Joyce Meyer - How to Live a Godly Life - Part 3
Well, thank you for joining us today on "Enjoying Everyday Life". You know, I love to teach God's word because it has power in it to change us. We need God's word. And sometimes, we need to hear some things over, and over, and over again. And I'm sure that you have noticed that in our world today, we have quite a few challenges. A lot of temptation to compromise and a lot of people are on a downhill slide morally. And we have to be very careful that we stand our ground and stay true to the Word of God, instead of floating along with the world and beginning to do the things that they do.
So, I'm teaching from a series called "How To Be Godly In An Ungodly World". And today, I want to talk to you about several things, but the Bible says that "We are in the world, but we're not to be of it". In other words, we live here, we're in the world, but we're not to be like the world. We should be influencing the world, not letting the world influence us. God wants us to be an example to those living in darkness without him. And we can't do that if we become like them. John 17:14-16 says, "I have given them your word". This is Jesus, "I have given them your word and the world has hated them". Don't be surprised if the world doesn't like you very much if you're a really committed Christian.
Now, you know, there's a lot of people that are Christians, but you can't tell they're Christians by the way they behave. And that's not the kind of people we're talking about today. We're talking about people that are gonna not just go to church on Sunday and get a check Mark on their "Went to church" box. But we're talking about people that are going to study the Word of God and make the decision to live by the word. "I have given them your word and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one". The devil is alive and well on planet earth and he's busy trying to tempt us and draw us into sin and into compromise all the time. "They are not of the world even as I am not of the world".
And you know, that doesn't mean that we behave like aliens from some planet called "The Christian planet". We don't need to get religiously weird. We just need to behave according to the Word of God. And you know, behavior is really important. That's what people see. They can't see what's in our heart. They see how we behave. And I don't know about you, but, you know, God is always challenging me to sharpen up my behavior in this area or that area. I would have to say that God is dealing with me about something all the time. And not even necessarily because I'm doing something terrible, but we need to stay sharp in areas.
So, right now, God is dealing with me about not being selfish. Sometimes, I need a little refresher course in that, because I can get selfish and start wanting my own way. And I don't know what he might be dealing with you about, but, you know, if God never deals with you about anything, then you're probably, just not hearing from him, because he likes to keep us strong in every area. We don't need to be so religious that nobody can relate to us. We need to be real, but we need to be godly. Some Christians act as if they're of the world but not in it. We live in a real world with real people who have real problems, but we serve a God who has real answers. And that's what we need to let people see.
The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:20 that we are God's ambassador's. Now, you know what an ambassador is, it's somebody who comes, like if somebody was here and they were an ambassador from France, they would live here in the United States, but they would represent France. And so, that means that by watching them or looking at their lives, you should be able to tell a little bit about France. Well, we are God's ambassadors. We represent him. Actually, the scripture in the Amplified Bible says that God is making his appeal to the world through us. That scripture always amazes me. Imagine that. As a believer, God is living in you. You're his representative, you're his ambassador, and he is appealing to the world through you. So, everybody's in ministry. Anybody that is a believer in Jesus Christ, a child of God, you are in ministry. You don't have to have a pulpit. You don't have to have a reverend, or a doctor in front of your name. God wants to use every single one of us.
I tell people all the time, most of the people that need Jesus are not going to come to a church to find him, but they're everywhere out in the world where you're at. They're where you work, or where you go to school, they're in your neighborhood. And we can minister to people without ever preaching to them, just by the way we behave. There are times when I'm around someone, and in a short period of time, I can tell that they're Christian just by the way they behave or maybe some of the things that they say. And then there are other people who are Christians, but I certainly, couldn't tell that they were Christians by their behavior.
Now, I'mma say this several times today, but I wanna make sure you get this. The way we behave in front of people, is extremely important. I can have a bumper sticker on my car saying that I'm a child of God. But what's really important is not my bumper sticker, it's how I behave at work. Am I a forgiving person, am I patient, am I kind, do I help people, am I humble? Do I follow through and do what the word tells me to do, or do I just read it, underline it in my Bible, go to church, wear a necklace that's got a cross on it, have a bumper sticker, and then act like the rest of the world? We're in the world, but not of the world. Now, I believe that every person watching the program today can benefit from this. I'll benefit from it, just preaching it. I don't think there's anybody, anywhere, who doesn't have room to come up just a little bit higher in some area of their life.
In Colossians 3:12, and I love this in the Amplified Bible. It says, "Clothe yourselves therefore, as God's own chosen ones (his own picked representatives)". Now that's interesting. So, he's saying, "Clothe yourself like a representative of God. [who are] purified and holy and well-beloved [by God himself, by putting on behavior]". Well, my goodness. How do you put on behavior? Well, it's a decision you make. "This is how I'm gonna behave in this situation". And if you are putting on behavior that doesn't look good on you, as a child of God, you say, "Wait a minute. I have to take that behavior off and put on the right behavior in this situation". "[By putting on behavior marked by] tenderhearted pity and mercy, kind feelings, a lowly opinion of yourself".
Don't ever think you're better than anybody else. We always want to have the right attitude that, you know, "I'm not beneath anybody, but I'm not above anybody. God loves everybody and he expects me to treat everybody with respect". "Put on gentle ways, [and] patience". I could always use a little help in that one. "[which is tireless and long-suffering]". I like to kinda draw that out sometimes, and say it is looooong suffering. You know, sometimes, in order to love people, you may have to put up with some stuff off of them for a long time. You're praying for 'em, you're being kind to 'em, but you're not getting the treatment back yet, that you would like to get. Keep sowing good seeds into their life, keep treating them like Jesus would, and eventually, the behavior that you're showing them, the godly behavior you're showing them will soften their hard heart and they may well become a Christian because of your behavior.
So, "Put on patience [which is tireless and long-suffering, and has the power to endure whatever comes, with good temper]". Now, these are things, we have to do on purpose. They're not just a natural to us. And there's several places in the Bible, where it tells us to put on and put off things. Put on Christ, put on the new man. Put off the old man. In Ephesians, the Bible talks about different things that will help defeat the enemy when he comes against us. It says, "Put on righteousness. Put on the belt of truth. Put on the helmet of salvation. Put on your shoes of peace". Well, what does that mean? Put it on. It means do it on purpose.
I tell people, all the time, I have never yet gone into my closet, and just stood there, and had my clothes jump on my body. I have to choose: I have to pick. And if you're a woman watching and you're like me, you know, I put this on today, and the first thing I did because it's the first time I've worn it, I went to my full-length mirror and I looked at it to see if it looked alright on me. So, we can put on behavior that doesn't look right on us as, a child of God. And if I would have put this on and it wouldn't look good on me, I would have taken it off and put on something else that did look good on me. And as a child of God, as an ambassador of Christ, there are certain behaviors that just do not look good on us. Impatience doesn't look good on you, as a believer.
If you go to the grocery store, and maybe there's a new girl at the checkout line and she's having a little trouble, she's slow and you're in a hurry, boy, now, you have an opportunity to be an ambassador for Christ, which means you can't get impatient with her. You don't stand there and, "Oh, I'm in a hurry". You know, "Can you get somebody else to wait on me"? No, you're patient, you're long-suffering, you realize that what you do in that pressure situation is gonna show who you really are. You know, you can go by the most beautiful orange in the store. But you can cut into it and it can be dry and have no juice in it at all. Just because something looks good on the outside, doesn't mean that it's good on the inside. And that is exactly what Jesus talked to the pharisees about. He said, "You look, like, you've got it all together on the outside because you do all the right 'religious' things. But when it comes down to the things that are important, like, helping people and treating people, right, you don't do those things". And he said, "You're whitewashed tombs full of dead men's bones".
Well, that's not a very good thing to have said about you, is it? Matthew 23, the first 23 verses, contains a lot of these things that Jesus said to the scribes and the pharisees. They were the most religious people of the day. And you know, Jesus didn't die for us so we could have a religion, but so we can have a relationship, a deep intimate, close, personal relationship with him. And the more you're with somebody, the more you normally become like them. So, if you spend a lot of time with God, in the word, in prayer, in fellowship, knowing that he's with you all the time, then I should, and you should become more and more like him all the time. You know what? God is not requiring that we be perfect and never make a mistake. But I'll tell you what he does want, he wants us to all be growing.
So, let me ask you today: are you growing spiritually as a believer in Jesus Christ? Or have you been in church for 20 years, and you're still going around, and around, and around the same mountains? You know, God will help us, but he doesn't do everything for us. Thank God, when we make mistakes, we can repent. But what is true repentance? Well, true repentance includes a change in behavior. In the New Testament, it always means a change of mind and purpose. A turning away from sin and a turning toward God. When we sin, we're not just sorry that we sinned, but we wanna turn away from that sin, and not do those things anymore. We don't just say, "Oh, sorry, God". It's not about being sorry we got caught, it's about wanting to change and be like Christ. You know, I believe that God offers us what I call "A divine exchange". He takes our sin and gives us his righteousness.
Wow. How much better could it get than that? He takes all the bad stuff about us and gives us all the good stuff of himself. But when we try to get God without giving God our selves, it just doesn't work. And I think that's what a lot of people do. They want God's help: they want all the good things that God offers, but they haven't offered or given themselves to Christ. Perhaps, today is a day where you need to surrender some things to God. 2 Peter 3:10 and 11: "But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar: the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare". A day is gonna come when everything we've ever done is gonna be laid out in the open. Nothing, nothing is hidden from God. "Since everything will be destroyed in this way", now, listen to this, "What kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives". Wow, that's such a good scripture.
You know, Jesus is coming back for us. And it could be tonight, it could be tomorrow, could be a week from now: we don't know exactly when it's going to be, but we do know that he is coming back. And we don't wanna wait to get ready when he shows up. It's gonna be too late then. We need to live ready. We need to live every day of our lives as if Jesus were coming back in the next five minutes. Behavior: I just wonder if any of you need to have a little change in behavior. Well, the world is full of deception, these days, full, full of deception.
In Matthew 24, the Bible tells us signs of the end times. And if you read that chapter almost every one of those signs, if not every one of them, have been fulfilled. Jesus could come back at any time. And that's good news for those of you that are ready to meet him. I'm excited about it myself. I'm excited about going to heaven and seeing God face to face. I'm excited about being in an atmosphere of total love and total peace. It's gonna be so much better than it is here. But in Matthew 24, it says, "One of the signs of the end times is there will be great deception on the earth".
Now, to be deceived means to believe a lie. And the devil is a liar. And he is constantly trying to deceive people. And one of the things he tries to do is deceive them into compromising, compromising their moral values. Now, remember, how we behave out in the world is very important, so we don't want to start compromising. We don't wanna become more and more like the world a little bit at a time. We want to stand firm and hold our ground. You know, not being legalistically religious but just being like Jesus in the world. You know, he was pretty regular. I mean, he had his disciples. He was friends. He ate with people. He visited with people. He wasn't religiously weird. But, I mean, he even hung out with sinners. He'd go to their homes for dinner. But he never compromised what was right. He never got on their side and did what they did. He told them what was right and invited them to come into the life that he was offering them.
You know, Jesus was tempted to compromise, did you know that? In Luke chapter 4, the Bible states that "Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit out into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil 40 days and 40 nights". Now, my goodness, why would the Holy Spirit lead Jesus into a time of temptation? You know, the Bible says, "Temptation must come". We can't avoid temptation. It's out in the world. You will be tempted, but you're supposed to resist the temptation. There's nothing that comes on us that's too hard for us to bear. There's nothing that comes against us that is too hard for us to resist, if we ask God to help us. We can't do it by ourselves, but he will give us the strength to stand up against anything. Now, you may have to be willing to let a few people hate you. You may have to be willing to not get invited to the party. You may have to be willing to eat lunch by yourself at work. Because there's a lot of people, even Christians, who won't like you, if you won't compromise. And to compromise means to just go a little bit below what you know to be right.
You say, "Oh, well, it's just a little bit that doesn't matter". Well, that's one of the lies that Satan tells us that is so dangerous. The devil tried that with Jesus. He said, "If you will bow down and worship me just once, I will give you all these kingdoms in the world. I'll give you everything that the world has to offer. If you will bow down and worship me just once". That "Just once" lie is one of the most dangerous lies that you can come up against. "Well, just once, I mean, it's just once". But it's all downhill from there. And boy, Jesus just came right back at him with the Word of God. "You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him only, shall you worship". Well, he was tested by the enemy, but he passed every test. And right after that, he started his public ministry.
You know, some of you may be in a testing season, right now. You're wanting God to use you, but you're being tested. And maybe, that test is you're being tempted to compromise at work, or you being tempted to compromise at school. And the enemy's telling you, "Well, everybody does it". Well, it you're not everybody. You're God's child, you're his ambassador, you represent him out in the world. Oh, I just hope that somebody's making the decision today, to put on behavior that looks right on you as a believer, in Jesus Christ, to take off some bad behavior and put on some good behavior. And I believe that you are. Yes, the devil tempted Jesus, and he will also tempt us. But you know what? God understands that.
The Bible says in Hebrews 4:15 and 16 that "We have a high priest who understands our weaknesses because he's been tempted in every way just like we have, yet without sinning". Imagine that. Every temptation you face, Jesus also had to face. He's been tempted in every way, just like we have, yet without sinning. "Let us therefore, come boldly to the throne of grace that we might receive the help that we need in plenty of time to meet our needs". That's one of my favorite scriptures in the Bible. I love that Jesus understands, he knows what it's like to be tempted and he understands. He knows what you're going through.
If you're taking a stand as a Christian, and because of that, you're being persecuted, the Bible says, "You're blessed". If you're persecuted for righteousness sake, you're blessed. Wow. Well, I've been blessed like that. When God called me into ministry, I lost a lot of friends. Lot of my family thought I'd lost my mind. But you know what? It's so much better to go with God than it is to go with people. Because if people are gonna force you to do, what they want you to do, in order for you to be their friend, then they really don't care anything about you anyway.
Now, there's so much more to this teaching. And so today, we're offering you, the entire series, "How To Be Godly In An Ungodly World". And I'm just gonna go ahead and say this: you know who's gonna buy this? The people that are really serious about having the right kind of relationship with God. You're not gonna buy this, if you're just looking for an excuse to compromise, or just some message that's gonna to tickle your ears. But if you're really serious about your relationship with God, you're gonna order this and you're gonna listen to it over and over because it's just good stuff. And along with it, we wanna send you a daily devotional that I've written called, "Closer To God Each Day". Who doesn't wanna get Closer To God Each Day? I do and I've been walking with God for over 40 years. But the first thing I do, every day, is spend time with God because I need that. I need that strength that only God can give me. Thank you so much for being with us today. We love you, and we want you to know that God loves you, and he has a good plan for your life. Join us again, tomorrow.