Joyce Meyer - Gratitude and Generosity
Well, thank you for joining me, today, for, "Enjoying Everyday Life". You know, the Word of God is full of things that we are told to do or not to do, that put us in a position, if we obey them, of really, being able to enjoy our everyday life. And one of those things is to be thankful, instead of murmuring, and grumbling, and complaining, and fault-finding, to look for things to be thankful about. Yesterday, I started teaching on, "Be thankful and say so". I'm gonna teach again, today, on how being thankful causes you to be generous. And then, I'll teach you another message tomorrow about thanksgiving. And I really wanna encourage you to listen to every single, one of them. If you didn't see yesterday's program, you can get it online. We need to remember how powerful thanksgiving is. The power of thank you. There's weakness in complaining, but there's power in gratitude.
Today, I wanna talk to you about how a grateful person is also, a generous person. And I don't know about you, but I think that generosity is absolutely beautiful. And, you know, God is a generous God. One of his name's in the Old Testament, was El Shaddai, and that means the God of more than enough. God, never does just what he barely has to do to get by, but he always does more than enough, and I think that we should be the same way. John bunyan said, "You have not lived today, until you have done something for someone who can never repay you". I love that. I love all the giving that I do to help preach the Gospel, but I love to be a blessing to people. So many people, in the world, are hurting. So many people, really, to be honest, never have anyone give them anything. I mean, I've done things for different people that are not even believers and had several of 'em say, "Nobody's ever done anything like this for me, in my whole life".
And, you know, in our Christian community, we are accustomed to blessing one another and giving. But we've got a whole world full of people out there that, that's a whole new concept to them. And I think one of the ways that we can, actually, spread the Gospel, is by getting out in the world, and just living the life that Jesus has told us to live. And one of the things, that he has instructed us to do, is to be generous. God is very generous to us. And when we're generous to other people, I believe, it shows that we are thankful for what God has done for us. I believe there's a very close connection between a person who has a grateful heart and a person who has a generous heart.
When I have my prayer time, in the morning, it always includes an abundance of thankfulness for my blessings. I start wanting to do something for somebody else, as soon as, I do that. I'm telling you, I mean, it's absolute truth. The more thankful I get, the more I want to do something for somebody else. I'll start praying for God to show me something that I can do, for somebody else. And I can tell you, I spent most of my life not being like that. And I believe that a thankful person is a happy person. And a generous person is a happy person. God is a giver. And when you respond to him, by giving to others, it puts a smile on his face and a smile on yours. Acts 20:35 says, "In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus, himself said, 'it is more blessed to give than to receive'".
Think about that. We all love to get things. Sadly, most of our prayers are full of things that we would like God to do for us. But how 'bout, when you pray, asking God to show you, what you have, that you can give away? Or to show you what you can do for somebody else, that day, to put a smile on their face. Once again, the world is full of hurting people. And we need to be doing things for other people. You don't have to wait, for something good to happen to you, before you start being good to somebody else. You can, actually, start the cycle going in your life, of being good to somebody else first. And I can tell you, you can never out give God. He said that he would give us seed to sow and bread to eat. That means that God will give us what we need, for our own lives, but he'll give us an abundance of other things, and finances that we can always be a blessing to other people. Live a lifestyle of giving. Live to give.
What does science say about gratitude? I always get such a big kick out of this, when science comes up with something that the Word of God has already said for, forever. They have studied gratitude for two decades, that's 20 years. And have discovered that it has value and benefits. Gee, I think God told us that already. Science says, being thankful makes you happier, promotes better sleep, keeps us healthier, and makes us more generous. Wow. I read a story about, "A blind boy who sat on the steps of a building, with a hat by his feet. He held up a sign that read, 'I am blind, please help me'. There were only a few coins in his hat. A man came by and changed his sign to read, 'today, is a beautiful day, but I cannot see it'. His hat soon began to fill up. Both signs spoke the truth by saying the boy was blind. But the second sign, conveyed to everyone how grateful they should be, because they could see". When he said, "Today is a beautiful day, but I can't see it," then, people suddenly, realized, "Well, I can see it," and that made them want to help him. Realizing that they were blessed, made them want to give.
Thankful people want to give. Luke 19:1-4. I love this story. "Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. And a man was there by the name of Zacchaeus: and he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy". And the Bible also says that he was, short, he wasn't very tall. And there was a big crowd, and he couldn't see over the crowd. And he knew Jesus was coming, and he really wanted to see him. And so, "He climbed up a sycamore-fig tree, in order to be able to see him, because Jesus was coming that way". And I thought about that, for a little bit last night, and I thought about some of the trees out in my backyard. And you know, climbing a tree, wouldn't be all that easy. Maybe, a 10-year-old kid could climb up a tree pretty easy. But I think I'd have a tough time climbing a tree, at this stage, in my life. So, Zacchaeus put some effort into wanting to see Jesus, he was determined. "When Jesus reached the spot," where Zacchaeus was, "He looked up".
Now, why did Jesus look up, at that particular point? Something, in that man's spirit, touched something in Jesus' spirit that caused him to see Zacchaeus. And when he saw him, he said, "Zacchaeus, has come down," do it, "Immediately," because, "I must stay at your house today". Wow. "So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. And all the people saw this and they began to mutter," and to murmur. Just, exactly, what I'm talking about, today. They're complaining because Jesus is gonna go to his house and not go to their house. Why not be thankful? "God, it's so awesome that you're gonna go to Zacchaeus' house. Thank you for being a blessing to him". "'he had gone to be the guest of a sinner,'" and they didn't approve. "But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord", now, listen to this, "'look, Lord. Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I've cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount'".
Now, you see, Zacchaeus was a tax collector and they were probably among some of the most hated people. Tax collectors had a certain amount of money they had to collect for the Roman government, but then, they could tack on more, and keep it for themselves. And so, most of them were very crooked, and they were thieves, and people just hated the tax collectors. Well, apparently, Zacchaeus was kind of tired of living life the way he was. We don't know, exactly, what caused him to change, to want to see Jesus. But whatever happened, between him and Jesus, something touched him, and the first thing, that Zacchaeus wanted to do, after Jesus touched his life, was he wanted to start giving. Now, I don't know about you, but I think that is awesome. Let me ask you a question. Maybe you have to think about it for a while. Are you generous or are you stingy? Do you go the extra mile and give all that you can? Or do you give the least amount, that you feel like you can, to satisfy God?
You know, I believe that we should give as much as we possibly can. Zacchaeus must have been tired of living the way that he was. And I'll tell you, a lot of people, when they come to Christ, they're tired of living the way that they've been living. And what he does for us is amazing. And I'll just be honest with you, and tell you, if you're saved, if Jesus has saved you, and you just still don't want to be a giver, you have no generosity in you, then, you probably need to go back and talk to God again. Because I don't see how we could not... If we're thankful for what God has done in our lives, c'mon, if we are thankful for what God has done in our lives, how can we not want to give? Most churches or conferences you go to, when they receive offerings, they call 'em love offerings. And that's really what they are. When we give, we're showing our love for God and we're showing our love for other people. And we should be very happy to do it.
Offering time, in a service, should be one of the most joyous parts of the service. A lot of people use the offering time, as a time to go to the bathroom, or go get a drink of water. We should be very respectful to offering time, and be as generous as we possibly can. Esther is another good example, in the Bible. Esther had successfully saved her people from the wicked Haman, who had a plan to have all the Jews killed. And God raised Esther up, "For such a time as this," her uncle said. And it's a long story, I can't tell you the whole story. But by being obedient to God, she was able to save her whole entire nation of people. And it was such a joyous occasion. And so, they set the 14th and the 15th day of the month of Adar, which we don't have that month anymore, but that's what they called it back then, as a day for celebration and for feasting. So, every year, on the day, when they had been delivered from their enemies, they feasted, and they celebrated. And guess what else they did? They sent gifts to one another, and they sent gifts to the poor. I love that. God saved 'em, and the first thing they wanted to do, or were told to do, was, once a year, celebrate and send gifts to one another, and send portions to the poor.
Let me say it again, if you're thankful for what God has done in your life, if you're really thankful for what he's done in your life, don't take it for granted. Maybe, you've been saved so long, that you don't even realize anymore, what a blessing it is. Just think about what Jesus has done for you. And don't just think about it once a year on Easter or Christmas, but think about it every day, and it will make you a generous person. Giving to others was one of the ways that the Israelites celebrated what God had done in their life. What if every year, on the date that you gave your life to Christ... say, you gave your life to Christ on January the 20th of some year. Well, what about, if every year, on January the 20th, you celebrated and you sent gifts to somebody, or just a gift to somebody, and you sent something to the poor? Ew, that would make the devil mad, if we did that. You know, we don't even wanna take the time to celebrate our birthdays.
Let alone remember to celebrate the things that God has done in our life. I'll tell ya, God has done so much for me. I was such a horrible mess, when God got a hold of me. And what he has done for me, how he has changed me, the life he has given me, I think it's worth being generous to other people as a way of saying, "Thank you," to God. God often instructed the Israelites to celebrate times, each year, where they had been delivered and he had done special things for them. What about some of the great men and women in the Bible, that were generous? You know, Abraham was a very generous man. Lot was his nephew, and he had helped lot. And God blessed 'em both so much that they had so many cattle that, for them to all try to feed their cattle on the same land, it was causing problems between their herdsman.
The Bible says that, "There was strife between the herdsmen". And Abraham went to lot, and he said, "You choose whichever portion of the land you want, and I'll take the part you don't choose". Well, Abraham didn't need to do that. He was the older man. He was the one who had helped lot. Lot would have had nothing if it wouldn't have been for Abraham. And sure enough, lot chose the best portion of the valley, which left Abraham with the part that wasn't as good. But you know what? God took him up on a high place, and he said, "Look around you, north, south, east, and west, and however far you can see, I will give that to you". You cannot out give God. He was generous to his nephew when he did not have to be, and God said, "Now, I'll give you everything that you can see".
Joseph was generous. His brothers treated him so cruelly. They threw him into a pit, sold him to slave traders, and told his father that a wild animal had killed him. He just had so many unfair things happen in his life. He became a servant in Potiphar's house, in Egypt. And Potiphar's wife took a liking to Joseph and wanted him to have sex with her. And he refused because he was a man of God. And because he refused, she lied about him, and he ended up in prison for 13 years, for something he didn't do. While he was in prison, he helped a baker and a butler, get out of prison by interpreting a dream. And he said, "Remember me, when you get back in the palace". Well, they didn't remember him. They forgot all about him. But you know what? He didn't get bitter. He didn't get resentful. He didn't murmur. He didn't complain. He just kept being a man of God.
You know, we need to learn that, no matter what anybody else does, our job is to keep doing what's right. C'mon, somebody needs to hear that today. No matter what somebody else is, or is not doing for you, your job is to keep doing what's right. And if you keep doing what's right, even when the right thing is not happening to you, God will, in due time, reward you. And when he does, it is going to be something outstanding, that nobody else could have done for you. Well, Joseph, eventually, did get out of prison by interpreting a dream that the king had. And long story, short, he eventually, became like, second in control, in all of Egypt. The only person that had any more power than him was, Pharaoh, himself. And a famine was coming. And Joseph, being a wise man, had stored up grain, enough that would last through the seven years of famine, that God had warned 'em about in this dream. And Pharaoh, put him in charge of distributing this grain.
Well, his father and his brothers, lived a distance away. But they knew that the only grain that was available was in Egypt. So, they came to Egypt, to get some grain. Well, they had to go before Joseph, to ask for this grain, but they didn't know it was Joseph. They didn't recognize him, but he recognized them. And boy, what an opportunity, he had to "Get them back" for what they did to him. Sometimes, we delight in that, don't we? Somebody did something awful to us? And now, they need help, and it's our opportunity to get them back. Don't ever do that. God does not want you to do that. God is your vindicator. Always walk in love, with people, no matter what they've done to you. And pray for them. Pray for them to be blessed. And then, when you do that, you open up the door for God to do great things in your life. And listen to what Joseph said. He said, "Don't be afraid of me. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, which is the saving of many lives".
In other words, Joseph is saying, "You did something terrible to me, and you thought you were harming me, but actually, you were doing something that turned out good, because God used what you did, he use the evil thing that you did, to put me in a position, where I could be in a place to save many, many people". What's one of our favorite scriptures in Romans 8:28? "All things work together for good to those who love God, and are called according to his purpose". Joseph was a generous man. He fed them. He told them that he would take care of them. They didn't have to worry. They didn't deserve it, but he did it. That's what a generous person does. They don't just give to people who deserve it. They give, to be honest, because they have to. I kind of feel like, at this point in my life, I have to give. I am not happy, if I don't get to give.
Do you know, every morning, you should give all of you to God? "God, I give you my mind. I give you my mouth. I give you my hands. I give you my feet. I wanna do, what you want me to do. I want to go, where you want me to go. I want to say, what you want me to say. I want to think, what you want me to think". Serve God with your whole life. Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Susanna helped support Jesus' ministry, and his disciples, out of their own money. Do you know, the way we use our money says a lot about how thankful, we are, for the life that we have? 2 Corinthians 9:6 and 7 says, "The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver". Hallelujah.
God loves a cheerful giver. And then, one last thing, I wanna say before I tell you about our offer, today. Under the old covenant, they had many different types of offerings. And one of the offerings that they had was called, "A thank offering". And at different times, throughout the year, they would bring a special gift to God, just to say, "Thank you, for what you've done for me". Well, we don't live under the old covenant anymore, but we, certainly, can learn from some of their example. And I think it would be great, if you would go beyond your tithe, or your regular offerings, or whatever you're used to doing, and just occasionally, give a thank offering to God. A special offering, to say, "Thank you, God, for what you have done in my life".
Every month, I set aside a certain amount of money, at the beginning of the month, that I wanna give throughout that month to people in need or people who need a blessing. You know, somebody doesn't have to be poor to need a blessing. You might know a rich person that still needs a blessing. Show your gratitude by being generous. I believe that gratitude, and thankfulness, and generosity go together. And I can tell you, the more generous you are, the happier you're gonna be. Winston Churchill said, "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give".