Joyce Meyer - My Favorite Scriptures - Part 3
I want to start in Luke chapter 19, the first 8 verses. "And [Jesus] entered Jericho and was passing through it. And there was a man called Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector, and [he was] rich". So, this is telling us that Zacchaeus was not a real honest guy. Tax collectors were probably hated more than any other group of people in those days. And so, he not only collected taxes, but he obviously got rich himself by taking other people's money. Maybe something about Zacchaeus wasn't satisfied with his life because he'd heard about Jesus, and he was trying to see Jesus, which one he was, because Jesus was coming. And it says he could not see him because he was small in stature.
Now, let's just be plain, that means he was real short, okay? And if a person is real short and there's a big crowd, and there's something you're wanting to see, you might feel that, that was like a little deficit or a handicap for you. But the thing that you're going to find interesting that the reason why I love this group of scriptures is because Zacchaeus didn't let what was going to be a little problem for him stop him. Everybody say, "Determination".
See, if you ever want to have what Jesus died to give you, you've got to have a boatload of determination. And that determination means that you have this attitude, "If anybody can have what Jesus died to give them, then I can have it. If God can bless anybody, then God can bless me". Now, come on, I'm talking about having a more aggressive attitude. If God can bless anybody, he can bless me. If God can do that for anybody, he can do that for me. If he did it for you, he can do it for me. All too often, we look at what's wrong with us, and why we can't and can't and can't and can't.
And we need to remember that God is no respecter of persons, and whatever we will trust God for and believe for, if it's in his word, not just 'cause you decide you want to, but if it's in his word, you can count on God doing that in your life at the right time and in the right way. Well, Zacchaeus wanted something, but he had a challenge in front of him, and I love what happened here. He was trying to see Jesus, but he was small. Verse 4, "So he ran on ahead and climbed up in a sycamore tree in order to see him, for he knew that he was about to pass by that way".
Now see, I have this little thing that I like to say, "More people need to be willing to climb a tree if that's what it's going to take to get what they want". And you can translate that however it fits into your life. "So he ran ahead and he climbed up in the tree. And when Jesus reached the place," and I love this, I want you to get a picture of this. Try to imagine this scene. Big crowd, guy wants to see Jesus. I mean, huge crowd. He's really not a very good guy, he's got problems in his life, but maybe he's ready for a change. He wanted to see Jesus, couldn't see him, should he just give up? Is it going to be too hard? Should he just say, "Oh, this is not going to work for me," and walk off? No, he ran ahead of everybody else and he climbed up in a tree. "And when Jesus came passing by," I love this part of the story, it says that he looked up.
Now, why would Jesus be walking along and decide to look up in a tree? I'll tell you why, because there was something in the attitude of Zacchaeus that drew the spirit of Jesus to him. Come on now. And he said to him, now watch this, "Zacchaeus, hurry up and come down because I must stay at your house today". Who does Jesus like to hang out with? People that have got a determined attitude that they're not going to quit and give up. If we want the presence of God in our lives, then we've gotta have the kind of attitude that he wants us to have. And that means I don't care what I'm not, Jesus is everything that I need. And so, I may be short, but I can find a way to do what he wants me to do.
Come on, come on, come on, come on. Stop thinking about what you don't have, and how you weren't raised right, and how you didn't get this, and you're not this and you're not that. Don't focus on what you're not, focus on who he is and what he can do through you. So, as we go on, "So he heard and he came down, and he received and welcomed him joyfully". Verse 7, "And when the people saw it," and this always happens, these people just aggravate me to no end. "When the people saw that Jesus was going to go to Zacchaeus' house, they all muttered among themselves, indignantly complaining, 'he has gone to be the guest of and lodge with this man who is devoted to sin and is a preeminent sinner'".
It's amazing, the person who has an aggressive attitude and gets God's attention and something good starts to happen in their life, how all the people don't like it, and nobody else ran and climbed up a tree. And so, they shouldn't have been murmuring because Zacchaeus got something from Jesus that they would've like to have had. And then verse 8 says, "So then Zacchaeus stood up and solemnly declared," I love this part, "To the Lord, 'see Lord, the half of my goods [now] I give [by way of restoration] to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone out of anything, I [now] restore four times as much'".
You see what happens to people when you start hanging out in the company of Jesus? All of a sudden, you get generous. All of a sudden, you start wanting to give instead of taking. Zacchaeus had been a taker, he'd been a thief, he'd been taking other people's money and using it for himself. Now, all of a sudden, one encounter with Jesus and he's a changed man. Let me tell you something, don't let any deficit in your life hold you back. We've got a young man that's here today, and I don't know where tony's at, but this is like the third time he's been to one of my conferences. I met him 10 years ago, and he was one of the make a wish foundation children. He happens to be in a wheelchair, and he's got some physical challenges, and so his wish was to meet me, which I thought was just, it's just one of the sweetest things that's ever happened to me.
So anyway, they paid for him to come here. And then after meeting him, we kind of got it in our heart to help them a little bit further. So, we bought their family, the ministry bought their family a wheelchair-equipped van, and we bought him a much better wheelchair than what he had. So, anyway... There's tony right there. See, there he is. Look at that, tony, now you're famous, you're gonna be on tv. Check it out. All right, now he came here today, they drove from naples, and he's so excited because he's about to graduate from college. Come on. He's getting a business degree in administration.
Now, how many people in that situation would just give up and say, "Well, my life's over, I can never do anything"? Come on, what have you given up on and what are you whining about? Let's let his testimony kick us in the tutu a little bit and say, "I'm going to start climbing a tree if that's what I have to do to see Jesus in my life," amen? Yeah, awesome! Awesome, awesome, awesome. I'm trying to get the point across to you today that you will be amazed what you can do if you won't have a give up attitude before you ever give it your best to find out what God can do through you if you'll trust him and take a step of faith. C'mon, I am telling you that there is no way that I should be doing what I'm doing. I talk. And I gave my mouth to God, and I said, "I believe that I can overcome my past because I see the promises in your word".
Hey, listen, when I started this, women didn't do what I'm doing. There was maybe a handful, just a handful. And I just want to say again: determination. I love what the apostle Paul says that's recorded in Philippians 3, "My determined purpose is to know him and the power of his resurrection that lifts me out from among the dead even while I'm in the body". And if you want to have a great relationship with Jesus, you can have a great relationship with him, but you're going to have to be determined to not let the devil or circumstances or anything else steal it from you. How many of you wanna have the best life that you can have?
You might say, "Yeah, I'm praying about that". Well, that's good, you always want to start with prayer, but I want to tell you something, it's going to take a little bit more than that because God's going to show you some things that you need to do, some things that you need to change. And he will give you the grace to do it, but when it comes right down to it, you got to do the doing. Alright, now, Genesis 32. We're going to talk about Jacob. Kind of the same type of situation, but just a little bit different. Jacob, well, he was just a real rascal. I mean, he and Esau were twins, and Esau was born first, he was the older brother. And when they came out of the womb, Jacob was holding on to his heel, and I like to say, "From the womb he was trying to get ahead".
And he did some things that really were not good. I mean, he lied, he cheated, he took advantage of his brother at a time when he was hungry, and he got Esau to sell him his birthright. He lied to his father and pretended to be Esau when he wasn't, and on and on and on. Well, after all these things happened and he got the prayer, the blessing prayer of the firstborn, once a father gave that blessing, it couldn't be taken back. And so, that birthright really meant a lot in those days.
So, what normally happens when we do wrong things that we know are wrong is immediately then he became afraid and he ran. He was afraid that Esau would hurt him, and so he ran for years and years and years, and he and Esau did not see each other or really have anything to do with each other. Well, Jacob finally I guess got tired of running. Maybe there's somebody in the room today and you're tired of running from things in your past. And it's time for you now to stop and deal with some stuff and get it over with, amen?
You say, "Well, exactly what do you mean by that"? Well, here again I'll use my story as an example. You know, my father abused me and my mother didn't help me at all, and so I asked a couple of different people for help, a couple of relatives. The police actually caught my dad one time abusing me in the backseat of a car, and I thought, "Well, now I'm finally going to get help". And they didn't help me either. And I mean, actually the policeman told my dad, "Well, if you'll let me have time with her, I'll let you go". And so, yeah. And so, I mean, I've been through it. And so, I kinda got to the point where I just thought, "Nobody's going to help me, so I'm going to survive this".
Now, I was born again when I was nine years old and we were visiting relatives in Southeast Missouri. And they were all Christians, and so I snuck off to church with one of them at a Saturday night service while my dad was out drinking. I don't even know how I know that I needed this, but I went with the purpose in mind of getting saved. And I took two of my cousins and said, "We're all gonna get saved". I guess there was something in me even back then. And so, that night, the pastor did not have an altar call.
Now, come on, I want you to listen to this story, he did not have an altar call. So, I had a choice to make. Do I go back home, or do I get what I came for? Come on, do I give up and go back home, or do I get what I came for? Come on, are you determined to get what you want? And I'm not talking about fleshly stuff, I'm talking about are you determined to have a great relationship with God? Are you determined to put him first in your life? Are you determined to be obedient to God? Are you determined to be a person full of integrity in a world today that is about as crazy as any of us have ever seen? It's gonna take determination.
And so, I remember I took my cousins by the hand, we went up to the front and waited to talk to the pastor. And I was so scared and crying, and when he came over and said, "What can I do for you"? I said, "Can you save me"? And so, he prayed with me, and I remember clearly my sins being washed away. I felt like a brand new person, but I didn't know anything. Now, this is kind of a cute but a crazy story. The next day, I cheated in a game of hide and go seek. I remember having my head against the white house, and I was tempted to peek. And I did, and the devil said, "You've lost your salvation". Of course, I didn't know anything about the devil, I didn't even know what was going on, but I believed that. And so, I just thought, "Well, I've made a mistake and that's over".
So, as far as I knew, I didn't have God in my life. But I can look back at my life now, and I can tell you that even though God did not get me out of that situation like I asked him to, he gave me a strength and a grace and a power to get through it. And I do remember that, and I used to say I don't know what it was, but when I was about nine years old, this determination came into me that I was gonna overcome. And I know now that, that was when the Holy Spirit came into me. And when he comes into our lives, he comes with strength and determination, amen?
And I can remember laying in bed at night when I was, like, just a young teenager. And this is what I would think, which didn't make any sense either. I would think, "Someday, I'm going to do something great. Someday, I'm going to do something that's going to surprise everybody". Because my dad would always tell me that I was no good and I'd never amount to anything. And you can imagine how bad I felt about myself because of what he was doing to me, but God gave me that determination, he gave me that grace to say, "I'm gonna overcome this, and I'm gonna do something with my life". Well, because nobody was helping me, I just decided that I was gonna survive, and that as soon as I was 18, I was getting out of there.
And so, as soon as I was 18, I left home, and I thought I got rid of my problem. Took me another few years to realize I took it with me, but it was in my soul. And some of you think you've gotten rid of your problem, but you still got it in your soul because you haven't really dealt with it yet. And you may need to do that before you can be everything that you need to be in Christ. How many of you are understanding what I'm saying here today? Okay. So many people that go to psychiatrists and psychologists and they need counseling all the time, it's for stuff just like this. They haven't dealt with stuff that they need to deal with.
And so, I was like Jacob, I was running. And I remember we were at a church meeting one night, and there was a lady there that was giving a testimony about being sexually abused by her, for her, it was her stepfather. And Dave bought me her book, which I didn't want. I didn't even know he bought it, but when he got home, he said, "I think it would really help you to read this". Well, I didn't care about, I didn't want to read that. And so, I sat down one day, and I had the book. And when I started to read page one, she was describing things that happened to her, and boy, it was just exactly like things that had happened to me. And I mean, all of this pain and emotion came rushing up in me. You guys still with me? And I threw that book across the floor. And I said, "I am not going to read this". And I heard the Holy Spirit say very clearly, "It's time".
Now see, this may not be the issue with a lot of you, but I can tell you it is with some. And I cannot even imagine how many people watching tv right now are brokenhearted and have wounds that they're trying to drown with drugs or alcohol, or they're trying to drown it with money or buying things, or there's no telling what all people do to try to get away from their pain. But the thing is, if you receive Christ as your Savior and you ask him to heal your life completely, he can cause you to face all those things and overcome them. And then, and then on top of that, he will take those things and he'll actually use them to help you in your future. I mean, my gosh, what kind of a God do we serve? Whoo. Amazing, amazing.
And so, Jacob was running, and he came to a point I guess where he was fed up with it. And see, that's what's got to happen sometimes, you got to come to the point where you're fed up with it. And so, he decided that he didn't want to run anymore, he didn't want to be afraid. He wanted to make things right with Esau. So, he started sending gifts to Esau. And then every group that would go and meet Esau, the gifts would be better than they were before.
Now, having told you that much of the story, let's start in verse 22. "But he rose up that [same] night and took his two wives, and his two women servants, and his eleven sons and he passed over the ford [of the] jabbok. And he took them and he sent them across the brook: and also he sent over all that he had". I like to kind of imagine this, it was like he had come to a point in his life where he wasn't willing to go on anymore the way he was. I wonder if there's anybody here that's not willing to go on anymore the way you are. Whatever that might mean to somebody, it's like I've had enough of this, and I don't want to live like this anymore. I'm not going to live without peace in my life. I'm not just gonna go through life, I'm going to learn how to enjoy my life. Whatever it might be. Whatever victory it is you're looking for from God, you've got to be determined that you want it. It can't be a wishy washy, you got to be determined that if anybody can have the best that God has to offer, you can.
And so, I personally like the fact that it says he came to that riverbed, I guess, and it says he walked away from everything that he had. He was ready to confront his issue. Sometimes you've got to get like that. You've got to be, like, "I don't care what it costs me. I'm walking away from everything and I'm gonna find out what it's gonna take to get this life fixed". I'm telling you, if you get serious enough, everybody in this room can have all the victory you could possibly want but you can't just think that you're gonna get it some drive-through breakthrough. Today, we can get everything drive-through. You can drive through and get absolutely everything, but with God you're gonna have to go through. So, verse 24, "And Jacob was left alone, and a Man", capital "M", which just basically means that this was an appearance of Jesus who came in the form of an angel: the angel of the Lord. And he "Wrestled with him until daybreak".
Have you ever wrestled with God? 'Course you have. "And when [the Man] saw that he did not prevail against [Jacob], he touched the hollow of his thigh: and Jacob's thigh was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. And then he said", so, this angel of the Lord says to Jacob, "'let me go, for day is breaking'. And [Jacob] said, 'i will not let you go unless you declare a blessing on me'". Do you see that? I mean, talk about bold audacity. After the way he had lived and what he had done, he determined to get it right with God and he's wrestling with God and he simply says to God, "I am not gonna give up. I am not gonna let you go. This thing is gonna be fixed and done with. I will not let you go unless you bless me".
Now listen, "And [the Man] asked him", the Man being the angel of the Lord, "'what is your name?' and [in shock of realization, whispering] Jacob said, his name is, 'Jacob'". And then the Amplified Bible tells us what that means: "Supplanter, schemer, trickster, swindler". So, it's kinda like at this point now God is making him face who he was and it's like a type of repentance. I mean, God already knew what his name was. He didn't have to ask him what his name was but he wanted him to say it. He wanted him to get it out of him and to face it.
You know what? You can't get beyond it if you don't face it. Otherwise, you're just gonna be running from yourself your whole life. Some of you still are so afraid that somebody's gonna find out what you did in the past. Well, if I were you, I'd find a trusted friend and I'd tell 'em 'cause it's our secrets that make us sick. It's all the stuff that we think we've got to hide from that we're afraid to talk about and tell anybody and I would have a big conversation with God about it and then I'd find somebody that I can trust and I would tell them, "I wanna tell you what I did in my past". Then you can start really rejoicing in what God has done for you.