Joyce Meyer - Receiving From God, Part 2
How can you change? Not by hearin' messages and goin' home and tryin' to make 'em work in your life. My goodness, I'll tell ya what. If you're as bad as I was, I needed everything I heard, everything. And every preacher gave me somethin' different to do. I was to make confessions, and get up early and pray, and we had to read the Bible through in a year plan. And, you know, I mean, it was just one thing after another after another. And then I would hear messages about bein' careful with your mouth and not talkin' too much, and I'd hear messages about the mind, and so I would decide that I was gonna go home and not say anything, so that way I didn't make any mistakes with my mouth. Come on, you know where I'm at? And then I'd just be real super quiet, and then people would say, "What's wrong with you"? And then I'm like, "That figures. You don't like it if I talk. You don't like it if I do talk. People just aren't happy, no matter what you do".
But here's the wild thing that I noticed. When I shut my mouth as an act of discipline, I would get depressed. By the time late in the afternoon came, I was so down. And I didn't understand it. I said, "God, why do I feel so down? I'm just tryin' to do what you want me to do". And this is what the Lord spoke to my heart. He said, "You've shut your mouth, but nothin's changed on the inside. At least when you were talkin', you were lettin' some of the pressure out. Now it's all in there". Well, yes, we should respond to the messages that we hear, but what we need to do is go home and say, "You know, God, I was really convicted by that word tonight. That really touched my heart, and I really want to grow in that area. And so, Holy Spirit, I'm askin' you to teach me in this area, and, God, I need you to change me because I know that I cannot change myself".
And then your part is to study the word in that area because, "The Word of God contains the power to save your soul," according to the book of James chapter 1. "The Word of God, if received in meekness, contains the power to save your soul". So our part is not to go home and try really hard to change, but if you feel like you've got a mouth problem, then go home and read every book you can find on the mouth. I've got two or three out there, plus a bunch of cds and dvds and everything else 'cause I had a lot of mouth problems, so I teach on that a lot. You gotta have the word. We are changed by the power of God's word. And our part is to study the word. As we look into the Word of God faithfully, we are changed into his image from glory to glory to glory. "If you continue in my word," Jesus said in John 8, "Then are you my disciples indeed. And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free," amen?
So I changed my trying for trusting, and I decided that I would try to live the same way that I was saved. "God, you gotta help me. God, if you don't change me, I don't know what's gonna happen, but this is it. If you don't change me, this is what you're stuck with". There's no point in promisin' God, "Oh, God, please, if you'll just forgive me, I'll never do it again. Please, God, just forgive me, and I'll never do it again". Why don't you just tell the truth and say, "God, I trust that you will forgive me because your word says that you've already paid for all my sins. So I receive your forgiveness and I receive your mercy. And I'm just gonna kinda be honest with you and tell you, if you don't help me, I will definitely do it again".
And I'm not suggesting that we make no effort, but it's not a fleshly effort that we make, amen? Is anybody in the building worn out from trying? How many of you are just tryin' really hard to be a good Christian? You know, a good Christian is an oxymoron. There's no such thing as a good Christian. If we could be good, we wouldn't need Christianity. Yeah, I know, you're gonna have to think about this a little bit. Any goodness we have in us came from God. It's not our own goodness. And any good thing that we do, we give God the praise for it and the credit for it, and we know right then, "I'll never do another good thing in my whole life if you don't help me". I'm talkin' about doin' everything with and for God, and givin' him the credit and the glory. The same way you were saved, that's the same way we need to learn how to live. God is not for sale, and we cannot buy him with our good works. And when we do good things, God doesn't owe us anything because we did, come on.
Come on, if you get up and pray the first two hours of every day, and you read six chapters in your Bible every morning, God doesn't owe you anything. So then, when you have a problem and God doesn't show up the minute you think he should, you can't kinda think about, "Well, you know, I mean, I pray two hours every day". Ehh, better watch it, better watch it. Doesn't it make you mad when God blesses somebody that isn't nearly as spiritual as you are? Because, see, we think if we're good, then God owes us, and we should be the ones that God just does everything for. But we need to get rid of that attitude that "I'm gonna do this so I can get something from you". Anything good that we do, you know, I remember one morning, the Lord said to me, "Will you stop actin' like you're doin' me a favor when you read the word? I already know it. You're reading it for you". We're not doin' God a favor. We don't get some kinda check-marks on our heavenly works calendar when we read the Bible or when we pray. We pray, if we've got any brains at all, so we can get help from God. Prayer is a privilege. It's not an obligation and a duty. And reading the word is smart. It shows you how to manage and run your life in a way where you can have the most blessed life that you could possibly have.
Now, let's look at a very interesting scripture. Luke 17:7-11. I don't know that I've ever shared these scriptures from the pulpit, so here goes. You say, "Uh-oh, a scripture she's never shared". "'will any man of you who has a servant plowing or tending sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, "Come in at once and take your place at the table"? Will he not instead tell him, "Get my supper ready and gird yourself and serve me while I eat and drink: then afterward you yourself shall eat and drink"? Is he grateful and does he praise the servant because he did what he was ordered to do'"? Now, watch verse 10: "'even so on your part, when you have done everything that was assigned and commanded you, then you say, "We are unworthy servants [possessing no merit, for we have not gone beyond our obligation]: we have [merely] done what was our duty to do"'".
Mike loves it. He's the only one in the building that loves it. So what's he sayin'? "After you've done your full duty to God, after you have loved him with your whole heart, after you have served, after you've tithed, after you've been regular in church, after you've done all these things, then you say, 'God, I still don't deserve anything, because I can never do enough good to earn your goodness in my life. And so I'm grateful for everything that you do for me'". You see, when you don't think that you deserve anything, you get happy and grateful about everything that God does for you. Does anybody understand me? So, we wanna work, but we don't wanna get into works. Works of the flesh is our energy tryin' to do what only God can do. So here's what we do. We do what God gives us to do, and then we trust God to do what only he can do. And how do you know when you're in works of the flesh? When you start feeling frustrated. Because, boy, do we get frustrated when we're tryin' to make somethin' happen that only God can make happen.
I used to get so frustrated at Dave, so frustrated at my kids. I was mad at one of my kids because they were just like me, and I didn't like that, 'cause they were always tryin' to control me and buck up against my authority. That was my oldest son. And then my oldest daughter was lazy and sloppy, and I didn't like that. And my younger daughter was an extreme perfectionist, and I didn't like that either, because she was so... Yeeh. She'd do her homework and just be in her room, and if she made one little tiny mistake on the piece of paper, she'd wad it up and throw it away, and I would be like, and I'm tryin' to change this one, and tryin' to change that one, and tryin' to change this, and tryin' to change this, and tryin' to change Dave, and tryin' to change myself. Does anybody get the picture? And I was like, "Ugh".
Oh, I was so thankful when I finally realized that I could not do that, but God could make each one of us to be what he wanted us to be if I would put my trust in him. Some of you have got some projects that you need to give up on, and you need to turn 'em over to God tonight before you leave this building. And then you know what's left to be done? You might be able to enjoy your life, come on. You might actually be able to enjoy yourself while God's changin' your husband. You say, "Well, what if he never changes"? Well, then, I guess if he never changes, you'll just trust God to give you enough grace to put up with it with a smile on your face. You wanna know the truth? Dave hasn't changed much. Well, he hasn't. He still does all the things that used to aggravate me, but now, lo and behold, God changed me. And now, I don't care. I mean, it's true. I don't care if he goes home and plays golf when we get home from this conference.
I used to get so mad when we'd go home from a conference and he'd go right out and play golf. I mean, the pity party was on: "Well, I worked all weekend, and I'm tired. And everybody just takes everything I've got, and then the party's over, and I'm just here all worn out, and you go out and play golf, and nobody cares about me". And I said to him yesterday, "Why don't you go play some golf when we get home tomorrow"? Because see, now, I just like, "Oh, man, I can have the house quiet and by myself, and I'll be in charge of the remote, and I can eat what I want". And we love each other more than ever, but I've gotten smarter. Don't fight a battle that you're not going to win. I better say that to these people. Don't fight a battle that you're not going to win. How 'bout some of you guys up there? Don't fight a battle that you're not going to win.
And see, we think, "Well, I just can't stand it if you don't change". Yes, you can. Just get your mind off what somebody's not, and let God work on you, and don't be so uptight about everything all the time. You know, righteousness is a wonderful teaching in the Bible. "That he that knew no sin became sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Christ". Wow, what a great exchange. He takes your sin and gives you his right standing with God. God views us and sees us as in Christ. When you come to God and ask for something in Jesus' name, the Bible says, in the Amplified Bible, it says, "You are presenting to God all that Jesus is". You're not presenting your own record of good works. Every time you say, "In Jesus' name," you're saying, "And do this for Jesus' sake because he deserved it, he earned it, and I'm only here to receive it. I don't deserve it. That's why I don't come in my name. I come in his name". That's the whole point in praying in Jesus' name.
And Paul prayed in Philippians 3. These are the things sometimes that it would be fun to just to have about a three-day Bible study and just sit down and go through scripture after scripture after scripture and let people ask questions and really get 'em a breakthrough in these areas. Paul said, "That I might be found and known as in him, not having any supposed righteousness based on my own works, but only that true righteousness that he can give that is received by faith and faith alone".
Can you believe tonight that, as much as you have done wrong in your life, and as much as you will still do wrong in your life, that if you have received Christ as your Savior, that, right now, while you're still doing things wrong, that God views you and sees you as his own righteousness? That doesn't mean that you do everything right, but it mean that God has given you his right standing. And now, because you have a seed of rightness in you, you will be able to produce right behavior as you continue your walk and your journey with God. But I tell ya what, I kept tryin' to be right, tryin' to be right. I tried to read the Bible through every year with a bunch of other people in my church 'cause I thought that would be right. And we had an intercessor come to the church and she prayed every day from 5 to 9, and I tried to do that 'cause I thought that would be right, God would be happy with me if I did that. And I prayed the first five minutes, and then got bored silly, and didn't know what I was gonna do for the next three hours and 55 minutes. And finally had what I now lovingly call, "A prayer nap".
Do any of you have prayer naps? I love those. And God gave me this example. It's actually somethin' he spoke to my heart. He said, "You know, Joyce, you're spendin' your life tryin' to get what you've already got". He said, "It's like tryin' to get in a chair you're already sittin' in". So I'm sitting in this chair. So, now, if I started trying to get in the chair that I'm sitting in. Boy, this is so absolutely totally frustrating. See, that's what we do to ourselves when we try to get what God has already given us. That's why we need to know who we are in Christ, and understand the finished work of the cross and what he has already done for us, and we need to, while we're still not producing all of it, still believe that it's ours as our inheritance from God. We are not laborers. We are inheritors.
Do you know, and it just doesn't seem fair at all, that our children and grandchildren will get whatever money we have left and whatever property we have left that we worked for, and we earned, and we deserved, and they're just gonna get it? Almost makes me sometimes just wanna see how fast I can spend it. No, not really, I don't feel that way at all, because I love them. And actually, I find myself tryin' to produce ways that I can be a greater blessing to them. Well, if we can feel that way in our human state, how much do we think that God feels that way about us? The will has been signed with the blood of Jesus Christ. We are inheritors. Amen? You have inherited right standing. Because Jesus is righteous, you get what he got.
Let me tell ya some of the things that the Bible says that we are to receive. As usual, I'm about four pages behind on my notes. Receive the Holy Spirit. Just take a few minutes every morning and say, "Holy Spirit, I receive your fullness today. Strengthen me today, and enable me to do everything that I do with a good attitude and good temper". And then just take a moment and receive. I think we think that prayer is nonstop talking. Take time and receive. "I receive your presence, God. I receive your mercy. I receive your forgiveness". We don't take the time to do that. The Bible says, "Ask and receive, that your joy might be full". Receive the Holy Spirit. Receive the word with meekness. "As many as received and welcomed him, he gave them the power to become the sons of God". Receive forgiveness of sins. Receive the grace of God. Receive your inheritance. Receive mercy for your failures. Receive the result of your faith. Receive all the good things that God has created with thanksgiving, and you shall receive power when the Holy Ghost has come upon you.
Do you know that we receive easier from the devil than we do God? How many of you are really good at receiving condemnation and guilt? Okay, let me tell ya a little bit about guilt. Do you know really what it is? It's our way of tryin' to pay God for the mistakes we've made. Who would dare to think that they could make a big mistake, receive forgiveness, and just go on as if nothing happened? Hmm, I don't know about you, but I used to have my sins divided up in categories: small, medium, and really big. A small sin, I'd only have to feel guilty maybe a half a day. A medium-size sin, a couple of days, but, boy, if I did a really bad thing, then I was on a two or three-week guilt trip. And God taught me, "You're just feeling bad as a way of paying for your sins, but they've already been paid for". They've already been paid for. If they're paid for, then you don't need to pay, amen?
Oh, I guess I need to go slower. I don't know that you guys are really gettin' it. "Well, you can't just do somethin' bad and then just go have a good time". Well, I mean, if you really believe the word, I think from what I'm seein', you can. And that doesn't mean you're not genuinely sorry. That doesn't mean that you're not really, really sorry for what you did. But if we believe the Bible that he completely cleanses us once and for all, by his blood, he removes our sin as far as the east is from the west, and he remembers them no more. Then, may I make a suggestion? Stop talking to God about things that he's forgotten. Okay, we receive fear from the enemy. We receive his lies. We receive negative feelings about ourself. We receive shame. We receive guilt. We receive discouragement. We receive depression. We receive disappointment.
I am not gonna spend the rest of my life bein' better at receiving from the devil than I am from God. I'm going to be a good receiver. God is trying to teach us that when we do something wrong, he would much rather that we receive his mercy than to try to give him a sacrifice to make up for what we did. Because we do that by faith. It's almost too good to believe, isn't it? I think probably this is one of the things that people love to hear the most when they hear the teaching of God's word, is that they actually really can get over the things that they've done wrong and go on with their life and not even smell like smoke. Isn't it good to know that you go in the furnace of affliction and come out and not even smell like smoke? Good ol' Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
Oh man, Hebrews 4:15 and 16. I love these. "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and the liability that we have to the assaults of temptation, but we have a Savior who has been tempted in every respect just like we are, yet he never sinned". Jesus knows what you feel like when you come into temptation. "Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God's undeserved, and unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may", what? What?! "That we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it]".