Joyce Meyer - How Long Will It Take For Me To Change?
Well, thank you for joining me today on, "Enjoying Everyday Life", where I will be sharing God's word with you. And I believe it has power in it to transform our lives. Today, I wanna talk to you about, well, the title of the message is, "How Long Will It Take For Me To Change"? You know, every single person when you receive Christ as your Savior, you begin to notice things about yourself that don't line up with the Word of God. One of the jobs of the Holy Spirit who comes to live on the inside of us, after we receive Christ, is to convict us of sin. And it's a good thing, it's not a bad thing. It's not intended to make you feel bad about yourself. It's intended to cause you to realize where you're at, compared to where you need to be. There's no person that has received Christ... it's impossible to not want to change.
If you feel like you've been born again and you have no desire whatsoever to change or to improve, or to be more like Jesus, then you probably need to go back to square one and ask yourself if you truly received Jesus. But I think a lot of times instead of being transformed, which the Bible says, "We are to be transformed into the image of Christ". I think a lot of times we're hoping for translation. We wanna just all of a sudden get from one place to the other. "I'm impatient, I prayed, tomorrow, I'm patient". But there's only two people in the Bible that got translated, one was Enoch, and one was Elijah. Elijah was taken away in a flaming chariot. And Enoch, it just says that he was not, for he walked with God. The rest of us go through a process of being changed. And it takes time. It's not always easy sometimes it's painful. We have the Word of God and as we look into the Word of God, the Bible says, "It's like looking into a mirror". And we see in here the image of Christ. And that's what really convicts us that, "Well, gee, I'm not like what God wants me to be".
Now, Colossians 1:13 says, "He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the son of his love". So, we are translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. And that happens immediately, when you're born again. You were living in darkness and all of a sudden now, you see the light. You begin to see things that you didn't see before. And one of the things that you begin to see, are areas where you need to change. However, the worst mistake you can make is to start trying to change yourself without asking God for help. It's his grace, it's his power that changes us. We cannot do it by willpower alone. Now, I'm not saying that there's nothing that we do, but the thing is, is you can't just do what you think you should do to change yourself. You have to hear from God, you wait on him, you hear from him. And if he shows you something to do then do it. But if he doesn't, you just keep waiting on him.
Most of what changes us as we wait on God is: prayer, getting closer and closer to Jesus, because the more time you spend with him, the more you're gonna be like him. That works even in the natural. The more time you spend with a person, the more you will become like them, or start to do things like them. That's why it's so important that you spend time with the right kind of people. If you hang out all the time with somebody who murmurs and complains and grumbles all the time, it won't be long and you'll be doing the same thing. But if you hang out with people that are generous, people that are thankful, pretty soon you'll be picking up those habits. Well, let me tell you, Jesus is just full of good habits. And so, the more time we spend with him, the more we're gonna become like him. You talk to God, it's called "Prayer". And all it is, is just talking to him and listening for him to answer you. And he answers many different ways, mainly through the Word of God. But sometimes you just have that still small voice on the inside of you that you just kinda know what you need to do.
So, we have been translated out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. We have new desires. We wanna be like Jesus, but we have to trust him to change us. Romans 12:2 gives us a very good description of what has to happen. It says, "Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs] but be transformed", remember, not translated, "But be transformed (or changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind". So, before you received Christ, much of your thinking was wrong. Our thinking had been influenced by the world and the ways of the world. And now, all of a sudden, we have a new life, we're new creatures in Christ. We have new goals. We wanna be like Jesus. But before your behavior can change, your mind has to change. And the way that happens is by studying the Word of God, or listening, like you're listening to me right now, your mind is being renewed as you listen to me. "[By its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourself]", and I love this part, "So that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good acceptable and perfect will of God". In other words, God has a good plan for you and you can know that good plan but never have it happen in your life, unless you study the Word of God, spend time with God and let God change you. He says, "Have your mind renewed so that you can prove," so, you can see the proof in your life of the good plan that God has for you.
I'll tell you, God has changed my life so much. He's changed me. He's changed my life. But I've been walking with God for 45 years and studying the word for 45 years, and I can tell you, I didn't get translated, but I have been and am in the process of being transformed. I believe that God will be working with us and changing us until the day that Jesus comes back to get us. So, if you're not where you wanna be, instead of being upset with yourself, thank God that you're not where you used to be. Celebrate the progress you've made, and pray about the things that still need to change. In 2 Corinthians 3:18 it says, "And we all", well, I'm gonna read it from the Amplified. "And all of us, as with unveiled face", now, I'm gonna explain to you what that means, "[because we] continued to behold [in the Word of God] as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, we are constantly being transfigured," or transformed, "Into his very own image," into the image of Christ.
Now, why does it say, "As with unveiled face"? Well, when Moses went up on the mountain, to get the Ten Commandments from God, to get the law, when he came down there was such glory on his face that he had to wear a veil over his face. But we now live in a new dispensation. We now have a new covenant with God. We no longer have to follow the law, but we have the Holy Spirit on the inside of us. And we follow the guidance and the leadership of the Holy Spirit, who will lead us into holiness. The law actually was holy and if anybody could have kept it all, they would have lived a holy life. But God gave the law to prove to man that he couldn't keep it, that he needed a Savior. So, we know that we need a Savior, we receive Christ as our Savior. But when you read the Word of God, you have to do it as with unveiled face. In other words, you can't read this like laws. You have to read it like, this, these are the things that God, this is who Jesus is. This is the way he wants me to be.
But my salvation is not based on me being patient, it's based on what Jesus did on the cross. It's based on the blood that he shed to pay for my sins. And it's based on me putting my faith in that. And then, because of what he's done for me, I want to do what he wants me to do. So, let's just take an example like, Colossians 3:12. I'm a believer, I'm studying the word, I'm now studying the book of Colossians, and I come to verse 12. "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience". "Well, wait, wait, wait a minute, I'm not very patient. And I'm not always gentle and I'm not always humble. And, I could be kinder".
So, I'm seeing in here the way Jesus is, and I see that it makes me wanna be that way. But if I read it as the law, I'm gonna be condemned by it. I'm gonna say, "Oh wait. Wait, a minute, wow"! And the more I read it, the worse I'm gonna feel about myself, the guiltier I'm gonna feel. But if I already know that God loves me and that I've been made right with him because of my faith in Christ, then I can come as with unveiled face. I don't look at the Word of God like it's a law that I have to follow or I'm not gonna go to heaven. I look at it as something that I want to do because of my love for God. I don't obey God to get him to love me, I obey him because he does love me. And the Bible says that, "While we were still yet sinners, he died for us". My goodness. So, when I look in here, it's like looking in a mirror, and I see the image of Christ. And the Bible says that, "We are transformed into his image from glory to glory to glory". That means a little bit at a time, a little bit at a time.
So, I can read this and say, "Well Jesus, I know that I'm not patient like I should be, would you please help me and change me in that area"? Now, even praying that, that doesn't mean that tomorrow I'm gonna suddenly become patient. It probably means I'm gonna get some tests. I'm gonna have some opportunities to be patient. If you study the Greek it says that the word "Patience" is a word that, patience can only be developed through trials. Well, I don't care for that much. I wish that's not what it meant. But how can we be patient if we never have anything to be patient about? So, maybe I get a slow clerk in the grocery store and she's not moving fast enough and makin' mistakes. Well, now, I remember reading Colossians 3:12 yesterday, and, I'm startin' to feel myself get impatient. So, right there, I can pray silently in my heart, "God, help me be patient with this woman". And hopefully I'll be successful and follow through and do what God wants me to. If not, then I'll repent for my sin, he'll forgive me, and then I'll get to take that test again.
And to be honest, most of the time it takes us a few rounds of goin' around the mountain before we end up doing things the way that God wants us to do them. The good news is, is the whole time God's changing you, you don't have to feel bad about yourself or feel condemned. You can just be grateful that he loves you enough, not to leave you the way he found you. Hallelujah! He meets us where we're at, but he never leaves us there. God loves you too much to leave you in your sin. I hope you can understand what I'm saying. If you read the Bible like the law, if you come with that veil of the law over your face, then you're cutting off the power it has to transform you and change you into his image. The word transform means to change the nature of or to alter the appearance of or to change entirely.
Well, when you receive Christ as your Savior, you get a new nature. You've been translated out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. And you have been transformed in the inner man, in your spirit, you have been changed. And in some ways, once you're born again, and receive Christ as your Savior, it's almost like, there's a war that starts to go on in you. Because now, your spirit wants one thing, and your flesh is still used to its old ways, and it still wants to do things the old way. There may be things that after you're born again, that you'll feel bad when you do them. Where before you did them, didn't feel bad at all. Because now you're no longer in darkness, you're in light. Translate means to transport to another place. Or to go to heaven without experiencing natural death, which only two people did that. To be in one place and then suddenly be in another place. But God has a process about how he changes us.
In Exodus 17:1 it says that, "All the congregation of the Israelites moved from the wilderness of sin by stages," I love that. You know, the Israelites came out of slavery in Egypt. They were brought out by Moses. Just as we're brought out of bondage to Satan, by Jesus. And they went into the wilderness heading for the Promised Land. And most of us are like that. We're born again, but we're still kinda living in the wilderness because we don't yet know how to behave the right way. And we still got these bad habits that we're dealing with. We're still immature spiritually. And the way we get through that wilderness is in stages. God deals with us about something, eventually that changes. Maybe we'll get to rest for a while, then he deals with us about something else. There's not a person watching me right now, probably, that God's not dealing with you about something in your life.
But I'm telling you, you do not have to feel bad about yourself because of that. You need to rejoice and celebrate the fact that God loves you so much that he's gonna help you change into the image of Jesus Christ. "They moved from the wilderness of sin by stages, according to the commandment of the Lord, and they encamped at Rephidim: where there was no water for the people to drink". But God did provide water out of a rock. And the rock, now, that quenches our thirst is Jesus. I love this verse in Deuteronomy 7:1 and 2. It says, "When the Lord your God brings you into the land that you're entering to possess and drives out before you the many nations: the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites".
You might even say the grouchy neighbor-ites, bad boss-ites, the poverty-ites. We've all got our own brand of ites, these are enemies. These were people that they had to conquer and deal with so they could take the Promised Land. And God has promises for you. But there are enemies that will try to keep you from having it. And it says here, "And when the Lord your God has delivered them over to you", you can't take an enemy till God delivers them to you, "And you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally". The Amplified Bible says, "Utterly make no (treaty) with them or show them no mercy".
Now, I'll give you an example, like I had a real bad problem with self-pity. And self-pity's sin. Anything that's not of faith is sin. I certainly wasn't feeling sorry for myself by faith. I'd been abused in my childhood and so everything that happened to me after that, I blamed it on that abuse. And I would feel sorry for myself every time I had a bad day. Or, after, I married Dave, every time he didn't do what I wanted him to, I'd feel sorry for myself. Well, God began to show me that, that was wrong. That, that needed to change in my life. He spoke to my heart, one time, and said, "You can be pitiful or powerful, but you can't be both". So, he was letting me know that I had to give up that self-pity if I wanted to have his power in my life.
So, I started a little bit at a time lettin' go of that. But I didn't completely and utterly, let go of it. Because once in a while, I would wanna attend a pity party even if just for 10 or 15 minutes. You know sometimes we like to sit around and just feel pitiful, have a cup of coffee with mr. And mrs. Pity. Well, I don't do that anymore now. Thank God, he totally delivered me from that. When he gave that enemy into my hand, I had to totally destroy it. Let's just say your enemy is anger, you got a bad temper. Well, little by little, you're making progress and you're gettin' better and better all the time. But you can't flirt with anger: you can't just think, "Well, I'm gonna get mad and just stay mad for three or four days and then I'll get over it". No, every time God convicts you, you need to say, "God, help me let go of this. I know it's not something you want me to do. And I wanna do what you want me to do and be what you want me to be".
I like that, we have to utterly destroy them. You can't flirt with sin and hope to ever get over it. You must totally destroy them. Sometimes it's a slow process, mostly caused by our stubborn flesh. In 1 Peter 5:10 says, "And after you've suffered a little while, the God of all grace will deliver you and [make you what you ought to be]". Well, gosh, I wish that word "Suffer" wasn't there. I'd rather not suffer. I'd rather not wait. I would really just like to get translated. I'd like to have a problem with anger one day and recognize it and say, "God, deliver me from this anger," and then, never have a problem with anger again. But I still have opportunities to get angry. And you know, I still do get angry. Anger is not sin, it's what you do with the anger that becomes sin. The Bible says, "Don't let the sun go down on your anger".
I became angry with somebody just a couple of weeks ago. And you know how long it lasted? Maybe, 10 minutes. Because I know better now. I know that, that's not the way God wants me to live. I know it's only gonna hurt me. The Bible says that when we are angry that we don't wanna give the devil that kind of a foothold in our life. So, really, everything that God tells us to do in the word is for us. It's not really for somebody else. It's for us. It hurts me when I stay angry. It hurts me when I waste a whole day feeling sorry for myself. It hurts me if I'm not kind to people because we reap what we sow. If I give others mercy, then I'll get mercy when I need it. If I'm kind to people then I'll receive kindness when I need it. You have to realize that you cannot deliver yourself, you have to wait on God.
Well, what about this suffering thing? "After you suffered a little while, the God of all grace will deliver you, and make you, what you ought to be". I think the suffering comes in from the time we realize that we have a problem, until God actually delivers us from that problem. Because once I know something's wrong and I can't get rid of it, then I suffer in the flesh, because I so want to be what God wants me to be. And that's a good thing, he likes that. And I think the waiting also, helps us know that we can't deliver ourselves, we have to lean on him. Apart from him, you can do nothing. You can't change yourself. You can't make yourself be what God wants you to be. You can pray and ask him to help you, and when he does, you can give him all the credit and all the glory. You can study the word. You can pray. You can fellowship with him. You can do anything that he tells you to do. But you can't just change by will power.
Works of the flesh, it has to be the work of God in our life not works of the flesh. Works of the flesh is our energy trying to do God's job. But grace is his enabling power coming to us, helping us to be what he wants us to be. Oh, God changes us but he does it little by little, from glory to glory. And you know what the good news is? You can enjoy your life while God is changing you.
Now, there's one thing that you have to do and that's not give up. The word "continue" is found in the Bible in several different places. "And as we continue in the Word of God," the Bible says, "we are changed into his image". "As you continue in the Word of God, you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free". I think one of the greatest benefits that I've had in my life, is I have just refused to give up. I'm not where I need to be but thank God I'm not where I used to be, and I'm not gonna give up, I'm not gonna quit, until the day Jesus shows up to get me and take me home to be with him. Don't be the kind of person that gives up easily. Be the kind of person that says, "I don't care how many times the devil comes against me, 'the righteous can fall seven times but he gets up again'".
Now, today, we're offering you some teaching resources. Three teachings on CD called, "When, God, When"? We all wanna know, "When God, are you gonna change me"? "When are you gonna change my kids"? "When are you gonna change my spouse"? "When am I gonna have more money"? And then a book, "Unshakeable Trust". As far as I'm concerned, this book "Unshakeable Trust" is one of the best books that I've written. Of course, I think they're all good. But if you ever wanna have peace, you have to know how to trust God. We have to trust God to change us, trust God to bring what we need into our life. So, why don't you give us a call or get online and order these resources. And don't just order 'em and put 'em on a shelf somewhere. Listen to 'em, read the book, read it over and over. And it will help you get from where you are, to where you want to be. Thank you for being with us today. We love you so much. And I believe that God is doing a great work in your life.