Joyce Meyer - Right and Wrong Mindsets
You know, right thinking can enable you and wrong thinking can disable you. It's amazing what you won't do if you think you can't. I mentioned that my mom knew that my dad was abusing me when I was growing up, but she never did anything about it. And, 30 years after I left home, she finally found the courage to say something to me, and she said, "I'm sorry for what I let your dad do to you. I didn't think that I could face the scandal. And I didn't think that I could take care of you and your brother".
So, her thinking, her wrong thinking, her wrong mindset ruined many lives. She could have just as easily said, "I believe I can do this," and taken a step of faith and trusted God, and things could have turned out differently for a lot of people. Now, things have turned out good for me. I stuck with God and fought through a lot of things, but I had a brother nine years younger than me, who sadly, ended his own life. And things could have been different for him but he never had the right kind of training growin' up, and he got on drugs when he was 17, and on alcohol and just never could get free from it. So, it's very important that we realize how much our thoughts affect our actions, our attitudes, our moods. They literally are the forerunner for everything that we do or everything that we don't do.
Now, this teaching is taken from the story of the Israelites. Who the Bible plainly says in Deuteronomy chapter 1 verse 2 that, "It is only eleven days' journey from horeb by way of mount seir to kadesh-barnea on Canaan's border: yet Israel took forty years to get there". Why would somebody take 40 years trying to make an 11-day trip? Any of you feel like you've been going around the same mountain way too long? In verse 6 of that same chapter, God actually, spoke through Moses and said, "You've stayed long enough at this mountain".
And so, I want to start tonight by saying to some of you, "You've stayed long enough at the same place". You've been feeling sorry for yourself way too long. You've been blaming somebody else way too long. You've been complaining way too long. Come on, it's time for some change. And I want you to remember this, God can't change anything if we won't change. It's useless to keep praying for God to change everything if you're not going to be willing to do, or if I'm not going to be willing to do, whatever God asks me to do. So, I actually have ten of these wrong mindsets, and I'm gonna try to turn 'em into the way that you should think rather than the way that you shouldn't think. And, I hope to get through all ten by the time I leave tomorrow afternoon, but if I don't, we can always finish it on TV.
I want to talk to you tonight, about getting your mind off of the road behind you. Letting go of what lies behind and not basing your future on your past, or even on what's going on in your life right now. See, some of you are stuck. You're just stuck. You been in the same place for so long going around and around the same mountain that you dug a rut and there's no way that you feel that you can get out of it. But it's time for you to let God take you out of that place, to a brand new beginning in your life. Amen? The Bible says that God called the Israelites out of Egypt to take them in to the Promised Land, "I brought you out to take you in". God has brought you out of something to take you into something better. But, you know what? You have to let go of the old in order to take hold of the new. Amen?
Sometimes we feel pulled in two different directions because God's trying to pull us forward and we keep hanging on to what's back here. You always have to give up something to get something. Amen? You almost always have to leave something to go somewhere. But the thing about God that, well he knows what he's doing of course, but it's not too easy, is he'll call you out of something before he shows you what you're going into. And so, there comes fear. Like he told Abraham, "Leave the place where you're at and go to the place that I will show you". Are there any of you like that right now? You've let go of one thing behind you and now you just feel like you're just in total confusion, and you don't know what's next or, what you're going to do. We'll you know what? You don't have to know because God knows. And all he really wants to hear from you is, "I trust you". Not, "Why, God, why". But, I trust you.
Now, our mind has a lot to do with how fast we make it from Egypt through the wilderness to the Promised Land. I'm sure you've all heard of the Promised Land. I don't know about you, but after several years of being in church, I got so tired of hearing about the promises but never feeling like I actually possess them. I heard about freedom all the time, but I wasn't free. I heard that God wanted to bless me, but financially we were just hand-to-mouth and paycheck-to-paycheck. And I heard about all these things and I believe them, or I thought I did, but they never seemed to happen in my life. Anybody, ever feel like that, just be honest you get a little tired of the rah, rah, rah in church and you know, it's nice while you're there, but when you go home, you still got the same mess and you want to possess the promises. You don't want to just hear somebody talk about it, you want to possess it.
Well, the Israelites wanted to possess what God called the promise land and it was a land that he said was, "Flowing with milk and honey," which meant every good thing. God wants us to have every good thing. The Bible says, "Eye has not seen, ear has not heard all the good things that God already has made ready, prepared, and stored up for those who love him". But the interesting thing about the word possess that the Israelites didn't understand and I don't think we understand it a lot, the word possess actually means to dispossess the current occupants. So, in other words, they had to be ready for war in order to take that land that God promised them because enemies of God were already living on that land. Amen?
And so, the Bible says that God took them the long hard way through the desert instead of a route that was much shorter and he did it on purpose because they were not ready yet for war. And see, I've been gettin' real bothered in my spirit lately, so I know that I've got to do some preaching on this, not all tonight, but I'll mention it. You know, a lot of Christians aren't ready for war. They're just... Sometimes, I feel like I'm in a cosmic battle between satan and God. And they're both trying to win and I'm here in the middle deciding who I'm going to follow. Am I going to listen to the lies of satan or am I going to believe the promises of God and stand firm and go with him? You gotta dispossess the current occupants before you can possess the promises of God, and we got to be ready for war.
So God took them the long hard way because they weren't ready for that yet. He knew that they were still too immature to really take a stand and not be moved by anything that they saw or felt and believe God. And so, they ended up out in the wilderness whining, blaming, complaining, murmuring, grumbling. And, you'll see when I get to the part on complaining that the word complain means to remain. Huh... Ehh, ehh? Complain and remain, praise and be raised. That's my own special quote. The more we complain, the more we stay right where we're at, and so they just wandered around out there for forty years when it was an 11-day journey because they had wrong mindsets. They had a wrong mental attitude. They didn't know how to think right.
So, before we get into the specifics of these different attitudes, let's just talk for a minute about the mind. Who could stand it if I talked for a minute about the mind? Please do, right? Okay, well, proverbs 23:7 says, "As a man thinks in his heart so is he". That's a very interesting scripture. Colossians 3:1-2 says, "If then you've been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things that are above," that means right things, "Not on the things that are upon the earth". Now, let's read it again. "Set your mind," and I really like what the amplified says, "Set your mind and keep it set". See?
It's easy to go on a diet on Sunday night after dinner. But, the problem starts by Tuesday when you want to eat everything on the table and then eat the table. Okay, I'm gonna tell you a secret, you're not going to like this part, but here it comes anyway, if you want to have real victory, you're gonna have to be willing to hurt a little bit. And see, the Israelites didn't want to hurt and we don't want to hurt. So, the devil gives us nine different ways to get out of hurting. And you know, even if you just take complaining, you know, if you're going through something and you just keep your mouth shut about it, and you're just talking to God about it, and not murmuring and complaining, it's hard. It's like there's no relief valve for the pressure in our soul. But if we can just tell somebody how bad we got it, and how bad we feel. Oh my gosh, if they would just feel a little sorry for us, now the flesh is like you got your fix, and then you go around the mountain one more time.
I mean, if you agree, it's hard when you're hurting just to say, "God, I just want to get through this and get it over with. And so, I'm going to just talk to you about it, not grumble and complain". There's all different kinds of suffering, but I'm very concerned because it seems to me like, and of course it's not everybody, there's a lot of you out there that are very strong, and you stand firm, and you stand your ground, and you're awesome mature Christians, but I think we all know that the majority are not like that. And I think that people are just getting wimpier and weaker. And you know, they just can't take very much and they're ready to quit, and you know, "If you don't do this today, God, then I'm out of here. I can't do this anymore. Everything's too hard".
You know, we've got to understand that you gotta be ready for war. The minute that you declare that you're gonna walk with God the devil comes after you. I'm not going to stand here and tell you, if you received Christ tonight, that all your problems are over. Some of them are over, but a different kind is going to begin. And you say, "Well, why do I want to receive Jesus"? Because your worst day with him will be better than your best day ever was without him. Because here's the thing, without Christ you're stuck in the place you're at and your life is nothing but misery from now until you draw your last breath. And if you haven't received Christ by the time you do that then the real misery starts.
Yes, there's a place called hell. We don't talk enough about that either. I'd rather scare the hell out of somebody, than to sit and watch 'em go to hell, amen? And every once in a while, a good message, hellfire and brimstone like they used to call it, would be good for us. Amen? I mean, what do people think they're doing? I mean, the amount of time that you have here on earth is absolutely nothing, it's like one grain of sand on all the beaches in the world compared to forever. And we need to spend our now time, here, getting ready for there. And I'll tell you, more than anything, we need to get our eyes off of ourselves, get your mind off yourself and onto what you can do for somebody else.
I love the song that Natalie sang tonight, "You can be a miracle". Everybody wants a miracle, but how about being a miracle? How about being one for somebody else? And yes, if you do that you will live a sacrificial life, but you'll be so full and fruitful on the inside. You see, a wilderness can be a literal place, like a desert, but many people have a wilderness in their soul. Everything is dry and barren, and no matter what they do, even people, there's many unhappy Christians. And really, that's an oxymoron. I mean, Christians should be the happiest people on the face of the earth, and yet they're not. And it's because we really just forget that the enemy's after us all the time. He's not going to win. The purpose that Jesus came was to destroy the works of the wicked one. We've already got the victory, but we are going to have to stand our ground, and we are more than conquerors through Christ who loves us.
That's why we need to get a little bit sassy with our souls and say, "Why so downcast, o my soul? Get a smile on your face, body". And get out there, and count your blessings, and stop whining over every little thing that goes wrong in your life. You say, "Well, Joyce if you had my life, you wouldn't be standin' up there saying that". Well, you don't know what my life is like. You don't know. I'll tell ya, there's a lot more to it than this little part right here, that I can tell you for sure. And if you think the devil gets after you, you ought to try preaching this stuff and see if he gets after you. So, you gotta set your mind. "I am going all the way through to victory. I am not going to quit. I am not going to give up. By the grace of God, I am going to be who God wants me to be, do what he wants me to do, and have what he wants me to have".
And that's why it doesn't matter anything that's happened to you previous to this moment right here. If it's bad stuff you didn't like, you need to let go of it. And, you need to say, "This is the first day of the rest of my life, and I am not going to live the rest of it like I've lived the previous part of it". Mindsets are an interesting thing. We set ourselves up sometimes for just a bad day. I don't want anybody to take this wrong, 'cause I know sometimes, the anniversary of the death of a loved one can be painful for people but, my aunt, who's gone home to be with the Lord, every year, I mean, this was still like 15-20 years after my uncle passed, and he was a Christian man, she knew he was in heaven, she would plan to have a bad day, on that day. I mean, she would tell me two weeks out, "Now, you know, honey, next so-and-so is when uncle marvin past. And you know, that's going to be a hard day for me".
Well, I understand that things like that can be hard, but I also understand that a little bit of right thinking can change that. Amen? How many of you agree that sometimes we just set ourselves up for disaster just with our own thoughts? Okay, "So, Dave, how's it gonna be for you, if you would ever get to the point where you can't play golf"? And he said, "Oh, I've already thought about that, and I just made my mind up, that I'll just be happy anyway". Now, you know what most people would do? "Oh, I don't know what I'll do if I can't play golf. My gosh, I'll be so bored if I just..". He's like, "Nope, I've already made my mind up, I can be happy anyway".
You know what? Some of you need to take that little bit of advice right there, and instead of deciding you can't be happy if your situation doesn't change... Come on, the minute you say, "I cannot be happy if this doesn't change," you've thrown down the gauntlet in the devil's face and he's going to turn the heat up. Remember the guys in the fiery furnace? The furnace got turned up seven times hotter than before. The minute you say, "If this doesn't change, I can't be happy, the enemy will come against you with everything he's got to make you unhappy". But, what if you say, "If nothing ever changes, I'm going to be happy"? Huh, what if you say? "If nothing ever changes, I'm going to be happy, because my joy is not in my circumstances, it's in the Lord".
Now the Israelites they didn't have a very good attitude. So, let's talk for just a minute about some of the wrong mindsets and attitudes that they had. The first one I want to talk about is one that we've been sneaking up on, "My future is based on my past and my present". That's a wrong mindset. My future is based on my past and my present, people who can't see beyond where they're at right now. You gotta be able to see with the eye of faith. You've gotta see things in your heart that you can't see yet with your natural eyes. And, you don't see them in your circumstances, but you see them in your heart. The Bible says that Jesus, "Did not decide, by the sight of his eyes, nor the hearing of his ears," Isaiah 11:3. He didn't make decisions based on what he saw and heard, he made decisions based on the promises of God and what was in his heart.
The right mindset says, "I'm going to look ahead because something good is going to happen to me". The wrong mindset says, "Nothing's ever going to change. Everything is going to be just the way that its always been". But you can change a wrong mindset tonight. You don't have to wait for, you can think what you want to think, you don't have to think everything that falls in your head. That's why we have this book to tell us what's right and what's wrong and so, when the next time you have a thought that says, "It's too late for you". Well, guess what? You can't find that in this book. Or the next time you have the thought, "You're no good. All you are is a big mess up. You never do anything right". Well guess what? That's a lie. Because the Bible says that you're precious, you're special, you're created in his image. He's got a good plan for you, come on.
The devil says, "You're never going to have anything. Every time you get a dollar somethin' happens to take it. You're never gonna own your own home. You're never gonna have a new car. You're never gonna have anything". You say, "Well, that's a lie because the Bible says that God delights in my prosperity". Amen? And you have to start thinking and saying the right thing before the right thing happens to you. We gotta say that a few times. You need to start thinking and saying the right thing before the right thing happens to you. One more time, you need to be willing to say and think the right thing before the right thing starts happening to you. You're calling those things that be not as though they are.
Romans 4:17 says we serve a God who, "Calls things that are not as if they already existed". So, I guess if God can do it, it's okay if we do it. I love what David said in Psalm 27. "What, what would have become of me had I not believed that I would see the Lord's goodness in the land of the living"! I'm so glad it doesn't say, "What would become of me had I not believed that I would see good things when I go to heaven". We're gonna see good things when we go to heaven. But according to this scripture, we don't have to wait till we get to heaven. He said, "I believe that I would see good things in the land of the living". I'm gonna see good things while I'm alive. I'm gonna see my kids have a good life while I can watch them enjoy it. I'mma read three groups of scriptures, things that the Israelites said. And it was all, they always did it when things got a little tough. That's why I'm saying we need to be a little stronger. We need to be ready for a few hard things and not fall apart every time things don't just work out the way we want 'em to work out. I heard somebody say the other day, that today, if a teenager gets insulted by another person in school, they think they're being bullied.
Now, you know, there's genuine bullying that's going on and that's wrong, but every time somebody hurts your feelings... I mean, I had people in school that didn't like me. I had people that talked about me. I survived. Come on. And you understand that I'm not denying that these things happen, but it's almost like too many people today are on their soapbox all the time, constantly murmuring about what they deserve and what they should have. And, you know what? Here's the bottom line. We deserve to die and go to hell. We don't deserve anything except for the grace and the mercy of God. I guess I'd have to say I'm old school. And I guess when you say that you're kinda, yeah, aging yourself. But, you know, I came from a culture where you worked hard for what you had.
I mean, I remember we worked a year before we got a week's vacation and then maybe two or three years before you got two weeks vacation. And now, you know, people want three weeks vacation the day they're hired, and another week of sick leave, and time off when they have a baby, and you know, time off for this and that and somethin' else. You know, nobody can make money if they gotta give everything away. Eww, some of you don't like this, do you? See, that's what we gotta be careful of, as believers, that we don't get sucked up into that culture of thinking that we deserve everything, and everything should be handed to us, and you know, well, the government needs to do this for me, and the government needs to do that for me. Can I tell you a secret? In order for the government to give you anything, they have to take it away from somebody else. They don't have any of their own money, they've got yours, and mine. Amen?
I watched a teaching the other day by a girl who had a stroke and is in a wheelchair, and she's still out ministering to people. Beautiful girl. One side of her face still paralyzed. And she did a teaching called, "The good hard life". And she said, "It's either good or it's hard. People don't think it can be good and hard". But she said, "I've got a hard life, but it's a good life". See, and she's helping people, but it's all because of her mindset and her attitude. Are you hearing me? See, a lot of people think if life is hard for them, "Well, I can't help anybody else, I've got problems of my own".
Well, that's exactly when you should be helping somebody else, when you have problems of your own. I think it's in Ecclesiastes, it says, "If you wait for all conditions to be favorable you will not sow". And that's true. We're always going to increase our giving when... And we're going to, I mean, I love these people say, "Well Joyce, I'll tell you what. If I had a million dollars I'd give it to you". Well, you would not. If you won't give me two of the five you've got, then you're not gonna... We're always gonna do it later, some other time. And you know what, we're waiting for? We're waiting for a time when we've got so much abundance that we can give and not miss it.
Well, God wants us to do things sacrificially. You know, I taught the Word of God for years before I made any money for it. And I quit a full-time job to do what I'm doing. And, I made more money than Dave did at that time, and all my gas was paid for, and I was in management in a company, and God called me to preach the word and I didn't know the word, I had to study, and so, I felt like God wanted me to quit my job. And when I did, every month we needed a miracle to pay our bills. We were $40 short every month of being able to pay our bills. Well, I thought surely, because I made this great sacrifice, that something amazing was going to happen in our finances. Surely, I mean, something was going to happen. I mean, some relative that I didn't know I had would die leave me a bunch of money or something amazing was going to happen.
Well, you know what? For six years, I shopped at garage sales. Come on. And I mean, I can cook hamburger one thousand different ways. And, oh my gosh, I longed for the day when I could go in and buy the best cut of steak, or just go to the store and not have to take my calculator and add everything up to make sure I didn't go a penny over. Amen? I wanted to just be able to go to the store and just put what I wanted in my basket and go pay for it and not worry about it. And, I didn't understand. God was getting me ready for war because when I really got into ministry, like, not just doing a Bible study at home, but real public ministry, new level new devil. Amen?
And you gotta be ready for that. Come on, flex those spiritual muscles and say, "I can do whatever I need to do through Christ who is my strength. And sure, I hope my life is nice, and sweet, and easy, but if it's not, I'm going to serve God, anyway. I'm going to do what I'm supposed to do, no matter how it feels". So, the Israelites attitude. I'm not making much progress in my things, am i? Numbers 14:2 "And all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The whole conGregation said to them, 'would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or that we had died in this wilderness!'" I want you to notice how often they're talking about just, "Wish we were dead. Just might as well be dead. Got to have all these problems, just might as well be dead". "'Why is the Lord bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?'"
See, as soon as things got hard, they wanted to run back to Egypt. How many people accept Christ, or at least that's what they act like they're doing, because they think he's going to solve all their problems. And when life is a little hard, they go back to the same life they were living before. That's not what you want to do. You gotta stand your ground until you come out of those dark places into the light and into victory. Then, "They said one to another, 'let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt.'" Numbers 20 verses 3 and 4, "And the people quarreled with Moses and said, 'well, we just wished we would have perished when our brothers perished before the Lord! Why have you brought the assembly of the Lord into the wilderness, that we should die here, both us and our cattle?'"
Can you imagine spendin' 40 years leadin' six million people around with that kind of an attitude? Whoo, and you think you have problems with one teenager? Come on, how many have a teenager that you think is going to drive you stark-Raving mad? Well, I'll tell you what. When I started the ministry, when I started it, I had three teenagers and a baby. Now, that little baby that I carried around on my hip everywhere I went, is the ceo of all of our stateside ministries. And he did about drive me crazy. Numbers 21:4 and 5, "From mount hor they set out by the way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of edom. And the people became impatient... And the people spoke against God and against Moses, 'why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there's no food and no water and we hate this light contemptible manna,'" this food that you're miraculously raining down out of the sky every day. We hate these miracles. We want some new miracles. We get tired of even miracles, don't we?
You know, I remember saying to the Lord one time, "I just don't understand why you don't do the things that you used to do when I first started walking with you". You know, I had so many amazing things happen. I mean, I could just need to hear from God and take my Bible and... And I mean, I would get the most amazing answers. I mean, even Dave would get impressed once in awhile. But, that don't last forever. What happens when you go, "Oh God, I need you to show me what's wrong,"? "Woe be unto you, you wicked sinner". Oh, wait! Let me find another page. Come on, how many of you do that? You just... Come on, I want to ask you, what do you see? What do you see for your life? Are you seeing good things? Can you close your eyes and see good things? When you lay down at night, can you close your eyes and use your holy imagination to see yourself getting that promotion at work, or getting that better job, or your teenagers accepting Christ, or whatever it is that you need?
You know, Abraham had a problem with his nephew, Lot. And, they both had become so prosperous that there wasn't enough grass for all the cattle. And so, this is in Genesis 13, and Abraham was a very godly man and he knew the dangers of strife. And so, he went to Lot and he said, "Let there be no strife between us. You choose whatever part of the valley you want and I'll take what's left". Now, how many people would do that? Because actually, he didn't even have to take Lot with him when God sent him out. And he included him out of mercy, and now they're fighting. And so, he says, "I'll tell ya what. I don't want to fight with you. You take what part you want, I'll take what's left".
So, Lot took the best part of the Jordan valley and Abraham had what was left. But, I want to show you what God said to Abraham in Genesis 13:14-17. "And the Lord said to abram, after Lot had separated from him, 'lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, north, south, east, and west and all the land that you see I will give it to you.'" He wasn't worried about what he'd lost. God said, "How far can you see"? He wasn't all mad and bent out of shape because Lot took the best part. He knew that if he behaved according to the way God wanted him to behave that no matter what somebody took from him, God would always give him back more.
I want to make sure you got what I said, 'cause some of you are sittin' with a bitter heart. And you're mad because you didn't get what you thought you deserved, or somebody mistreated you, or your boss didn't treat you right, or your friends didn't treat you right, or the person you're married to didn't treat you right, and you're just all tied up in knots and your soul is like a wilderness, but tonight, you can have a new attitude. Tonight, you can say, "No matter what you took from me, God is going to replace it with much, much more than what I lost". Come on. And then God'll say to you, "Well, what can you see? Everything you see, I'll give it to you". "For it is written," 1 Corinthians 2:9, "As it is written, 'what no eye has seen, nor ear has heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.'" Amen?
And then one last scripture, Ephesians 2:10. I love this. We are created for good works and a good life that God has prepared ahead of time. It reads, "For we are God's own handiwork (his workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, born again that we may do those good works, which God predestined (planned ahead of time) for us taking paths which he prepared, that we should walk in them living the good life which he prearranged and made ready for us to live". So, let me tell you that no matter what you've had, or what you've got now, God has already prearranged a good life for you, and laid out a path, but I don't know if you noticed or not, that we should walk in it. God's made everything ready, but we gotta do the walkin'. He holds our hand and we do the walking. And sometimes, you gotta walk through the hard places. Sometimes, you gotta walk through some mistreatment. You gotta walk through some injustice, and the worse it hurts, the more you shout, "God is good and something good is going to happen to me, in my life". Come on, give God a praise.
Father, we thank you for the word and pray that people will get it. Like that woman last night, who heard one sentence and it just captured her heart. Let that happen for many people today in Jesus' name. Amen.
Right and wrong mindsets. You know, your thoughts can take you somewhere where you'd really like to be or they can keep you somewhere where you don't want to be. They can take you where you'd like to be and they can keep you where you don't want to be. The Israelites spent 40 years trying to make what, the Bible says in Deuteronomy, was an 11-day trip. Wonder how long we mess around going around the same mountains the same problems over and over and over? Finding different ways to, really, disobey God. Can I tell you no matter how many times you avoid what God's told you to do he's not going to change his mind. You can just go around the same mountain 5,000 times and his answer's still going to be the same when you come back. So, the best plan is just do what God tells you to as quick as you can no matter how hard it is, or how much it hurts, or what you have to sacrifice.
And please, always keep in mind that God is never trying to take anything away from you. He's always just trying to get you in a position where you can be happier, where you can have more peace, where your life can be more fruitful and where you can be equipped to help as many people as you possibly can help. You know, those of us that are already saved we know where we're going. Our future is secured. But we have a job while we're here and that's to mature as Christians and be an example to other people, and the Holy Spirit is sent into our life to help us grow up and mature. One of the main scriptures I want to put before you again today, is Colossians 3 verse 1 and 2, "If then you have been raised with Christ, seek those things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God".
And now, it's getting ready to tell you how you seek things. "Set your mind," and I like the amplified, it says, "And keep it set on things that are above". Or, we might say set your mind and keep it set on right things because if our minds are full of right things, then when the devil comes along with his lies, there's no room for him to put the wrong things in us. I think too often we teach people what not to do and I think we should put a greater emphasis on what to do. And then if we're doing things right, there's not going to be any room for the wrong thing in our life. I wrote a book about habits and I didn't call it, "Breaking bad habits". I called it, "Making good habits and breaking bad habits," because I honestly, if you focus on making a good habit, then there will be no room for the bad habit to function in your life. But, we focus so much on trying to get rid of the bad and we just end up in a wrestling match with the devil and we never get around to doing what's right.
So, set your mind where you want to go, not where you've been or where you are right now. Have a vision for your life. Have a vision for your children. Have a vision for your home. Have a vision for your ministry and don't back down and give up on it. Wrong thinking causes us more problems than what we can even possibly imagine. And the first thing, what I did actually, years ago, I don't know about you, but I came to a point where I was tired of sitting in church and hearing about all of the promises of God and never actually experiencing them in my life. I heard about joy, but I was unhappy. I heard about peace, but I didn't have any. I heard about prosperity, but I was broke all the time. I heard about all kinds of things and I believed 'em, my heart believed 'em, I could see 'em in the word, I believe them but something was just missing.
And see, one of the things we have to understand is yes, there's promises but there's also conditions. And so, for example, we can't just pray away every problem we have, most of the time when we pray God will show us something that we need to do. Not all the time, but a lot of times. Maybe something's not working right in your life, you can't seem to get anything to work right, your prayers aren't being answered and maybe if you listen to God he'll whisper to you, "Well, you've got unforgiveness in your heart". Come on, don't look at me like you don't know what I'm talking about. You know, there's probably more people sitting in here today, as sweet as you look... And I know that you have got a right heart or you would not be coming here on a Saturday to listen to me do this all day. You're a great person, but you're mad at somebody. Mmm?
Don't make me ask for a show of hands 'cause I can tell ya, there's more people in here that have got something stuck in you and that's why things aren't working for you. Because the Bible says plainly, "When you pray if you have anything against anyone". Anything against anyone, it doesn't leave out anybody, doesn't leave out any situation. You can't get by with any kind of an excuse, "Well, you just don't know what they did to me. You just don't know what they did to me". To be honest, it doesn't matter what they did to you, it matters to God and he wants to fix it, but he can't if you won't forgive 'em. And forgiveness is not a way you feel about somebody, it's a choice that you make about how to treat them. Even though they've treated you bad, God requires you to love them unconditionally, ouch, ouch.
I don't think we realize how much we try to find little ways to wait for God to give us something easier to do. You know, we put it off until, I mean, we've got good intentions, we're going to do it. We're going to do it. Well, when are you going to do it? How many of you believe that prompt obedience is one of the best things you can do in your life? Amen? So, I'm sure that I could say right now, "Who's in this building that has an area in your life where you know you're not obeying God"? And there would be lots and lots and lots of hands go up. So, therefore, we have no right to complain about our problems. I'm smiling. Come on, I want to help you. I don't want to just put on a nice show here today. I want to help you. I want you to leave with something that can change your life. And it if I have to say some things to make you a little bit uncomfortable in your chair, then I'm willing to do that because I actually think if we can go to church and just sit there and be nice and comfortable the whole time and just love everything that's being said, then maybe the right thing's not being said. Amen?
I mean, yes, God loves you unconditionally. You're a special person. You're valuable. You're wonderful. God's got a good plan for your life. But, if you don't walk in obedience to God, nothing's going to work. I think we need to get back to a little more of this kind of teaching. You know, we need to realize that this is serious business, and God is serious about everything he says. And we can't just disobey God, purposely disobey him, and think just because he loves us it doesn't make any difference. Your disobedience won't stop God from loving you because he loved you before you ever cared one thing about him, but it will hurt you if you keep disobeying God. So, having said that I'll try to press on.
So, last night I talked about one of the big mistakes that the Israelites made that caused them to spend 40 years trying to make an 11-day trip, isn't that amazing? 40 years to make an 11-day trip. Well, we're amazed at them, but what about us? How long have you been Messing around with the same thing over and over? How long have you been mad at that person that hurt you when you were a child? How long have you been mad at your parents because they didn't treat you right or mad at one of your sisters and brothers because your parents seem to favor them and they got it easier than you did? Yeah, hmm... How long are you gonna keep going around and around the same thing? It's time.
So, one of their biggest problems, the wrong mindset they had was that they didn't have any vision for the future. They couldn't see beyond where they'd been and where they were right now. And I can tell you, no matter what's happened to you in the past or what's happening right now, things can be better in the future. Now, lest I get all excited and try to repreach that I'm going to get on over here to number two. Okay, another wrong mindset that they had and a lot of us have is, "Somebody do it for me, I don't want to take responsibility". A right mindset would be, "I'm willing to work hard and take responsibility for my life". Amen?
For example, how about taking responsibility for your own joy? Who are you blaming for not keeping you happy? I remember when the Lord spoke to my heart and he said, "Stop giving Dave the responsibility for your joy". You can be happy if you want to be happy. Amen? And I can tell you in the first few years that we were married, I mean, I was not a happy person and you know, unhappy people, it almost annoys them to be around happy people. So, they try to make other people unhappy so they can all be unhappy together. And so, I was always doing things that could have made Dave unhappy and ruin his day, but he would not let me make him unhappy. And it was the most infuriating thing to me. Does anybody know what I'm talkin' about? I mean, I'm just like, "You don't care about anything... You're just happy no matter what". And he still is the exact same way. But you know what? It finally made me hungry for what he had.
If you're married to somebody that's unhappy, don't let their unhappiness make you unhappy. The better thing to do is to be happy around them and let them see that things can be different. Amen? Otherwise, we become co-dependent on somebody else's problem. Responsibility means to respond to the ability that God has placed in you or to respond to an opportunity that's put in front of you. I wonder how many opportunities we miss in life? How many times God invites us to do something and he has to go find somebody else to do it because it's not a convenient time for us?
We know that Abraham was called by God out of the place where he lived to go to a place that God would show him, which was the promise land, the land of Canaan. But do you know that before God called Abraham to leave and go do that? Before he gave Abraham that opportunity, he gave that same opportunity to Abraham's father, but let me show you what he did. In Genesis, 11:31 through chapter 12 verses 1 and 2, "Terah took abram his son and lot the son of haran, his grandson, and sarai his daughter-in-law, his son abram's wife, and they went forth together from ur of the chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan, but when they came to haran, they settled there". He didn't go all the way through with God. He got tired along his journey or whatever. And he got part of the way there and he decided to settle there, "This is a comfortable place, I'll just settle here".
And I wonder how many of you have settled for less than the best that you can have because you get tired somewhere along the journey? Or even worse, how many women have settled for a man that down deep inside, they know is not the right man for them, but they're so afraid they'll never have anybody? Come on now, I'm talking to somebody. Because I'd been abused by my dad sexually, I thought nobody would ever want me. So, the first guy that showed any interest in me, when he suggested gettin' married, I was very anxious. But you know what? I knew down deep in my heart, I knew that it was a wrong decision. Don't do things you don't have peace about.
You know why? They're always going to blow up in your face, always. And don't marry somebody that's living a really bad life, thinking that you can change 'em. You know, that may happen on rare occasions, but you need to see a little somethin' first. And you know, if somebody's mistreated you and left you over and over and ran around with other women over and over and now they're wantin' you to take 'em back again, I would say let's see about a year's worth of proof that you've changed. I did that over and over with my first husband. He'd leave, disappear for months at a time.
Every time he'd come back, I'd take him back. He'd run around with other women, every time he'd come back, I'd take him back. Why? I was desperate. I was fear. Don't make decisions out of desperation and out of fear. Don't settle, come on, don't settle for less than what you know is the best that God has for you out of some kind of desperate fear that if you don't settle for second-best, you'll never end up having anything. Does anybody know what I'm talking about? Some people park at the point of their pain and they stay there the rest of their life. They never go anywhere. "But then the Lord said to abram, 'go from your country and your kindred your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, I will bless you and I will make your name great so that you will be a blessing to many other people.'"
And you know what? Abram took the responsibility and he went all the way through with God. There's no blessings without responsibility. Did you hear me? There's no blessings without responsibility. That's why we talk about, you know, how great it is to live in America, the greatest country on the face of the earth. Well, there's a responsibility to living here. It's not just a privilege, there's a responsibility to living here. I don't think people today realize the importance of responsibility. It seems like that we've got generations of people coming up that they always think somebody else should do it for 'em. "Somebody do it for me. I don't want to take responsibility".
Even things like trying to find a scripture in the Bible, when you need to find a scripture don't always call somebody else and ask 'em where it's at. Do a little diggin' for yourself and find it, get some study books. But, what you dig out, what you put effort into, you're gonna get more out of it than if somebody just gives you the answer. Amen? If you knew what it used to take to study, for me to preach, wow. No computers. We couldn't just, you know, get Google to give us a list of every scripture on joy, you know. I mean, it might take me an hour to find all the scriptures on joy. And then I had to get out a concordance and get out a couple of other Bibles and had a couple of dictionaries, and I have to look every one of 'em up and find them in the Bible and read 'em.
And then a lot of times I was, well, I started out writing all my messages out in longhand all the time. And you know what? I'm glad for the technology we have today, but if everything is made too easy for everybody, to be honest, it just keeps making people more and more lazy and then they feel oppressed. What happens then, is people feel oppressed if they have to put out any effort. We go from an air-conditioned house to an air-conditioned car to an air-conditioned building and Lord help us if we sweat. I mean, that would just be the end of everything. You know, I'm glad that I grew up in the era that I grew up in because we didn't have all the conveniences we have today, and I think it builds character in people. I think when you go through stuff it builds character in you. Amen?
Take responsibility for your life, take responsibility for your actions. We'll get around to a little bit more of that when we get to the wrong mindset of, "Well, my my behavior's wrong, but it's not my fault". Be sure you stick around for that one. The Bible says, "Go to the ant, you lazy person: consider her ways, and be wise". That's what a sluggard is, a lazy person. Proverbs 6:6-8, "Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest". You know what that actually means? Watch the ant. They do what's right without somebody standing over them making them do it. Oh, that's so good. You gotta act better than that.
Let me tell you something. If you're playing around on the internet, looking up personal stuff at work and your boss walks over by your desk and suddenly you pretend like you're working, dear sweet Christian, you're stealing time that you're being paid to work. "Well, they don't pay me enough anyway". No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. See, that's the whole thing about God. You don't get to do somethin' wrong just because somebody else is. You're supposed to live a more excellent life. Let your light shine. Come on. If you take all the office supplies that you need at home, home from work. Come on, all the pens and pencils, and the folders, and the paper clips and you know, all these different things, well, you're stealing.
"Well, I don't know if I like her, I've never seen her before". You poor person, who got drug here by a friend, they offered to feed you, didn't they? People'll go anywhere if you offer to feed 'em. And now you're here and you're thinking, "Well don't, she just called me a thief". Well, the Bible says that God is constantly, "Standing by". And you know what that means? He sees and hears every single thing that we do. And we can hide it from somebody else, but we don't hide it from God. And someday, we're going to stand before him and give an accounting of our life. And, I don't say that to frighten you, because I probably think you can do a lot of that kinda stuff and still go to heaven, but it doesn't honor God, and it's not a good example.
You know, the Israelites procrastinated for 18 years about something God had told them to do. He had told them to build his house and for 18 years, they put it off because they were busy building their own houses. This story is found in haggai. And, I'm not going to read you the whole thing to save time but let me just read you a little bit of it, "'thus says the Lord of hosts: these people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord.'" and in the amplified, it says, "Although God ordered it done 18 years previously". "Then the word of the Lord came by the hand of haggai the prophet," now just listen. So they're prayin' like, "What's wrong God, I don't understand what's wrong. Every time I get a little somethin' somebody takes it..".
So, God sent 'em a word, "You want to know what's wrong? Here it comes". "'is it time for you to dwell in your paneled houses, while my house lies in ruins? Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough: you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but you never get warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them in a bag with holes in it.'" "Yes, Lord, I know that's what I'm asking you about". "'Thus says the Lord: consider your ways.'"
Come on, is anybody awake out there? I mean, is it just possible, now, I'm not saying it is, but is it, is it even remotely possible that maybe your problem is your own fault? I mean, it's probably not, but... I know it's probably not but I just wanted to throw that out as something that you could consider while you're blaming the devil, and blaming everybody else, and blaming the government, and you know. That maybe, you could just say, "Well, God, is there something I should have done that I didn't do"? I mean, it's just worth considering. Amen?
Come on, don't be like the woman who was getting married for the seventh time, and this is actually true. She came to her pastor and said, "Now, I'm getting married this Saturday for the seventh time and I need you to pray that this man will treat me right". And thank God, it was a pastor with some courage and he looked at her and he said, "Well, since you're the only common denominator in all seven of these marriages, maybe we better pray for you and not the man you're gonna marry. It can't be me. It can't be me".
I remember when I was praying for Dave to change one day and God said, "Dave's not the problem," and I thought "Well, who is? There's nobody here but me and him. I mean, it couldn't be me. It couldn't possibly be me". Okay, my favorite guy in the Bible, John chapter 5 verses 2 through 8, "Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades," or like, openings, little porches. So, there was this big pool and there was this edifice built around it that had all these different gateways or doorways into this pool. And once a year, an angel would come and stir up the waters and whoever got into that pool first, if they were sick, got healed. Once a year. And so, "In these porches lay a multitude of invalids: blind, lame, and paralyzed. Now, one man was there who had been there for 38 years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he'd already been there a long time, he said, 'do you want to be healed?'"
Now, isn't that an odd question, but see, there was more to it. I mean, Jesus was really saying, "Do you really want to do what's gonna be required to get your life straightened out"? And so, can I just pat you on your beautiful little head today, and say the nicest way that I know how to, "Are you ready to do what you're going to need to do to get your life straightened out"? It's going to take more than your pastor laying hands on you and praying. And, it's going to take more than watching me on television. It's going to take more than coming to the conference. Hey, this is easy. All you got to do is sit out there and laugh at me when I'm funny. And, try not to cry when I'm not. Listen to the beautiful music, my gosh, we brought you the best this weekend. You know, the music... My goodness, got all this preachin' and it was free. I mean, you didn't have to buy a ticket. You know, you don't have to do anything. You just came and sat down.
Alright. But, somebody had to do something in order for you to have what you have today. Some of those people who raised her hand and said they were partners, they paid for your seat. Amen? And then you clap, you cheer, it's great. "It was always an awesome conference, just awesome". But now the conference is over, not just yet, but this afternoon. You'll say, "Well, the conference is over". And then, you won't have the beautiful music, and the lights, and the media. You gotta go home to the same mess you left.
Well, I'm not gonna lie to ya. I don't have a message that's gonna make all your problems disappear. But, I do have one that can change you so radically that you won't care. Amen? And that's the point. We keep trying to get God to change our problems and he wants to change us. Whoohoo, I'm having so much fun, I can't hardly stand it. Okay, back to the sick man, "Do you really want to get well"? "The sick man answered him," now, you gotta see this. "The sick man answered him, 'sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up.'" I have nobody to do it for me. "And every time I try to get to the pool somebody else always gets ahead of me.'"
Now, I've thought this through a lot, 'cause I've been preaching on this guy for 42 years. And you're probably tired of hearing about this guy, but I gotta preach on him because if he's been laying there 38 years, I would think that in 38 years, he could at least wiggle his way over to the very edge of the pool and he could have this attitude, "Next year, nobody's gettin' ahead of me. Because, when that angel shows up, I'm gonna be so on the edge of my breakthrough that I'm just going to fall in that water..."
Now, you would think Jesus would feel sorry for this guy, but he didn't. "Oh, you've been laying there 38 years, oh my gosh, somebody always gets ahead of you, nobody will put you in the pool". You know what Jesus said to him? "Get up". And the amplified Bible, after "Get up," there's a big exclamation Mark. And then, not only that, and I love this part, and he said, "Take your bed with you". In other words, "Clean up the mess you've made all these 40 years while you've been wandering around in the wilderness". Come on. Whoo, mmm, I don't know about you, I'm ready for a cup of coffee. Yeah, sometimes, I think like that when I'm preaching, "I'm about ready for a cup of coffee". Oh, I got my own pot back there. You gotta have caffeine till the anointing kicks in.
Now, you'll be happy to know that wrong mindset number three, I actually preached on last night without intending to. "Please make everything easy for me because I can't take it if things are too hard". Where the right attitude would be, "Bring it on, I can do whatever I need to do through Christ, who is my strength". In that book, "Power thoughts," that I talked to you about, that's the first of the 12 power thoughts and I encourage people to take one of them, take a year to get through this book, and take one of them and for a whole month meditate on and say out loud about 20 times a day, "I can do whatever I need to do in life through Christ who is my strength. I am not afraid. I will not back down. I am not a coward. Through Christ, I can do whatever I need to do".
And if you do that, you're prepared for whatever comes along. If you have this idea that someday you're going to find this place in life where you don't have any problems, then the devil's really got you deceived because it's just not real life. We have times in our life when everything is great. But you know that there's seasons in our lives, and we go through winter, and then it's spring and we love that, then it's summer, and I love fall in particular, and oops, it's winter again. There's a lot of storms and they're not all in the forecast. Amen? "This is too hard, I just can't take it".
I love Deuteronomy chapter 8 because I was living it and not understanding what was going on in my life. And, what I mean, by that is everything was so hard. My gosh, oh, yes, I get to stand here today, and I don't know, six, seven thousand people here today, and that's wonderful. But you know what? I did meetings of five people and nine people. We had a meeting one night in a snowstorm, nine people and I brought five of 'em with me. I mean, I taught in every banquet center where you'd have to go in and clean up the food off the floor from the banquet the night before. I've preached in churches that were so dead that you could've screamed your head off for five hours and never got anybody to even put a grin on their face.
I remember the years that Dave and I drove up and down the highway with our little bubble trailer on the back of the car and didn't even have the money to stay in a hotel. We'd pull over into a fast food restaurant's parking lot and Dave would get a little bit sleep so he could finish driving us home. And those were some of the best days, we saw so many miracles from God. We didn't have anybody but God, and when that's all you have, he shows out. Amen? And then God led me to Deuteronomy 8, and he said, "You shall remember the whole way but the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not".
And then, in verse 7 it says, "For the Lord God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills". "I brought you the hard way to test you, to humble you, to prove you to see if you would keep my commandments in the valley because if you won't, you won't keep 'em on the mountain top". Do you understand what I'm saying? "Oh, well, if life was just easier". No, you gotta learn how to obey God in the wilderness. You got to learn how to do what's right when nobody's looking. Then when the good times come, you don't get all entrapped by the things, and the blessings, and the fame, and the, this and that and somethin' else.
You know what? I can tell you that I am not impressed with myself. Not one little bit, because I've been through it over and over and over. And, I can tell you what takes years to build up, God can tear down in five seconds. And I have a reverential fear of God. And that means, that I am not going to purposely do things that I know that he does not want me to do. And, we need some of that reverential fear and awe back. Now, you don't even know whether to clap for that or not? I'm not talking about being afraid of God in a bad way, but I'm talking about having a reverence for God, a reverential fear. God is God, and I can't just ignore him and do whatever I want to do and think I'm gonna have a great life.
What about 1 Peter 4:12? What about this attitude, you know? "Oh, I can't take it if it's hard". "No, "I can do whatever I need to do. I'm not going to quit. I'm not going to give up". 1 Peter 4:12, "Beloved, don't be surprised at the fiery ordeal when it comes upon you to test you". Hmmm... Okay, look at me, let me tell you something. You never know what you really know until you're tested. I mean, some people can think they've got so much faith. They are like the premier example of faith in their church and to their friends. Oh, you can tell everybody else how to trust God.
"Well, now, just trust God and he's going to bring you through that. Just cast your care and don't worry," till it happens to you, and it doesn't let up. And it's not just a one-day problem, it's a five-year problem or a, come on, anybody know what I'm talking about? That's when you gotta get up every morning and say, "God, grant me the grace to serve you with my whole heart no matter how bad circumstances are in my life". You do what's right when life is not right for you, and you'll come through to a place of victory that nobody can take away from you. Come on, how many of you want to grow up? Mark chapter 4:35-38, "On that day, when evening had come, Jesus said, 'let us cross over to the other side.'"
The first teaching cassette tape I ever heard was taken from these scriptures. "And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were also with him". Now, remember, Jesus said, "Let us go over to the other side". "And a great wind storm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was filling up with water. But he was in the stern, having a nap". You ever feel like when you need God, he's having a nap? "And they woke him up, 'teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?' and he rebuked them, 'why are you so afraid? I am.'"
See, we don't even have to know what God's going to do, all we need to know is, "I'm here". Come on. And if you go all the way through to Mark chapter 5 verse 1 it says, "And they arrived on the other side". I want to tell you, when God says, "Let us leave here and go to the other side," I don't care how many storms you hit in the middle, you're going to end up on the other side if you just don't give up. You know, it's easy to make a beginning, everybody's excited for a beginning. "Woohoo, I'mma get my life straightened out. Man, I went to that Joyce Meyer conference and she's got me so fired up and I'll tell you right now things are going to change"!
And boy, when you get to the end, let's just say we come back in five years, and your like, "Oh, man, Joyce, I got the victory now. I mean, everything's wonderful". But you know what? During those five years you gotta make it through the middle. And that's where we lose people, in the middle. 'cause then you get out there and you don't have the music, and you don't have this, and that, and something else. And then one last scripture, Matthew 20:20-22, "Then the mother of the sons of zebedee came to Jesus with her sons, knelt down before him and asked him for a favor. And he said, 'what do you want?' and she said, 'say that these two sons of mine will sit one on your right hand and one on your left in your kingdom.' and Jesus said, 'you do not know what you're asking for. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink?'"
Do you understand this? He's saying, "Okay, you want that place of honor? You're gonna have to go through some stuff to get it". Amen, amen, amen. Yeah, I stand up here now and I'm on television all over the world, and whoohoo it's so great. Let me tell ya somethin', I remember where I've been. I remember those 40 years. And therefore, I'm only impressed with God. Not myself because I know that what I'm doing is God from start to finish. There's no way that I could do it if it wasn't him. Come on, get up on your feat. Whoo! Alright, let's practice. Say, "I can do... Whatever I need to do... Through Christ... Who is my strength".