Joyce Meyer - Becoming a Servant - Part 3
Well, thank you for joining us today on "Enjoying Everyday Life". And I pray that you will learn something today that will be life-changing for you. For the last two days, and I'll conclude it today, we're talking about what makes a great man great. Everybody would say that they want to be a great man or woman of God. We don't wanna be just mediocre, we wanna be great. But our ideas of greatness, and what God considers great, maybe and usually are, two different things. We base greatness on a lot of outward things like our clothes, and who we know, and what we drive, and what our career is, and how much education we have. But God says that, "A great man is a servant of everyone else". "That a great man serves". But I also found through studying that great men and women of God, walk in obedience.
So, today we're gonna talk about being obedient to God. Being obedient to serve others. But, just making sure that we are not just hearing the word, but that we're doing the word. I think sometimes we can really get deceived into thinking that, "Well, I go to church, I hear the word, I know the word". But that's useless if we're not doing the word. Now, listen to this. Matthew 5:19, "Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven". I love that.
So, a great man walks in obedience. Not only are we to walk in obedience, but we're to teach others to walk in obedience. And anyone who does that, is considered great by God. Our righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and pharisees. Jesus said that they could talk the talk, but they didn't walk the walk. Matthew 5:20, "For I tell you unless your righteousness surpasses that of the pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven". They had a supposed righteousness. They talked about all the right things. But after telling others what to do, Jesus said, "They did not do them, themselves". They knew what to do. They told other people what to do, but they did not walk in obedience to God.
I wonder if I were just to ask, "Do you know of anything in your life right now that God has told you to do or not to do, that you have still left undone"? You know, intending to obey God is not obedience. We haven't obeyed God until we've done the thing that he's asked us to do. Matthew 23:1-4, "Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 'the teachers of the law and the pharisees sit in Moses' seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But don't do what they do, for they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to help them'". They didn't practice what they preached. Jesus himself, humbled himself to be a servant. And the Amplified Bible says that, "He became extremely obedient, even unto the death on the cross".
We should not just aim toward being obedient but to be extremely obedient. We have been set free from legalism, we don't need to follow every little jot and tittle of the law. But if I'm gonna error on one side or the other, I'd rather be a little bit... Don't wanna be legalistic, but let's just say I'd rather go to that extreme, than I would to just think that nothing matters and I can do whatever I want to. Today we live under grace, and grace is wonderful. But that doesn't mean that we can just do whatever we wanna do and because we know God is forgiving and that he's kind.
Philippians 2:4-10, "Not looking to your own interest but each of you to the interests of others". We talked about that yesterday how important it is to not just be interested in what we're interested in, but to be interested in what other people are interested in. My son travels a lot and meets a lot of new people, because he's always out looking for places that we can invest finances that our partners give into helping other people. So, he travels a lot here in the states but also abroad, looking for ministries that are really integrous, upstanding ministries but who need finances in order to be able to do what God has called them to do. And we come alongside them, like you partner with us, and we partner with them, to be able to help hurting people.
And so, we don't wanna just be interested in what we're interested in, but interested in what other people are interested in. And so, because he meets a lot of people that he doesn't know, he has told me, he said, "I've discovered that you never have any problem meeting a new person, if you just ask them questions about themselves. Because everybody likes to talk about themselves". And that's really true. That's one of the ways that you can be a blessing to other people, "Well, tell me all about yourself, tell me about your family, tell me about your dreams, your desires".
Let them tell you everything about themselves. "In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ: who, being in the very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage: rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, and being made in human likeness. And being found in the appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death, even death on the cross! Therefore God has highly exalted him". I love that. "God has exalted him to the highest place".
If you're willing to go to the lowest place, God will exalt you to the highest place. But if we try to get to the highest place, then God will have to bring us down to the lowest place. Let's be willing to do the smallest thing. Not being concerned about our reputation or whether we're gonna appear to be important. And let God promote us when he's ready to promote us. "Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee must bow, in heaven on earth and under the earth". Jesus was great because he kept the commandments and he taught others to do so.
Well, how does your behavior affect other people? Well, the Bible says in Romans 5:19, "Through one man's obedience many were made righteous. And through one man's disobedience many were made sinners". Through Adam's sin, all of humankind inherited a sin nature. But through Jesus' righteousness, all who put their faith and trust in him, can have that same righteousness imputed to them, through putting their faith in him. Wow. So, through one man's disobedience, all became disobedient. Through one man's obedience, all became obedient. Let me tell you something, you have more power than you think you do. If you make a decision to live a righteous life, and to always do what you believe God is asking you to always do what is right. And you know, we know deep down inside, we know what's right and what's wrong.
Many times even if you haven't been taught it, you still know what's right and what's wrong. You're smart enough to know when you're watching something on television and it's going in the wrong direction, nobody should have to tell you to turn it off, you know. Well, when we wanna do something, we're very good at making excuses. We know really down deep inside. We know that we should help other people. But you know, a lot of times we wanna keep what we've got. One of the really powerful things that God said to me a few years back. I was praying for him to do something for somebody. And he said, "Stop asking me to do things for people that you could easily do, and just don't want to".
Wow, let's say you have a co-worker who's behind on her rent. So, you pray that God would give her the money to pay her rent. Well, God works through people, maybe God wants you to give her the money to pay her rent. It's amazing how willing we are to pray for God to do something, but we're not willing to sacrifice, there's that word. Jesus sacrificed everything for us, and if we're gonna be obedient to him, then we're going to have to sacrifice at times. And that is give up things that we would prefer to keep. And we will get tested. God will ask us to give away things we wanna keep. He'll ask us to give money that we have saved for other things. And you never know when those tests are gonna come. You may think that you've gotten really good at something, and then all of a sudden God will give you a refresher course. Hmm, it's kinda hard as a woman, to watch somebody else wear something that God told me to give 'em that I loved, but now I don't have anymore.
And I have to learn to enjoy watching them enjoy it. But if we keep in mind that everything we do for others we're actually doing unto God. And that our reward comes from him. Then it becomes a lot easier. I've asked this the last two days, but I wanna ask again today, "What are you doing for somebody else"? Remember yesterday, when I talked about how Jesus washed the disciples' feet and, "When he came to Peter, Peter said, 'oh, no Lord, you're never gonna wash my feet'. And Jesus said, 'if I don't wash you, you have no part in me'". Making the point that if we're gonna have a real relationship, we have to do things for one another, it can't just be one-sided.
How much better our relationships would be, if instead of thinking, "What you can do for me"? I would think about, "What I can do for you," and do it on purpose. I try to make that part of my prayer life every morning. Thinking through, who I'm gonna be with today. And asking God, "Is there anything I can do for them"? He doesn't always show me something, but many times he will. At least I've set myself in a mindset of when I am around them, if they do happen to mention something, then I can be prepared to take action, and help with that. Think of the seriousness of such a thing, "That through one man's obedience, many were made righteous".
In the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 30:19 says, "I set before you life and death, choose life that you and your descendants may live". If you choose life, it not only will affect you, but it will affect all of your descendants. My children have, I think each one at some time or another, has thanked Dave and i, for living the life that we've lived. And for the sacrifices we've made. Because they have learned how to behave through watching us. All four of our children have integrity. They're all four honest. They all love God and walk with him. They're not perfect. They make mistakes. But they've learned that a walk with God is more than just talk, that it's obedience. I was with one of my children yesterday, and there was a little altercation in a store, and she got a little bit miffed, and said something that maybe she shouldn't have said. Her husband asked her, "Are you gonna apologize"? And she said, "No".
And later she got home, and you know how God can deal with us sometimes, and so I'm assuming that's what happened. And she called the store back and apologized to the girl. And the girl wasn't very gracious about it. But I said, "Don't worry about it, you did what you're supposed to do. Now, the rest is between her and God". You know, if you do make a mistake, be quick to repent. Go back to the person that you were rude to and say, "I'm sorry". Don't just let it go. Yes, we can repent before God, but it's harder sometimes to repent to man, to say, "I'm sorry that I did that. It was wrong of me to do that". "I set before you life and death, choose life that you and your descendants may live". "This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I've set before you life and death, blessing and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live".
You know, the Old Testament talks about the blessings and the curse. Beloved, if we keep the commands, we're blessed if we keep the commands, and cursed if we don't keep 'em. Deuteronomy 28, verses 1, and 2, and verse 15. "If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on the earth. And all these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God". "However, if you don't obey the Lord your God and you do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees that I'm giving you today, all of these curses will come upon you and overtake you". Well, this complete chapter of Deuteronomy 28 talks about the ways we're blessed if we obey, and the way we're cursed if we don't.
Now, we don't live under the Old Testament law anymore. Whenever they made mistakes, the only way that they could have forgiveness was not only just to repent and receive the mercy of God, but they had to make sacrifices to pay for their mistakes. And then their sins could be covered, but they were never removed. So, the feeling of guilt was always still there. But Jesus under the new covenant, he became the one final, complete, perfect, sacrifice. No more sacrifices are ever needed. Now, when we sin, we look to him, we admit our sins. We confess our sins. And the Bible says that he forgives them and removes them. He doesn't cover them. He removes them, and puts them, "As far as the east is from the west" and remembers them no more. Wow.
Well, you know what God does for us, what he gives to us, he expects us to be willing to give to other people. Who do you need to forgive, that you're still harboring bitterness or resentment toward them, because you think they treated you unfairly and unjustly? One of the ways you can serve other people is to be merciful to them, to not be judgmental or critical toward them. To be patient with them. The Bible even says that we should be patient with the weaknesses of other people. You know, we all have weaknesses, it's just that many times in areas where maybe you're strong, somebody else is weak. So if you're strong in an area, it's very easy to judge somebody who's weak in that area. But you have to keep in mind that you may not have that particular weakness, but you have weaknesses of your own. And thank God, he's patient with us, and he's merciful toward us, and he gives us grace.
We don't live under that Old Testament anymore. But we still want to do the best that we can, to do things right to start with. And we wanna be willing to forgive other people because God is so willing to forgive us. You can't obey God if you can't hear God. A great deal of God's instructions to us is regarding other people. When we don't hear what he's saying, we quickly turn away the things that God has spoken to our heart. You know how easy it is when God puts something on your heart you can do for somebody else, and you don't wanna do it, to just forget it, and not do it at all, make an excuse for it? We have so many excuses.
In Zechariah 7:8-13, it says, "The word of the Lord came to Zechariah: 'this is what the Lord Almighty said: "Administer true justice: show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against one another"'". God seems to have a special place in his heart for people that are alone and can't help themselves: widows, orphans, the fatherless, the poor. "But they refused to pay attention: and stubbornly they turned their backs and covered their ears".
Boy, we don't wanna do that. If God says something to you that you don't wanna hear, don't cover up your ears, ask him for grace to listen, and to follow through, and be obedient. "They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the word of the Lord. And so, God was angry with them. He said, 'when I called, they did not listen: and so when they call, I will not listen'".
Wow, once again, I realize that's Old Testament. But you know, the New Testament doesn't do away with the Old Testament. It gives us the ability, the grace, the power, through the Holy Spirit to fulfill it and to do what God asks us to do. Why does God call an obedient man, a great man? Because it's difficult to be obedient, it's not easy. God doesn't always ask us to do things that we are delighted to do and wanna do. Many times, I could even say much of the time, he asks us to do things we don't wanna do. Things that are hard to do. How about a little survey of what the blessing and the curses bring? Obedience provides: blessing, increase, plenty, invincibility, you can't be defeated, divine supply, walking in God's presence. And God will exalt the obedient, and he'll lift you up. But disobedience provides: every kind of bitter, and every kind of bareness everywhere we look, and sends miseries, adversities, despair, captivity, disappointment, poverty, destruction, being forsaken, comfortless, powerless, and oppressed.
My, my, I think I'd much rather be obedient to God than to be disobedient. If you want the rewards of obedience, then you have to do the work of being obedient. This is a serious thing that we're talking about today. So many Christians today live a compromising, mediocre, life. They go to church. They may have a bumper sticker on their car. They may even read a little bit of their Bible every day. But it's, "Are you being obedient to what the word says"? And don't use the excuse, "Well, everybody else does it"? You know what? You're not everybody else, and I'm not everybody else. Each one of us will give an account of ourselves to God. I'm not gonna answer for what Dave does or what my kids do, or what my friends do. I'm only gonna answer for what I do, and you're only gonna answer for what you do. I'm just begging you today if there's an area in your life of known disobedience, please go to God, repent, and ask him for the grace, and the help of the Holy Spirit, to do what God is asking you to do. There's a scripture that comes up frequently in my heart and mind and in my study, and it's such a simple scripture.
John 14:15 Jesus said, "If you [really] love me, you will obey my commands". Wow, "If you really love me, you will obey my commands". You know how easy it is to say, "Lord, I love you". But the true test is in whether or not we're doing what we know that God is asking us to do. If I'm angry with someone, and I know according to scripture that I should forgive them, am I willing to forgive them, or am I making excuses for not doing it? You know, an excuse is just a reason stuffed with a lie. We can make all the excuses we want to, but it doesn't excuse us before God. If I'm having a really hard time getting my emotions to agree to do what God wants me to do, my decision to do it, to bring my will into submission to the will of God, and do what I know God wants me to do, proves that I love him. You know, Jesus didn't say if you obey me, I will love you. He already loves us. And our obedience should just be a response to that love that he freely gives us, and is poured out on us, when he got on that cross, and died for our sins. Truly great men and women of God are obedient.
Now today, like every other day, we're offering you some resources that you can get. You can go online and get 'em, or you can call us and get 'em. Three teachings on CD called, "Do Unto Others". It's amazing how many scriptures there are in the Bible about how we should treat others. It's pretty astounding. Then also a small book, but a powerful book called, "Loving God, loving yourself and loving others". Let's begin to do the will of God, and not just read the will of God. Thank you so much for being with us today. I pray that you will have a great rest of the day, and that maybe because you watched the program today, you will get a few things straightened out in your life that God's been dealing with you about. May the grace of God be with you, in Jesus' name, amen.