Joyce Meyer - Check Your Motives
So, today I wanna talk to you about doing the right thing all the time. There's never a time when it's not right to do the right thing. Can I say that again? There's never a time when it's not right to do the right thing. Or, there's never a time when it's all right to do the wrong thing. Maybe we understand that better. There's never a time when it's all right to do the wrong thing. Now, if we're ignorant and we don't know right from wrong, then that's another story. God will work with us and he'll educate us. But I need to remind you this morning that when you hear truth, you become responsible for what you hear.
So, we have to get over this doing what's right when somebody's looking. Come on, how much time do you waste at work playing on the internet when nobody's looking? Don't be a Christian thief. Ooh! Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If that was your company, how would you want people to respond? Yeah, well, I won't go there. I can tell that's not where you wanna go, so I won't go there. But we have to start doing the right thing because God is always looking. I think that's something we don't get, that God is always looking. He's everywhere all the time, and so I can't live to impress people because if I'm doing that then I'm gonna do one thing when they're looking and another thing when they're not.
Come on. I don't wanna be the kind of person that just does what's right when I have to, if I think I'm gonna get in trouble if I don't. I wanna be committed to, "Right-eousness" because we have been made right with God through the blood of Jesus Christ, so we have rightness in us and we just need to turn it inside out and begin to follow what's really in our heart to start with. You know, before you receive Christ, you can do a lot of stupid stuff and it doesn't bother you too much. You don't feel bad when you gossip about people. Doesn't bother ya. You can take office supplies home, hide 'em in your lunch bag, take 'em home. Don't bother ya, I mean, you're just like, "Well, they don't pay me enough anyway. Bless God, I'm taking 'em home".
Come on, we do all kinds of stuff. You know you can be married and flirt with somebody else. That don't bother you too bad. But let me tell you somethin', you go and get really saved, ooh buddy, you ain't gonna do that stuff anymore and it not bother you. You may do it, but it'll bother you. And we need to learn to pay more attention to the bothering, because that's really God just crying out in us, "I've got a better life for you. I've got a better plan for you. I've got so much for you. I've got so much peace. I've got so much joy". Don't live with the conflict of guilty conscience all the time. Amen?
Now God is merciful, and God is gracious, and thankfully there's no limit on his forgiveness, but anybody who really loves Jesus, you're not gonna live like that. You're gonna be determined to learn how to do what's right, not because you're gonna get something else from God if you do what's right, but because it is right. One of my main themes today is we must stop doing what's right to get something and do what's right because it's right. I want people to sign up to do what's right, I'm talking about in your heart. Sign up to do what's right because it's right, even if you never got a result. And I'll tell you a story to help you understand it.
When God first called me to teach Bible study, I had a full-time job and a lot of responsibility, and I was having a very difficult time finding any time to study. And you know, God called me before I knew anything. Don't really know why he did it that way, but it's God's business who he uses. But I did have enough sense not to try to teach anybody if I hadn't studied first. And so I needed more time to study. I felt like there was a real call on my life and that I was gonna someday do the kind of things that I'm doing today. Don't even know why I believed that, but God gave me a gift of faith. I was not a very good candidate, the least likely person to do it, but when God plants something in your heart, you can have a zeal and a passion that goes beyond common sense.
And so I felt that God wanted me to quit my job, which meant that we would not have enough money every month to pay our bills. Dave had a good job, but I made as much money as he did, so our income was gonna be cut in half. So, at first I didn't quit my job. I got a part-time job, which is kinda humorous when I look back now, how often we don't give obedience, we give a sacrifice. I thought I would sacrifice my full-time job and get a part-time job, which left me in a position where I could still take care of myself. We're trusting God, but honey, we got a back up plan. Just in case God don't come through.
Come on now, that's for somebody. And you know, I do not recommend doing what I did. You don't ever wanna do something like this unless you are as sure as sure can be that it's what God is leading you to do. So I got fired from my part-time job, which I wasn't the kind of person that got fired, so that was just like God saying, "Ain't gonna work. Got something for you to do. I need you to start now listening to me". So, I was so frightened because we needed $40 extra every month just to be able to pay our bills, and that wasn't for any kind of repairs, or any kind of clothes, or anything extra.
And so for 6 years, not 6 days, not 6 minutes, not 6 months, for 6 years after making that great sacrifice that I made, we had less than we'd ever had. And I did not understand it. You know, when you do what's right and you don't get a right result right away? Come on now. We're gonna have a good time this morning. Come on. When you do what's right and you don't get a right result, most people don't do it very long. They'll do it for awhile and then they just think, "Well, you know, this ain't workin'". So, we have to get beyond this mindset of, "I'm doing what's right to get something. I'm gonna earn something from God by my behavior".
That's living under the law. My behavior earns me something from God. Grace is totally opposed to earning. It's not opposed to effort, a Holy Spirit-led effort, but it is opposed to earning. By my effort, God doesn't owe me anything. God doesn't owe me anything or you anything because you pray every morning, because you read the Bible through every year, because you're a dedicated tither, because you help little old ladies across the street. The Bible says we're only doing what we should be doing when we do those things, so God doesn't owe me anything and I need to do what I do because I love him so much for what he's done for me, and therefore I will continue to do what's right as long as I can breathe just to glorify God. And I hope I get a great result, but if I don't, now look at me.
Here's the thing that God wants me to say to you. We are not responsible for the result. God is responsible for the result. But what I'm responsible for and what you're responsible for is to keep doing the right thing. To keep on keeping on and to keep doing the right thing. Well, ultimately, I did quit my job, and for 6 years, I mean, I had great garage sale faith. I mean, when my kids needed shoes, I could go with $2 to garage sales and I'd come out with shoes. And you know, it was good for me because I saw God providing for me in little, tiny ways. And to be honest, those were some of the 6 hardest years of my life, but they were also some of the 6 most exciting.
You say, "Why in the world were they so exciting"? Because I was totally dependent on God. And although it was scary to my flesh, it helped me so much spiritually. And I would have to believe God for little things that was almost embarrassing to ask God to do for me because I was a fairly independent, put together, capable woman. And to pray for God to give me 12 dish rags was, like, a little bit, like, "I feel really stupid doing this". But then when somebody knocked on my door and said, "I hope you don't think I'm crazy but I felt like God said to bring you 12 dish rags". I mean, I went berserk, "Ahh"! Well, you know what, now I can go buy my own dish rags. But those days helped me practically learn the faithfulness of God.
See, we can stand here and say, "God is faithful. God is faithful". And everybody'll go, "Yeah! God is faithful"! But you know what? Until you experience the faithfulness of God, and we never experience anything with God if we don't need God. So God's gonna keep us in a place of needing him and we have to learn how to like it. Well, during that period of time, I would hear about different blessings that people had. Dave had one brother, he and his wife had a lot more than we did financially, and when they would come and, you know, I'd hear about all they were doing, you know, it was just really hard for me not to get down when they would come and visit.
And different people would be blessed, and you know, I'd try to be happy for 'em, but you know what I mean? It's hard when you're very needy and everybody else is being blessed. And so my pastor came by one day, and he was out doing speaking, and you know, I hadn't got to that point yet. I really wanted to be out and about but I was still doing my home Bible study. And he came by one day and told me this glowing report of the offering that he'd received, and how generous it was, and how two people had said they wanted to partner with his ministry and they were gonna do thus and so every month.
And then all of a sudden he looked at me and he said, "Is it okay that I'm telling you this"? 'Cause we were so needy. And I said, "Oh yeah, yeah, praise the Lord. I'm so happy for you"! I was lying, but you know, I was trying to be happy. And when he left, I went and threw myself across my daughter's bed and I cried. I cried so hard. I cried, and cried, and cried. And then I made a decision and a statement. I said, "God, I am gonna tithe and give offerings 'til the day you return to get me. If I never see one result, I'm still gonna do it". And can I tell you something? Things started to change after that.
Now come on, track with me today. When the devil knows that him Messing with our circumstances is not in any way gonna change our commitment to righteousness and doing what's right, then he'll go bug somebody else. Now, Luke 12:2-3, "Nothing is so closely covered up that it will not be revealed, or hidden that it will not be known. Whatever you have spoken in the darkness shall be heard and listened to in the light, and what you have whispered in people's ears and behind closed doors will be proclaimed upon the housetops".
Now you know, I might have to read that several times for everybody to get it, but it's basically saying don't think that you can do the wrong thing in secret and nobody will ever know about it. So here's the bottom line. We're not hiding anything. We're not hiding anything from God. You may keep other people from knowing, but they'll ultimately see the results of it in your life. They may not know what it is, but they will see the results. But God knows. He is all knowing, all seeing, ever present, and all powerful.
And if we can make a decision today that God sees everything, I know this is probably making some people a little itchy in their seats, but this helped me big time, that God sees everything and I need to honor him by not living for what people think, or what people are gonna say, or to impress people, but I need to make a commitment in my heart to do what's right all the time and to understand there's never a time when it's okay to not do what's right, and to do it for God and God alone. Not to get anything from God, but just because I'm in love with him. Whoo!
Now, I could let you go home and it'd be worth you coming. Bearing fruit in drought. Let's start there. Let's stop being the kind of people that's happy when the circumstances are happy and not happy when the circumstances aren't happy. Can we start there? Can we learn how to endure whatever comes with good temper? "Well, I can't help it. I just get upset". No, no, no. Nope, nope, nope. I'll tell you what, it's amazing who we will throw fits in front of and who we will control ourself in front of.
Come on, you could be right in the middle of the biggest fit you've ever had in your house, screaming and yelling, ranting and Raving at your husband and your kids, and if I rang your doorbell, let me tell you, we would have a transition so fast it would make your head, "Well, Joyce! Praise the Lord! Wow! Well, what a privilege"! Well, you know what? Jesus is already there. Don't get excited because some well-known person shows up that you wanna impress. Jesus is the unseen guest in our homes all the time. Jeremiah 17:8. You know, I don't know if you like this kind of preaching or not, but it's the only way I know how to give it out, so I guess I figure the people that aren't ready to go on with God won't come, so.
Let's look at verse 7 and 8 in Jeremiah 17. "Most blessed is the man who believes in, trusts in, and relies on the Lord, and whose hope and confidence the Lord is. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters that spreads out its roots by the river: and it shall not see and fear when heat comes: but its leaf shall be green. It shall not be anxious and full of care in a year of drought, nor shall it cease yielding fruit". Oh boy, that is a great scripture. Now, so what are we rooted in? We have to talk about that.
See, if my confidence is rooted in the love of God, then I don't have to fall apart when somebody doesn't approve of what I'm doing. That doesn't mean I wouldn't prefer to have their acceptance, but I can go on without it. I can say no to people and yes to God even if I never get invited to their party again because I'm not rooted and grounded in them. They're not my source. Amen? But I can go on with God even when other people say, "Well, if you're going to be that Jesus-y", I mean, how Jesus-y is okay? "You know, if you're gonna be that radical, then you're really not gonna fit into our group anymore". Well, then I guess I'm out of the group, but you know what? I've got my own group: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. I decided that a long time ago, and you do too.
So, let's think about it. How easy do we get upset when things don't go our way? How quickly do we get angry? When we do, how long's it take us to calm down? When we have a rift with somebody, how long does it take to be the first one to go and say I'm sorry? Just think about that a little bit. Amen? What's my integrity level like? How much do I keep my word, even when it's hard? Or do I have a habit of telling people I'll do things, and then if I don't feel like doing it, I just don't do it?
You know, worry is a total waste of time. You talk about something that's a waste of time, it's worry. You've probably heard me say this. It's like rockin' in a rocking chair all day. It keeps you busy but gets you nowhere. And sometimes I bring a rocking chair up on the platform with me and I can rock, and rock, and rock, and rock, but I could rock 'til this time tomorrow and I'll still be in the exact same spot. And that's what worry does. It's useless, doesn't solve our problems. Don't waste your time worrying.
Where do we get the strength to do the right thing all the time? We get it from the word of God. I just have to really tell you that if you're not gonna be willing to study the word, you're probably always gonna stay a baby Christian. Now, God loves babies, you know, and I don't think that our salvation is based on what we do. I think it's a free gift from God, but I think that we give up many privileges. We give up a great deal of power and authority here in the earth by not being willing to go all the way with God.
Let me ask a question today: have you received Christ as your Savior, but not yet made him your Lord? There is a difference. I always say that in 1976 I got serious about my relationship with God. And you know what? I was born again when I was 9. So I was saved, but I didn't know anything. And if you don't know anything, then you have no direction. You don't know what to do. And when God touched my life in 1976, he began a spiritual maturity project in me that was hard, but well worth it. I've seen God do some amazing things in me and through me because I've let him work in my life. And I believe it's my job to not only see people come to Christ, but to help the believer mature and grow up so they can have what Jesus died to give them.
I want you to have the life that Jesus died to give you. I don't want you just to hear about it, or sing about it, or hear sermons about it, or look forward to it. I want you to have it. I want you to have the righteousness, the peace, the joy. I want your needs to be met. I want you to be fruitful and I think that you want that too. Psalm 1:1-3, "Blessed (happy, fortunate, prosperous, and enviable) is the man who walks and lives not in the counsel of the ungodly". So some of you, before you can make any progress at all, you gotta get some new friends.
See, we only got through the first sentence... And we've already now got a huge decision to make. "Well, you know, I don't wanna hurt their feelings". You know, listen, I don't think we should hide from all the sinners. Here's what I say, as long as you can affect them and they're not infecting you, go for it. But if they're changing your attitude, if they're keeping you from being full-on with God, you need to get around some positive people. Get around some people that are not focused on their trouble all the time. Get around some dreamers, some goal-oriented people, some people that believe in you, some people that are gonna mention to you the things that are right with you, not "Everything that's wrong with you all the time".
When I made a more serious commitment to God, I lost all my friends. That's probably not a good advertisement for going deeper with God, but hope it doesn't happen to you, but it did happen to me and I'm the better for it. Because, you see, I thought they were my friends, but I found out, really the hard way, that they really weren't after all. And so God had to kinda strip some things away from me. I wasn't just quite ready to give 'em up, so he took 'em. And he'd be happy to do that for you, too, if you'll just give him one invitation today with your mouth and say, "God, do whatever you wanna do in my life". But don't say it if you don't mean it, 'cause once you say it you don't get to take it back.
Here's the way I have to pray, "God, I want you to do whatever you wanna do in my life, and if you have to tie me to the altar to keep me from running away, do whatever you have to do. 'cause I'm telling you right now, God, no matter how much I kick and scream later, I want to be what you want me to be. So go to work and later on, if I start complaining and begging you to back off, don't listen to me". Come on. Amen? You know, it's like a woman who wants to have a baby and she gets pregnant, and then when she starts delivery, she hates her husband. "Get out of this room. You're never gonna do this to me, bah, bah, bah, bah. I'm never gonna do this again". And then 'bout 6 months later you're like, "I think we should have another baby".
Well, you know what, once you get pregnant, there it is, you're gonna have a baby. So it's kind of that way with God, once you give him permission to sow seed in your spirit and to begin to work in your life, you're gonna have a baby. You're gonna have a Jesus baby, amen? There's gonna be some love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, meekness coming out of you, like it or not. You know, the Bible says that "Be exceedingly joyful in all kinds of trials, knowing that trouble bringeth out patience".
Well, you know what, it brought a lot of stuff out of me before we ever got around to patience. Ooh, man, I did not act good in trouble. I was not even up for one hour in drought, let alone a year. I think I got about 35 scriptures today and I'm on number two, so we're in trouble, but... "Blessed (happy, fortunate, prosperous, and enviable) is the man who walks and lives not in the counsel of the ungodly following their advice, their plans and purposes, nor stands submissive and inactive in the path where sinners walk, nor sits down to relax and to rest where the scornful and the mockers gather. But his delight and desire are in the law of the Lord, and on his law," or his word, "(the precepts, the instructions, the teachings of God) he habitually meditates (ponders and studies) by day and by night".
And after he's done that, "He will be like a tree firmly planted and tended by the streams of water, ready to bring forth fruit in its season: and its leaf shall not fade or wither: and everything he does shall prosper and come to maturity". Please, please, please, set aside time in your life to study God's word. Don't just think that watching my TV program's enough. Don't just think that hearing a sermon on Sunday morning is enough. God is insulted when we run to everybody else and bypass him. The best thing you can do is take notes from what you hear, then you go home and you open your Bible, you look those scriptures up, you ask God to give you revelation, you get out a dictionary, you study and find out what they really mean, and ask God to reveal something to you that's gonna help you live the way God wants you to live.
We have so much available to us today, I'm frightened that people think that somebody else can just spoon-feed them everything that they need. And you know, maybe I'm taking a chance saying, "I'd rather you spend time with God than watching me on TV," but I would. I mean, if your choice is me or God, then please take God. I rather you have him 'cause I'm gonna get in big trouble if I don't tell you what I really believe God wants me to tell you. And I can tell you that what we need in our lives, we can't get it from people, we gotta get it from God.
Now, I believe that, you know, the teaching gift and the pastoral gift is needed. And yes, I'm sure that you get understanding and revelation from my teaching, but even so, what I'd like you to do is listen to me, take down some notes, and then go to God and go deeper. Don't just skim around on the surface of the word all the time, like some little bee fleeting from flower to flower. Stop long enough to stick your nose down at it and draw something that's really gonna help you, amen? And I understand what this kind of does to people, 'cause it's like, well, you know, we kinda got rid of the busy excuse last night.
"Well, I'd like to study, but I'm busy". Don't ever say that. If you're too busy to spend time with God, 30 minutes a day, you can start there. If you can't handle that, I don't care if you start at five minutes if you'll be committed to it, because I know what'll happen. You'll get so addicted to it that 5 will become 10 and 10 will become 15. And then you're gonna need an hour and then a couple of hours and then you just can't do without it, amen? I don't go out of the house without my God time. I just don't go. I'm not nice if I do. I gotta get my "Nice" fix every morning. It don't work for me. I'm not gonna handle things well if I don't do that. And God's gonna let me fall flat on my face if I don't come to him first, amen?
I spent 3 hours with God this morning before I came over here to face you guys. Well, I've preached this before. It's not my first rodeo. Did I really need to do that? Absolutely, totally 100%, because I don't care what I've done in the past, having experience or having success in the past doesn't give me a success today if I don't honor God by saying, "I need you. I'm desperate for you. If you don't show up, none of us need to be there". And you're like, "I just hate my job. There's so many hateful people at my job. God, you need to get me out of here".
Oh, excuse me, I thought you wanted a ministry. Oh, okay, I thought that other time when you prayed you said, "God, use me". "Oh, you poor thing, you're the only Christian where you work. Well yes, sweetheart, let me get you out of there so you're not uncomfortable". "Well, I just can't stand it there". Well, you could if you'd get up 30 minutes early, go sit down in a chair somewhere, and say, "God, I'm gonna go to that place again today to represent you and I wanna do it right and I'm gonna wanna slap them if you don't give me the strength to not do that".
Come on, I double dare you to try it. You start going to God every day and you find out how he'll work in your life. Don't take my word for it, try it. "You know, I'll have to get up early". Well, shut the idiot box off at night and go to bed sooner. And I enjoy watching my little shows, and I enjoy watching my movies, but I'll tell you what, you know, this is an age thing I think, but I go to sleep at 9 o' clock and get up at 5, you know. Yeah, you're not up for that, are you? Well, that's okay too. I don't care what time you go to bed or what time you get up. And really, if you can't do it in the morning, then take your lunch hour and spend time with God.
My husband walked the streets in the area where he worked for years and years and years. He didn't sit and gossip at the lunch table. He was one of the few Christians there. He had something better to do then. He walked around the neighborhood and prayed, and prayed, and prayed, and prayed, and prayed, and prayed, and prayed. And, that was when God revealed to him that someday he'd be leaving his job and come into full-time ministry. And for 7 years before that happened he walked those streets prayin', and prayin', and prayin', and prayin'. We're seeing the result now of many prayers that went long before we started doing this. A lot of people want to fall out of bed and have some big overnight success and it's not gonna happen. Before God gives you anything big he's gonna give you somethin' little.
Ooh, I'm having fun today. Alright, you know, we did our 30/30 challenge not too long ago and had almost 200,000 people sign up to study the Bible with us. And it was just thrilling the things that people wrote in and said how life-changing it was to them. And all I suggested was, don't read for quantity, read for quality. And I don't care if you own, look at what we got out of verse one! Verse one! Halfway through it. Give God a chance to speak to you. Habakkuk 3:17-19, "Though the fig tree does not blossom and there's no fruit on the vine, though the product of the olive fail and the field yield no food, and though the flock is cut off from the fold and there's no cattle in the stalls".
Okay, let's talk about it in ways we can understand. Though I lose my job and the refrigerator breaks down and the car breaks down, and the kid brings home two failing grades on their report card and a letter from the teacher saying they're causing disturbances in the class, though the husband sits on the recliner all night and drinks beer while I'm trying to serve God and okay, let's stop blaming the guys, though the wife is lazy and won't do anything, but, you know, whatever. Though I wake up with pimples on my face, though I gained two pounds after thanksgiving. Come on, I'm trying to talk to you about the things that make us unhappy. I'm gonna be 71 on my birthday and I have a zit this morning. I have a pimple! How do you get a pimple when you're 71? I've decided to take it that I'm going back into puberty, yeah! I'm a teenager again. Hallelujah. Wow.
So though nothing is working out in my life, I don't have 1 trial, I got 12 trials, "Yet I will rejoice in the Lord". I will, not "I feel like it". I will, I will, I will, you have a free will. "I will exult in the victorious God of my salvation"! Now, you gotta watch verse 19. "The Lord God is my strength, my personal bravery, my invincible army: he makes my feet like hinds' feet and he will make me to walk not to stand still in terror, but to walk and make spiritual progress upon my high places of trouble, suffering, and responsibility"!
Come on, somebody's gotta give God praise. High places are not places where there's no problems. He says the high places are trouble, suffering, responsibility. And why is that a high place? Because when you can keep on keeping on, when you can keep doing what's right when nothing seems to be going right for you, now you're saying something about your relationship with God that no unbeliever can deny, and no devil in hell can come against. This is what we need. We need this kind of stability in our walk with God. And I know, you know, many of you, you're heart's crying out, "Well, it's hard". You know what? We're anointed for hard. Did you hear me? You don't need to be full of the Holy Ghost to have everything easy.
Galatians 6:7-10 says don't faint in your mind and give up. "Don't be deceived and deluded and misled: God will not allow himself to be sneered at (scorned, disdained, or mocked by mere pretensions or professions, or by his precepts being set aside.) he inevitably deludes himself who attempts to delude God. For whatever a man sows, that and that only is what he will reap". Verse 8, "For he who sows to his own flesh (lower nature)" doing what he feels like, "Will from the flesh reap ruin, decay, and destruction, but he who sows to the spirit".
See, you're sowing to the spirit here today. Only odd people take vacation to go listen to somethin' like this. I mean, you'd have to be a little unusual to take a day of vacation to go have somebody tell you how wonderful suffering and trouble is. Well, the Bible does say that we're strangers and aliens just passing through. Let's look at verse 9, "And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not faint". Let's look at Deuteronomy 26:14, "I have not eaten of the tithe in my mourning". We'll just look at that, "I have not eaten of my tithe in my mourning".
I love that. He's saying, "When I'm having trouble I don't take what belongs to God and use it on myself". Man, it gets quiet when you talk about tithing. Well, I might as well just go ahead and say it, the first 10% of all your increase doesn't even belong to you: it belongs to God. And when we take what belongs to God, then we miss a lot of the blessings that he has for us. And some people say, "Well, tithing's under the law, that's not in the New Testament". Well, you know, I guess the only thing I can say to that is if they could give 10% under the law, what should we be doing by grace?