Joyce Meyer - The Price of Progress
Well, thank you for joining us today, on "Enjoying Everyday Life". I believe that I have a message today, that's gonna help you and encourage you. You know, I just wonder how many people are watching, right now, and you would love to make progress in some area of your life. Maybe it's spiritual progress: you really, want to mature more as a Christian, but you feel like you're stuck in the baby stage. Or, maybe, you need some financial progress, or social progress, you're lonely, you feel like you don't have very many friends. We all like advancement and progress in our lives. But the title of my message, today, is "Going to the next level always costs us something".
You know, you almost always have to let go of something old to take hold of something new. Think about that. You have to let go of something old to take hold of something new. Now, God promised to bless Abraham in a greater way than ever before in his life, but he had to walk away from all that he was comfortable with before God would even show him what that next level of blessing was going to be. Genesis 12:1 and 2, "The Lord had said to Abram, 'go from your country, your people and your father's house to the land that I will show you'".
Now, just so you understand why God asked him to do that, God had a big plan for Abraham's life. He was going to be the first man that God came into covenant relationship with, and he really wanted to use Abraham. But all of his relatives we're idol worshippers. And so, God knew that he had to get away from that in order to ever be able to do what God wanted him to do. You know, sometimes, you're just simply hanging out with the wrong people and God can't take you to the next level because you're being too influenced by the wrong people that you're around. And God said, "'I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you: and I will make your name great'". One translation says, "'I will make your name famous and you will be a blessing'".
And then, if you take the time to read more in Genesis 12, it says and, "I'll even bless those who bless you". "Abraham, you're gonna be so blessed that even if somebody blesses you, they'll be blessed because they blessed your life". But he had to separate from things of the past. And it's one of the prices that we pay. You know, when you come into a relationship with Christ, you're not only invited to come into a relationship with him, but the word teaches us that we'll have to learn to live a separated life.
And that doesn't mean that you go off by yourself somewhere and just stay alone and don't have any friends, but it means you will have to separate yourself from some of your old ways. You can't just continue in sin and have a relationship with Jesus. He'll teach you, he'll lead you, he'll guide you, and God will deal with you about one thing at a time, never more than what you can handle, and he always gives you the grace to do whatever he asks you to do. But we're only fooling ourselves if we think that we can just have a messed-up life and just kinda tag Jesus onto the end of it and think he's gonna fix all of our problems and nothing is going to need to change. And you know, all the things that God to asks you to lay down, I can tell you, they're the things that are making you miserable, anyway.
Some people say, "Well, you know, if you become a Christian then you just can't have any fun". Well, you know what? Some of the things that I used to think were fun, were things I did need to stop doing. But I found out, "No, they really weren't fun," because all I knew was how to have fun, I didn't know about real joy. And joy is so much better than fun. God wants you to have a life that you enjoy. John 10:10, Jesus said, "'the thief comes only to kill, to steal, and destroy. But I came that you might have and enjoy your life, and have it in abundance (to the full, until it overflows)'". Is that what you have in your life? Do you have an abundant, joy-filled life? Or are you just saying, "No, but I want that".
Well, if you're wanting to go to that next level, then there may be some things that God's gonna deal with you about that you're gonna have to let go of. It might be a selfish attitude. It might be self-pity. It might be complaining or grumbling. It might be gossiping about other people. But in God's kingdom, we're always growing, there's always things that God's showing us about how we can live in a better way. The Bible says that we're to separate from angry and wrathful men, lest you learn their ways.
Proverbs 22:24 and 25, "Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, don't associate with someone that is easily angered, or you may learn their ways and become ensnared in a trap". I wonder how many of you are spending way too much time with people that just complain all the time. Don't think it won't get off on you because it will. Now, I'm not saying that we need to stay away from everybody that's not a believer. But you do have to be careful how much time you spend around people that are doing things that you don't wanna do. Because whatever you're around for a long time will influence you.
So, just use wisdom and pray about it. "I wanna be available to minister to lost and unsaved people," but I always say, "I wanna be around somebody as long as I can affect them and they're not infecting me". You think about the friends that you have and the people you spend your time with. You know what? If you're a Christian you don't need to sit at the lunch table at work and listen to everybody complain about the job, and the boss, and the conditions.
You say, "Well, what else am I gonna do"? Well, my husband spent a lot of years, before he came to work in full-time ministry, walking during his lunch hour. He would eat and then he'd go out and spend the rest of time walking the neighborhood and just praying. You know, it was back then, when he was doing that, that God spoke to him that someday he wouldn't be at that engineering firm any more, that he would be in ministry. If you spend time with God, then God can speak to you, and show you things. You know, God wanted Israel to separate themselves from bad influences. But along the way, it says that they became involved with a mixed multitude.
So, different towns that they went through, people would wanna go with them that maybe, were idol worshippers or were doing things that were not right. Instead of telling 'em, "No," and obeying what God had said, they let 'em join in. So, in numbers 11:1-5, it says, "Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. And when the people cried out to Moses, he prayed to the Lord, and the fire died down. So, the place was called Taberah, because fire from the Lord had burned among them. The rabble," or the mixed multitude, "With them began to crave other food".
God was raining food miraculously, from the heavens, everyday, called manna. Well, that'd be a pretty cool miracle. But you know, after a while, the mixed multitude with them, decided they didn't like it anymore, and they were complaining about it. So, then, the Israelites started complaining about it. You know, maybe, you were once thankful for your job, but you've eaten lunch too many times with the wrong people, and they put all kinds of thoughts in your mind about everything that wasn't right with the job that you have. You know, if you're around people who gossip about other people, don't think your attitude toward those people won't be changed. I've kind of found that if somebody tells me something unkind about somebody else, or something gossipy, even if I don't wanna believe it, if I'm not very careful it can cause me to look at that person in a little different way than I did before.
Our words are powerful, and you don't wanna be letting people fill you full of things, that are gonna poison your soul, and end up making your life worse. "The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again, the Israelites started wailing and said, 'if only we had meat to eat. Oh, we remember the fish that we had in Egypt at no cost'". But they were forgetting that they were slaves in Egypt, and that they had a workload everyday, that was way too much for anybody to accomplish. "Also, we remember the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic".
Well, I'm sorry, but that doesn't sound like a very great meal to me, but however, that was what they ate back then. God repeatedly, told the Israelites to separate themselves from the heathen nations that he was trying to protect them from. They were on their way to the Promised Land, which meant blessings and the price they needed to pay was separation. You know, if you're gonna become a serious-minded Christian... I know, I went through this and you may too. I went through a period of time of loneliness. I was lonely. Because when I became a fully committed Christian, even my Christian friends didn't want anything to do with me. You know, a person can be a Christian but be a compromising Christian.
Well, what I mean by that, they're still doing a lot of things that they shouldn't be doing. Let's just say that you've hung around with all these people for a long period of time, and they just love you and you love them, but they go see all kinds of movies that now that you've become more serious about your relationship with God, you just don't really feel like you should be going to. Well, you try telling them, "No, I'm not gonna be able to go," and just see how long they wanna continue to hang out with you. If you start making good decisions, you're good decisions will kinda show up their bad decisions, and then all of a sudden, you become a Bible-thumper or a Jesus freak, when really, you're just trying to be really more committed in your relationship with God.
So, rejection is one of the things that Satan uses to try and get us to back down from our new relationship with God. When God called me to preach, I got rejected by so many people: I mean, people that I thought were my friends, family members. And it was painful. It was hurtful. And I was lonely for a long period of time. But you know what? I'd rather have Jesus in my life, and not have the other people, than have all those people and not have Jesus. And I hope and pray that you feel the same way. You know what? Salvation is a free gift. But nothing is ever really, truly free because we didn't have to pay for our salvation, but Jesus paid. Somewhere along the line, progress always costs somebody, something.
You know, I'm very big on teaching people about the anointing of God. I don't think that we know as much about it as we should. And the anointing just means to smear or rub all over with. Back in the Old Testament, when someone was gonna be anointed as a prophet, or a priest, or a king, they would pour oil on their head and anoint them with that oil, and that oil represented the Holy Spirit. Well, we may not get oil poured on us now, but when God calls you to do something, he anoints you with his spirit to do that.
You don't listen to me, maybe you watch the program everyday, and you just love it, and wouldn't miss it. Well, you don't listen to me just because I've got this sweet voice and you love everything I say. You listen because God has anointed me to do this. And you could line three people up and have them all preach the exact same message word-for-word, and if two of them were not anointed to do it and one of 'em was, you would get more out of what the anointed person said than the one who wasn't. It's God's anointing on our life that causes us to be successful in whatever we do. Crave and carry God's anointing, but realize there may be some things that you won't be able to do anymore if you're gonna have that anointing.
If one wanted an anointing for their life, or for healing, or miracles, or teaching, or whatever it is, you might need to dedicate and consecrate yourself, and set yourself aside to perhaps spend a little more time with God than what you used to. You know, Jesus had to separate himself. We see, all over the place, that he would go off by himself and go pray. It says, "Jesus knew that he had to live a separated life unto God in order to carry the anointing that had been placed on his life". He's called, "The anointed one". And in Luke 5:15-17, it said, "Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that the crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses". But listen to this. "But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed".
So, you know, he didn't even let the needs of the crowd control him. I suppose when he was teaching and ministering to people, and healing the sick, and doing all these different things, he was never gonna run out of people that needed help, but I'm sure when he began to feel weary or felt that his faith was weakening, whatever, he would leave the people for a period of time, and he would go off somewhere by himself and pray, spend time with his father and get refreshed. How often do we let the needs of other people control our life and we end up with burnout instead of doing what God wants us to, and putting him first in our life, and then always having the grace and the energy to do what we know that God wants us to do?
"One day when Jesus was teaching, and the pharisees and the teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick". The anointing comes by God's grace and mercy, but we must learn how to carry it and walk in it. Matthew 14:23 says, "And after he had dismissed the people, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray". Sometimes, to carry God's anointing and his power in your life, you're gonna have to spend a little more time by yourself. If you don't spend regular time with God everyday, I'm encouraging you and challenging you to start getting up a little bit early and giving those first moments, or minutes, or hours of the day to God.
You say, "What do you mean, give 'em to God"? Talk to him, that's what prayer is. It's talking to God. Get your Bible out, and study, read. Read a good book that's full of the Word of God. I've written a hundred and thirty of 'em, you can find one surely, that I've written that you can learn something from. Get your computer out and listen to a good teaching. We need to start our day with the Word of God, if at all possible. And if you can't do it when you first get up, then do it as soon as you can. Don't make it the last thing that you do. Let it be the first commitment in your life.
When Jesus was tired, when he was having a rough time mentally or physically he went off and he prayed. When he was in the Garden of Gethsemane, and he knew that the time was coming for him to be crucified, he asked the disciples to pray with him, "Can you not pray with me one hour"? And he would go off by himself to pray. And then, every time he came back, they were asleep. Well, you know, Peter went to sleep, but then, he also, denied Christ three times. Perhaps, if he would have been praying, like Jesus asked him to, when that temptation came to deny Christ, he might have been strong enough to withstand the temptation. Maybe, if Judas would have done more praying, he would not have betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.
You know, there's a lot of times when we could stay out of trouble, if we would pray before the temptation comes, and not wait until we're in the middle of it. Let me give you a practical example. You know, I never had much peace in my life. The family that I grew up in was anything but peaceful. It was just a house of strife, and turmoil, and anger, and wickedness, and bitterness, and abuse, and incest. The way I grew up was terrible. And I never really, I don't think I even knew what peace was. Well, then, when I married Dave, Dave was a very peaceful man. And he enjoyed peace. And after a few years of living with him, I decided, "I want that peace in my life". Well, you know what? I couldn't just want it, I had to pay a price to get it.
Now, Jesus said, "My peace I give unto you. Don't let your hearts be troubled". But I still had to make some changes in my life, spirit-led changes in order to have peace. Let me give you some example. Romans 12:16-21 "Live in harmony", which is peace, "With one another: don't be haughty (snobbish, high-minded, exclusive), but readily adjust yourself to people and things and give yourself to humble tasks. Never overestimate yourself or be wise in your own conceits" well, you know, I wasn't very good at adapting and adjusting to other people. I wanted, what I wanted. I didn't wanna adjust and I didn't wanna adapt.
Well, I learned finally, that one of the ways I could increase my peace, was if everybody wanted to do something that I didn't wanna do, was just to adjust to them, and go ahead and stay sweet and do it. You know, the price that we pay, many times, to be stubborn and foolish is we lose our peace. And it is absolutely not worth it. "Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is honest and proper and noble aiming to be above reproach in the sight of everyone". You know what? If we're gonna get along with people, we're gonna have to get very good at forgiveness. We gotta get very good at being quick to forgive. "If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone". God's giving us the responsibility to be at peace with others. It's not just their responsibility to get along with us. He's telling us to get along with them.
C'mon, now, I know there's somebody watching, right now, and you're being convicted. Well, good. It's not condemnation, it's conviction. And God convicts us because he loves us, and he wants us to have and live better lives. "Beloved never avenge yourself". Are you trying to take revenge on somebody? You've all these bitter thoughts about them and you just can't wait to see them get what's coming to them. Well, that's not the way God wants us to be. He wants us to pray for our enemies, and bless them, and do good to them. That's how you show them what God is like. You can't overcome evil with evil. You can only overcome evil with good.
I love that scripture in Romans, 12:21. "You can only overcome evil with good". "Never avenge yourselves, but leave the way open for God's wrath: because he has said, 'vengeance is mine, I will repay'". "If your enemy is hungry, feed him: if he's thirsty, give him something to drink: for by doing this you will heap burning coals of fire upon his head". Here's another way to be peaceful: be willing to admit that you might be wrong, even if you don't think you are. Be humble. Apologize even if you don't think you were wrong, but be willing to be shown if you were wrong. How many times can you get your peace back just by saying, "Look, I'm sorry"? You know, "I don't want us to argue. Forgive me, and let's just go on".
Now, that's a little hard on your flesh, sometimes, especially, if you feel like you're always the one doing the apologizing. But I always say, "Whoever apologizes first is the more spiritually mature person". You know, I had to learn to keep my mouth shut, and be satisfied not to always have the last word, if I wanted to have peace. I had to give up trying to control and manipulate people. You know, there is no peace for the person who thinks they're gonna run the whole world and get their way all the time. And I had to pursue peace. It's not gonna just fall on your head like ripe fruit falling off of a tree. The Bible says that we are to pursue peace.
Let me give you the scripture, Psalm 34:12-14, "What man is he who desires life and longs for many days, that he might see good? Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from guile. Depart from evil and do good", now, listen to this, "Seek, inquire for, crave peace and pursue and (go after) it". Wow. Anyone of you, who needs more peace, you don't need to say, "God, give me peace. Give me peace". Jesus already said he's left us with his peace. His peace is ours. "My peace I give unto you, not as the world gives do I give, but my own special peace I give unto you," in John 14.
So, peace is available. But sometimes, you maybe need to say to God, "Is there something that I need to change in order to enjoy your peace"? Well, what if he says, "Forgive" or, what if he says, "Admit you're wrong," or what if he says, "Adapt yourself to other people"? We don't like that. We just want God to give us all the things that are gonna make our life good. But sometimes, there's a price to pay. Remember, you've always gotta let go of something over here, if you're gonna make progress over here.
Now, you know, we never wanna leave you without offering you more of the Word of God. So, today, we're offering you a book, I wrote that I like. Of course, I like 'em all, I wouldn't have written 'em. "Never Give Up", and we're offering this to you today, for your gift to the ministry of any amount, and whatever you give is gonna all go toward helping pay tv bills for this program that you watch that I believe helps you. Any amount, "Never Give Up". Thank you so much for joining me, today. I appreciate you putting your time with me, and I pray that the study of God's word has been a blessing to you and helped you. Thank you and God bless you.