Joyce Meyer - Beatitudes - Part 4
Well, thank you for being with me today on, "Enjoying Everyday Life". All this week I've been teaching about, "The Beatitudes," or what is referred to as, "The Sermon on the Mount". And they're really about different character traits that Jesus talks about that if we have those character traits, we will be blessed. Well, what does it mean to be blessed? Well, of course, it's a wonderful word that carries a lot of great meanings. But I looked it up this morning, and in the Greek one of the things it means is to be made large, and that's not talking about us being made large thankfully, it's talking about living a large life.
And I think we all want that. We all want our lives to be big lives, we wanna be blessed in big ways, we wanna do big things. And it also means to be happy. And I think when you get right down to it, what does anybody want, except to be happy? I mean, I think if you just ask somebody what do you want? I mean, they might say, "I want peace" or "I want joy". But the bottom line of what everybody wants is they wanna be happy, and they want to enjoy their life.
And today we're gonna talk about the beatitude or the attitude of mercy. The Bible says, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy". So that's pretty plain, it's saying if we are willing to be merciful to others, then we will receive mercy ourself. And I don't know about you? But I need a lot of mercy every single day. I need mercy from God, and I need mercy from other people when I slip up and make mistakes that hurts their feelings. And we want to be generous in giving mercy to other people. Don't be a harsh, hard-hearted bitter person that won't forgive others when they make mistakes. There's actually a really good story that I like in the Bible about a man named blind Bartimaeus. And I'm just gonna read it to you.
It's in Luke 18:35-43, "As he came near to Jericho, it occurred that a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. And hearing a crowd going by, he asked, 'what does this mean'? And they told him, 'Jesus of Nazareth is passing by'". Well, he apparently had heard enough about Jesus to know that Jesus was capable of doing miracles and this man needed a miracle. Perhaps you need a miracle in your life today. "And so he shouted, saying, 'Jesus son of David, take pity and have mercy on me'! But those who were in the front reproved him, telling him, 'be quiet:' yet he screamed and shrieked all the more, 'son of David, take pity and have mercy on me'"! And I love the next four words, "Then Jesus stood still".
I love that, that the cry of a blind beggar sitting on the roadside, got the attention of Jesus just because he cried out. Did this man deserve mercy? Was it something he even had a right to expect? You see mercy is not something we can deserve: it's actually given to those who don't deserve it. And so, you need to be bold enough to ask God for mercy, because he is a merciful God. Matter of fact, the Bible says that, "God's mercy is new every day". And I would imagine that we have a fair number of people watching the program right now, that you need mercy. And God will give it if you ask for it, but you also have to be willing to receive it, or perhaps another way of saying it is you need to be merciful to yourself.
Now, really, we can't really give ourselves mercy, it has to come from God, but receiving the mercy of God is like giving it to yourself. I had a very difficult time being merciful to people in my early years of my walk with God. I read and studied about mercy, and I wanted to be merciful, but the truth was, I was a very harsh, hard, legalistic person. And I didn't know why I had such a hard time showing mercy to people, and God finally revealed to me one day that I could not give mercy to others, because I was not receiving mercy myself. So, I wanna ask you, what are you holding against yourself: something that you did 20 years ago, 10 years ago, a week ago, yesterday? And maybe you've asked God to forgive you, but you haven't received the mercy from God that you need to receive, you're still punishing yourself, you're still holding against yourself the thing that you did.
It's very good to remember that you cannot give away what you don't have. You have to receive God's mercy in order to be able to give it. And just remember that when you cry out to God, he will stand still and listen to what you have to say. In Matthew 9:13 Jesus said, "Go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice'". Well, you see, under the old covenant in the Old Testament, when people made mistakes and they committed sins, they had to make sacrifices to make up for those sins, dead animal sacrifices or different types of food offerings. They had to do something to give something up for their sin to be forgiven. But you see, under the new covenant, under the New Testament, that was sealed with the blood of Jesus, we no longer have to pay for our sins because Jesus has paid for them. And he was the final, the one and only, complete sacrifice that would ever be needed.
So, when I sin or when you sin, which we do, we don't have to make sacrifices. What we do is admit our sins, confess our sins, ask God to forgive our sins, and to give us mercy, and then the next thing we should do is receive it. There's so many things that God gives us, but we never receive them. And once again, I know in my heart that there are many people watching today and the thing that you need to do, there's something that's been blocking your relationship with God. There's something that's been even blocking your relationship with people. And this is it, you need to receive the mercy of God. But remember you can't earn it, you can't deserve it, all you can do is take it as a free gift. And then be thankful enough to be willing to then be merciful to other people. God expects us to give away to others what he has given to us. It's so good.
When we sin, God wants to give us mercy, he does not want our sacrifices. Well, there's a lot of things that we sacrifice that aren't dead animals or something that we own. For me when I made mistakes, I would always sacrifice my joy. I felt guilty and condemned but I also would not allow myself to enjoy anything. It was a type of self-punishment. How do you feel about yourself? Do you punish yourself by feeling bad about yourself? Do you know you're never gonna have good relationships with other people, if you don't have a good relationship with yourself? You can't even really have a good relationship with Jesus unless you receive his love, and you receive his mercy, and you can then enter into a loving relationship with him.
In Matthew 10:8 Jesus said, "Heal the sick," he had sent the disciples out two-by-two to go and minister. And he said, "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons". Now listen, "Freely you have received: freely give". That's so wonderful. Everything that we have received is a free gift. We receive God's forgiveness, so God expects us to forgive other people. God helps us, he expects us to help other people. We have received mercy from God: he expects us to give mercy to other people. I don't know about you? But I am very disturbed in my spirit, by the number of people who are Christians, regularly attending church, that are angry. They're angry at somebody in their life that they have refused to forgive. They have received mercy from God, but they're refusing to give it to someone else.
And I believe that today can be a wonderful day, if many of you that are angry, right now, will be willing to show mercy, to give mercy. Always remember hurting people, hurt people. People don't just get up every day and think, "I'm just gonna go see how mean I can be today, and how many people I can hurt". People in the world are hurting. They're hurting from things that have been done to them. They're hurting from being abused in their childhood. They're hurting from being rejected, abandoned. They're hurting from all the needs in their life that are not being met yet. And it just kinda comes out of them in bad behavior. And instead of us getting mad at everybody every time they don't treat us exactly right, or do what we think they should, we could be more merciful and pray for them that God will be able to heal their soul, and show them what they need to do to have the life that Jesus died to give them. "Freely you have received: freely give".
Webster's dictionary says that mercy is defined as, "Kindness in excess of what may be expected or demanded by fairness". In other words, mercy is not even fair. And so often that phrase will come up, "Well that's not fair. Well, it's not fair for me to forgive them, after what they did to me. How can it be fair for me to just let them go scot-free and forgive them"? Oh, you don't have to be concerned about that. Nobody's gonna get off scot-free until they repent and let God heal their soul. When you forgive someone, you do yourself a favor, you're not doin' them a favor. Forgive and pray for your enemies, pray that they might be blessed. And the first thing that God will probably bless them with is some revelation on their own behavior, and maybe they'll see how they need to change.
Matthew 5:7, "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy". I love that. The message Bible says it this way, "You're blessed when you care. At the moment of being 'care-full,'" or full of care for others, "You yourselves find yourself cared for". That's kind of a really attractive way to say it. But just back to what Jesus said, "Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy". Luke 6:37-38, "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you again".
You know, I love this whole principle in the Bible of sowing and reaping. I hope this comes across right, but I feel that it gives me a certain measure of control over my life. In other words, there's many things that I can't do anything about, many circumstances in the world I can't do anything about. But there are principles that God puts in place, that if we obey those principles, we will get the results that he says that we will get. And he says if you give and you're generous, then your needs will always be met. If you show mercy to others, then you will receive mercy when you need it, not only from God but from other people. So, what a cool way to say, "I can get what I give away".
You know, if you're friendly with people then you can expect people to be friendly with you. If you show people favor, then you can get favor in your life. The Bible says, well, we call it the "Golden rule". I don't know what the Bible says that it's the "Golden rule" but it's certainly important. One of the main things that the Bible says, it's the simplest principal but it says, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". Let me ask you a question, and maybe you need to think about it when the program's over, is there anybody, right now, in your life that the way you're treating them is not the way you would want them to treat you? Or maybe the way you're talking about them to other people is not the way you would want them to talk about you. Or maybe even just the way you're thinking about them is not the way you would want them to think about you.
The Bible says that we're not to judge other people. And that doesn't mean that we don't judge sin. We can clearly see when someone is in sin if their behavior is something that is opposed to what the Word of God says. If somebody tells me a lie, I know that's a sin. If somebody steals something, I know that's a sin. Matter of fact, the closer you get to God the quicker you recognize sin in your own life and in the lives of other people. So, what does it mean not to judge people? It's not talking about not seeing when somebody's doing something wrong, but I believe that it means more you can't judge a person's heart. We never know what's in a person's heart. We can see their behavior, but we don't really know what is in them or what may have hurt them that caused them to do what they did.
And you see, the great thing about having a relationship with God is he not only sees what you do, but he knows why you did it. I had a very rough time in my initial walk with God. I was born-again when I was nine years old, but I did not enter into a serious relationship with God until I was in my twenties, and married Dave, and he and I started going to church on a regular basis. He'd been a Christian all of his life and he asked me if I'd go to church with him. And I wanted to. He didn't to, he didn't have to try to talk me into it. I always wanted a relationship with God. I just did not know how to have one. And so, I started learning things, and the more I learned, the more I realized that I had some problems in my life.
Well, people often would correct me about my behavior, or maybe, if I did become friends with somebody, they might say to me later, "Man, when I first met you, I didn't like you at all". Well, that would not make me feel too good. But I realized that God had a different attitude toward me because he understood that I had been abused in my childhood and mistreated, and that I had lived in fear all of my life, so, a lot of my responses to people and situations were because of the way I was raised. Now, I couldn't let them become an excuse to stay that way. But that was the reason that I was the way I was. And God understood that. So, it was very easy for him to give me mercy. But because we only see people's behavior, we don't see their heart, it's harder for us to give them mercy.
Let's start being a lot more merciful. I believe is a very important thing to be merciful. We reap what we sow. Mercy sees the why behind the what. Mercy sees the heart. I don't know about you, but I'm glad that God saw beyond my tough, rough, often mean exterior, and he saw the little girl on the inside that had been hurt, that wanted with all of her heart to be right with God and do the right thing. A merciful person has come face-to-face with the hard facts of their own wretchedness. They know that without God's mercy, they would have been consumed by their sin. Lamentations 3:22 and 23, such a beautiful scripture, please get this. "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail," or his mercy never fails. "They are new every morning". Wow. "They are new every morning great is your faithfulness". The Amplified Bible says, "It is because of the Lord's mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because his [tender] compassions fail not. They are new every morning: and abundant is your stability and faithfulness".
I guess God makes new batches of mercy every night after we go to sleep because we used up all of yesterdays, and we need to start all over with fresh mercy, again. You know, the Bible teaches us in Hebrews 5 that God chooses those to be in ministry, who are just normal human beings because they make mistakes, and they know what it's like to make mistakes, and they know what it's like to be forgiven by God. And so, they have a better ability to understand other people. Hebrews 5:1 and 2 says, "Every high priest is selected from among the people and is appointed to represent the people in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins". Now, listen to this. "He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is also subject to weakness".
Let me ask you a question. If you're angry with somebody, right now, and you have not been willing to give them mercy, which mercy, an attitude of mercy is really required to forgive someone. If you have not been willing to give them forgiveness, to forgive them, to loose them, to let them go, that's what it means. If you've not been willing to pray for your enemies, but you keep a hard-harsh attitude toward them, is it time for you to make a change? Is it time for you to realize that what God is asking you to forgive those people for is probably very little compared to what he has forgiven you for. God's mercy is new every day. And you know, it's not about them deserving it. It's not about it being fair. It's about being obedient to God. And the only reason why God tells us to forgive people and to give them mercy is because he knows that we're going to be better off if we do that.
The world is full of people that are burdened. I mean, heavy hearts and burdened because they're carrying all this anger around on the inside of them. And I believe today is the day to let go and let God be God in your life. You know, some people have the gift of mercy. Romans 12 talks about gifts of the spirit. And some people have the gift of mercy. And people who have the gift of mercy also have to be guided by wisdom, not just mercy. Because mercy, sometimes, will make you just wanna give everything away. We have an outreach here, to people that have need. And we found out that sometimes we can't just put the person in charge of that ministry, that just has a strong gift of mercy because they'll give the whole store away, so to speak.
And we have to use wisdom along with it and make sure that people aren't taking advantage and that they're actually doing their part. For example, if somebody shows up here and says, "My gas and electric have been turned off. Can you help me"? Well, we find out. You know, "Are you a believer in Christ? Where do you go to church? Have you have you asked your church for help? Are you doing your part to look for a job"? And then, if we discern that it is somebody that we do feel led of the Lord to help, then we don't just hand them a check, we pay the electric bill, or we pay the gas bill. We use wisdom and don't just hand them something that we're not sure what they're going to do with it.
I love in Proverbs 1:3, it says, "Receive instruction in wise dealing and discipline in wise thoughtfulness". When I talk about being merciful, I'm not talking about letting people walk all over you, or take advantage of you, or use you in ways that they shouldn't. I'm talking about being merciful to them in your attitude of heart. But still helping them learning how to deal with their behavior that may be wrong.
And you know, we always offer teaching that enhances or adds to, goes along with, what we're sharing here, on the program. You've had 25 minutes of teaching, and I can tell you, it takes a lot more than that to get over a bitter, wrong attitude. You know, the pharisees were the most religious of all the people, and they were the most hard-hearted. Don't be a hard-hearted, hard to get along with, unforgiving, religious person. Be someone who has a deep, intimate relationship with God, who knows his mercy, who's experienced his mercy, who's experienced his forgiveness, who also wants to be like Jesus. That should be our goal: to be Christ-like, to be like Jesus, and to give others what he has given you.
Now, today, we're offering you a series of CDs called, "9 attitudes that will keep you happy". Wow, "Nine Attitudes That Keep You Happy," that's four teachings on CD, about four hours of teaching, and the, "Battlefield of the Mind Study Bible". The great thing about this Bible is a lot of the scriptures, well, we hope we didn't miss any, on the mind and the mouth are highlighted. So, you can learn how to think the way God wants you to think and talk the way God wants you to talk. It's really important that you have more and more of the word and that you make a habit of studying it all the time. And be merciful.
If there's anybody, right now, that you need to forgive, why don't you, when you turn this program off, why don't you spend time talking with God about this, and work your way through it with him. The Holy Spirit will help you, if you really want to do the right thing. We love you. We care about you. God's got an awesome life plan for you. Don't open a door for the enemy by harboring unforgiveness and being unmerciful. Thank you for being with us today. And I pray that you'll have a great rest of the day.