Joyce Meyer - Fears to Conquer - Part 1
You know, today, in our society, there's so many things going on that can make people afraid, and God really wants you to enjoy your life. I love John 10:10: "The thief comes only to kill, steal, and destroy". But Jesus said, "I came that you might have, and enjoy your life. Have it in the full abundantly until it overflows". And so, are you enjoying your life? Not just right now curled up on your couch, having a girl's night. But would you say that, at least 90% of the time you really enjoy your life? I believe it's one of the ways that we glorify God by enjoying him, and enjoying what he's given us. But, one of the things that will prevent joy is fear.
And in the world that we live in today, there are many, many, many opportunities to be afraid. Certainly, we read or look at the news and it's just one bad thing after another. It seems like most people that you try to talk to, they wanna talk about all the problems in the world. And I know we have problems and we can't ignore them, can't stick our head in the sand, but we also have God! Come on ladies, I want all of you to say, "We also have God"! And you know what? God is greater than any problem, he's greater than all the problems in the world, all put together. God is greater than, I mean, hopefully there are thousands and thousands of people watching right now. And if you put all your problems together, God is greater than all of those problems. And he wants to set us free from fear.
Now being set free from fear, doesn't mean that you never feel fear, it just means that you don't let fear control you. You learn to do what you believe God wants you to do, or you learn to do what's really in your heart to do, even if you have to do it while you do feel a little bit of fear. Courage is actually going forward in the presence of fear, it's not the absence of fear. And the word fear, really means to run away from, to take flight, or to run away from. And there's a lot of different kinds of fears.
And so, I thought tonight what I might like to do is just talk to you about, a variety of different kinds of fears that we can focus on conquering. And I know that, out of all the things I'm going to talk about, there surely will be two, or three, or four of the things that you really need. And some of you may say when we're done, "Man, I needed all of those"! And so, the first fear I wanna talk to you about is, the fear of evil. You know David, the Psalmist, said, "I will fear no evil, for God is with me". And I love Psalm 27:13 and 14. Listen to this, "[what, what would have become of me] had I not believed that I would see the Lord's goodness, in the land of the living"! So, God wants you and me to expect, yes I said, "Expect" good things. Not to dread evil things.
Now, you know, I grew up in a dysfunctional situation, abusive, dysfunctional alcoholic situation and I had a lot of bad things happen to me. I married the first guy that came along, because I thought nobody would ever want me. And he cheated on me, and ran around with other women, and that was another five years of misery. And so, even by the time I married my husband Dave, who I've been married to now for 53, 54 years, sometimes I lose count when the numbers get that high you have to sit and think about it. But by the time I married him, he wanted to be good to me, but I didn't know how to receive it, because I had formed a habit... Now, I want you to get a hold of this, I had formed a habit of expecting, bad things to happen.
You say, "Well, why would anybody do that"? Well, I'd had so many bad things happen, and I had been disappointed so many times by expecting something good, and then it not happening that I actually got to the point where I felt like I was protecting myself, by just not ever believing that good things were gonna happen. Now, some of you may be waiting to see if something good is going to happen. But I wonder how many of you are actually aggressively, expecting something good to happen. See, I've come full circle now, I've turned all the way around in this, and instead of expecting bad things to happen, every morning part of my prayer and fellowship time with God is to say, "I am expecting something good to happen to me today". Without faith we're all gonna live in fear, because faith is the only thing that conquers fear. When fear knocks on your door, send faith to answer. Without faith we cannot receive from God.
God has many good things in store for you, but you have to have faith for them, and faith causes you to expect... We receive through faith. And without fear, we cannot receive from Satan, or the devil, our enemy. You can feel fear, but still keep going forward, and doing the very thing that you are afraid of. Many years ago, when I felt like God wanted me to quit my full-time job, and spend time studying the Word of God, because I felt like he had called me to teach. I already had three children, I couldn't go off to Bible college, I couldn't leave them all and say, "Bye-bye, mom's going to Bible college". But I had to have some kind of preparation, and the only thing that I knew to do was to spend time studying.
Well, workin' a full-time, and comin' home, and doin' all the housework, and grocery shoppin', and doin' all those things, I didn't have time to study. So, I started feeling like God wanted me to quit my full-time job, where I made good money, and trust him to take care of us. But there was a little, teeny, tiny problem, our bills were more than our income. So, every month we were going to need a miracle. I wonder if there's anybody watching right now that every month, you need a miracle, just to pay your bills. Well, you know, it was frightening for me. And I remember the first Monday came around and I didn't have a job, I wasn't working anymore.
I remember walking down the hallway in my house, and I was so frightened that I felt like my knees were going to buckle under me. And God spoke to my heart and he said, "You can do this two ways: you can be afraid all the time, or you can trust me for miracles". And I decided right then that I didn't want to live in fear, because you know, if you just keep letting fear go on and on, you know what I would have done? I would have ended up finding a job and going back to work. So, I needed to stay in that position of faith, and I needed to expect God to take care of us. But most of my life, I had kinda felt in my atmosphere around me... Some of you are gonna really get this and understand, just something kind of tormenting, I didn't even really know what it was.
But one morning, I was looking in the mirror puttin' on my makeup, and gettin' ready to go to work, this was before I'd quit my job. And I just said to God, "What is this? What is this thing that I feel all the time"? It just made me feel threatened and I didn't even really know what it was. And he spoke to my heart, "Evil forebodings". Well, I'd never heard that term. I didn't even really know what it was. But there is a scripture in Proverbs 15:15, in the Amplified, that says, "All the days of the desponding and the afflicted are made evil [by anxious thoughts and forebodings]". There it is, right in the Bible. Miserable days are made miserable by expecting bad things to happen to you. "But he who has a glad heart, has a continual feast [regardless of his circumstances]".
The joy of the Lord is our strength! And we can have, the Bible says, "Joy unspeakable and full of glory". "The peace that passes understanding". In other words, you can have all kinds of situations in your life, and still enjoy. I always say, "Enjoy where you're at on the way to where you're going". There's probably nobody watching right now, whose life is exactly the way you want it to be, we're all believing for something. But we don't wanna get so caught up in reaching the destination that we don't enjoy the journey. God actually is waiting to be good to you. Now, this scripture, Isaiah 30:18, in the Amplified Bible, is so amazing-ly wonderful. This is not the Amplified translation. But I encourage you to look it up later. This is from the niv, and it says, "Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you:" he looongs to be good to you, oh my gosh! "Therefore, he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all those who wait for him"!
So, you know the way I see this, you know what I think this is saying? God is waiting to be good to you. But the only people he can be good to, are those that are waiting for him to be good to them. So, what have you been waiting for? Have you been waiting, anxiously, excitedly for God to do something, awesome in your life, something great? Or are you talkin' about it? Or are you just talking about your problems all the time, and expecting more of the same? God is waiting to be good to you, and he's waiting for you to wait for him, to be good to you. I love this. I don't see that I can put it any plainer. Proverbs 1:33 says, "Whoever hearkens to me [wisdom] shall dwell securely and in confident trust and shall be quiet, without fear or dread of evil". So, say right now, wherever you're at, "I will fear, no evil. I will fear no evil".
Now, the next thing I'd like to talk to you about is the fear of rejection. And you know, this is a biggie for me. You know, first of all, Jesus was rejected. Now, he said, "If they rejected me, they're gonna reject you". There's no way that you're gonna make it through life and never be rejected. And when we feel rejected, that's the opposite of being accepted, and we all want acceptance. We all want to be included. We all want to be liked, and to be admired, and we wanna be part of. But when someone rejects you, it makes you feel like there's something wrong with you, that causes them not to want you. How many times are children who've been adopted, tormented a large majority of their life, because they wonder what was wrong with them, that their parents didn't keep them? And you shouldn't believe like that, you shouldn't live like that, because your parents may have had no other choice, or maybe they had problems, but that didn't mean that there was anything wrong with you.
I know my father sexually abused me, and for years I thought, "What's wrong with me? What's wrong with me? What's wrong with me? What's wrong with me"? But there wasn't anything wrong with me, I was just a little child. My father was the one who had the problem. He was sick. He was doing the wrong thing. So, just because somebody doesn't like you, or they reject you, or they don't invite you to the party, don't let that make you feel like there's something wrong with you. Maybe they're just missing a great opportunity to know you, and they just haven't realized it yet. Jesus was rejected by his own brothers, they thought he was a madman, and they wanted him to do miracles to prove who he was.
So, he was rejected by family. Everywhere Jesus went there was some who accepted him, but many who rejected him. The religious leaders of the day rejected him. The government leaders rejected him. Pilot rejected him, Herod rejected him. And even when he was at his hour of greatest need, in the Garden of Gethsemane when he just needed his disciples, who he had given his life to, to pray with him for one hour, they fell asleep. I'm sure that felt like rejection. And then when he was being questioned by the government leaders, Peter denied even knowing him and he was close to Peter. "I don't even know him. I don't know him"! Well, I know for a fact because of looking at my own life, that Satan uses rejection, the pain of rejection. Which I just read yesterday that doctors have concluded that if you look at an MRI, the part of your brain that lights up when you're in physical pain, it shows the same thing when you're rejected as it does if you're being physically hurt.
So, I think sometimes emotional pain is even more difficult than physical pain. So, yes, I know what it's like to be rejected, and I know many of you do too. Maybe you've had a spouse walk off and leave you. Maybe somebody you were dating broke up with you, and first thing you think is, "What's wrong with me"? Maybe you were turned down for a promotion at work, or you didn't get the job that you applied for. For no reason, you were the only one you know that wasn't invited to the party. I mean, there's all kinds of ways that we can feel rejection. But really try to stop thinking: what's wrong with me? What's wrong with me? What's wrong with me? I mean, you can ask God, "If there's a reason, if there's something I need to know that I don't know, then show it to me". But don't be going around just feeling like there's something wrong with you, because everybody is not clappin' and cheering for you.
I read that 10% of all people won't like you no matter who you are, or what you do. So, I finally had to face the fact to be happy about the 90% and stop worrying about the 10%. When Jesus sent his disciples out, he sent 70 of 'em out in pairs of two, to go out and preach the Gospel, and to heal the sick, cast out devils. He told them, "When you go into a town, find a house where you can stay and if your peace will remain there you can stay there". But, he said, "If they reject you, or if they don't want to receive you and welcome your message, then shake the dust off your feet, and go on to the next town".
And you know what? Some of you are hurting emotionally because you have experienced a painful rejection in your life. It may have been 10 years ago, it may have been yesterday. And God is saying to you right now, "Shake it off"! Don't let it just keep dragging you down, down, down, down, and further down. And don't listen to that message that the enemy plays for you ceaselessly, "What's wrong with me? What's wrong with me? What's wrong with me"? Jesus took our sin. And you might say he took our wrongness, and he gave us his rightness.
2 Corinthians 5:21 says, "He that knew no sin, became sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Christ". So, it's very interesting to me, and very beautiful, that the first thing after salvation that God wants to give us, is his right-eousness. You know why? Because he understands that the devil works overtime trying to make us feel like, "What's wrong with me"? "I can't do what you do, what's wrong with me"? "I don't look like you look, what's wrong with me"? "I weigh a few more pounds than you do, what's wrong with me"?
Well, you know, there's things I can do. But to be honest, there's probably more things I can't do than things I can do. I'm a communicator. I can talk to people and speak and do it in a way that is easily understood, I think. And I have a gift in writing. And I love to give, I love to make people happy. But I can't play a musical instrument. I can't sing. I mean, I can't even draw a decent stickman. I don't read real fast, but I know people who can read a book in a day, or on an airplane ride, or I know people that read two or three books a week, and it takes me a while to get through a book. I don't memorize the Bible. I know a lot of the Bible, but I don't memorize whole chapters at a time. I know people who've memorize chapters, and chapters, and chapters. And I used to try to do what everybody else was doing, but I don't do that anymore.
Now, I am me, and I am glad to be me. And if somebody rejects me, then that's between them and God. And I want you to be the same way. Don't fear rejection. Jesus will never, ever, ever, reject you, not ever. How about the fear that things will never change? I bet some of you're dealing with that right now. You got a situation, "My husband is never gonna change". "My kids are never gonna change". "I'm never gonna own my own home". "I guess I'll just never be happy". "I'm never gonna lose this weight". I'll tell you what, Satan is full of what I call, "The never lies". He wants to make you think that whatever problem you've got, you are going to have it forever. And I've learned when I have a problem to say, "This too will pass". Because one of the things that makes you feel overwhelmed, and defeated is to think that you're gonna have to put up with something forever. "Well, I can't stand it. This pain will last forever".
How many problems have you had in your life in the past that you don't have now, because God took care of it? So, whatever problem you have now, you can relax, because God is also working on that problem, and he's going to take care of that. Afraid you'll never change. Your family members will never change. Your circumstances will never change. You're never gonna have enough money. You're never gonna get married. You're never gonna have any peace. You're never gonna enjoy your life. Well, let me tell you something, everything is subject to change except God, and with God all things are possible. So, don't be afraid, that things are not gonna change for you. Be content and be satisfied where you're at, knowing that God is working in your life, and he's working on great things for you.
But how about the fear of change? Some people fear that things will never change, and then other people fear that they're gonna change. Change comes and well, that's scary. But you know what? Anybody who won't change, will get left in the dust. We've been in ministry for 45 years, and 35 of those years we've had the ministry that we have now, except it was very small when it started, and it seemed to me like it stayed small forever. But gradually it was growing. And we're still doing very well, God's blessing our ministry, and we're doing very well. But, we have had to make changes all along the way. Our clothing styles, our music styles, how we set the platform when we do our conferences, our TV studio, we're always updating and upgrading. And you know what? When you think, "Oh, it's fine, it's been this way forever, we'll just leave it that way". You're already on your way out, when you do that. You have to be willing to change, you have to be willing to change, you have to be willing to change.
Some people just say, "Well, I don't like change". Well, we don't all get to like everything we do: we need to do what God wants us to do, knowing that it's the best thing for us. Our bodies change. In the beginning everything is lifted, our face is lifted. Our bodies don't sag, our shoulders don't do this. They do this automatically now: I have to make sure mine do that. And I don't know, it seems like some morning you get up, and you look in the mirror, and everything that used to be up here, is now down there. People talk about having this lift or that lift, well, some of us just feel like we could use a whole entire body lift. Just start at the bottom and lift everything, pull everything up, tie it in a knot at my head, and cut it off. Everything changes. Our children grow up and leave home. Our friends change. You can be so close to somebody for 10, 15 years, and now, maybe they're not even in your life at all. Companies go out of business, neighborhoods deteriorate.
Dave and I drove down to the area where we both lived when we met, some 50 odd years ago. And the neighborhood I lived in was still in fairly decent shape, but the house that Dave grew up in was all boarded up now. And it's just sad, you know, you go by and you say, "Boy, I remember when, I remember when, I remember when". But not everything stays the same. You have to be willing to accept change in your life. You know, God told Abraham to leave the place he was, and go to the place that he would show him. Well, he was facing change, he didn't even know really how big of a change he was facing.
Change was coming, he just didn't know what all it would involve. And you talk about taking a step of faith. Man, he took a step of faith. You know, God said to Joshua, and it's recorded in Joshua chapter 1, especially in the first 9 verses. It says, "After the death of Moses, the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua, 'Moses is dead'". Well, that's no big news. They'd been mourning Moses for 30 days already, he knew very well that he was dead. But there was a lot more behind that statement, because what God was really saying is, "Moses is dead, and now I'm calling you to take his place. So get ready for big change in your life".