out because God will take care of you. Have you ever wondered why somebody can have a problem and you can help them, God will give you the grace to help them, but maybe, a year later you have the exact same problem, or something similar, and for some unknown reason you can't seem to help yourself. You know why? Because God didn't create us for inreach, he created us for outreach. And that, not only goes for individuals, it goes for a church. Any church who's only focused on their church growth, is more than likely not gonna grow. But if you focus on outreach and loving people, you won't be able to get all the people in the building.
This is not just a little social club where we Christians get together and, "Praise the Lord", "Thank you, Jesus", have our bumper stickers, our Christian Jewelry, our big Bibles. No, we need to get a sermon every week that'll make us squirm in our seats a little bit, get out there and make Jesus real to a world that is in serious trouble. Boy, let me tell you, you've got to be an influence on your children, show them something to want. Don't just go to church and then act like the devil the rest of the week at home. Well, I'm sorry. I don't mean to be overly blunt, but you know? If we are good enough example to our children, no matter what kind of temptations they're facing out in the world and how much pressure there is, they'll come back around. Because anybody can tell something true and genuine from something false and phony. Living an unselfish life is our cross to carry in this world.
Okay, this is such a great scripture here, 2 Corinthians 5:15. "And he", he, being Jesus, "Died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died and was raised again". Wow, Jesus died so we don't have to live a selfish, self-centered life. You know what being totally absorbed in yourself is like? It's like being in a prison in solitary confinement. There's nothing in your life but you, and truth be told, you don't even like you. I know a whole hour sermon on not being selfish is maybe, not exciting your flesh, but, wow. What if instead of coming here today to get a blessing, what if you came to be a blessing?
I wonder how many of you prayed for me on your way over here this morning. "Oh, Lord, I hope Joyce has a word for me". To be honest, I'm not too encouraged. There weren't that many hands that went up. But I prayed for you this morning. Amen? When we come to these conferences, I mean, I will tell you the truth, by the time I leave here this afternoon at three-ish, you will have everything that I've got. And I'll go home, and build up again, and get ready to go do it again in two weeks. And in-between then, I'll be writing a book, or putting together a new sermon. I work hard at what I do. And I need your prayer as much as you need ours.
Don't just always want to get, get, get, get. Go to church every time you go, looking around for somebody that looks sad, or downcast, or lonely, or in need, and reach out, reach out. Don't just go find your three Christian buddies and get in your little huddle. Am I preaching good, pastor Tommy? See, I know. Because I tried being selfish and being happy, and it just does not work. I can save you a lot of trips around the same dumb mountain if you'll listen to me. And I live what I'm preaching to you here.
I ask God everyday, "Show me what I can do for somebody else. What do I have that I can give away? Who needs encouragement? Who can I be a blessing to"? And I watch, and I listen to what people, you know, if you listen to people, they tell you what they want and what they need. The Lord told me one time, "Stop asking me to do things for people that you could easily do yourself and just don't want to". I'mma say that again 'cause you gotta hear that. I'll give you an example.
There were a handful of preachers, this is a story from years ago. And they were having a convention. They were putting on a convention. And they were all praying together for God to provide the money for this convention. And one of 'em stopped, and just said, "Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Let's don't ask God to do that because the four of us together can easily pool our money and pay for this convention".
You know, there's so much that's provided free for people, free stuff online, free teachings, free downloads, free, free, free. Everything's free. We brought, I don't know how many semi trucks. And we brought 'em full of lights, and screens, and all those products, and pretty stuff. And we have people who volunteered their time all weekend to usher and greet, and do things for you. And all you have to do is come and just, "Ahh... Bless me". And then, you get mad if we spend too long taking an offering.
People talk to you about money everywhere you go. When you go eat, after this conference, they're not gonna say, "Be blessed". If you stop and get gasoline, they're not gonna say, "No charge". People talk to you about money everywhere you go, but the only place we get mad about it is in church. "Well, I just don't know for sure what you're doing with our money". Well, you will not have a problem at all if you give it to God. Don't ever have the attitude that you're giving money to a church or to a preacher, give it to God and trust God to bring back your reward. I'm afraid I don't know how to do it any other way, so.
Philippians 4:5, "Let all men know and perceive and recognize your unselfishness (your considerateness, your forbearing spirit). The Lord is near he is coming soon". Okay, now, I find that very interesting because the point is: "Okay, this is what you need to do because Jesus is coming back soon". I mean, how many things could he have said? But he said, "Jesus is coming back soon, so let your unselfishness be seen by all people". Come on, don't be in such a bad mood that you can't even give somebody a compliment. "Well, you just don't know what I'm going through". Well, I do know that, more than likely, you'll continue to go through it if you don't learn how to walk in love. Because love is the highest form of spiritual warfare that you can do. Okay, so, I'm gonna do the robot for you. Oh, good. Some of you are like...
Many, many years ago, one of the things that went through my head all the time was, "Well, what about me? What about me"? You know, Dave would watch football on Sunday and the kids would go out and play, and I'd cook after church, and then I'd do the dishes and I'd clean the house, and you know... "Everybody's enjoying their life but me, what about me"? Or Dave would say on Saturday, "I'm gonna go play golf with the guys today", and the first thought I had was, "Well, what about me"? Any of you ever think like that? "What about me? Who's gonna take care of me? Nobody does anything for me"?
And I was laying in bed one morning, I hadn't even gotten up yet, you know, Satan will make a bid for your mind before you're ever fully awake. And I knew that Dave was gonna go to some ball game that day, and I think my kids had plans and I'm laying there thinking, "Well, life is sure nice for everybody else, what about me"? "What about me? Who is ever gonna do anything for me? I do all the work around here. I cook, I clean they just mess it up, and I clean it up again". And the Lord began to speak to me, and he said, "You know, Joyce, the enemy grabs your mind early every morning and he just winds you up and gets you ready for the day".
Cause you know, your behavior is based on your thoughts. And so, I was an expert at acting pitiful. So, he said, "You remind me of a little robot. The enemy comes and he just winds you up. 'what about me? What about me? What about me'? And then, when you put your feet on the floor, this is the way you look to me, 'what about me? What about me? What about me? What about me? Beep. Beep. What about me? What about me'"? I probably should sell little electric robots. I bet I'd like some money. And I'll tell you what, I finally just got so sick of me. And I think that's the point we have to get to sometimes. I'm tired of thinking about me. I'm tired of worrying about me. I'm tired of trying to make everybody else take care of me.
Let's do Mark 8:34: "Forget yourself, lose sight of yourself. Get yourself off your mind". Be more concern for other people. Boy, you're excited about the thought of that. Whew, I need a good cup of strong coffee to go finish this. Now, you know what? You're gonna clap while I'm preaching, but to be a hearer of the word and not a doer, means you're deceiving your own self by reasoning contrary to the truth. It can sound like a good idea when I say, "Sacrifice for others". But when it comes to doing it, man, can we come up with all kinds of reasons? "Why, that can't be God. Well, that just can't be God".
I'll tell you two stories. My mom and dad, 'course didn't take care of me. My mother didn't mistreat me, she just wasn't there for me. And my dad was just a nightmare. I don't even know how to, even other than the sexual abuse, all I remember, living at home, was just fear. He worked nights and when his key would turn in the door at night, I would go... It's terrible to live in that kind of fear. If any of you have ever lived in that kind of fear, you know that it's absolutely terrible. And it takes you a good while to get over it. And so, soon as I could get away from home, I stayed away from them as much as I possibly could. Christmas and birthdays, I would send 'em a little money and if I had to go visit I would only stay as long as I absolutely had to.
Then, they moved from my hometown in St. Louis to Southeast, Missouri, about a couple hundred miles away from where we lived. And that suited me just fine, because I had an excuse then. You know, it's not just like an around the corner thing. I gotta actually, make a trip to see you. But fast forward, they're in their mid-seventies and both of their health was really bad. And they didn't really have good doctors in the areas where they lived, and they were getting to the point where they couldn't do things for themselves that needed to be done.
And so, one morning, I was praying, being spiritual. "Oh God, I surrender my life to you. Use me God, use me". C'mon, we love sounding spiritual when we pray. Oh, my gosh. So, I mean, it came just like a rock, "I want you to bring your parents to St. Louis, buy them a nice little house, take care of them until they die". "Well, that's the devil. There is no way God would ask me to do that after the way they treated me". Went on to something else, "God, show me what you want me to do". C'mon. "Show me what you want me to do".
Well, it just wouldn't go away, wouldn't go away. Every time I tried to pray there it was again, and I thought, "Buy them a house? We don't have the kind of money to go out and just buy somebody a house". So, I thought, "Well, if I am gonna have to buy 'em a house it's gonna be a cheap one". And then, God said, "No, you're gonna buy 'em a nice house". It wouldn't have been that expensive, it didn't have to be huge, but it needed to be in good shape. But, we didn't have the kind of money, I mean, we had enough money to do that, but it would have taken pretty much everything that we had saved. And I did not want to do it. I didn't think it was fair.
Does God ever ask you to do anything that just doesn't seem fair. Whoo. "Well, after the way they treated me, I don't know why I should do anything for them". He said, "Well, so you'll be like me". So, I thought, "Well, I'm gonna ask Dave. There's no way that dave's gonna wanna take the money we got in the bank and buy them a house". Bad mistake. I went to Dave, and he said, "Well, you know, if God told you to do it, you better do it. I was hoping you would disagree with God".
So, long story short, we did it. We took care of them until they died, including them having to be in nursing home care for several years, and that's expensive. And then, I had my windowed aunt on top of that, and when my uncle was dying, I promised him I'd take care of her. So, now, I had three people in nursing home care. Oh, yeah. And I'm running around the world doing these conferences and telling everybody how to walk in love, and so... Whoo. It's so easy to talk ourselves outta stuff. That's why you gotta go with what you have peace about inside not what your head says is a good idea.
Another quick story, I'll tell it to you in the mini version. I bought a new red dress and it was still under the plastic 'cause I never had worn it. And I actually, bought the dress one size too big for me because I liked it so much and that was the only size they had. But it had drop-shoulders, so there was no seam on the shoulder. So, you really couldn't tell that it was a little bit, you know, a little bit big. And I bought these really pretty red and silver earrings to go with it. I think I like the earrings better than the dress. And it's still hanging in my closet.
One morning, I'm in my closet getting dressed. Your closet is not a great place to pray, ladies. I know the Bible says, "Go in your closet and shut the door", but, so, I'm trying to get dressed, and I'm praying for this one certain lady who had been volunteering in our ministry for a long time. She was gonna be at this meeting that I was conducting that morning. "Oh God, show me what I can do for Ruthann. Show me God, how I can bless Ruthann". And immediately, my eyes fell on that red dress. But now, and I want you to hear this. Here's what I said, "Well, that can't be God, that dress is new".
C'mon, we're okay with giving away all of our raggy stuff, and thinking we're really big givers because we take all this stuff to the goodwill that we wouldn't wear anymore. You're not giving till you feel it. Come on. I said, you're not giving until you feel it. So, long story short, I forgot about it. A few weeks later, I'm praying for Ruthann. I was like Jonah, "Go to Nineveh". I went the opposite direction, got swallowed up by a whale, and after he repented and God caused the whale to spit him up on dry ground. Next verse says, "And God said to Jonah, 'go to Nineveh'". So, "Give Ruthann the red dress". "But God, I bought those pretty earrings to go with that dress". He said, "Well, I was gonna let you keep them, but if it's a bother just give those to her too".
So, when Ruthann retired from the ministry, she gave me back the red dress. And we have it at the ministry as one of our like, memento things that we look at. And I took it, one day, to the place where I buy my clothes. The lady had sold me this dress and I put it on, and we had such a laugh. It was not even a pretty dress. Unless we are willing to die to self, we abide alone. We live isolated, lonely lives. Very few people would call us friend, and when we're gone, nobody really cares that much that we're no longer here. We've traveled through life and the world is no better because we were here.
Let me ask you, what are you leaving in this world as a legacy? My goal, a good number of years ago, was I told the Lord, I wanna leave at least 100 top quality books about Jesus that people can read 100, 200 years after I'm gone. Well, God does more than enough, and I'm on 135 now. You gotta declare war on selfishness. Just make your mind up today, "I refuse to live as a selfish, self-centered person. I am not going to do it". And the only way you can beat selfishness and greed is to be an aggressive giver and a blesser of other people. We live in very self-centered times, and the opportunity to be selfish is everywhere.
2 Timothy 3:1-2, "But understand this, that in the last days will come and (set in) perilous times of great stress and trouble hard to deal with and hard to bear". Well, can anybody say that they're pretty sure we're in those times right now? "For people will be lovers of self", so, this is telling us why we're in hard times, "People will be lovers of self utterly self-centered, lovers of money, aroused by an inordinate greedy desire for wealth, proud and arrogant, contemptuous boasters. They will be abusive (blasphemous, scoffing), disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane".
These are the days we're living in right now. What a chance we have to shine. This is the best time ever to turn your light on. Because it is so dark out there that people are desperate. Why do you think so many people are committing suicide? Why do you think so many people are so angry that they're about ready to explode all the time? They know that something is wrong in the world and they don't even know enough to know what it is. I don't know if you realize how valuable what I'm telling you, here today, is. Most people in the world are told, "Take care of yourself, take care of number one, if you don't take care of yourself, nobody else will". And I'm here, telling you today, forget about yourself, lose sight of yourself, and reach out to other people.
Now, let me tell you a little story that I think it's just beautiful. In John 13, well, actually, I'm gonna read it and let you see it, because it'll just be better that way. My fingers are so dry, I can't... Not that it's dry here. So, I guess, my question would be: have you washed any feet lately? John 13, 17 verses, let's see if you can focus that long. "It was just before the passover festival and Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them all the way to the end".
Now, he knew he was ready to leave, and he wanted to leave them the best example that they could be left with, to be practiced, as they live their life. "The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew", I love this, "Jesus knew that the father had put all things under his power". He knew he didn't have to do what he was getting ready to do. He's the King of kings, the Lord of lords, all power belongs to him. But see? Real power can serve. The greatest among you is the servant of all. Hmm... We've got it backwards.
See, the world thinks that being a servant is a lowly position. But God says the opposite. But, you see, "Jesus knew that the father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God". He knew that he was only here for a period of time, for a purpose. Come on. You were born because it was God's will for you to be born. And if you're a believer in Christ, you know where you're gonna go when your life here is over. So, you're what? Passing through. This is not your home. You are passing through. God has a purpose for you.
I love that. Jesus knowing where he came from and knowing where he was going took off his outer garment and put on a servant's towel and knelt down, got on his knees in front of these disciples and began to wash their dirty, stinky feet. I'm sorry, but I've not seen too many men with cute feet. Most of 'em their second toe is longer than their big toe. I know Dave's is, it's kinda like a... And they wore sandals, and the roads were not paved, and so their feet were dirty, dirty. And he washed their feet. When he got to Peter, verse 6, "Peter said to him, 'Lord, are you going to wash my feet'? And Jesus replied, 'you do not realize now what I'm doing, but later you will understand'. 'no', said Peter, 'you shall never wash my feet'". And listen to this, "Jesus answered, 'unless I wash you, you have no part in me'".
So, let's don't overly spiritualize that. What he's saying is, "Unless we do things for one another, then there is no real relationship. You have no part in me, I have no part in you". I wonder if anybody in the world is ready to have a real relationship where you lay your life down for each other, and you consider serving and doing what would be considered a menial task?
I was watching my program on TV the other day... I actually, learned from myself. And I talked about a morning when I felt like an, and you know, mornings are like... I gotta have my coffee and my quiet. I don't wanna talk to anybody. I don't wanna do anything for anybody. I just need to have at least an hour with the Lord and my coffee before I can act decent. Amen? Like, pastor Tommy says, "Thank God for caffeine until the anointing kicks in".
So, I remember God, I heard this on my program. God put it on my heart that morning to make Dave a fruit salad. He likes fruit salad. So, he likes all this stuff cut up. I'm talking, maybe six or seven things cut up and put in a bowl. Well, I did not want to make him a fruit salad. I wanted to go sit in my chair and pray about being a servant. I wanted to go sit in my chair and pray about walking in love. I didn't wanna actually do it.
One night, in Florida, Dave and I were on our way to church for me to do a speaking engagement down there. And I don't know what I was preaching on but something probably along these lines. And we got stopped by train, and so, that was already making me antsy 'cause I can't stand to be late for my services. And then, because there was other traffic backed up, Dave decides to start letting all these people in line. And I said, "Dave, we do not have time to be nice"! "Get me to the church on time". Do you see how we are? It's easy to clap for it, to say, "Amen", to read about it, to underline it in our Bible, to even pray about doing it, but when it comes to doing it... And yes, I made the fruit salad. But under protest.
Ok, now listen. So, he told 'em, he said, "I've done this as an example that you might do unto others as I have done to you". And I love verse 17, "Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them". Washing feet is a high position. And when I talk about washing feet, I'm just talking about doing seemingly menial tasks for people.
So, I wanna tell you a story that I think is quite beautiful and I hope you can grasp this. My assistant, who's not here right now, because she's at the hotel room while I'm preaching, packing up all my stuff so they can get it in the trucks and get it back home. And she's my administrative assistant so she has a pretty high position at the ministry. And she said she was praying one day and God told her, "Prepare for promotion". And so, she's thinking, "Well, where do I go from here? I've already got a pretty high position". He said, "Well, I'm gonna promote you".
So, I don't know how long it was, maybe a few weeks. And you know, I can't do everything I'm doing and try to do all the normal stuff that people do. And so, our trucks bring our stuff ahead of time, and they'll get me checked into the hotel, and I always had somebody that would unpack my stuff and get it all out, and get it ready and press anything that got wrinkled. And so, when I got there all I had to do was prepare, and pray, and study, and get ready for the services.
Well, the girl that had done it for like 15 years had decided to retire so I needed somebody to do it, but it needed to be somebody that was real like, organized, because I'm not a person that can travel with a backpack. I have to have everything I own... When I go, and then a backup in case that one doesn't work, so... I'm sorry, I just need my coffee pot, I need my cream, I need, you know, so, you can think I'm selfish if you want to but I work hard enough to get one little thing that I want. And so, I called her in and I said, "How would you feel about flying out a day early and starting to take care of my stuff in the room"? And she said, "I'll do it. God told me I was gonna get a promotion".
Now, I'm thinking, "How could that be a promotion"? But you know, I was reading this John 13 again, the other day, and I got it. I mean, I really got it. See, what I asked her to do would be like, another form of foot-washing. It was like, "Can you do this simple", see, that means a lot to me, because it makes me free to focus on what I need to do, and I take my job in the pulpit very seriously. I don't ever show up to preach unprepared. I never just decide, "Well, I think I'll just go over there and say something".
I may not end up saying what I prepared, but at least I'm prepared. And I got it. The other day, it was just like, "I finally got it". In God's eyes, that was a promotion. Please, somebody get this. So, God's gotta promotion waiting for all of you when you go home. It may be a fruit salad. It may be taking care of your elderly parents, who you now ignore. Who says you shouldn't be good to your elderly parents just because they never did anything for you? That's exactly what God wants us to do. Because we're not ordinary, we're super ordinary. Let me read you a couple stories and you'll get it. If you don't have it yet, you'll get it.
"A little boy, about 10 years old, on a cold day in December, was standing outside of a shoe store on the sidewalk and he was barefoot". Now, a cold day in December, he's barefoot. "Peering through the window and shivering with cold, a lady approached the boy and said, 'my little fellow, why are you looking so earnestly in the window'? And he said, 'well, I was asking God to give me a pair of shoes'. Well, the lady immediately took him by the hand and went into the store and asked the clerk to get her a half a dozen pair of socks for the boy, and to bring her a basin of water and a towel".
Please notice that she did not need three confirmations from God and a trumpet blast. She saw a need and she immediately got busy meeting that need. She didn't question the little boy about whether or not he deserved it. "He quickly brought them to her and she took the little fella to the back part of the store so as not to embarrass him, removed her gloves, knelt down, washed his little feet, dried them with a towel. By this time, the clerk had returned with the socks, she put a pair on his feet, and then brought him a pair of shoes. She tied up the remaining pairs of socks and gave them to him. She patted him on the head, and as she turned to go she said, 'no doubt, my little fellow, you feel more comfortable now'. The astonished lad looked, caught her by the hand and looked up in her face and with tears in his eyes, he said, 'ma'am, are you God's wife'"?
The story of Teddy Stallard. "Ted Stallard undoubtedly qualified as one of the least. He did poorly in school and he was very sloppy in appearance, expressionless and unattractive. Even his teacher, miss Thompson, seem to enjoy wielding her red pen as she placed X's beside his many wrong answers. If only she would have studied teddy's records more carefully because this is how they read. 'first grade: Ted shows promise with his work and attitude, but has a poor home situation. Second grade: Ted could do better. Mother seriously ill. Receives little help from home. Third grade: Ted is a good boy, but too serious. He's a slow learner. His mother died this year. Fourth grade: Ted is very slow but well-behaved. His father shows no interest in him whatsoever'. Christmas arrived, the children piled gifts on their teacher's desk and ted brought one too. It was wrapped in brown paper and held together with scotch tape. Miss Thompson opened each gift as the children crowded around to watch. And out of Ted's package, fell a gaudy, rhinestone bracelet with half the stones missing and a bottle of cheap perfume. The children began to snicker, but miss Thompson had the good sense to silence them by immediately splashing the perfume on her wrist and putting the bracelet on to wear it. At days end, the other children had left and Ted came by the teacher's desk and said, 'miss Thompson, you smell just like my mother, and her bracelet looks really good on you. I'm glad you like my present'. When he left miss Thompson got down on her knees and asked God to forgive her and to change her attitude".
And maybe, a lot of us need to do that today too. Amen? "Whatever you've done to the least of these, my brethren, you have done it unto me". "The next term, the children were greeted by a reformed teacher, one committed to loving each of them, especially the slow ones, and especially Ted. Surprising, or maybe not surprising, Ted began to improve. He caught up with the other children and even passed some of them by. Well, time went by and miss Thompson heard nothing from Ted for a long time. Then, one day, she received this note: 'dear miss Thompson, I wanted you to be the first to know I'll be graduating second in my class. Love, Ted'. Four years later, another note arrived: 'dear miss Thompson, they just told me I'll be graduating first in my class and I wanted you to be the first to know. University has not been easy, but I liked it. Love, Ted'. And four years after that: 'dear miss Thompson, as of today, I am Theodore Stallard MD. How about that? I wanted you to be the first to know that I'll be getting married next month, the 17th, to be exact, and I want you to come and sit where my mother would have sat if she were alive. You're the only family I have now because dad died'. Miss Thompson attended the wedding and sat where Ted's mother would have sat. The compassion she had shown the young man entitled her to that privilege". Amen? Okay, now, I think we need to pray.
Father, I know that many of us in here today, have been convicted, that we just need to treat other people better. We need to value them, and realize that so many people in the world are just hurting. And sometimes, even when they act bad, they're acting bad out of their pain. When we pray for promotion, Lord, help us know what true promotion really is. Put people in our path every day that we can be a blessing to and help, whether it's a kind word, or lunch, or paying their rent for a month, or even just a smile. Give us the grace, God, to forget about ourselves, trusting that you will take care of us as long as we're taking care of the people that you put in front of us. We're sorry for all the opportunities that we've missed. But we pray, Lord, that you would give us more, and let us help people and leave a legacy of love behind us, when you bring us home to be with you. In Jesus' name, amen.