Joyce Meyer - Galatians Bible Study
I'm gonna teach on the first three chapters of the book of Galatians. And we're going to take our time. You're gonna be a good Bible student. You're gonna learn many, many good lessons and hopefully I'm going to, by the grace of God, help you understand what is the basic foundational doctrine of the New Testament, which is we're saved by grace, not by works. There's nothing we can do to save ourself. Most of you know that but the other thing that we miss a lot of times is the same way we were saved is the same way we have to learn how to live.
So God wants us to live by faith, not just receive Christ by faith. Most people come to the end of themselves at some point and they realize that they can't get themselves to heaven. They need God so they give up for a few moments and invite Jesus into their life, but then soon as they start reading or studying a little bit or hearing sermons, then they take back over and try to do on their own strength all the things that the Bible tells us to do and we forget that we're not only saved by grace but we have to learn to live by grace and by faith.
Now, Paul was chosen by God to bring the revelation about grace to the church and he was qualified by an experience that he had in his life. Paul was a persecutor of the church. He was trying with all of his might to destroy the church. He was there when Stephen was stoned. He was gladly gathering up Christians and seeing them put in jail. And as ornery as he was being, he actually thought he was doing the right thing because he was a very religious yet legalistic Jew who followed all the rules and regulations and was very proud of himself that he did. But God met him on a road to Damascus, revealed himself to him. He had quite an experience with God. I won't get into all the details but he fell from his horse, a bright light, couldn't speak for several days. And God, by revelation, told him that he was to preach the Gospel and it was to be this Gospel of grace.
Well, let me tell you something. There's no better person to preach something than somebody who's experienced it. And grace is for people who don't deserve God's goodness. Grace is God's favor but it's not just God's favor and I wish that we would stop just saying it's God's undeserved favor. It's God's favor but it's also the power of the Holy Spirit being made available to us to enable us to do the things that God tells us to do. We can't do it just by fleshly effort or straining or struggling or just by self-will or self-discipline. All those things are important and they're good and they're necessary and they're needed but Jesus said, "Apart from me, you can do nothing". Nothing. Just imagine, just think for one minute, how your life would be if every single thing that you did, you did it by faith. In faith. The first prayer that everybody should pray when they get up in the morning is the most powerful prayer: "Help"! Amen?
Because I'm telling you what, there is nothing in our life that we don't need help with. I mean, everything. We need help with everything. And so I would form a habit of all throughout the day just saying, "Help me, Jesus. Help me, help me, help me. Help me". You don't even have to know what you need help with. Just trust me, you need help. So Galatians is a lot about that we're free from the law and we now live under grace. And maybe you would have had to have been an Old Testament Jew to fully understand that but God gave them laws, knowing they couldn't keep them so eventually they would realize they needed help. I can't do this, I can't live this life that you're calling me to live. I can't keep all these laws because under the law if you kept 'em all but broke just one you were guilty of all.
Well, that had to be so frustrating. But they worked so hard at keeping all these laws and then the ones who managed to do so and we still have this going on in people's lives today and in churches. If you go to church every Sunday you feel like you're better than somebody who only goes three times a year. If you read the Bible through every year then you feel like you're better, a little more spiritual, than somebody who just reads, you know, maybe a chapter a day or so. And we have to be so careful about this spiritual pride because I don't think there's anything that's any more nauseating to God than us thinking that we are better than somebody else because we do something that God actually is giving us the grace to do but we are stupidly taking the credit for it, amen? And it gets us in so much trouble.
Now, there's a pretty good size, I don't know if we'll call it a grace movement but there's been an emphasis of teaching on grace in the church for the last two or three years. And you'll find if you study church history that there are emphasis on different things at different times. And it's good because no matter how strong we are in something, we can kind of let it fade out of our lives and then God needs to come back around and give us a refresher course. But everything that's good doesn't always stay good. It seems like we, as Christians, just don't know how to stay out of the ditch. So you had the holiness movement years ago and that was wonderful. People were living holier lives but then that crossed over a line and everybody became very legalistic. And then all of a sudden they couldn't do anything. You can't wear make-up, you can't cut your hair, you can't dance, you can't go to a party, you can't see a movie, you can't, you can't, you can't, you can't.
Well, who's gonna buy into that for very long? I mean, a lot of young people and maybe some of you even that were raised in churches like that, it actually turns you against God rather than toward him. Because you felt like to be a Christian you were never gonna be able to have any fun in your whole life. The word and faith movement back in the '60s and the '70s. A lot of teaching in that about prosperity. I thank God for it. God touched my life back then in a powerful way because I knew I was saved by grace but I didn't know anything about using my faith for anything other than just salvation. And faith is something God gives you that you need to use and release in your life. It's a powerful force but it's not just an automatic. You put your trust in God. You put your faith in him.
I'm glad for what I learned about prosperity, but it got out of balance. I'm glad for what I learned about faith but it got out of balance and so every time somebody had a problem in their life was 'cause they didn't have enough faith. If you got sick, you didn't have enough faith. If your child died, you didn't have enough faith. Well, that's not right. There's nowhere in the Bible where we're promised that we'll never have any trouble. I don't care how much faith you've got, you're not gonna avoid ever having trouble in your life. Jesus said, "In the world, there will be tribulation. Cheer up, I have overcome the world". So you're gonna find in here that one of the things that Paul says and teaches very firmly is that you have to be very careful about veering away from the truth and you have to always test the spirit and make sure that everything that you believe is backed up in the word of God.
See, the devil doesn't care if you don't do enough of something or if you do too much of something. Understand? I mean, like, if you don't clean your house at all, he's happy with that. But if you become a fanatic and you turn your house into a mausoleum that can't have one speck of dust and you spend your whole life trying to impress everybody by how your house looks, I was like that at one point, then that becomes a problem too. Because now, you're a slave to these things that you've set up for your own self that you get your worth and your value out of. Balance is so important and, to be honest, we are just not real great at it, amen? So I gotta get started here reading, but I wanna say that we've been set free from the law. Thank God we've been set free from the law. And the grace teaching that we hear today makes that very clear. We have been set free from the law.
The Old Testament's concluded. We now have a new covenant with God, it's the covenant of grace. But here's the thing that we - and I'm not saying that people are not - some people are teaching this but some people are getting out of balance with it and grace is not an excuse to live a sloppy life and get by with it. C'mon now, stick with me. Grace is the power not to have to live in sin. It's not an excuse to and just an attitude that God will overlook it because he's so gracious. We have been set free from the laws in the Bible that covered things that what we call the ceremonial law. Set free from following rules and regulations and having to honor certain days and feast days and rules about diet, rules about material you can wear together and material you can't wear together and what you can eat, what you can't eat, and all that stuff. But we have not been set free from the moral law. The Ten Commandments are just as valuable today as they were then, c'mon.
I heard somebody say one time, "Can you imagine anybody standing up and teaching on the Ten Commandments"? I thought, "Well, yeah, I kind of like to do that myself". It's, like, they're not gone. There's a new liberty, you know, like, I don't necessarily think that you have to take every Sunday and sit home all day and do nothing. But I do think if you don't have a sabbath rest on an average of once a week, you're gonna fall apart. And I think that we need to have time set apart for God. I don't just do it one day a week. I do it every day. I can't make it through one day without Jesus, amen? And so grace doesn't give us an excuse not to have a high moral standard in our life. Grace actually requires us to do more than what the law did. And I'll give you a couple of examples.
In the commandments it says: "Thou shalt not commit adultery," but Jesus said, "I say unto you that if you look at a woman, if you even so much as look at a woman to lust after her, you've already committed adultery with her in your heart". So he didn't make it easier on us. He made it harder on us but he said, "I'll give you the grace to be able to do it. I will give you the power to be able to do it". See, they were trying to be good under the law but it was all up to them. So if they were good, they felt good about themselves, and if they weren't good, then they felt guilty. They were always making sacrifices. The law says: "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth," but Jesus said, "I say unto you, 'forgive your enemies. Bless those who curse you, misuse you, and abuse you. Help them if they have a need.'"
You know, a lot of people believe that tithing is under the law and so you no longer have to tithe. Well, I'll be honest with you and tell you, I don't think you have to either. But I frankly don't know why you wouldn't want to, because there's a great promise that comes with it. Now, in Malachi it says if you don't bring all the tithe into the storehouse you'll be cursed. I don't believe God curses people because Jesus bore the curse but I think a lot of times if we don't follow these principles, we forfeit blessings in our own life. And I figure if they could give 10% under the law, what should we be doing by grace? C'mon, you may not like that. You haven't even gotten even close to the 10% yet.
See, in the Bible, you know what word they use in the New Testament? You don't see the word "Tithe" much. It talks about how Melchizedek brought tithes and I still believe it's valid today. I mean, Abraham was tithing long before the law was ever given so, you know, I don't agree that it's still not something that we should do but I don't think it's gonna keep you out of heaven if you don't. I don't think God's gonna get mad at you if you don't. I don't think that you forfeit all your blessings but you do reap what you sow. And so here's the word that the New Testament uses: "Be generous". Okay, you know what the word "Generous" means? To go beyond what's required. C'mon now. You see, the requirement in the Old Testament was 10% but now Paul says, "Be generous".
And you know why he used that term? Because he was talking to gentiles who didn't understand the word "Tithing". And so he said, "Be generous. Give and give beyond what you're even able to give. Help people. Share everything that you have with people". He didn't ever talk about 10%. It sounds to me like everything had to be available to God. I mean, people in the book of acts, they sold their properties and they brought everything and they all had in common and they all shared alike so, I mean, if you're wanting to keep your money, you'd be better off to live under the law than to get messed up with Jesus because when you get hooked up with him, let me tell you something, there is no he money and she money and, you know, hidden money in your wallet. God knows where it's all at. And sometimes he'll ask you to get it out and give it, maybe to somebody you don't even like. C'mon, are you with me?
We actually had somebody call the office and they said, "I need to ask a question. I've got some friends that are actually into illegal activity but they're making a lot of money and they go to church all the time and they feel like that they're not getting caught and God's blessing 'em. Because of his grace. Well, what do you say about that"? I laughed so hard. Do you know what I said? "That is the dumbest question I have ever heard in my"... And I didn't say that to the person but when they brought me the question at the office, I said, "You've got to be kidding". I mean, how far off can we get? But here's the thing. Satan deceives people a little tiny bit at a time. A little tiny bit, little tiny bit, little tiny bit. That's why we have to make sure that what we believe agrees with the word of God and that we don't just base things on our experience alone. Experience is valuable but we learn by the word of God and by life's experiences, amen?
So actually the Bible teaches us that if we are legalistic and make everything into a law, that it's a sign of spiritual immaturity. That spiritually mature people know how to be led and guided by the Holy Spirit because God has written the law in our hearts. The Ten Commandments are written in our hearts now. Are you following me? Are you okay? Let me ask a question. How many of you are pretty good at turning things into laws? How many of you don't have a clue what I'm talking about? All right, I'll give you an example. Cleaning my house. I cleaned my house every day. We vacuumed every day, we dusted every day, we polished every mirror in the house every day because, see, really, I didn't feel good about myself so I felt better if my surroundings were all tidy. C'mon, is anybody hearing anything I'm saying? So you can turn Bible reading into a law.
One time I got on this thing, reading the Bible through in a year. Everybody at church was reading the Bible through in a year. And so you had to read two chapters of the Old Testament, two in the new, one in proverbs, one in Psalms, every day, six chapters a day, and you'd get through the Bible in a year. And we all had a calendar. And I put my calendar on the refrigerator in the kitchen so people would see that I was... Well, when you read your six chapters you got a check mark. Your flesh loves check marks. I mean, if you're a legalist and you love lists... how many of you love lists? Okay, well, now, there's nothing at all wrong with a list but here's what can be wrong with a list. If you don't get everything on your list checked off and now you feel condemned or guilty or bad about yourself because of that, now it's no longer a list to just keep you disciplined: it's your rule of laws that you have to follow every day.
One of my daughters who's had a real turnaround in her life because of finally understanding grace, was always very legalistic and I can remember she would write down on her list the number of pieces of ironing, that was back when we actually had to iron our clothes, that she wanted to get done every day when, on ironing day and if she didn't get 'em done, which she never did because she set unrealistic goals for herself. How many of you know sometimes we set ourselves up for a fall? And so then if she didn't get 'em all done, then she'd feel bad about herself and feel guilty about herself all the time.
So I think a good thing to do is stop counting everything. Stop counting how long you pray and how many chapters you read. You know, just be Led by the Spirit and learn something and stop doing everything by some kind of numerology so you can feel good about yourself. I was fine as long as I had check marks on the calendar. But when I started getting these big gaping holes because I wasn't doing six chapters a day, then I would go in the room where that calendar was and I couldn't wait to get away from the thing.
There was a lot of teaching at one time about praying one hour a day. "Can you not pray with me one hour"? Scripture Jesus said to his disciples. So everybody was praying an hour a day. Well, I had my clock, and I tell you, it was exactly 60 minutes. Didn't matter if what I said made any sense, didn't matter if it was coming out of my heart. I got in my hour. Let me tell you something. A lot of you are a lot more legalistic than you think you are. And that's one of the reasons that you're not enjoying your life because the law does not bring joy: it brings death.
Galatians 1:1 through 5. "Paul, an apostle not from men not through man, but through Jesus Christ, and God the Father who raised him from the dead". Paul always makes a point out of the fact that he was not called by men, he didn't call himself, but he was called by God to do what he was doing. And let me tell you something, we all need to know that. Whatever you're doing, you need to know that it's what God wants you to do, not what you want to do or what somebody else wants you to do. And that works out in the work field just as well as in the church. If you became whatever, a lawyer because your dad wanted you to be a lawyer and you've never wanted to be a lawyer, and you hate being a lawyer, and you hated law school, and you have no joy, chances are you're probably not doing what's really in your heart to do. You're doing what somebody else wanted you to do. And you know, parents sometimes can be pretty good at trying to fulfill their dreams through their kids.
Okay. Verse 3, he says, "Grace to you and peace from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ". They greeted each other differently in those days than we do. Grace and peace be unto you in the name of our Lord, not like, "Hey, bro. What's up? Hey, hey, ho, ho". They said something that made sense. You know, I mean, some of the text messages I get, I got one from my son the other day, and it had so many abbreviations in it, I could not even tell what he was talking about. I had to call him and say, "What are you talking about"? He said, "Oh, that's all, you know, social media lingo". I said, "Well, could you just talk to me in English? Because I can't get that". We don't have the time to spell out "Okay" now, it's just "K". I told the people that work for me if I sent you a text and you answer back with "K," the very least you can do is say, "Okay". And I think we could go a little bit further than that even. Anyway, Lord, I may have to preach this Galatians thing somewhere else, I'm not doing too good.
So, Paul greeted the people with, "Grace and peace be unto you," because here's the thing. You cannot ever have peace if you don't understand grace. You'll never have peace if you don't understand grace. The other side of grace, the opposite end, the wrong end is works of the flesh. Now, the Bible encourages us to work, but to stay out of works. You know what works of the flesh are? It's our energy trying to do what only God can do. That's why I like that coffee cup. "Good morning, this is God. I'll be handling all your problems today, and I won't need your help". That's why I think having one of those would be good for you so you're looking at that every morning, and realizing that what needs to be done in your life can only be done by God. So, we have to be careful about works of the flesh because works of the flesh produce one thing and one thing only, and this is it. Every single time you feel frustrated, it's because you're trying to do something that you can't do by yourself. I don't care if it's trying to open a jar of mayonnaise.
And I've had times where Dave would be sitting in the next room. Now, I don't like this anymore, I've gotten smarter. But I was going to get it open. I was not going, I'm opening this. And I would beat on it, and pound on it, and get out everything. And you get frustrated, it's like ugh! Well, we get like that about so many areas of our life. We're so frustrated because we can't change ourselves. We hear a message on the power of words, and we go home and we're going to... "Bless God, I'm not going to say anything wrong today". How many of you know we can have a great plan for holiness laying in bed? And it works until you get up and see a person. It is amazing how holy I can be till the people come in. Yeah? And if you don't understand grace, if you don't understand that we can't do it, God's got to do it. He wants us to live by faith, to lean on him and rely on him, and to trust him to do in us what needs to be done.
I love what David prayed, "Oh God, put a watch over my mouth, lest I sin against you with my tongue". I pray that every morning 'cause there is no way that I am going to keep my mouth shut and not get in trouble if I need a miracle every ten minutes to do that. Amen? The Bible does say no man can tame the tongue. Or, you know, going to church can drive you crazy if you don't understand grace because everything you hear is going to make you feel worse about yourself than the way you felt when you went in. Because now there's another thing you've just found out you're doing wrong that you don't know how to do anything about, but you're, "Oh, I'll try. God, I'm going to try". Well, I'll tell you, I tried till I almost died. I mean, I fasted till I just didn't weigh hardly anything. And I mean, I was going to be what God wanted me to be. And God's just sitting there laughing, saying, "Let me know when you're done. Let me know when you're ready for some help".
God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble. The just shall live by faith. "Behold the proud, his soul is puffed up". This is Habakkuk 2:4. "It is not upright within him, but the righteous man shall live by faith". Don't do things if you have a guilty conscience about doing it. Hmm, I heard that. Hmm, hmm. Why sit and watch something on television if you feel condemned the whole time you're watching it? "But it's so interesting". I get it. I understand. But there's so many times when we choose to do the wrong thing. And then we feel so bad about it later. And it's not worth it. It's just not worth it, amen? Hebrews 10:38, "But my righteous one shall live by faith". Galatians 2:20, Paul said, "I've been crucified with Christ. It's no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live I live by faith". By faith. 2 Corinthians 5:7, "For we walk by faith and not by sight". Here's a scripture that ought to put a little reverential fear in us, Romans 14:23, "Whatever is not of faith is sin".
Well, so unless you can complain by faith, that means complaining is sin. Unless you can gossip by faith, come on. This is not hard, we can all understand this. There's so many things that we do that we can't say we're doing that by faith. We can't say that we're doing that with God's approval. And those are the things that if you really want to live under grace, those are the things that you got to cut out of your life because that's the Holy Spirit prompting you. To live by grace means to be led by the Holy Spirit, not the law, but the Holy Spirit. To follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Come on, would you make a commitment to have such a deep relationship with the Lord that you will pay attention to what's going on inside of you? And when you feel that God is convicting you not to do something, then don't do it.
I had a girl last week put a very interesting question to me. She named a cult. This girl's a Christian. She named a cult and she said when she was a teenager, she came that close to getting caught up in it. She said, "It fascinated me". And I said, "Why did it fascinate you"? She said, "Because the people in this," and it's actually a big church, I'm just not going to get into naming names, she said, "The people are so committed to what they believe. They are nice, they are good to people, they are polite. They have to tithe if they're going to be part of that church, so they all do that. They're very committed to witnessing and sharing their faith with other people". So she said, "I just got to the point where I thought, 'well, if we're right, if it's the Christians that have the truth and we're right, then why are so many people not doing what they say they believe?'"
This is very important for the days that we're living in right now. And you want me to tell you what I believe? She asked me why, and I said, "I think it's because people no longer have reverential fear of God". See, we're taught not to be afraid of God. Perfect love casts out fear. When we know the perfect love that God has for us, we don't have to be afraid of God, or afraid that he's going to punish us. But we do need to have a reverential fear that basically says God is God, and he means what he says. And so, if he says, "Do this and you'll be blessed. Do this and you're not going to like your life very much," then that is the way it's going to be, and I better listen. We have to be careful that we don't bring God down to a level where he's just our buddy and our friend. He is your friend, but he's God. Almighty, sovereign, omnipotent, all-knowing, omnipresent God, who is an all-consuming fire. Amen?
And we're saved by grace, but Philippians 2 says, "Now work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, not in your own strength, but all the while letting God help you". What does it mean to work out your own salvation? It doesn't mean to work for salvation. It means that salvation is a gift, and it comes to you in your spirit. Your spirit's made holy, you're sanctified, you're made right with God. Everything in your spirit couldn't get any better than what it is. That's why we can say, "I am the righteousness of God in Christ. I am holy. I am sanctified". Because you are all those things in your spirit. God could not come to live in your spirit if he didn't totally clean the place up first. Are you with me? But now the rest of our life, the job that we have is to work with the Holy Spirit to let what God has given us, this great gift that he's given us, to let it be worked out. Work out your salvation, and you do it with fear and trembling, knowing that God means business.
Well, maybe this is more needed than what I even thought it was. I mean, when's the last time you heard a good, rip-roaring sermon on the reverential fear of God? I don't see any hands up. And Proverbs 1 says that the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord. Not being afraid of God, I'm not afraid he's going to hurt me. If I do something wrong, I'm not afraid that I'm going to go to hell. I'm not afraid that God's going to punish me. But I do believe that the promises of God have conditions attached to them. And I do believe that I will reap what I sow. It's a biblical law. So yes, I am afraid not to do what God tells me to do because I don't want to miss out on the best life that he has for me. I'm not afraid of him hurting me, but I am afraid that I'll miss his best for me.
The best practical example I know to give is when our kids were growing up, if Dave said, "You're grounded for two weeks," they were grounded for two weeks. If I said it, it'd take about three days and I'd get fed up with them being in the house all day. It's fine for a man to ground his kids for two weeks and go off to work every day, and leave you locked in the house with them, amen? And you know, I'd feel sorry for them and, "Well, I think you've learned your lesson, so I'll let you go out". Well, you know what? They loved me, but they had reverential fear of Dave. How many of you know what I mean? And so, when God says something, he means what he says. Are you with me? He means what he says. If he says he's faithful, he's faithful. If he says do this and you'll be blessed, if you do that, you can write it down you'll be blessed. But if he says don't do this and you won't be blessed, then you can write that down too.
I have marveled and pondered as a minister things that sometimes... and I don't mean this judgmentally. I just don't get it. Maybe something will come out about a certain minister that he's been having an affair or whatever for the last three years. I do not grasp how anybody could be doing that, and stand here and do this. I would be petrified to do that. I mean, that's a holy thing to handle the word of God, and to stand in front of God's people and be an example. Now, I know we're human and we can make mistakes. But at least if you're going to do something like that, don't do it behind a pulpit. That's a holy place for God. No reverential fear. Are you understanding me? So yes, we're free from the law, and we live under grace. And thank God we live in the dispensation of grace. I love grace. I love the mercy of God. I love knowing that my sins are forgiven and that God's never going to give up on me. But I also love God enough that I'm going to spend every waking moment of my life trying to do what I believe he wants me to do. Wait a minute, not because I'm afraid that he'll get mad at me if I don't. God doesn't want us to try to do what's right to get him to love us. He wants us to love him so much because he loves us that we want to do what's right. And so, we work to do what's right because of that.
One of the most important things in Galatians chapter 1 is found in verse 10. Galatians 1:10, Paul said, "If I were seeking to be popular with people, or am I seeking the approval of man or of God? If I'm trying to please man, if I were still trying to please man, I would not now be a servant of Christ". Wow, he's got a great section here on people pleasing. That if I'm going to live trying to please people instead of trying to please God, I'm going to miss everything that God has for me in my life. Come on. Let's read this Galatians 1:10 through 24. "For now am I seeking the approval of man or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not now be a servant of Christ. For I would have you know, brothers, that the Gospel that was preached by me is not man's Gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my father. But when he who had set me apart before I was born".
See, you're set apart before you're born for something, amen? Every single one of us, we're set apart before we're even born for something. "When he called me by his grace, and was pleased to reveal his son in me, in order that I might preach him among the gentiles". Now, look at the last line of verse 16. "I did not immediately consult with anyone". I love that. He said, "When God called me, I didn't go ask ten people if they thought it was all right". I can tell you when God called me, I didn't know anybody that thought it was all right. Even Dave didn't like it the first few weeks 'cause he didn't understand why God called me and not him. But he's a smart man. It didn't take him very long and he listened to God. God said, "I've called her. And if you do what I want you to do, you'll be happy. If you let her do what I want her to do, she'll be happy". If you don't do what you're supposed to be doing in life, you are not going to be happy. Running from God is not a happy place to be. And Paul, Paul says he was not impressed by people. He didn't have to hang out with the important people to feel good about himself. He already knew who he was, so if somebody didn't like what he was doing, it didn't concern him that much.
Now, the Bible does say that we should live to please our neighbor and not please ourself. You say, "Well, then wait a minute. You're saying don't please people, please people. Which do you want us to do, Joyce"? Well, the thing is we do live to please people. But if pleasing people means I can't please God. Okay, I'll get out here in the mud for a minute and see what happens. A woman's married to an unsaved man. He refuses to let her go to church. What should she do? Go anyway. You say, "Why"? Because that's something God has called her to do. Smith Wigglesworth's wife did that. He was a great preacher, great man of faith. Later he was. But he told his wife that she couldn't go to church, and she'd go. And every time she'd come home, he'd have her locked out of the house. And she'd sleep on the back porch. And in the morning when he'd let her in, she'd, "Good morning, Smithy". And she'd cook his breakfast, and be just as sweet and nice. He ended up getting saved and becoming a fantastic preacher.
Let me tell you something. When somebody tells you not to read your Bible, not to go to church, you know, all these kinds of things, they're not even going to respect you if you don't do what you know is right in your heart to do. There's actually a part of them that wants you to stand up to them. And they're going to get mad at first, but if you stand your ground, it could be the thing that turns their life around. Amen?
Now, Paul starts out in Galatians 1, verse 1 and he makes it very clear that he didn't call himself to do what he was doing, that he was not an apostle by the will of man. No man put him in that position. He didn't put himself in that position, that he was called by God to do what he was doing. And I'll tell ya, when you know that what you're doing is the will of God, it gives you courage and strength and you can stick with it and finish the job that God called you to do. But if you're doing something because people want you to and you're not even sure that you're supposed to be doing it, then you're not ever gonna do it well. Please make sure that you can say, "I believe with all my heart that what I am doing, I am doing in the will of God".
How many of you think that's a good idea? See, I know that I'm called to do what I'm doing. I know I'm very comfortable up here today, don't have any concern about it, don't have any fear about it, not worried about what you think about it because I know that God has called me to do this, therefore if God has called me to do it, he's the one that has to make it succeed. It's not even up to me today to make this good, it's totally up to God. What I have to do is just surrender to God and let him do what he wants to do. All right, satan is a legalist. He's constantly trying to bring us under the law.
Now, we talk about the law in the Old Testament and today we live in the dispensation of grace and so, we say all the time, we're no longer under the law, we're under grace but that doesn't mean that we now can ignore all the moral laws of the Old Testament. It means that we're set free from the ceremonial laws but actually God has now given us the grace to keep the moral law. We're no longer trying to do something that's written on a piece of paper. Now, it's written in our heart and we have a desire in us to do the right thing. How many of you realize that when you receive Christ, you get a whole new set of desires and things that you used to do that were wrong that didn't bother you at all, now you can't comfortably do them without being bothered by it, amen?
How many of you didn't realize what a mess you were till you got saved? That's true. We just think, "Nothing wrong with me. I do what everybody else is doing". And all of a sudden you receive Christ and it's like, you look back and I can't believe some of the movies I used to watch or some of the things I used to do. It's like, and I wasn't even aware that they were wrong. But when God comes into our life, he doesn't come just to always make us comfortable, he also comes to convict us of sin when we're doing wrong things and the grace that we live under gives us the courage to do the right thing instead of continuing to do the wrong thing.
One area that Paul talked about that I didn't get to say much about last night but that's very important is Galatians 1:6 through 9. He says, "I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of God and are turning back again to a different Gospel". There was the Jews and the gentiles. Peter was called to the Jews. Paul was called to the gentiles, although he was a Jew himself, he was called to teach the gentiles. The gentiles had been idol worshipers. They carved out idols of wood and stone and they bowed down to that them and they worshiped them. They didn't know about God. They didn't try to serve God. They didn't care anything about God. And the legalistic Jews felt like they were better than they were so there was this big dividing line between them and the gentiles. They absolutely hated them.
Well, when God, by his grace and mercy, decided to include the gentiles, and all they had to do was believe to be saved, it infuriated the Jews. And so, they kept trying to bring them back under the law. They kept trying to find little ways to take away their freedom. He whom the Son sets free is free indeed, but satan is a legalist and he will always work to take your freedom away from you. He's the accuser of the brethren and he will find something to accuse you about every single day. You need to know when the devil's lying to you, and you need to be able to stand up against it and say, "You're a liar, this is what the word says and I don't believe you," amen.
So, Paul said, "Look, this Gospel that I'm preaching to you is the only one that's accurate, the Gospel of grace, saved by grace, live by faith". And in verse 8 he says, "Even if I come back and preach to you a different Gospel, don't listen to me because this is the only one that's true and if I come back with a different one or an angel comes back with a different one, don't believe it because this is the only one that's true". Can I simply say this? You need to make your mind up what you believe. You need to make sure that you can back it up in the word of God. And when weird little doctrines come floating through the church from time to time, you need to be well grounded in the word of God to not be deceived by those things because I have seen it over 42 years. I've seen different things come through, different movements, and some of them have some good things.
We don't want to be close minded but you do need to be single minded. Know what you believe and stand firm on what you believe because I can tell you, deception in the last days is gonna be so great the Bible says if he didn't shorten the days for the sake of the very elect, no man could stand the deception that's coming on the earth. You're welcome. You know, every cult is about 90% truth and just a little bit of error. That's why some of us like, they seem to believe pretty much the same things we do except, well, they believe Jesus was a prophet but not really the Son of God. Okay well, that's wrong. A little bit of leaven leavens the whole lump. You can't just say, "Well, it's pretty true. It's mostly true". We have to know what's true and follow what's true, and not get sucked up in the things that aren't true.
So, Paul was getting very aggravated with the Galatians because he had taught them the truth. They had received Christ. Their lives were changing. Now, the judaizers, as the Bible calls them which were Jews that were legalistic, they crept in. How many of you know the devil's a creep and he creeps in? And the Bible says, they had crept in among them and they were trying to say, "Well, yeah, Jesus is fine, you know? We've received Jesus too," which many of them had but they still believed that even though they had received Jesus, they needed to be circumcised or they still needed to follow these certain formulas and rituals. These legalists have snuck in and now they're going back to believing things that are not true. Galatians 5:1 says, "Stand fast in the liberty where with Christ has made you free and don't be ensnared again in a yoke of bondage which you have once put off".
Can I tell you something? Being a victorious, powerful Christian is a full-time job, if not a Sunday-morning deal, it is a full-time job. And if you think one little trip to church for 45 minutes or an hour on Sunday morning is gonna keep the devil off your back, you've got another thing coming, amen? So, he said, "I'm astonished that you're going back into that silliness". Another thing in here that's very important is verse 10 where he says, "If I were trying to be popular with people, I would not now be an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ". You cannot be a people pleaser, a man pleaser, and always be a God pleaser. If you're gonna serve Christ full on, I can just make an announcement right now, you'll lose some friends. Let me tell this part of the audience too. If you're gonna go full on with God, and I'm hoping to push some people over the line today where you're not just, you know, a little saved or Sunday-morning saved, but I mean you are like, "Okay God, bring it on. I don't want to be a phony. I want your will in my life".
You know, I told God, "If you have to tie me to the altar and do whatever you need to do to me, but don't let me be a phony. I don't want to be a phony preaching one thing and living something else". I think it's time for some people, not only here but people that watch this by TV all around the world in over a hundred languages, it's time for us to make a full commitment to our relationship with God and stop having one foot in the world and one foot in the kingdom. Amen? Why compromise because of what somebody's gonna think of you? Let them think what they want to, at least they're thinking about you and not thinking about somebody else. So, he makes it very clear that he doesn't care that much what people thinks, he wants to do what God wants, amen?
Now, he talks a lot in here about works of the flesh, and I want to read you one little story in the Bible that's the best example of works of the flesh. I was into so many works of flesh and works of the flesh is our work, our effort and energy trying to do what really only God can do. Works of the flesh equal frustration. Don't you all wish you had one of these in your house? Wouldn't that be God? Well, I used to have a sign, not this big, but on a piece of paper on my refrigerator, "Works of the flesh equal frustration" because I was just frustrated all the time, but I was in works of the flesh all the time. I was trying to change my kids, trying to change Dave, trying to change myself, trying to change my neighbors, trying, trying, trying, always trying. But I wasn't doing much believing.
Anyway, good story in Genesis 16 about Sarah and Abraham, maybe you know the story, maybe you don't, but it's worth hearing again. God had promised Sarah and Abraham that they would have their own child but however there was a problem. He was a hundred and she was 90. And to put it bluntly, she had already gone through the change of life and things weren't just working all that well for Abraham. Now, come on, I said that as nice as I could. And God promised them they're gonna have a child. Well, it's gonna take a miracle. Has God promised you anything that is gonna take a miracle? All right, well, me too. And so, they waited ten years believing that they were gonna have their own child, ten years, she still hadn't had a baby. How many you had been waiting at least ten years for your breakthrough or longer, amen? Don't you just wish God would tell you when? Oh but no, he won't tell you that. He'll stretch you as far as you can stretch, but thank God he never puts more on us than what we can bear. He may not be early, but he's never late.
Genesis 16:1 through 6, "Now Sarah, Abram's wife had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. And Sarah said to Abram, 'behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children, so go into my servant and it may be that I shall obtain children by her.' And Abraham listened to the voice of Sarah". Now, men, I think there's a boatload of times when you need to listen to your wife, but this is one of the times that Abram should have said, "Lady, you are nuts". You would think that any woman would have better sense than to give her husband another wife and think that was gonna work out. Now, just to be fair, there was more of that that went on in that culture and it was not totally unheard of for a woman who was barren to maybe try to have a child through one of her maidservants, but it still was a dumb idea because it never works.
So after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarah, Abram's wife, took Hagar, the Egyptian, her servant and gave her to Abram, her husband, as a wife. And he went in to Hagar. We know what that means. He went into Hagar. That must have been fun watching him go into his tent, and she got pregnant. Now here comes the problem. "And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress". Now this lady who had been a servant, sweet attitude, sweet submissive attitude, now she thinks she's got the upper hand and she's like, "Well, I'm pregnant and you're not. So guess what, Abraham's gonna love me more". She didn't say that, but that was the intent. So, what does Sarah do? Oh my gosh, this is so much the way we are.
Okay, so now she's not liking the results of her fleshly plan and she said to Abram, "May the wrong done to me be on you". Come on now. "I gave my servant to your embrace and when she saw she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the Lord judge between me and you". And Abram did what the man always does, he said, "'Behold, your servant is in your power do to her as you please.' then Sarah dealt harshly with her and she fled from him". So, they got a stupid plan that could never have worked. It was works of the flesh so naturally they're going to be, what? Frustrated. I read something wonderful a couple days of ago in one of watchman nee's books that I was doing through again and this is simply what he said. I want you to get this. "Man must take responsibility for all of his actions". We must take responsibility for our actions and stop blaming other people for our problems.
Yeah, well you're not real sure you like that. I know I can tell by the sound of the clapping how much in agreement you are and how much you're not. I said we have to stop blaming other people. For our problem. So, the bottom line was was they had a child and that, you know, so it was another ten-year mess. And then finally, they got around to having the baby God promised them. So, works of the flesh always do nothing but equal frustration. Now, when God called Paul, the Bible says that he did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, but he disappeared into Arabia for three years. This was a smart man. This was a guy who'd been persecuting the church and happily trying to get Christians put in jail and see them stoned to death and all kinds of things. He hated Christianity. He was a zealous Jewish pharisee. The thing was was as bad as it sounds, his heart was right. He really did love God and he actually really thought he was doing the right thing. So, he says, God gave him grace because he lacked knowledge.
Let me tell ya something, when you're doing something wrong and you really truly don't know it's wrong, you're gonna get a lot more grace than somebody who knows they're doing something wrong and they just keep doing it anyway. That's why, listen to what I'm gonna say, every time you go to church, every time you hear the word of God, it almost gets a little bit more dangerous for you to be disobedient on purpose because you're hearing a lot of truth to today so now you can't go and say, "Oh, I didn't know". "Oh". Like the Israelites, 23,000 of them had to die in one day and they finally said, "We have sinned". It's like, what kind of a mess do we have to get in before we say, "Oops, I should have done things God's way"? Galatians chapter 2, here we go. "Then after 14 years, I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas taking Titus with me".
So, here Paul has this meeting with God, this miraculous meeting with God on the Damascus road. Jesus says to him, "Why are you coming up against me? Why are you fighting against me"? And Paul was a smart man, "What would you have me do, Lord"? See, that's all God wants to hear from you when he confronts you about something is, "God, I'm sorry if I'm not doing it your way. What do you want me to do"? As long as you're willing to do change, God'll work with you. Did you hear me? As long as you're willing to change, God'll work with you. No matter how many mistakes you make, no matter how many times you fail, no matter how many times you fall into a pit, if your heart is to please God, God will never give up on you if you don't give up on him.
So, after three years, he did go and present himself to Peter for 15 days, then he decision appears again for 14 years. Now, it wasn't that he wasn't doing anything, but the Bible doesn't tell us much about what he was doing. So, it's obvious that he didn't need the approval of man. Matter of fact, he didn't really want to be that effected by everybody else's opinion of what he should be doing, so he got alone with God so he could get real clarity and get a real foundation in his life of what God wanted him to do. And I remember when God first called me to do what I was doing, I tried everything that I could try to get around other people that were preaching and had big ministries. I had a big vision and so I would make appointments with people and they'd get canceled. I wanted somebody to tell me what to do. I wanted somebody to tell me how to do what I was doing, and it happened so many times that I finally got it. God said, "I don't want you getting from them what you should do. I want you getting it from me". God doesn't want you to go be a copy of somebody else. He wants you to be you, an original, amen?
And so, I'm really not too much like anybody else and I have a lot of friends in ministry, but to be honest, I don't want to be so entrenched in people that I get sidelined from what God's calling me to do by starting to feel like that I have to have their approval for everything that I do. And so Paul said, "I don't need their approval," you know why? Because when you have really heard from God and you know that God has spoken to you, and said something to you, and called you to do something, you don't need everybody else to tell you that it's okay. Amen? Now, I'm not saying that we should never listen to people. The Bible says that there's wisdom in many counselors. I would be careful if you come up with something that you think you're supposed to do and 25 real strong believers that you respect tell you you're going in a wrong direction, you might want to go another 14 years and pray some more. But how many of you know if you let people lead your life, you are not gonna end up where God wants you to be? How many of you know that? You just can't do it.
And so, you have to take a chance on losing some of those friendships or some of those people out of your life, and you have to be okay with that because when push comes to shove, what you need is God, not everybody else. Come on, come on, come on. I can pretty much tell you that every time you make a right decision for God, the devil's gonna find somebody that don't like it. Paul said, "When I went and met with them, I went because of a revelation". Verse 2 of Galatians 2, "Though privately I met with those who seemed influential to proclaim among the gentiles, the Gospel that I preach in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain". Verse 5, I love this, "And from those who seem to be influential. What they were makes no difference to me. God shows no partiality. Those I say who seemed influential added nothing to me". In other words, what was Paul saying here? "I'm not impressed by your position. I'm not impressed by your title". Can I tell you something? Just because you finagle, and connive, and manage to get around ten of the most important people in your church, you know, the "In group," can I tell you that that doesn't really add any value to you? The only value we have is who we are in Christ.
And really, a smart Christian, instead of looking for somebody that is important, that they think can add value to them, go look for somebody that's lonely and somebody who doesn't seem to have any friends, pick them out and befriend them and then, guess what, God'll promote you. Are you understanding? Amen. You know what, if I said to you, "Hey, I want you to come back to the green room. I'm gonna have lunch with you today," do you know what? That would not make you any more important than anybody else that I didn't have lunch with. Because it's not people that give us our importance. It's God that gives us our importance. And every one of you are just as important as anybody else. Your job is not what makes you important. The janitor is just as important as the CEO. Where have I gotten myself off to now?
And then I love this in verse 8. He says, "For he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me to the gentiles". So here's the thing. God works through everybody differently and as soon as you start thinking that you have to do what somebody else is doing and you deny who you are, you get in trouble. I tried to be so many different people, I got to the point where I didn't even know who I was. I tried to be real sweet like my pastor's wife. I even tried to change my voice because she was blonde and blue-eyed and tiny and she had this tiny little sweet voice and she had this gift of mercy and people would go to her for counseling and she'd say, "Ohhh. Ohh. Tell me more. I wanna hear all about it. Tell me more".
While I'm thinking, "Please don't tell me anything else". I know what your problem is two seconds after you walk in here. Now, if you go... c'mon, but I thought and I actually tried to lower my voice and people would say, "What's wrong with you"? See, you can't... pretending to be somebody else. God is never going to help you be somebody else. You might as well be yourself because everybody else is already taken. "Oh, Joyce. When I grow up I wanna be just like you". Well, I'm glad I can be an example but please don't be just like me. Go far beyond where I've gone. Let's don't aspire to be somebody else. Let's ask God to help us be the best us that we can be.
And that's what Paul was doing. He was being the best that he could be. He said, "I'm not impressed by those who seem to be influential. I don't need their approval. I'm going to follow God". Is there anybody in this building that has got enough guts to say, "I am going to follow God if it means I lose every friend I've got"? I mean, is anybody tired of living your life based on what they think? "Well, what will they think? Well, what will they say? Well, you know, they say you can't wear those colors together". "They say that hairstyle's out". They run our life and we don't even know who they are. Well, I've got a few people that are keeping me encouraged up here so I'll keep going. Boy, I love this. I mean, we can see from these scriptures that Paul knew how to wait on God's timing. How many of you know... don't wait very well?
After Paul spent three years seeking God, then he went and met with Peter for 15 days and the only other apostle he saw was James. And then he went away for another 14 years. He waited for God's timing in his life. We have to learn how to wait for God's timing. You know, a lot of times when you're called to do something, you sense that call so strongly but you may not sense the timing. Has anybody here ever gotten out ahead of God? Okay, you know what? Don't feel too bad about it. We all do it. I tried to go on TV before God put me on TV. And I got one piece of mail in six months. I tried to have a talk show. I'm not a talk show host. I wouldn't let anybody else talk. It's the truth. We used to have more guests on our TV programs. They'd bring people in for me to interview and we were getting complaints. People would write in and say, "Why does not Joyce not let the guests talk"? And I'm just not very good at it. I'm good at talking but I'm not too good at letting other people talk.
And so they finally got to the point where I said, "You guys are gonna have to help me. If I'm cutting people off or, you know, not letting them talk, you know," so they're back there in the background going... Hey, I'm so far from perfect that it's pathetic. But I love Jesus and he loves me and you know what? I think he thinks I'm cute because I won't let anybody else talk. Here's the thing you gotta understand. God did not suddenly realize that you are a mess and say, "Oh, what have I gotten myself into"? He knows everything about us, every mistake we're ever gonna make, every word that we have not spoken, every thought that we have not yet thought. There's nothing about you that God doesn't know and he loves you anyway. He knows the end from the beginning. He sees your heart and if you will not give up on God, God will never give up on you and he that hath begun a good work in you will finish it and bring it to its completion. You are on your way to doing something great, amen.
Ecclesiastes 3:1: "Everything is beautiful in its time," wow. Galatians 4:4: "But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his son, born of a woman, born under the law". The fullness of time. Why didn't he send Jesus sooner? People were suffering. They needed a Savior. Why that exact moment? Only God knows and he's not gonna tell us. He likes to keep secrets. How many of you love a mystery? You know what? Then you should just really love hanging out with God because there's always a mystery there. It's, like, what's gonna happen next? That's the exciting thing. If you're led by the spirit, you never know what any day is gonna hold. Now, if you live under the law, you can have a set of rules and, boy, you're gonna do this at 8 and this at 9 and every morning you read these chapters and you pray one hour and you pray by the clock. But I'm telling you what, when you just cut your boat loose from the dock and give yourself to the ocean of God's love, you don't know what you're gonna... I don't know how long I pray every day. I'm so glad I got over counting that. That is so dumb.
We just love to impress each other. "Oh, I pray two hours every day". Well, good for you. Keep it to yourself. Otherwise, you're just bragging and nobody wants to hear it, amen? I don't know how long I pray. I don't know how much of the Bible I read every day. "Well, tsk, tsk, doesn't sound like you're very disciplined". Oh, yes, I am very disciplined. The first thing I do every day is spend a couple of hours with God because I am afraid not to. There's no way that I'm gonna get out there and act like I'm supposed to if I don't have time with God. When I first started spending time with God in the mornings, my teenagers - at that time they were teenagers. That was a long time ago. They would complain, "Well, do you have to go in that room? Can't you make our breakfast"? I said, "Listen, you're teenagers. You can put cereal in a bowl. You'd better thank God that I'm going to my room because if I don't you're not gonna like your day nearly as much".
How many of you God needs to send you to your room too so you?... all right. How many of you have gone to and graduated from wilderness university? Oh man, been there, done that. Have you noticed how many of God's choice servants spent time in a place called the wilderness before they were ever promoted by God? Matter of fact, when God calls you, the next place you're going is the wilderness. See, you guys are... you're with it. I don't even have to explain it. You know exactly what I'm talking about. What is the wilderness? It's an isolated place, a lonely place, a solitary place, a secluded place, an unpopulated place. You know, I was pretty popular until I decided to go full on with God.
Then all of a sudden I didn't have any friends. Family members didn't want to have a lot to do with us. I mean, here, I thought I'd done the right thing. Everybody was gonna be excited for me that God called me to preach. But it didn't turn out to be that way at all. And I felt so lonely. And I would do what I thought God was asking me to do and then I'd just go on suffering and things didn't get better and then I'd do the next thing I thought he asked me to do and then there was more suffering and I didn't understand. I expected some instant victory and when God called me to preach I expected to roll out of bed the next day and have this worldwide ministry. Well, it doesn't work like that, amen? I spent five years teaching 25 people in my living room floor and, as Ginger said last night if you were here, when I started teaching God's word, I would sit and smoke cigarettes the whole time I was teaching and wear short shorts. And I mean short. As short as I could get 'em.
And you say, "Well, I just don't believe that God would use anybody like that". Well, you're wrong. Do you know why? C'mon, he anointed a donkey to preach to a prophet who wouldn't listen to him. I didn't know any better. I just didn't know any better. And now, that wouldn't work if I was still up to that today. But I'm telling you that God will call you where you are, he will use people that are look like the least likely people in the world that you're not qualified by anything other than God's anointing but the good thing is, is he sees the end from the beginning. He not only sees where you're at right now but he sees where you're going to be. He knows your heart. And so this wilderness university thing is designed to change us and to get us acting more like God.
Well, Dave told me, "Get the shorts off". So I put on more clothes and I gave up the cigarettes. And 40-some-odd years later, I'm still here, so. You might call these years that you spend in the wilderness wherever that happens to be for you. It may be a job you hate that God won't let you leave. It may be being in relation with somebody that you can barely stand and God keeps telling you to love 'em anyway. C'mon, how do you expect to learn how to love the unlovely if everybody around you is lovely? C'mon, ooh, God's gonna trap you with some nasty people. I mean, people that don't treat you right and he's gonna tell you to be kind to them and forgive them every day. C'mon, now. You probably gonna get a job where you're the only Christian there and they just treat you so bad. You're in wilderness u. A few years there changes you.
How many of you know we need to be changed? Joseph graduated from wilderness university. He had a dream. Looked like God was gonna do great things. Next thing that happened to him was he told his dream and the next thing that happened was his brothers turned on him and sold him to some slave traders. Well, he ended up being the governor but he spent 13 years in wilderness university first. Two of those thirteen, in prison for something he didn't do. But here's what I love about this. He was 17 when he was sold as a slave, 30 when he became governor in Egypt, but God was with him. See, that's it right there. "And the patriarchs," acts 7:9. "The patriarchs, jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt: but God was with him". It doesn't matter who you lose as long as God is with you. It doesn't matter if you're the only one in your family that's a believer. Bloom where you're planted. Let God use you as an example. Pray for people that mistreat you. Stand firm. As long as God's with you, you're gonna end up being successful.
Moses, 40 year... Can you imagine 40 years in the wilderness with those 6 million whining Jews? You think you wanna wring your kids' necks. Try 6 million of 'em. Forty years. Elijah had his time in the wilderness. David was anointed to be king as a youth and he became king at age 30. You know what happened the rest of those years? He spent hiding in caves from crazy Saul who did nothing but try to kill him. And he just kept doing what was right, kept doing what was right, kept doing what was right. Let me ask you something, can you do what's right while the right thing is not happening to you yet? C'mon, somebody needs to have me say that again. Can you treat people right that are not yet treating you right? Ooh, that hurts. Man, that hurts. Whoo, yeah. That's the kind of stuff you learn in wilderness university. You learn to obey God whether it's convenient or not, whether it's comfortable or not. You learn to stay where God tells you to stay, even if you hate the place.
When God tells you to go, you learn how to go. You learn that your life is not your own anymore. You use your will to do what God wants. Everything that God says, you only get one answer: "Yes, Lord. Yes, Lord". You know, there's something God's been putting on my heart on and off for a couple years. And I think, at first, he was just letting me know, "You know, time's gonna come when I'm gonna want you to do this". Well, it's not something I wanna do. I just don't want to. It's gonna cost money, more than I care to spend. And I just don't really want to. But yesterday, I just thought, "You know what? I am tired of this. I am gonna just do it and get it over with". You know what? Does God ever just keep annoying you about something? C'mon, don't go to sleep on me. You'll get your sandwich in a minute. Does God ever annoy you about anything? In other words, it's just, like, there. Just, it's like an itch you can't scratch. It just won't go.
The only way to get your peace back is to say, "Yes, Lord". Go do it and forget about how much you have to sacrifice or how hard it is. Everything that God asks us to do he asks us to do it for our good, not his. C'mon, every hard thing that's going on in your life right now. How many of you, God is asking you to do some really hard things right now? C'mon, let's see. Okay. Let me just give you a great piece of wisdom. Are you ready? Just do it and get it over with. I hope you traveled about 400 miles to hear me say that. Just do it and get it over with. And then maybe tonight you can sleep. Even Jesus had silent years. We hear about him when he's born, when he's eight days old, then nothing again 'til he's 12 years old and then nothing again 'til he's 30. And all the Bible says about him during those times was that he grew.
Wow, how many of you know what that means? I know what that means. I mean, I was hidden in my basement teaching little home Bible studies and I grew. I stopped wearing shorts and smoking cigarettes while I taught the Bible. Oh my gosh. I had a hard time giving up cigarettes. I smoked, and started smoking when I was nine and thank God... now, you know, I'll just say this and you can throw stones if you want to. I don't think smoking's gonna keep you out of heaven. We're not, you know, we're not saved because we don't smoke. But it is a nasty habit that's expensive. And it's harmful to your health. And so it was just something I knew that God wanted me to give up because no matter how you look at it, many other people feel that it's wrong and God tells us that, you know, although we have the liberty to do a lot of things, not everything's expedient or the best or the right for us to do.
And so, God changes us a little bit at a time, little bit at a time, little bit at a time. You go through things and then you get to take a test. And if you don't pass the test, then you get to do that grade over again. How many of you are in wilderness university right now in your life? Isn't this good? See, you're just, like, you got it. You know what we're doing here. A lot of silent years. "Jesus," Luke 4, "Full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan after he was baptized and was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness". Let me tell you something. There's a lot of things that we blame on the devil and there's plenty that he does that we need to blame him for but sometimes God will lead you into a very uncomfortable place. C'mon, you all hearing me up there in the balcony? Sometimes, God will lead you into a very uncomfortable place because we don't grow when everything is the way we want it to be. We grow when things are not the way we want it to be and we act like Jesus wants us to act anyway.
Galatians chapter 3, verse 1 starts out, "O you foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. So, let me ask you a question. Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith"? So, let me just ask you this, how, how were you saved? Were you saved, were you born again, did you receive Christ, the forgiveness of your sins by anything you did? It was all based on what Jesus did. And you were told what he did or you read about what he did, and you believed it and when you believed it, you received Christ as your Savior. Being born again, receiving Christ as your Savior is just so easy that people just miss it because we always think there's something that we must do to earn God's favor, but you can't earn favor.
Favor, now listen to me, is based on relationship. It's not based on the earning. It's based on relationship. If I go to someone and I say, "Can you do me a favor?' I'm gonna go to somebody that I have a relationship with that I believe will do that for me just because I'm asking them to. Well, favor, or the grace of God, is said to be undeserved favor. So, by grace, are you saved through faith. It is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man can boast. So, anyone here today who's not received Christ as your Savior, I mean, it's just so simple that it would just be downright insanity to leave this place today without receiving Christ as your Savior because there's nothing that you have to do other than really be sorry for your sins, be willing to turn away from them, receive Christ, receive a new life, and then be ready to go out of here letting the Holy Spirit teach you how to live and behave as a child of God. So, somehow or another, people normally don't receive Christ until they finally realize that they are just hopeless and helpless and that they cannot fix anything in their life. Life is a mess, they can't do anything about it. "I need you, God". So, finally, we give up and we receive Jesus.
Wouldn't you say that's it's kind of pretty much that way? And so, we receive Christ by faith, but then it's not very long and we start hearing or we read the Bible. We read books. We go to church. We hear messages, and we start to hear about the things that we should do and the things we shouldn't do. And so, we start feeling this need to change, to improve. There's a desire that comes along with salvation to be more like Jesus. How many of you really want to be more like Jesus? Okay, well, of course, you do. You would not be spending people's Saturdays are precious to them. You work all week and then you have Saturday. Many of you go to church on Sunday, so Saturday may be like your only truly free day. And so, here you take this day now and you come to hear somebody teach you more things that you should do or that you shouldn't do. And it's wonderful. It's wonderful to learn the word of God.
To be honest with you, I think if you didn't learn one thing, it would be worth it for you to come and just sit in the midst of this many believers and worship together. 'Cause I'll tell ya, there's just power in the room when we get together. Corporate worship is awesome and just sitting with this many other believers. Do you know as a child of God, you're anointed? You know what that means? You are just smeared all over with God's power. That's what anoint means, to rub and to smear all over. Well, you're just smeared all over with the Holy Ghost. So, you're anointed, and it's a wise thing to take your time to do this. But when you hear preaching, if you don't know how to respond to it properly, it can actually make you more miserable than you were when you came in because now you've found out some more things that you need do or not do, and you're already not doing such a good job at doing or not doing the things you already have been learning.
So, now here you are, you've been a Christian for five years and you have now this list of about a thousand behaviors that need to change, and you really want to change, and you try to change. And you pray to change, and you try to change, and you try to change, and you try to change. And you tell God how you're trying to change. "I'm trying to change, but noting in changes". As a matter of fact, you may even act worse than you did before you found out about all these things that you weren't supposed to be doing because before somebody told you they were wrong, you thought you were okay. Well, like everybody else, I went through that, and to be honest, anybody who really loves God, I mean, if you really love God, you're gonna want to change. I mean, there's something wrong with you if you say that you're born again, you've received Christ, and you can go and hear preaching and know that you're not behaving according to the word and just say, "I don't care". It's a good thing when you want to change. And we can change, but we can't change by self-effort. You can't make up your own plan on how you're gonna change, God has to change you.
Now, that doesn't mean there's nothing for you to do. We always have a part. We're partners with God. He has a part and we have a part, but the part that God has given us in this change that needs to take place in our life, and I might add, a change that is taking place little by little all of our lives. We've not arrived, nor will any of us arrive at that place of perfection. We will still be being worked on by God when Jesus comes back to get us. "In the twinkling of an eye, we shall all be changed". Come on. When he comes back, whatever's left to be done in us will be done just like that. And to be honest with you, I don't think God cares whether you've arrived or not, but he does expect when he returns to find each of us pressing toward that Mark of perfection.
So, congratulations to you because that's what you're doing here today. You're pressing toward the Mark of perfection. You're here because you want to get better. You're here because you love God and you want to do more of what he wants you to do, amen? And I want you to do more of what he wants you to do, but I don't want you to go home and be more miserable next week because you came to my conference than you were before you came. I want you to be able to say a week from now, "You know, I've made some progress. You know, I see some change". And I'd even like a couple of weeks from now, let's just say a year from now you say, "You know, after I went to that conference, I really saw some real change in my life. I think I'm gonna go again". The word of God should help us. So, God has a part, we have a part. We cannot do God's part. But now listen what I'm gonna say next. And he will not do our part. Did you hear me?
So, we need to figure out what is his part and what is my part 'cause what we end up doing a lot of times is we don't do our part and we end up trying do his part. So, we try to change ourselves, which is something we can't do, but what God tells us we can do, should do, and are responsible to do is, number one, agree with God. Always be in agreement with God. If God shows you something in the Bible and then convicts you that your behavior is not in line with what his word says, the first thing you do is say, "God, you're right and I'm wrong". The second thing you do is you don't blame your problems on anybody else. You take responsibility for them. Because as long as we're blaming, we never get over our problems. I was abused sexually by my dad, and I had a lot of problems that were caused from the way I was treated. But as I grew into a young adult, the things that happened to me became an excuse for bad behavior. Come on, now listen to me.
"Well, if I wouldn't have been abused, then I wouldn't be this way". And God finally got across to me, "Yes, the abuse you went through has caused many of those problems in your personality, but don't let them be an excuse to stay that way". See, here's the thing I want you to understand, no matter how bad of a temper you've got, you can get well. No matter how full of hatred and bitterness you are towards somebody who hurt you, you can completely be free from that. You can forgive them. You can even love them and pray for them, and you can even have an understanding that only God can give you about why they do the things they do, but not as long as you're blaming and making excuses. Is anybody in here hearing me?
So, number one, if you want to make any progress from being here, first thing you need do - I'm sure that if you were here last night and this morning, and now you're here this afternoon, there's not one of you that can get out of this building and not say that God convicted you about something. I mean, has anybody been here and you've already thought, "Yeah, you know, God, that really needs to change in my life"? Okay so see, I'm doing my job. And so, if you love God, you're gonna want to go home and change. But the first thing that's gotta happen is, you have to take complete responsibility for your current actions. No matter how you got to where you are, the only way you're gonna get out of it is to take full responsibility for it, then to admit that you cannot help yourself, you cannot change yourself. "God, I agree with you. I am guilty. What you say about me is true. I'm not gonna blame anybody else. I'm not making any excuses. I stand before you just as guilty as I can be. I'm sorry. I want to change, but I cannot change myself. Please change me". And then it's like God says, "Okay, I'll do that and here's what I need you to do".
So, now I'm gonna tell you your part. Your part is to go home, study the word of God in the area where you have the problem. The word of God is like medicine. If I cut my finger, I don't stick an aspirin in it. If I have a headache, I don't put a band-aid on my forehead. We're smart enough to know what medicine to take for what ailment, but somehow we think if we just randomly read the word of God, that that should fix all of our problems. "Well, I read the Bible every morning, I don't know why I still have these problems". Well, if you have a bad temper, reading stories on how you can be successful in life is not gonna help you get over having a bad temper. Are you there? I mean, I can sell books all day on ten ways to be successful, twenty ways to have everything you want in life, but I wouldn't do so good with a book called, "Dying to self".
See, we buy and want to listen to what we think is gonna get us what we want really quick, but the things that we really need, which is stuff on spiritual maturity and stuff that will really help us grow up, that's not the kind of things that people want. If I stand up and say, "Tonight I'm gonna preach on how to get your miracle," I mean, whoa. Whoo, whoo! If I say tonight, "I'm gonna teach on discipline and self-control". Come on, you ought to have the job of doing this and see the looks you get sometimes when you're trying to teach people things that they need but, you know, it's like trying to feed a kid spinach.
It's like my kids when they were little, I remember they loved the smashed up Gerber Peaches. You know, the little baby food in the jar, peaches. And I liked them, too, so I'd give them a bite and then I'd take a bite. But, you know, if you're a good parent, then you start slipping in a spoonful of carrots or a spoonful of spinach and those aren't so good 'cause they don't do much to hide the nasty taste. And so, you train them to the point where they think peaches are coming, and then you throw in a spoonful of spinach and they go... And I know when you guys are spitting back out what I'm trying to give you. So, I give you a little bit of peaches. Tell you how great you are, how wonderful you are, then when you least expect it, here comes a spoonful of spinach. And here's the thing, I'm a good mama so all you want to, but I'll scrape it up off your chin and keep putting it back in your mouth. If I only get one spoonful of spinach in you today, it's worth it because you're not gonna grow up, and survive, and be strong in the Lord on dessert all the time.
So, we have to tell you more than just you're wonderful, you're anointed, God loves you. He's gotta good plan for your life. We have to also slip in there it's time to grow up. It's time to mature. It's time to stop making excuses. It's time to stop blaming everybody else. Come on. And so, you need go home and you need to take your time, and you need to diligently study the word of God in the area where you're having a problem. There's power inherent in the word of God to do the work in us that needs to be done if we will go to the word and study it, and meditate on it, not trying to change yourself, but trusting the word of God to do that work in you and spending time with God. And it doesn't really matter to me what you do when you spend time with God, you can sit there and stare out the window for all I care, but the point is, is you say to God, "You're the only one that can help me. I cannot change myself. I cannot help myself. But I believe there's power in your word so I'm gonna study your word. I'm gonna meditate on your word, and I am gonna sit here in your presence and trust that whether I feel anything or I don't feel anything, that you are working in me and you are changing me".
Now, I don't know how to make it any simpler than that. Take your medicine, the word of God, which is medicine for your soul. Study in the area where you're having a problem. I mean, if you're having a problem forgiving somebody, then don't just try to forgive them, study every scripture you can find on forgiving your enemies and study them, and read them, and write them out in longhand, and look up the definitions of them, and meditate on those scriptures and before long, you'll start finding that you can do it. Now, let me say it again, it's not gonna happen just by trying. We make an effort, but it's an effort made in and with the Holy Spirit. It's not self-effort, but it's leaning on God. "Apart from me," Jesus said, "You can do nothing". So, works of the flesh are works of the law, which is what Galatians is talking about, are works that don't work. They're our energy trying to do what only God can do. Let me say it again, you have a part, God has a part. You cannot do his part. He will not do your part.
One more time, your partners with God, you have a part. Every victory that comes in your life, you will have a part in it. It may even be that God will tell you, "In this battle, I want you to do absolutely nothing but be patient and wait on me". Maybe you'll be in a battle and God will tell you, "I want you to fast for three days and spend that time praying". Or maybe God will tell you, "I want you to sow a special seed, a special offering". Whatever God shows you to do, do it but don't just come up with your own plans. And I alluded to this this morning or last night, but I had such problems with my mouth and I so distinctly remember when I started hearing messages about the power of words, I mean, I knew I was in big trouble. How many of you say really stupid things? Okay, and so, I wanted to change. I wanted to not get in trouble with my mouth, but a fleshly plan is always one that's way out of balance, it's not gonna work. And so, my plan to not get in trouble with my mouth was to say nothing. "Well, I'm not gonna say anything tomorrow, nothing". Does anybody know what I'm talking about? You're just like, "I'm just gonna be quiet, I'm not gonna say anything".
Well, first of all, if you're a big talker, I can tell you now you ain't gone be quiet. And you're not gonna go all day and not say anything. And even if you did, it wouldn't change anything because you're still talking inside. And so, here's what would happen, I could force myself to maybe be real quiet for a day or two, but I would start to feel depressed. And it was so confusing to me, I thought, I am trying to do the right thing, why is it making me feel depressed? And God said, "Because nothing's changing on the inside". Come on. See, that's why no matter how much you try to force yourself to do the right thing, only God can change you from the inside out and if the inside doesn't change, then nothing is ever gonna change permanently.
I want to encourage you today, stop thinking about how far you have to go and start thinking about how far you've come. I'm gonna say that one more time. The devil never tells you every morning how far you've come. He only reminds you of how far you have to go. And if you focused on what's wrong with you all the time, you're just gonna do more wrong things. But if you focus on the progress that you've made, you're gonna thank God because you know it's him and not you. "Thank you, God, for the changes you've made in me. Thank you for the progress that I've made. And I'm trusting you to change the rest of what needs to be changed, but I know that right now, if I stayed this way forever, God, you're not gonna love me any less". I'm not trying to change to get God to love me. I want to change because I love him. Are y'all getting this?
Well, Paul's been teaching these Galatians about works of the flesh and that they're not saved by trying to keep the works of the law but only by grace and that the same way they were saved is the way that they have to live. They were saved by grace through faith, and they have to live by grace through faith. And so, they're starting to get into works of the flesh again. And you'll notice that he said in verse 2, "Let me ask you: did you receive the spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh"? I wish I had some way of trying to convey to you how much those scriptures in Galatians changed my life about 30 years ago, 'cause I was almost killing myself with works of the flesh. I mean, I'm a pretty determined person, and I was going to change. Is anybody out there reading me? I was going to change. I, I was going to keep my mouth shut. I was going to be sweet and nice. 'Cause, you know, I was just not naturally sweet. You know, I'm a little more like, sometimes God leaves flaws in us just so we'll need him. I'm sorry, but you're just not gonna be perfect so you might as well just accept it and say, that's just the way it is. I tried so hard and I was frustrated all the time.
Now, one more time I'll show you my sign. I can pretty much guarantee that anytime you get frustrated, it's because you're trying to make something happen that only God can make happen, come on. Trying to change your kids? Good luck with that. If you have three or four kids, every one of them's got a different personality and you wonder, how could all four of you come out of the same place? Come on, how many of ya have kids, they're just exact opposite? And then, of course, if you still haven't learned that everybody's different, you think they all should be like you. Come on, how many of you got married and you immediately started trying to change the person you married to be more like you? But the whole reason you were attracted to them is because they were not like you because God doesn't give any one person everything. He gives all of us a part so we will need each other. So, we're attracted to somebody who has what we don't have, and we need to help one another. If I'm a strong in an area where Dave's weak and he's strong in an area where I'm weak, instead of me trying to change him and him trying to change me, we're supposed to work together.
You talk about major works of the flesh, it's trying to change other people to make them be what you want them to be. Maybe you came here wanting God to show you what to do and the thing he's saying is, "What I want you to do is stop trying to do and learn how to be," amen? There's a little demon that sits on all of our shoulders and just yells in our ear all day, "What are you gonna do? What are you gonna do? What are you gonna do? What are you gonna do"? The answer is I'm gonna trust God and wait on him, and I'm gonna let God be God in my life, and I'm gonna enjoy my life, and I'm gonna enjoy myself right where I'm at while God is turning me into whatever he wants me to be. Amen? Paul said, "Oh, you foolish Galatians". I'll say, "Oh, you foolish San Joseians, or Californians, or wherever in the world you came from". Are you so foolish, and senseless, and silly having been saved strictly by faith and faith alone, do you really think you can perfect yourself by works of the flesh? Well, that just changed me, man. This is actually when I started learning about grace. There's a lot of teaching today on grace is wonderful.
My gosh, if we don't know about grace, that's why Paul in his opening letters, he would greet people with, "Grace and peace be unto you," because you'll never have peace if you don't know grace. 'cause grace is understanding what you can do and what you can't do and doing what you can do, and trusting God to do what you can't do. And then if he doesn't do it as fast as you'd like him to, just being patient, and waiting, and enjoying where you're at on the way to where you're going. Grace or works, which is it gonna be? How you gonna live? Are you gonna live by God's power or by your power, by self-effort or by trusting God to do miracles as you put your faith in him? You know what? The Bible says, "You have not because you ask not". It's amazing how many things God will do for us if we'll just stop trying to make it happen ourself and just ask him. "Ask and receive that your joy might be full". I love that. After salvation, God begins to work a process in us called sanctification.
Now, we are sanctified, which means made holy, at the time of our new birth but in Philippians 2:12 and 13 it says, "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure". Then it goes on to say not to do it in your own strength, but let God do the work in you. So, God sanctifies us. He gives us his Holy Spirit, why? Because his spirit is holy and so the Holy Spirit is the only one that can work that holiness in us. So, he says, "Work out our salvation". He's not saying work for your salvation. He's saying it comes to you as a free gift, and I think I mentioned this last night or maybe this morning, inside in your spirit, you're perfect. You're holy, you're called a saint. You're righteous. You've been made right with God. You're full of love, all the fruit of the Spirit is in there, love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness. You got it. Everybody say, "I got it". And see, our problem is is we spend our life trying to get something we've already got. No wonder it's frustrating. And so, you need to learn, "I am right with God. I have been made right with God".
Now listen to me, the more you believe that, the more right behavior will be manifested through you. In God's economy, you believe first, then you get it. Don't lose me, we got about ten minutes to finish this. In God's economy, you believe first without seeing. Faith is what? The substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. So, first you get it by faith. I believe that when I die I'm gonna go to heaven. Well, how do I know that? I've not seen heaven. I've not been to heaven. I've not had anybody that's been there come back and talk to me. But I believe it and I can tell you really what we believe in our heart is more powerful than what we see with our eyes. I believe. I mean, honestly, I think faith is a miracle from God. How could we, as Christians, how would we believe what we believe? I mean, if God didn't give us the grace to, how could we believe that Jesus was born of a virgin, that he was God who came to earth, took on humanity, went to a cross, died a painful death, was beaten for us, took all of our sin upon himself to the point where he was so marred, that he was unrecognizable, took our sickness, took our sin, went to hell in our place, on the third day was raised from the dead, took the keys of hell and death away from satan. And is now seated at the right hand of God waiting for his final enemy to be made a footstool for his feet.
I've never seen any of that, but I know that I know that I know that it's true, and I know it to such a degree that I am putting my whole life into it. I'm basing everything that I do on that. And every once in a while, just, I don't know, maybe once every couple of years, satan will sneak this thought in, "Well, what if you're wrong"? Well, I'm happy. So, here's my question to you, the devil would say to me, "Well, what if you're wrong"? Well, I haven't hurt myself even if I am. I've been happy. But my question to you is, "What if you're wrong"? Now, you got a problem 'cause Jesus is coming back. Come on, Jesus is coming back. And every man will stand before God and give an account of himself to God. There will be a judgment, and I thank God for the faith to believe. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. And so, you know what? When the devil says to me, "There's nothing happening. You felt like God promised you this, it's been 12 years, nothing's happening". You know what I finally learned to say? "God's working". "God's working. I don't care what I see or don't see, God is working".
Faith is a substance of things hoped for. And you know what hope is? Hope is a happy anticipation that something good is going to happen. God wants us to live full of hope and if we have hope, then we can have faith and if we have faith, then God can do amazing things in our life. But you gotta at least start with an attitude, "Something good is going to happen to me". Come on, something good is going to happen to me. And if you can't do anything else, at least grab a hold of that that something good is going to happen to you. You serve a good God who has a good plan for you and you can put your faith in that and stop all this trying to make everything work yourself and killing yourself in works of the flesh, trying to be pleasing to God, trying to do everything right so God loves you. God loves you right now and he is pleased with you because you believe in him. Just work with God. Work out your salvation, believe that you're made right with God. Believe you have peace. Believe you have joy. The more you believe what you have, the more it's gonna manifest in your life.
Are you there? You understand what I'm saying? Am I making myself clear? Every day I say, I am the righteousness of God in Christ. I've got a list of who we are in Christ, you can find it online. Just look it up, "Who we are in Christ" by Joyce Meyer and it's a list of like, I don't even know how much things are on the list. Now, things that the Bible says that we are, who we are in Christ. We're not that in ourselves, but we are that in Christ. "I am the righteousness of God in Christ. I am holy, I am sanctified. I am saved. I am going to heaven. I am strong. I am powerful. I am anointed. I do have peace". Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. "What's with the fear and trembling? Why fear and trembling? I thought I wasn't supposed to be afraid of God". We need to have a reverential fear and the lack of that is why we have sloppy behavior among Christians.
We need to have a reverential fear of God that he means what he says and if I want to have his reward in my life, then I need to do what he asks me to do. And thank God I don't have to do it by struggle and effort. I do it by grace because grace is not just his favor, but it's also his force. It's his power to enable me do what he asks me to do. People who lived under the law, had to struggle. We don't have to struggle anymore because we've got Christ who will do it through us. 1 Thessalonians 5:22 through 24, "Abstain from every form of evil". Well, that's a big challenge, isn't it? 1 Thessalonians 5:22, "Abstain from every form of evil". Now, watch this. "Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely". Who's gonna do it? God himself. "And may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful: and he will do it".
Come on, I'm about to jump off the platform. Who's gonna do it? I'm not gonna go it, you're not gonna do it, he's gonna do it. And he's gonna do it as we put our faith in him. We live by faith, the just shall live by faith. Don't even get out of bed in the morning until you can get up in faith. "Help"! Come on, best prayer to start your day with, "Help". Philippians 1:6, "And I am sure of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ". Romans 7:24 and 25, "Wretched man that I am"! Paul says, "Who will deliver me from this body of death"? He started out earlier saying, "The thing I want to do I don't do and the thing I don't want to do, I always do. What is my problem"? We all understand that, we've all said that, "What is my problem"? "Oh wretched man that I am, who's gonna help me? Who's gonna deliver me"?
Apparently, he had tried all the stuff we tried and it hadn't worked. And I love this, "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin". He's saying, "Who's gonna deliver me"? The amplified Bible says, "Oh, thank God, he will". Who's gonna deliver you? Oh, thank God, he will. Come on, I want you to leave happy. Who's gonna deliver me? Oh, thank God, he will. Everybody say, "I've got it". You have everything you need in our spirit to be victorious in every area of your life and the more you try to make it happen yourself without God, the more of a mess and a failure you're gonna be. But the more you learn to lean on God, he wants you to be like a helpless baby as when they're born. Boy, they need their mama. They need their papa. And I'll tell ya what, you need Jesus. You need the Father. You need the Holy Ghost. You need your word, amen?
Let's end with this, Hebrews 6:12 through 14, "So that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises of God". Not just faith, but faith and patience. When you're in faith for God to do something in your life, you will not get it right away. The waiting period is the testing period, come on. The waiting period is the wilderness time. It doesn't feel like anything's happening, doesn't look like anything's happening. You're so tired of waiting, you could just pull all our hair out but you say, "God is working. I may not see it yet, but I will see it". "For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, saying, 'surely I will bless you and I will multiply you.'"
And God is saying to you, if you have the same kind of faith that Abraham had, the Bible says he believed God and it was counted unto him as righteousness. And God said, "Surely, I will bless you, and I will multiply you, and your reward shall be exceedingly great". And I'll leave you with this scripture, Hebrews 11:6, "Without faith it's impossible to please God, but those who come to him must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him". All right, I want us all to make a confession of faith together for those who may need to receive Christ as their Savior. We don't always have to do it the same way every time, so this is the way we're gonna do it right now. You've never received Christ or you've backslidden, if you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, you will be saved. Everybody say this with me:
"Father God, I love you. Thank you, thank you for Jesus. Jesus, I believe in you. I believe you died for me. You paid for my sins. You took my punishment. I want you in my life. I need you in my life. I'm sorry for my sins. I turn away from sin and I turn toward you. I surrender".
Now right now, just let it all go. Come on, just let it go. Come on, give up self-care. Give yourself to God. "I surrender". Now, let's just finish with this:
"Lord, take me just the way I am. Now make me what you want me to be. I receive you as my Lord. I know you love me. I'm on my way to heaven, and I'm gonna enjoy the journey, amen".
A couple of years ago, maybe three, I got on this rampage to try to get people to study the Bible, not just read it. We hear all the time, "Read your Bible, read your Bible, read your Bible". Well, that's good, but I think if you really want to learn anything, you have to go beyond that. You have to study your Bible. Now, a lot of people think that studying the Bible is over their head, but it's actually not. Sometimes if you just slow down and really pay attention to what you're reading and ask yourself, "What am I getting out of this? What is it saying to me"? You'll be amazed. In Romans chapter 12 alone, there are 12 different lessons just in that one chapter. So, I've been doing some teaching from books in the Bible. I've done Ephesians. I've done James. I've done Colossians.
And right now I'm doing Galatians and you happen to be the group that's getting the last three chapters in Galatians. And then these are all gonna be turned into Bible commentaries. They'll start coming out next spring, and I'm looking forward to that. It's a different kind of writing for me. And so, all of Galatians is a little bit of a challenge to teach because Paul basically is trying to get one main point across and that is we no longer have to live under the law, we now live under grace. And in one place in the Bible, Paul said, "I died to the law that I might live to God". And you see, if you really want to live to God and you want to be led by the Holy Spirit, then you have to die to the law.
Now, when we talk about the law, I don't know that all of you really even know what that is. If you grew up in a real legalistic religious organization, you get it right away because all your heard growing up was what you couldn't do. You couldn't dance, you couldn't play cards, you couldn't go to parties, you couldn't go to movies, you couldn't cut your hair, you couldn't wear makeup, you know? Trust me, I need makeup, amen? And I think God knew that that's why he gave somebody the gift to be able to create it. I mean things that, you know, legalism is all about what you can't do and I'll tell you one thing you can't do if you're under legalism, is you can't have any fun, amen? You have to be sour, and serious, and somber, and you work really, really, really hard to do everything right so you can judge all the people. Who don't do things as right as you do, and that's why the world has a problem with many Christians.
And so, we have to understand that although we are to do good works, we don't do them to get anything from God, amen, come on. You're not doing God a favor when you read the Bible. He already knows it. That's what the Lord spoke to me one morning. He said, "Will you stop acting like you're doing me a favor when you read the Bible"? You know, we get so proud of ourselves if we manage to discipline ourselves enough to get up every morning and read a couple of chapters in the Bible. Well, we're doing that for us. God's given that to us for our wisdom, for our education so we cannot do stupid things all day. And we're not doing God a favor when we pray, we have the privilege of going to the God of all things to whom nothing is impossible and inviting him into our lives and asking him to help us that day. So, you don't have to pray. Just go ahead and do without God's help if you want to. You don't have to read the Bible, just spend all day doing dumb stuff and getting in trouble and not even, you know it's like, we always say, "I have to go to church". No, you don't. "I have to read my Bible". No, you don't. "I have to pray". No you don't. "I have to clean my house". No you don't, you can live in a dirty house if you want to.
We need to get that "I have to" out of our language because I think it makes us feel oppressed and we need to start saying, "I want to, or I'm going to," but not "I have to". Amen? But I do get a little bit concerned in trying to teach all this that there are lots of people who may not fully understand what the law is. The law to the Jews was a lot more than the Ten Commandments and when Jesus was on the cross and he said, "It is finished," he meant the law. He fulfilled the law. In order to have any kind of relationship with God, any kind of intimate relationship with God, we have no idea how perfect we would have to be. I mean, he is just holy to the maximum degree and his presence would just incinerate us. His holiness, the fire of his holiness would just incinerate us if Jesus wouldn't have died for our sins, and paid the debts that we owed, and opened up the way for us to come into a relationship with God. Jesus did not die so we could all have our own little pet brand of religion. He died so we could all have an intimate, personal, close relationship with God through him and everything is through Christ.
The Old Testament temple was three parts. It was the outer court, the holy place, and the most holy place, and the most holy place was separated from the holy place by a 3-foot thick curtain, and I forgot now how tall it was but it was tall, tall, real tall. No man could reach it. And only the high priest could go into the holy place and then only once a year and then only after all kinds of washings, and bathings, and putting on certain clothes, and then he had to go in and not only make confession for everybody else's sins, but for his too. But when Jesus died on the cross, the moment of his death, that curtain in the temple without anybody touching it, was ripped and torn open from the top to the bottom signifying now the way is open for all people to come in and have fellowship with God, why? Because Jesus kept the law for us and we now live in the dispensation of grace.
Thank God for his grace. Grace is God's riches at Christ's expense. It's undeserved favor, but it's even more than that and I think sometimes this part gets left out and I wish it didn't. Grace is the power that we need to keep the law, not the ceremonial law, not all the washings, and the sacrifices, and the observance of certain days, and a lot of the things that they had to do that many of them don't even make any sense to us. I'm gonna read you some in a minute and you're gonna go, "What"? But the moral law, we have not been set free from. We still need to pay attention to the Ten Commandments, but now the law doesn't come to us on stone tablets, making it hard to keep. It's written in our heart. It's written in our heart and now the Holy Spirit lives inside of us if we're a born-again Christian, and so we instinctively know when we should and when we shouldn't do something if we learn how to be led and prompted by the Holy Spirit. But if you're legalistic, you'll spend your time following laws, and rules, and regulations, and you'll never learn to be led by the spirit.
Matter of fact, you're gonna see that Paul says that those who live under the law are immature. They're still baby Christians. It takes a mature believer to be led by the spirit, you know why? There's a responsibility to that. If somebody just gives you ten rules and says, "Follow these and you'll be okay with God," well, you can read your list, checkMark, checkMark, checkMark, and you end up like the rich young ruler. He says, "What must I do to be saved? What do I do to please God"? And so, Jesus listed some of the commandments and he said, "I've done that, I've done that, I've done that". And then Jesus said, "Well, there's still one thing that you lack, go and sell everything you have and give it to the poor". And it says he went away sad because he was attached to his money, but the message that I get out of that is no matter what, no matter how many good things we do, all of us, every single one of us, there's always one thing we lack.
Come on, how many perfect days do you have? I mean, you know, we can lay in bed and we can plan our perfection and it lasts until our feet hit the floor and then it's all gone. Oh man, I can be so spiritual when nobody's home. I am miss holy when nobody's home, it's when the people come in that I turn into something else. And the law brings guilt, guilt, guilt, guilt, guilt, guilt. I tell ya, I felt guilty all the time. There's this little secret burden that I carried around all the time. I felt guilty if I didn't feel guilty. I felt like there was something wrong with not feeling guilty. How many of you know what I'm talking about, just? You know, and it's like even though we're not taught all that stuff in a lot of our churches today, the devil is a legalist and he tries to turn everything that we do into some kind of a law.
For me, a lot of my legalism came when it came to works, just working, just working. I mean, I felt better about myself when I was working than I did when I was enjoying myself and having fun. Anybody know what I'm talking about? You know, if I have work left to do and I tried to lay on the couch and watch a movie, then I would feel guilty the whole time. And finally, God taught me, "You feel that way because you think you don't deserve to watch this movie. You didn't get everything done you needed to do".
Well, I grew up in a household with a lot of rules and regulations, and I got in trouble all the time for things that I didn't even know why I was in trouble. My dad was like a nutcase and one day everything would be fine and the next day you could do what you did yesterday, and he'd slap you across the room for doing the same thing. And so, the only time I didn't get in trouble, it seemed to me like, is when I was working. I remember getting in trouble for laughing. I remember my father getting mad because I was laughing. He was a sour man, and he didn't want anybody else to enjoy themselves. Does anybody know what I'm talking about? How many of you feel guilty when you're having fun, you feel like you should be out working and doing something?
Now see, that's not everybody. I can promise you it's not dave. Which I apologize to him, I forgot to introduce him. Dave, stand up and wave and let everybody see how handsome you are. I felt guilty all the time if I was having fun. I mean, I had to battle the devil for several years to get to the point where I could enjoy my life, that's why I call my tv program "Enjoying everyday life". You know why? The thief comes to kill, to steal, and destroy, but Jesus said, "I came that they might have and enjoy their lives and have it in abundance to the full and it overflows". That doesn't mean that we shouldn't work, but I'll give you the main reason why most people don't enjoy their lives and it's because they don't enjoy themselves.
So, Paul in Galatians is trying to get the people to realize that they have been set free the law. They don't have to live under the law. Paul was called to teach the gentiles and most of them had been idol worshipers, so they didn't really have too much trouble with the law because they'd never be taught the law. But after they were saved and they found out about grace, then people called judaizers, which were actually legalistic Jews, would sneak in among the conGregations and they would begin to try to bring these people back under the law. They would say, "Well, yeah, it's great that you're saved by grace and that's wonderful". Many of them accepted Christ, but they still couldn't let go of the law.
You know, how many of you know it's hard to let go of old ways? Isn't it, it's hard to let go of stuff. Even sometimes when you know it's not doing you any good, it's hard to let go of it. I know a person, and probably there's some right here tonight, many watching by TV, she goes to a church where she learns absolutely nothing. Told me she didn't learn anything. I said, "Do you get anything? What do you learn in church"? And she said, "Nothing". And I said, "Well, why do you keep going"? Well, she tried going to a different church for a while and she actually, she learned something there, but she ended up going back to the old church. And I said, "Why"? She said, and this is what she said, "I cannot give up the rituals". But see, people get addicted to things just because, you know what a ritual is? It's something that you do over and over and over and it usually loses its meaning. It doesn't really mean anything to you anymore because you just do it. It's just part of what you do.
Well, we don't go to church to get brownie points from God. You came here this weekend because you're serious about your relationship with God and you want to grow. You want to hear the word. You want to grow. And so, I'm not gonna just give you a bunch of rules and things that you have to do while you're in the building. I'm gonna teach you something. I'm gonna teach you something and you may not like everything you hear, but when you leave, you won't be confused. And I don't think every time we go to church, we need to get to sit there and just be comfortable. I think sometimes we to squirm in our seat a little bit so we get prodded on to a new level in our walk with God, amen? So, just to give you an idea of what the law was like, I mean to me, you would have gone crazy in a week trying to be an old covenant believer. I just don't know how you would have stood it. I just printed out the 76 laws in Leviticus, and there's actually 613 laws. These are just the 76 in Leviticus. You thought it was just the Ten Commandments, uh-uh, no, uh-uh, 613 and I heard at one point I heard that the legalistic Jews had turned the Ten Commandments into 2200 rules and regulations, things you could and couldn't do.
I'm telling you what, when Jesus said, "It is finished," they should have had a ho-down that lasted about a year and a half. I mean, just like, can you imagine? And see, every time they broke one of the rules, they had to feel guilty and then on top of that, they had to make a sacrifice to make up for it. And Jesus, the perfect spotless, lamb of God, one sacrifice, once and for all, nothing ever needs to be done again. When we sin, we can repent and look to the cross and it's not only forgiven, but it's forgotten. Come on, shout and give God praise. And see, that doesn't mean that we just get to live a sinful life. Grace is not an excuse to live a sloppy life and get by with it. It's the power not to have to. See, they were told all these things they had to do, but they had no power to do it and God only gave the law so they could find that they couldn't keep it so they'd know they needed a Savior.
And I think many times even after we're saved, we still try for a long time to gain acceptance by our works until we finally just get exhausted enough that we wear ourselves out and we say, "God, I can't do this". And he's like, "I knew that from the beginning". And we finally learn to trust God to do in our life what needs to be done. But here's just a few of these. Dave said, "You're not gonna read all 76, are you"? And I said no but, and for every one of these, there's a punishment. There was a normal penalty, which I haven't found out what that is yet. I got somebody looking, but then there were special penalties. You couldn't burn any yeast or honey in your offerings to God. You dare not fail to include salt in your offerings to God. You couldn't eat fat. All the fat had to be saved for offerings to God. Couldn't eat blood. You couldn't fail to testify against any wrongdoing you've witnessed. You couldn't fail to testify against any wrongdoing you'd be told about.
Well, that debunks the idea that "I don't want to get involved," doesn't it? You couldn't touch an unclean animal. You couldn't carelessly make an oath. You couldn't deceive your neighbor about something that had been trusted to them. If you did, you had to return the item, plus the normal penalty, plus a 20% penalty. If you found lost property and you lied about it, got another 20% penalty. You couldn't let your hair become unkempt. This was one of the laws. And it said, "You will die and God will be angry with everyone". Now, you say, "What, what"? You know, people, they had to have laws for everything because they didn't have God living on the inside of them. They didn't have any wisdom living on the inside of them, so they would have just lived like animals if they wouldn't have had any of these laws.
Well, some of the hairdos we have today, I'm glad we're living under grace. I mean, I know people it takes them longer to mess their hair up in the morning than it takes me to fix mine. Got every hair going in a different direction. And oh, you're about to love this one. I couldn't believe this was here. You cannot tear your clothes. You'll die and God will be angry at everyone. I don't know why everybody, he had to get mad at everybody 'cause somebody... So what about all the clothes that we go buy with holes in them, you know? I don't know, maybe God thinks we're supposed to be smarter than that. I don't have any idea. I mean, I can just go on and on here. I mean, you couldn't eat seafood without fins or scales. You couldn't eat or touch the carcass of an evil, a vulture, a black vulture, a red kite, any kind of hawk, great owl, white owl, the desert owl, on and on and on. You couldn't eat a flying insect with four legs unless their legs were joined together. I guess if they had three legs, it was okay. You couldn't eat any animal that walked on all four and has paws. Good news for cats, I guess.
Now, you know, you couldn't go to church within 33 days after giving birth to a boy. And I mean, the girl thing was even going on back then. But you couldn't go to church for 66 days after giving birth to a girl because the woman was considered unclean. And then it goes into all you can't have sex with your mother, you can't have sex with your father. Well, you know, that sounds like that would be well duh, of course, you can't. But they had to have a law because they didn't have God living in them. Do you know how wonderful it is to have the Holy Spirit living in us and to actually have enough sense to know, "That's not something that I should do"? Now, all we have to get around to doing is following the leadership of the Holy Spirit and stop doing what the Holy Spirit tells us not to do. We've been set free from the law. We live under grace and everything that God wants us to do, he gives us the ability to do.
Let's see if there's any more of these that are just downright funny. Oh, you couldn't trim your beard but if you did, there was no penalty. You couldn't cut your hair at the sides. I guess you cut the back and leave the sides long. Now, you know, I don't mean to be disrespectful here. The point is is that God had a reason for every single one of these and a lot of these like not touching certain animals, they were unclean, the people could have gotten sick from them. And so, there were all kinds of laws that covered health, and what people could eat, and what they couldn't eat. And a lot of laws about how to treat people, which I find very interesting. They couldn't mistreat foreigners. They couldn't use dishonest weights and scales. They couldn't curse their father or mother. They couldn't marry a prostitute. They couldn't, you know, on and on and on. In the new covenant, we live under what's called the royal law of liberty and it's the law of love. And so really, the message of the New Testament is is if you learn to walk in the God kind of love...
Now listen to me, God loves us. We receive that love. We learn how to love ourselves in a balanced way because you can't love anybody else if you don't love yourself. I said, you cannot love anybody else if you don't love yourself. If you give yourself no mercy, you can't give anybody else mercy. If you're judgmental with yourself, you're gonna be judgmental with other people and those were some of my biggest problems. I did not like myself because I'd been abused. I thought was my fault, something was wrong with me, so I grew up my whole life with this message playing in my head, "What's wrong with you? What's wrong with you? What's wrong with you? What's wrong with you"? Anybody else have a copy of that record? "What's wrong with you? What's wrong with you"?
Well, you need to learn how to love yourself because you cannot love anybody else until you do that, and the most important message in the Bible is, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and you shall love your neighbor as you love yourself. By this, shall all men know that you are my disciples". If we want to prove anything to the world that's lost out there and needs to know Christ we're not gonna do it through preaching alone. We're gonna have to show them something and, that is, we have to learn how to genuinely truly, really live unselfish lives and love people.
Galatians 4, the first seven verses. And I'm gonna read through these like we would normally read the Bible, and I'm gonna tell you when I'm finished, unless you are somebody who has studied the Bible, you will not have a clue what I said. Galatians 4:1 through 7, "I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, even though he's the owner of everything, but he's under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the spirit of his son into your heart, crying, 'Abba! Father!'" which is a very personal word that means daddy God.
So, "You're no longer a slave but a son and if a son, than an heir through God". Okay, I get my checkMark, I read my Bible today. What did I learn? Zippo, like I said, unless you are a Bible study person where you study and you've studied these things, you probably don't have any idea what I just read. So now, we're gonna tell you what the lessons are in that. The whole thing that Paul is talking about there is that Jesus died. He inherited everything that God had, and we become a joint heir with him. Everything that Jesus earned through his death and suffering is yours. And it's set aside and watched over by a trustee until you're old enough, not in years, but in spiritual maturity, to actually get it. That's what he's talking about there. You can be the heir of the whole estate but if you're children, you're no different than a slave. And isn't that true?
We can be saved, saved, saved and going to heaven and yet, be miserable the whole time we're here unless we focus on spiritual maturity and becoming sons and daughters of the Most High, not just children of God. See, sometimes he talked to the children of God and sometimes he talks to sons and daughters. Peacemakers are the sons of God, that's spiritual maturity, when you'll be the one to step out and make peace. Spiritual maturity is one of the biggest things that we're lacking in the church. We don't need a bunch of Christians who go to church every week and still need a baby bottle and a pacifier, and have to have their diaper changed three times a day. Amen? We need people that have become disciples and now they're able to disciple someone else and not just go to week after week after week get ministered to. After a certain period of time, there needs to be a turn around where you have matured and now God can use you to minister to other people.
Come on. Maybe you're at that turnaround point in your life right now and maybe you came just for God to tell you the reason why you're not happy is because you're selfish. Come on, we don't have time to mess around. Jesus is coming back soon. We gotta get down to what really matters, amen? We'll have a little dessert in this conference, but most of it's gonna be meat and I hope that you can chew it up and swallow it, amen? I mean, isn't that the truth? That's what God told me, "You're not happy Joyce, because you're selfish". I was preaching and I was selfish. Selfishness makes us unhappy. And so, when all we want is to get something out of everywhere we go, we need to change and we need to not get up every day and give God our long list of everything that we have to do, he has to give us, for us to stay saved that day. We have to get our mind off of ourselves and start asking God every day, "If you want to use me, God, I'm here. I've got my plan but if you want to interrupt it, that's okay". And I just dare you to start praying every single morning, "God, show me somebody that I can be a blessing to today".
Come on, would you just dare to pray that every morning? "God, show me somebody that I can be a blessing to today". It might cost you a little money. It might cost you a little time. It might not cost you anything more than giving somebody a compliment, but let's get our mind off ourselves and let's get set free from all this legalistic nonsense and start living under the law of love and really loving people, amen? So, he's telling them, and here's an example.
Somebody told me recently they made their will out and they said, "We set it up to where". They have several children and some of those children could handle money better than others could, at least right now. So, they set their will up to where when their children, if they died, both died, when their children were 20 they got so much money, when they were 30, they got so much, when they were 40, they got so much but when they were 50, they got their full inheritance. Well, you know what? God's a little bit like that with us. Now, salvation is ours. Comes as a free gift. We're gonna go to heaven, but there's a lot of other things that God wants us to do for us. He wants us to enjoy our life but in order to enjoy our life, we have to have spiritual maturity. You're not gonna enjoy your life if you go around mad at somebody all the time. Come on.
I remember when I used to get mad at Dave and wouldn't talk to him for three weeks. Yeah, and I went to church every Sunday. Come on. I had the fish on my car. Been there, done that, but I wouldn't talk to my husband. We'd fight all the way to church in the car, go to church, smile at everybody, praise the Lord, thank you, Jesus, get in the car and fight all the way home. Stop trying to control people with your fits. Stop trying to make everybody do what you want them to do. Only God can change people. Save your energy, turn it over to God, enjoy your life, amen? Don't be trying to control somebody else's. It's hard work running the world, let me tell ya, I tried. So, he's saying here, now if you know that and you go back and you read that, he says, "I mean that the heir, as long as he's a child, is no different from a slave, even though he's the owner of everything".
Well, we have so much available to us if we know how to access it, but God's not gonna give it to us like power, for example, or the ministry's a good example. You know, when God called me into ministry, I couldn't have been a bigger mess. I mean, you've heard me talk about it. I started teaching the Bible in short shorts, smoking cigarettes one right after another. I mean, the room would be so full of smoke, you'd have to fan the door to even see me. And people just kept coming because I was anointed. And you're like, "Oh come on, don't tell me God would use somebody like that". Well, you know what? He's not as legalistic as you are. And you know why he used me? Because he knew why I was the way I was and he knew not only how I was then, but how I would be later on if he worked with me. And that's what God wants us to be willing to do for people, not just love them, not wait until they're what we want them to be to love them, but to love them where they're at and help them get to where God wants them to be.
And so, God wanted me to have worldwide ministry, but I'm sitting in my living room with 25 people where I would still be if I would have never let God have his way in my life. This is about you making a decision to let God have his way in your life. Spiritually mature people are promptly obedient to the Holy Spirit, hello. Are you still glad you came tonight? So, babies don't inherit what the parents have left for them. It's held in trust until they reach a mature age, and it's not held back from them to hurt them, it's held back from them because it wouldn't be safe for them to have it. Now, let's talk about the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives as far as spiritual maturity is concerned.
John 16:12 through 15 Jesus said, "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now". What do you think would happen if the moment you're born again, God showed you everything that's wrong with you? If I still knew everything that's wrong with me, I'd probably just want to faint and give up. But when the spirit of truth comes, which is the Holy Spirit, Jesus said, "You're gonna be better off when I go away because then the Holy Spirit's gonna come, and they sure didn't understand that because they didn't know anything could be better than having him with them in person, but Jesus could only be one place at one time. The Holy Spirit can work simultaneously in every one of you in a different way. I'm preaching one message, but there may be a hundred or 500 different messages going out to different people because you're hearing what God needs you to hear. I believe you can be physically healed when you're sitting in something like this, if you reach your faith out.
You know why? There's power in the word. There's inherent power in the word and if you respect the word and you love the word, it can actually heal your physical body just while you're sitting there. You don't have to have somebody come and make a deal over you and pray over you. You can reach your faith out and be healed sitting right in this place tonight, amen? You can be set free from bondages. The anointing breaks the yoke of bondage and there's an anointing in here, that's why you're listening to me. Otherwise when you I said you're not happy 'cause you're selfish, you could have all got up and left. But you stayed because the anointing on that truth just kind of kept you in your seat. Only the truth will set us free, amen? Only truth will set us free. If you're not willing to hear everything that God says, then you may get to the point where you'll hear nothing that he says. Do I need to say that again? If you're not willing to hear everything that God says, then you may get to the point where you won't be able to hear anything that God says.
Wonder how many people are sitting in here tonight and you could easily list off four, five, six things that you know God has convicted you about that you still just keep doing? Well, you know what? That doesn't mean you won't go to heaven, but you're missing out on something. You know what? God's never trying to take anything away from us. He's not trying to make you miserable or take something away from you. Maybe there are certain friends you have that you love hanging out with and you know that you're supposed to get away from them. You know that, you know that they're poisoning your life. You know that they're not good for you, but you just keep hanging out with them, keep hanging out with them. Well, God doesn't just want you to be lonely. He wants you to get away from bad influences so you can grow and mature in him, amen? So, he said, "When the Holy Spirit comes, he will guide you into all truth".
I love that word, he guides us. He doesn't shove us. He doesn't push us. He doesn't force us. He guides us into all truth. And the wonderful thing about the Holy Spirit, and I know this from my own case of healing, the Holy Spirit took over the case of my healing and he revealed things to me a little bit at a time as I was able to bear it because I had shut all that stuff out, wouldn't think about it, wouldn't talk about it, and I heard the Holy Spirit whisper so sweetly, "It's time". See, and maybe God is using my mouth as confirmation to some of you that it's time to deal with some stuff and stop just going around the same mountain over and over and over and over. God yes, he'll forgive you, but you don't want to live your life just doing the same dumb stuff, and repenting, and then feeling guilty, and then doing the same stuff, and feeling guilty, and repenting.
It's time to start enjoying your life, enjoying yourself, enjoying God, and enjoying the inheritance that Jesus has left for you, but you're not gonna get it as a spiritual baby. If you want to take a big step toward growing up and maturing, forgive everybody that you have anything against. And I mean get it taken care of in the next 24 hours. "Well, I just can't, you don't know what they've done to me". Doesn't matter. You can't make them treat you right. You're not hurting them by being mad, you're hurting yourself. Why should you be miserable mad at somebody who's out having a good time, don't even care that you're upset? Forgive people so God can do something about it. He's your vindicator.
And see, I know a bunch of you are looking at me like, you know, what spiritual maturity is? When you stop trying to take care of yourself, come on. When you stop trying to make sure nobody hurts you and nobody takes advantage of you and you say, "God, I belong to you. I put myself in your hands, and I'm gonna totally trust you to take care of me in this life". And I'll tell ya what, you'll get so happy, you won't hardly know what to do with yourself. Give up self-care and throw a big retirement party. You know, sanctification, we're made holy when we receive Christ, but we're made holy inside in our spirit where he comes to live because he can't live anywhere that's not holy.
So, we're made right with God. We're made holy. We're sanctified, that's why we're called saints. Inside you is everything that you need but then Philippians 2:12 says, "Work out our own salvation with fear and trembling". It doesn't mean work for your salvation, but it means work with the Holy Spirit so what's in you can get in your soul. Our soul needs to be changed, our soul needs to be cleansed and renewed, and then that can actually start coming out of us and people can see the results of God working in our lives. It's not just pray a sinner's prayer, read a chapter a day that you don't understand, say a five-minute prayer, go to church every week, have a fish on your car, a cross around your neck, and think that's all there is to it.
Come on, we're having fun. At least, I am, I'm having fun. Signs of spiritual maturity, prompt obedience to God no matter what we want, think, or feel. Knowing when to talk and knowing when to be quiet, hmm? See, you knew when to be quiet. Living unselfishly, being guided by the Holy Spirit rather than living under the law. Paul is trying to teach those who had lived under the mosaic law that as long as they remained under it, they would be spiritual babies and would never actually enjoy the benefits God had provided for them. Do you understand what I mean when I say that it's sometimes harder to be led by the Holy Spirit than it is to be led by the law? It's easier to lay out five or six rules for your life.
"Well, if I get up every morning and I spend 20 minutes with God, and I read two chapters every day, and I pray for 15 minutes, and I go to church every Sunday, and I give a little money in the offering, then everything's cool with God". But it's a whole different story when, you know, I mean you got your giving money. You got your money set aside that you're gonna give but now when you're led by the spirit, all of a sudden God comes along and he wants that money that you've got saved for something else. Come on, you know, your she money and your he money. You got it, you got it folded up in little pieces in your wallet. I think I'll just let that float around the room for a little bit. See, you can even be a tither and, you know, you can have your tithing money and some people say they don't believe in tithing anymore, that's under the law and, you know, it actually really is. But the truth is is that if they can give 10% under the law, what should we doing by grace? Ten percent might be cheap compared to what may happen if you really start living by letting God lead your wallet.
Now I'm scaring you. It's an exciting, and adventurous, and maybe feels a little dangerous to be led by the Holy Spirit 'cause you never know exactly what he's gonna come up with on any day when you start being led by the promptings of the Holy Spirit, which is one of the ways we hear from God. We learn to follow his promptings. Well, God started prompting me a couple of years ago to do something for somebody that was gonna cost quite a bit of money, and actually I felt like God wanted us to buy them a car 'cause they couldn't afford to buy one. They were driving a car that was super, super old. Well, I thought, "I will when theirs wears out". But it never wore out and every time I prayed about what to do for them, that's the only thing I could hear. Doesn't it aggravate you when God keeps saying the same thing over and over and you want him to say something else?
Hmm, come on. "Oh, bless so and so, Lord. If there's anything you want me to do for them," then I see the car. It usually doesn't take me that long but yes, I finally got around to doing it. And, you know, you feel so much better when you've obeyed God than you do when you got that little thing just sitting there nagging at you, nagging at you all the time, amen? The things that we disobey God over, and they're actually in the process of decay and here we are disobeying God over something because we think that's what's gonna make us happy, when he's got righteousness for us, and peace, and joy, and living without condemnation, and living free, and not having to live under the law, and not feeling guilty all the time.