Joyce Meyer - First Things First - Part 2
Well, thank you for being with us today. I pray for you, right now, that you will not only enjoy the program, but you will learn something that's going to help you in your everyday life. I started yesterday, talking about priorities, and I wanna continue that teaching today. And let me just say, just in case I don't get into all of it, that this is just a simple version: I believe that what our priority should be is always God first, then family, then yourself, and I know that may sound a little strange.
Most of the time, when you hear people teach on priorities, somehow or other, they never put you in there. But the thing is, is that if you don't take care of yourself, then you're never going to be fit to take care of or help anyone else. And God wants you to take care of yourself. He wants you to take care of your health. He wants you to take care of your mind, your emotions. You need to do some things for yourself, occasionally, that you enjoy. You need to get the rest that you need. If you are at the bottom of your list of people that you take care of then you need to move yourself up several spaces.
Just remember, the best gift that you can give anybody is a healthy you. And then, I believe our jobs, how we make our money comes after that. And then, I think that doing things for other people should always be a priority in our lives because it's a priority to God. You see we're not looking at things the way the world does, we're looking at this from the viewpoint of how God teaches it in his word. And keep in mind, if you do things God's way, you're always going to have a better life than if you try to do things the world's way. So, gonna start by saying, 1 John 5:21: "Little children, keep yourselves from idols from (false Gods), [from anything and everything that would occupy the place in your heart that is due to God, and from any sort of substitute for him that would take first place in your life]. Amen. (let it be so)".
You know, many years ago, thank God it's been many years ago, my idea of what it meant to be a Christian was, of course, to believe that Jesus died for me, paid for my sins, and to receive him into my heart, and to go to church, and maybe do a little bit of church work. And I wasn't really a happy Christian. I was just kinda just like a Christian like everybody else I knew, was a Christian. I thought that being a Christian meant going to church. But back in the '70s, God touched my life and I started entering into what I now call, when I became serious about God in my life: when I started wanting to put him first place in my life. And that changes a lot of things. And it should for you.
If you're a Christian God should be first in your life. And we're gonna talk about how we put him first in our life. But first God, then your family, then yourself, then your job, and then doing things for other people. Now, you know, there may be people that feel differently about it. But this is just the way that I want to present it to you today. So, anything can become an idol. Anything that becomes more important to us, than God, can become an idol. You can idolize your job. You can idolize how you look: you can spend more time on how you look than you do on anything else. We can idolize our children, or our friends.
We need to be careful that we always keep God first place in our life. And really, how do we know that we're doing that? Well, we spend time with him, regularly. Not occasionally, when you get time, but you give him the first part of your time. For me, I love to give God the first time in the morning. I know that's different for different people depending on what stage of life they're in. When I had little kids at home, I couldn't spend as much time as I can now. But God can be in your thoughts and your conversation all throughout the day. You can talk to him about anything, anywhere, anytime.
Another way to keep God first is to study his word, to make studying, and you notice, I didn't say reading because I've come to the conclusion that we always tell people read your Bible, and that's good, but I think we need to study the Bible. And many times, that's just something as simple as reading something but then taking some time to actually think about it, and kind of roll it over and over in your mind and think about, "What is this really saying to me"? We need to know the Word of God. Because if we don't know God's word, we're never gonna know what should be, the most important thing in our life. And if we know the word then we'll have spiritual knowledge that will help us make decisions that will always keep our priorities in line.
Thank God all the time. I mean, our, "Thank you's" need to far outweigh our petitions. You can thank God for little things, for big things. You can thank him for things that you've had for a long time. Thank him for something he does for you that's brand-new. Thank him for himself, not just what he does for you. Where would we be without God? You can keep God first by seeking his guidance on everything. Proverbs 3 says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and mind and lean not to your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your steps". Even if you start out every day, say, "God, I need your guidance today in everything that I do".
Sometimes, if you're gonna make a decision, just take a few minutes, get by yourself for a few minutes, three minutes, five minutes and just quiet your mind and see what your heart is saying. Being obedient to God is one of the best ways to put him first in our life. And can I just say, right now, that God is always right. No matter what we think, no matter what it seems like, God is always right. If you do things God's way, you're gonna like your life a whole lot more than you are if you don't do things God's way. But you can't know his way if you don't know his word. Give into his work in the earth. God could support the preaching of the Gospel anyway that he wants to, but he wants us to participate. It's one of the ways that we show our love for him.
Many times, when a pastor's receiving an offering in church service, he'll say, "We're gonna receive the love offering". Well, that just becomes a phrase that we may not even be fully aware of what it means. But it means that we're giving what we're giving because of our love for God because we appreciate all he's done in our lives, and because we love other people and we want to see the people that don't know him receive the Gospel, so they can know him. Behave like him. You know, the wwjd bracelets were so popular a few years ago. That means, "What would Jesus do". But really, in each situation we should do what Jesus would do.
A man was telling me this morning about a situation he had in a store last night were somebody started yelling at him and just making a big scene over something that was not a big deal, and he said he had to really take a deep breath and count to five or six and make a decision about what he was gonna do. And he decided that even though he would have loved to have start an argument, or perhaps, even a fight with the man, he knew that God would have him just be peaceful. And so, he did what the man was asking him to do, just to keep the peace. We need to always do what Jesus would do in a situation. Psalm 37:4 says, "Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart". I love that scripture.
And here's another great one Matthew 6:33: "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God", and seek is a very strong word. It means to crave, and pursue, and go after. "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his way of being and doing, and all of these other things will be added to you besides". You know, if you call yourself a Christian, and you just kinda have tacked God on to your life and want him to bless it and make it all good, your thinking's all wrong. You need to put God first, and then live the kind of life that would please him. And if you're doing things that you know, don't please him, then you need to ask him to help you have the strength to get rid of those things in your life. How can we tell what our priorities are? Well, what you put your time into shows what your priorities are. But here's a few other things. What do you talk about most of the time?
I remember going on a missions trip, probably 40 years ago, my first one to India, and the man who took us was also a friend. And we got back from a two-week trip, and he said to me, he said, "Do you realize that the only thing that you talked about on this trip at all was God and things pertaining to God"? Well, I wasn't trying to be overly spiritual but God had touched my life in a powerful way. And so many things about God and his word seemed brand-new to me. And I was excited about it, and I wanted to talk about it all the time.
You know, the Bible says in Malachi 3:16, I love this, "Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. And a scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honor his name". So, guess what? If you go to lunch with a friend and you're gossiping, and backbiting, and being judgmental, talking about what's wrong with everybody you know, God doesn't record that conversation. He doesn't like that one. But if you go to lunch with a friend and you're talkin' about how good God is and what he's done for you in your life, or some other good report about God, he likes that. He gets out his book of remembrance and he records that conversation. Isn't that a cool thought?
And I like to keep a book of remembrance, and I recommend that you do too, where I record the special things that God does for me. The Bible says that we should be conscious and aware of the love that God has for us. And the only way we can do that is by paying attention to the things that he does. And when something good happens to you, don't say, "Oh, that was a lucky coincidence". No, let's not blame God for the bad stuff and then not give him credit for the good stuff. Matter of fact, we don't need to ever blame God for the bad stuff because he doesn't have anything bad to give us.
What do you think about most of the time: what's on your mind most of the time? Is it how to get what you want by any means that you need to use in order to get it? Or is it what God would have you do in every situation? How much time do you spend thinking about what you can do for somebody else to be a blessing to them? What's the first thing on your mind in the morning, and the last thing at night? What do you spend your money on? You know, that's one of our priorities. Do you find it easy to spend money eating out, but difficult to spend money on teaching resources?
You know, we offer resources, teaching resources, books, or CDs at the end of every one of our programs. And I will always do that as long as I'm on television because the best thing that I can offer you is the Word of God. We need that more than we need anything else. So, do you find it easy to eat out, but difficult to spend money on teaching resources, Christian books, and other teachings that will feed you? Do you freely spend money on a new outfit or another pair of earrings, or another trinket for your car, or your motorcycle but have difficulty obeying God at offering time at church?
And here's a good one, I thought of. Do you become judgmental about people that are receiving offerings: your pastor, or a teacher, or even here on TV when we ask you to give into different things? Do you become judgmental and think, "They talk about money too much. They're talking about that too long. They shouldn't do that. Money, money, money". You have a problem with that, but you don't have any problem watching the shopping channel for an hour, try to talk you into buying a ring, or a bracelet that you don't need, and really won't do you any good. If you can listen to them talk for an hour about getting a new trinket surely, you can listen for 10 or 15 minutes when someone is talking to you about the value of giving money into the Kingdom of God.
Well, what are some of the things that God tells us to put first? Giving before spending, our tithe, the first 10% of our income, I believe, belongs to God. And I don't think it's a law anymore like it was under the old covenant, but I still believe in tithing. I do it because I want to not because I have to. And I love going way beyond that. But the first portion of all of our increase belongs to God, and we need to give it cheerfully and joyfully. Ezekiel 20:40 says, "'For on my holy mountain, on the mountain heights of Israel,' says the Lord God, 'there all the house of Israel, all of them in the land, shall serve me. And I will [graciously] accept them, and there will I require'", now, this is the Old Testament, "'and there will I require your offerings and the firstfruits and the choicest'", the choicest, the best, "'of your contributions'".
"Well, what? Is that fair? God wants the best of everything"? But see, if we give God the best, then he's gonna bless the rest. It's amazing that 90% of your income can go further than 100% would have. I remember a time when I decided that God would rather us get out of debt than to tithe. And I talked Dave into it, which I was being foolish, and he was being foolish in listening to me. And the first week we didn't tithe, I forget how much it was. It wasn't a great amount of money back then because I stayed home with the kids and Dave worked, and our tithe was not huge. But that same week, we had a washing machine repair and a refrigerator repair, and it came to the exact amount of money that we held back in our giving.
Let me tell you something. God can protect your stuff and take care of you, if you do what he asks you to do. Proverbs 3:9 says, "Honor the Lord with your wealth, and the firstfruits of all your crops". Here's another thing in the Bible tells us to do first. First examine yourself and then you will see better how to help other people change. Wow. Matthew 7:5 says, "You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly how to remove the speck from your brother's eye". It's amazing all we can find wrong with other people, and not realize that we have faults that are much bigger than theirs. Why? Because we may read the Bible or study the Bible, and we're always thinking of who it applies to, but somehow or another, we don't think about where am I in this, am I doing this thing that God tells me to do? Do I just have this scripture underlined in my Bible or am I actually doing it?
See, the Bible says, "Knowing these things blessed are you if you do them". In John 13, Jesus washed the disciples feet. He put on a servant's towel and washed the disciples feet. And feet weren't clean back in those days. They were dusty because they wore sandals. And Jesus, the King of kings, took off his robes, put on a servant's towel, knelt down at their feet, and washed their feet. And of course, the feet are not so much the idea as it is that we need to be servants and we need to be willing to do lowly and even distasteful tasks, and do it with joy for the Lord. And so, it gives all this example of how he washed their feet, and their response, and then in John 13:17, it says, "Happy and blessed are you knowing these things, if you do them".
James said, "Be a doer and not just a hearer of God's word". I'm actually, trying to get people to think today. Are you doing what the Word of God tells you to do? Or are you making excuses for not doing it? Or perhaps, putting it off till another time? There's a group of people in Habakkuk and God had told them, 18 years previously, to build his house. But they were still now, building their own house, and making excuses for not building the Lord's house. And they were complaining about their conditions because it seemed like everything they got, they lost. And you know, they always came up short and didn't have enough, and they didn't understand why. And God told 'em it's because your building your own house instead of building mine.
Well, what house are you building? Are you spending your time just to add a little something else to your house, but you're not giving anything to the work of the kingdom? You're only hurting yourself. God will provide for the preaching of the Gospel. Giving is an opportunity. Galatians 6 says, "Don't let any opportunity pass you by to be good to other people". How many opportunities do we have come in front of us, and we tell people we'll pray for you, when really, we could help them if we wanted to.
Examine yourself, when you read the word, not like under condemnation or in a judgmental way that's gonna make you feel bad about yourself. But the Word of God is like a mirror and when we look in here, we should see how we are, compared to the way the Bible tells us to be. And if we see that we're coming up short in an area, then receive that conviction, agree with God, ask for forgiveness, and then ask him to help you change in that area and do the thing that you should be doing. Examine yourself.
Let me read Matthew 7:5 again. "You hypocrite", what's a hypocrite? A hypocrite is someone who tells other people what to do but then doesn't do it themselves. "You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly how to remove the speck from your brother's eye". I like that. The Bible says, "Why do we judge other people"? I think this is in Romans 2:1: "Because we do the same things that we judge them for". Galatians 6:1 says, "Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the spirit should restore the person gently. But watch yourselves, lest you also be tempted".
You know, when we see someone doing something that's wrong and we know it's hurting them, God may want to use us to call it to their attention. But boy, we need to make sure we do it with humility and not with pride. Don't ever think, "Well, I would never do that," because really, you don't know what you might do if God didn't help you all the time. The Bible often says, "Watch and pray," and I wonder sometimes, if it doesn't partially mean, "Watch yourself and pray".
Do you want to be everything that God wants you to be? Do you want to keep your priorities straight? God first, family, build your family relationships. Family is so important. If you have elderly parents don't ignore them. Remember all they did for you. Or even if they didn't treat you great growing up, do what you believe Jesus would do and show them love, anyway. It's not good to not take care of those in your family who can't take care of themselves. Spend time with your children. Don't just let the television babysit 'em all the time. Spend time on your marriage. Dave and I have been married 54 years, and I'm very happy to say that, but it's something that we still have to work at. We need to make sure that we spend time together. We need to make sure that we talk and communicate. And we're very busy. We could easily think, "Oh, you know, we've been together forever. That's not important". But it is important. It's important that we complement one.
Another is important that we do things for one another. Then remember yourself. Take care of yourself. Get the right amount of sleep. Get the right amount of rest. Do some things you enjoy once in a while. If you enjoy taking a walk, take time to go take a walk. Spend time in the Word of God, that helps you when you do that. And then, we need to work. We need to make money. Whether your job is being a homemaker, or the ceo of a corporation, obviously, we need to work. And make doing things for other people a priority in your life. Don't just do it when you feel like it's being forced on you, but look for ways to be a blessing to other people. Matter of fact, I think it's important to try to be a blessing to somebody every day: every, single day.
Another thing God says to do first is to forgive other people before we expect God to forgive our sins. Uh-oh, we can talk about that a long time. I wonder how many of you are watching this program today, and right now, you're mad at somebody. But you got up this morning and you prayed and asked God to do several things for you. Well, when you pray with unforgiveness in your heart, it has a negative effect on the power of your prayers. We need to forgive everyone for everything that we might have against them. "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us". God's word is so amazing. It's so absolutely, wonderfully amazing. And I encourage you to keep your priorities straight and always make sure that God is number one.
Today, we're offering you a book that I've written called, Making Good Habits, Breaking Bad Habits, and a coffee mug will come along with it. We call it our, "Good morning, this is God," mug. And it says, "Good morning. This is God. I'll be taking care of your problems today and I won't need your help". Well, it's just a reminder. It's just a reminder to keep God first. I love you. I care about you, and I hope and pray that this message today brought a little bit of godly conviction into your life, and that you see something in your life that you need to change and get it back in the place where it needs to be. Have a great day. God bless you.