Joyce Meyer - The Disappointment of Unrealistic Expectations
Tonight, I want to talk about the disappointment of unrealistic expectations. I want you to think about what that means because I tell everybody all the time, "To be full of hope," and that means to expect that God is going to do something great in your life. So, I'm for dreaming, for big vision, expecting God to do the impossible. But, we set ourselves up for disappointment when we are believing for things that not even the Bible tells us is a reality. And, I found ten, I'm sure there's a lot more, but I really think that many times, if you'll be really open and listen to this, that it's not really other people that make us unhappy, it's what we expect out of those people.
Like, I used to expect Dave to make me happy all the time. And, after several years of that God said, "Will you stop trying to give Dave the responsibility for your joy"? Come on, and maybe somebody here is doing that. You're like... You're mad 'cause somebody that you're in a relationship with is not keeping you happy, but maybe you need to take responsibility for your own joy and decide to be happy in the Lord. We have to take responsibility for our own stuff. So, that took a big load off of Dave when I finally stopped depending on him. Or, some people they expect other people to make them feel good about themselves all the time. And, you know, that can just wear somebody out. I mean, when you constantly depend on them to keep you up and runnin' and fixed and feeling okay about yourself, eventually, you just wear people out. They don't even want to be in a relationship with you anymore.
So, when you know who you are in Christ and you feel good about yourself then you're not putting that job off on somebody else and it makes relationships healthy and whole. Just a few opening comments here: we do not live life on the mountaintop and facing that reality helps us to be prepared for real life. You see, even though I believe in having big dreams, we also have to be prepared for real life. We have times that we enjoy that are on the mountaintop of life. But, we all know that we live most of life in the ordinary everyday, right? And, I was kinda thinking about this and it's kinda interesting. You know, we want to be enthused all the time and we want to be excited all the time but I hear people saying, and I feel like this, like, after the Christmas and the new year holidays, you've got a long time of things being different, and most people will say, "I'll be so glad to get back to my regular routine".
So, really, we do like our normal everyday life. We need what I call, "The spice in life," little extra things once in awhile, the birthday party, the new dress, the vacation. We need things like that to shake it up and make it different. But, to be honest, most of life is just gettin' up and goin' to bed, gettin' up and goin' to bed, gettin' up and goin' to bed, goin' to work, cleanin' the house, watching somebody get it dirty, cleanin' it again... Goin' to church, goin' home, goin' to the grocery store, eatin' the food, cleanin' up the mess, right? Most of every day is just, so, I think it's a great game to play with the devil to just watch him try to make you unhappy and not let him, cause more than anything the enemy does not want us to be happy. If the world is full of happy Christians then a lot more people want to be one. Amen?
John 10:10, "The thief comes only to kill, steal, and destroy, but Jesus said, 'I came that you might have and enjoy your life'". Not just have life but enjoy your life. And, that means we have to learn how to enjoy the ordinary everyday life, cleanin' your house, doin' your laundry, changin' the oil in the car, drivin' in traffic. And really, when we have a really tight, right, deep relationship with God you can do that. That's what the joy of the Lord is. We just have to realize that every day is not going to be an exciting day. It can be a good day, but it doesn't have to be an exciting day.
And, to be honest, even people going to church today, and I don't mean this insulting but people that are up here feel it, a lot of times people expect to be entertained when they go to church. And that's so far away from what we should be feeling when we come. And, the people up here, from the worship team to the preacher, to the media people, whatever, we should not feel like we have to entertain you. We're here to tell you things that are gonna change your life, and set you free, and get you through next week with a smile on your face, amen? The life you have is the one you have, and hating it is not gonna get you another one. Stop running away from the things you have and learn how to embrace them and enjoy where you're at right now.
Couple of scriptures on contentment. Paul wrote to Timothy and he said, "But Godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world and we cannot take anything out of the world". Now, we read over that scripture but, I want us to just unpack it for a minute. You know, you came in to the world naked and probably before long somebody wrapped you up in a little blanket or put a little, some kinda outfit on you.
My youngest son was born a couple of hours before Christmas eve, and so, they put a red Santa claus suit on him and a hat. And so, you come in with absolutely nothing and then pretty soon somebody gives you something, and some clothes to wear. And, when you go out, somebody may dress up your naked body in a suit or your favorite dress, but everything that you have, none of it will go with you. Not one thing. I just want you to think. I wonder how many people have destroyed relationships because they were busy trying to make more money?
And then, a lot of times, you'll hear father's even say, "Well, I just did it for my family. I wanted you guys to have everything". And then, their children grow up and they don't have any kind of relationship with 'em because what their children really wanted was them, they wanted their time, they didn't necessarily want their money. Most of you know who tommy barnett is. And, you know, he traveled as an evangelist and was very busy all of his life. But, his sons, both now, one runs a Dream Center in Phoenix, and one runs the Dream Center in Los Angeles, and they're all in ministry and just a great family but, his kids have told us how, no matter where he was at in the world, if they had a football game, or a basketball game, or whatever, he would fly from halfway around the world to be at their games and then go back where he was to go to work.
And, that's what builds relationship, it's time. And, I'll tell you the truth. It's easier for me to give somebody my money than it is my time. I read this the other day: Americans are the busiest people on the face of the earth. But, I just wanted to kinda take a moment to unpack that, to get you to think about what are you doing? You know, you can work harder and not pay attention to relationships so you can have a little more money, and a little bigger house, and a little better car, and a few more clothes, and that certain pair of shoes and whatever.
And, that's fine. I'm not saying not to enjoy stuff, you know. I like stuff. But, an interesting thing has happened to me, the older that I'm getting the more stuff aggravates me. I mean, I'm gonna to write a book on aging gracefully, and the subtitle's gonna be, "Aging without getting old". Because, you don't have to get old, but we all age. And, I'm telling you, by the time you get where I'm at, which I don't make my age a secret, I'm 75. By the time you get where I'm at, you have learned so much by experience. And, you learn what's important and what's not important. And, I can just tell you, relationships, good solid relationships, especially with your family, is the most valuable thing that you have. And, you don't want to put anything else ahead of keeping those healthy, amen?
So, you brought nothing in, and you're taking nothing out. I know the Egyptians buried their people with a lot of their stuff in the coffins with em, but they never cared about it after that, so... In Philippians 4:11-13, Paul said, "Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned, in whatever situation I am in to be content". I'm so glad that Paul said he learned things. He didn't know everything when he started. And, I wonder how he learned finally, to be content? And, it goes on to say, "I can do all things through Christ who is my strength". But, we take that scripture out of context sometimes, making people feel like they can do anything they want to and that is not what that scripture means. He said he could be abased or he could be abounded, and he could be content, either way, "I can do either one through Christ who is my strength".
So, one of the main things that God wants us to do is to draw on his power to be the same, no matter what's going on in our circumstances. Come on, now. That is spiritual maturity, to be the same sweet, loving, happy... I'm gonna go talk to these people, you guys aren't... Come on, don't you think stability should be our goal? And, you know, I had a test last week. I didn't pass it, I'll get to take it again, but... That should be our goal because really, all the devil's don't care about your stuff, he just wants to get you upset. Because, when we get upset, we say a bunch of stuff we don't mean, and we make a bunch of bad decisions, and it just hurts our witness, and we're always sorry afterward that we acted that way.
So, I want to invite you to play the game that I'm playing, and just see how many times you can just make the devil mad by staying stable. You know what Dave says all the time? Somethin' will happen that he wasn't expecting and he he'll just say, "I'm not impressed devil". Like, for example, we've got a courtyard in our house that's got a little electric gate where you pull through to park your cars. And, we were having trouble with the electric gate, and so we had the electric gate repaired at a fairly high price. But, they hooked up somethin' wrong in it, so, when Dave drove his car through it, he got halfway through and the gate shut on this car. And so, one side of his car got a long scratch on it, which now, we have to pay for and that's not cheap at all.
And, you can say, you can get so mad, or you can say, "You know what, devil? I'm not impressed". Cause, you know, what? Here's the bottom line. He's gonna have to get it fixed and it's gonna cost what it's gonna cost. And so, getting upset and getting mad changes nothing in our life, it just makes us miserable. So, if you want to have a good, a really good 2019, let's make a decision to stop getting upset about all these little things that don't go our way and be a little bit realistic and realize that life is not perfect, people are not perfect, no church is perfect, no job is perfect, no friend is perfect, nobody that you ever could be married to is gonna be perfect. You can get rid of the one you got right now, but you'll get more problems with the next one. So, if you got one that's even somewhat trained, keep 'em. Keep after it. Amen?
You see, I think that Paul somewhere along the line changed his perspective. He decided to look at things a little different way. So, when these kinda things happen, how 'bout just lookin' at it like, "That's just the devil trying to upset me". Can you say that with me? "That's just the devil tryin' to upset me". Been there, done that. No thank you. I'm not losing my peace. I'm not losing my joy. Somebody earlier in the service talked about keeping our peace. Because gettin' upset does not change it.
A story out of my life from a long, long time ago, I mean, probably 30 years ago when I was very first beginning to try to learn some of these principles. I mean, every time somethin' didn't go my way, I got upset. And, I was not the kind of person who got upset quietly. I wasn't one of those kind of people who just kind of seethed inside and you know, kept it to myself. If I didn't like it, the whole house knew I didn't like it. And, these were back in the days when families still had dinner together every night. And so, dinner was a big thing. I had spent a lot of time cookin'. Dave usually got home from work around 5:30 and we'd eat around a quarter to six. And so, we had four kids, and Dave, and I all around the table.
And so, you get the meal on the table, and you worked all hard, and it's there. And, I don't even know that they have these anymore, but tables, back then, came apart. And, there was a crack in the middle and you could open it up and put a leaf in it and make it bigger. And so, every night, I mean, literally, every night at dinner somebody would spill something, something liquid. And, the goal was to get to it before it got to the crack in the table. Because we all know that in the crack there was stuff. Ya know, stuff.
And so, I would like, "Oh, for cryin' out loud! Can't we ever have one meal without somebody makin' a mess..". Anybody know the scene? And, I'd rush to try to get it and if I didn't get it, then I'd have to crawl under the table, try to wipe it up, runnin' down the table legs and kids kickin' me in the head and cryin', you know... One night, I heard God say to me so plainly, "Joyce, you need to learn to go with the flow because all of your anger is not gonna make this milk run back up the table legs, across the table, and get back into the glass. So, why don't you just clean it up, keep your peace and enjoy dinner"?
Could anybody use this tonight? Do you know how much energy it takes to get really mad? It's like eight hours of labor. I mean, seriously, to get really mad, and then to try to calm down, and then all the guilt you feel about what a fool you made out of yourself, it is just hard work. So, perspective is important. No matter how bad we've got it, it could always have been worse. And, what we need to learn to do is thank God that things weren't worse than what they could have been instead of getting so upset about things that happened.
A friend of mine, one time, was sittin' in a boat, goin' on a boat ride. She had some kind of a lawn chair rigged up was sitting in the boat. And, she'd been praying Psalm 91 about his angels having charge over her, and so on, and so forth. The boat hit a big wave and she fell over backwards and hit her head. And, right away she started, "Well, I don't understand. I was praying the 91st Psalm, and I don't know why I hit my head". She said, "Just as plain, God said, 'you're not dead, are ya?'" pressing on. You know what? Some of you can go home and you can change your life by simply deciding to change the way you've been looking at some things. Amen? You know, most people that get divorces, they get divorced because they've gotten so focused on what their spouse does wrong, that they don't even see the things they loved about 'em, that was why they married 'em. No? You want me to try it a different way?
Okay, I was watching another movie and, it's called, something about second chances, "Second Chance Christmas," or something, I don't know. So, this couple gets married and they're just happy, happy, happy, happy. Just adore each other, they're so much in love. And, after about four years, she can't stand him. He's messy, he's this, he's that, he's not this, he's not that. So, she's on her way to a divorce attorney to file for divorce, get a divorce, and she has a car wreck and gets amnesia, doesn't remember her husband. And so, she has to meet him all over again and learn he's her husband. And, she thinks he's a great guy, she loves this about him, she loves that about him, she loves somethin' else about him. And, I know how it'll end, you know. I mean, I know she'll end up just realizing that she had started focusing on the wrong things.
Do you know that you can change your level of joy and I can change my level of joy by simply learning to focus on what we do have rather than focusing on what we do not have? I don't know about you, but when I first heard this particular type of thing presented, that it's our expectations that make us unhappy, it really helped me a lot. Because, I realized that a lot of times we're expecting people to do stuff and it's not even in their wheelhouse. Just because you would do something, you cannot expect somebody else to do that because they may not even be wired that way at all. And, it's pretty much useless to try to get somebody to be somebody they're not. I said, "It's pretty much useless to try to get somebody to be somebody they're not". That's why you gotta focus on the things you liked about 'em in the beginning... Dave does the dishes, that covers everything else. Although, he broke one of my favorite glasses last night. We're still discussing that.
Now, to be content does not mean that we never want to change. But, here's what the Greek meaning kinda brings out. That to be content, when Paul said he was satisfied, he'd learned how to be content and whether he was abased or abounding, he was satisfied. In the classic, amplified Bible it said, "Satisfied to the point where I'm not upset or disturbed". Didn't mean he never wanted change. Obviously, we want change. It doesn't mean that other people don't do things wrong. But, what I'm talking about is let's get wise enough to save ourselves a lot of stress and a lot of energy, let's just see how many things the enemy can throw at us and us just stay stable. I think this would just be the most fun game to play. "Just give it your best shot, devil. I'm going to stay happy".
So, just a few realities. First reality, "Nobody and nothing is perfect". We say that but then... people go from church to church. They don't like this about their church so they go to another one, and then they don't like something about that church, so they go to another one. And then, they don't like that church, so they go to another one. Did it ever occur to you that maybe you're the thing you don't like at the church you're going to? This is a true story. A woman was gettin' married for the seventh time. And, our pastor was doing the ceremony and she went to him and said, "Pastor, I need you to pray that this man will treat me right". And, he said, "Well, you've been married seven times and you probably need to consider that you're the only common denominator in all seven marriages".
I just love to have fun when I'm preachin'. You know, we chase perfection when we're 20. But, by the time you're a little bit older you realize that it's just a myth, and you just deal with it. Real life is not perfect. We might manage a handful of perfect days in a lifetime. Where every single thing went exactly the way we wanted it to that day. But, if I just wrote down a few things happened in two or three days. I made an appointment at the nail shop. You make appointments so you can do something at a specific time. But, invariably, when I get there, they've tried to work somebody else in, hoping to get 'em done before I got there. And then, I'm waiting 10 or 15 minutes and that kind of stuff aggravates me, I'm not good with that. So, pray for me that I can win in that.
My flight was late gettin' in, kitchen sink stopped up, got a generator on our house that we paid lots of money for, it's never worked right, never since the time we got it, 13 years, never worked right. It sits out there and looks pretty then when the power goes out it doesn't come on. So, we just had another big repair on it. They said, "Oh, the motherboard's out, and this is out, and that's out, and so, we had all that fixed. First time, it was supposed to, it didn't work. That was the test that I did not pass last week. And, I carried on and ranted and raved for probably a good 45 minutes, and then I was exhausted, and it didn't change it, it didn't fix it. I still had to call a repairman out and go at it again, so... Is anybody with me?
Okay, a few scenarios. You're ready to cook dinner and discover you forgot to buy the meat. Options, we have options. In the Lord, we have options. Get upset, change the menu, or keep quiet and go get the meat. Somebody offends you or makes you angry and it catches you totally off-guard, you don't display Christian fruit, and now you feel guilty. Options: you can stay angry, tell 'em off and make it even worse, or you can repent to God, go tell the person you're sorry, let go of the guilt and go ahead and have a good day. We always have options. And, we don't have to be as unhappy as we are if we get just a little bit more realistic, what is getting upset really going to do to change this situation?
I'm gonna save you guys lots of wasted time next week. My sermon will only last about a week and then somebody'll have to come by and preach it again, cause, we have, well, maybe two weeks. I don't know. Perfect: here's how you can be perfect. James 3:2, "For we all stumble in many ways. But if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he's a perfect man". So, when you can get to the point where you never make one mistake with your mouth then you can plan on perfection. There's only one perfect thing and it's Jesus. And, the Bible says that, "When the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away".
Well, "The perfect," is referring to when Jesus returns again. And, by the way, and this is the most interesting part, it's actually the imperfect things in our life that God uses to perfect us. Hmm... I'ma say that again. It's the imperfect things in our life that God uses to perfect us. How do you learn how to love unlovely people? By having to deal with unlovely people. How do you learn how to stay stable in trials? By having trials. How do you get patience? Come on. I love the scriptures about Jesus. It says that he was equipped and prepared for his ministry as our high priest because of the things he suffered and went through and experienced. Nobody can help somebody else like somebody who's gone through it. Come on. I said, "Nobody can help somebody else like somebody who's gone through it". So, when the devil really attacks you, you need to tell him, "You're gonna be sorry you did this because God's gonna get me through this and I'm gonna have some experience and I'm gonna use it to help other people". Alright.
Now, we better go on to point two. "You can't please all the people all the time". I'm gonna write a book with that title, "You cannot please all the people all the time". People-pleasing. Why can't you please all the people all the time? Because everybody wants something different from you. And so, you end up tryin' to be this and tryin' to be that, and tryin' to do this, and tryin' to do that till you lose yourself. And, you end up finally realizing I'm not enjoying my life at all, and a lot of times, in the process, we lose our destiny. We're not even really God-pleasers anymore because we're so busy trying to keep all the people around us happy. And, if you want to really be the person God wants you to be, you're gonna have to learn how to be rejected and not care. And, I don't mean like, it won't hurt, but you can't care so much that you get it to change your decision.
Galatians 1:10, Paul said, "For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Am I trying to please man"? And, I love this, "If I were still trying to please man, I would not now be the servant of Christ". He said he would've never become an apostle if he would have been trying to please man. And, I can look back at my own life, and I'm sure many of you, just the fact that you've taken the stand that you've taken to be a more committed Christian, you have probably, people that are close to you in life that have rejected you just because you want to be closer to God and they don't.
When God called me to do what I'm doing, there was nobody in the beginning that was for me. I mean, even Dave in the very beginning didn't like it. I mean, God dealt with him pretty quick, and it was just a few weeks and he got onboard and you know, we've been good ever since but... Cause, you know, Dave's a wise man. And, God just basically told him, "I've called her to do this. If you do what I'm asking you to do, you'll always have joy. If she does what I'm asking her to do, she'll always have joy. If you try to do somethin' I've not called you to do, you're not gonna have joy". And, really, one of the main reasons why we've had this longtime, very fruitful, ministry is not just because God's given me a gift of communication, but he's given me a husband that's stable enough to let me be who I am. And, I'll tell you what, that takes a great man of God.
John 12:42 and 43 "Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the pharisees they would not confess it, so they would not be put out of the synagogue". How sad is that? You know, Jesus was quite a revolutionary. And, when he came along, the things he was sayin' and preachin' didn't line up with the old religious world. He was just a little bit out of the box. Sayin' things that people didn't like at all. But, when they heard him preach, they were convicted in their heart and they knew that it was true. But, it says right here, although many people believed in him, they would not confess it. They wouldn't come out bold and confess it for fear of losing their friends. You don't have a friend that's worth losing your relationship with Jesus over. Amen?
And, just real quick, in Luke 10, when Jesus sent the disciples out to minister two by two, he said, Luke 10:8-11, "'Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you, heal the sick, and say to them, "The Kingdom of God has come nigh unto you". But, whenever you enter a town, and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, "Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, the Kingdom of God has come nigh unto you"'". So, he's basically saying, "Look, whenever people reject you, I'm sending you out to do a job. I'm calling you into a deeper walk with me. When people reject you just shake it off. Don't let it bother you. Don't let it upset you. Don't let it cause you to lose your joy. Just shake it off". You know why? 'Cause you can't please all the people all the time. Get confident enough in Christ to just believe, "If you don't want to be my friend, it's your loss not mine". Amen? We gotta please God not man.
I recall a woman, who met me in a restaurant one time. I still remember this restaurant. You went downstairs to the area where the restaurant was. And, when we went down there, we were waiting by the hostess stand to get a table. I think we had a reservation and we were just waiting. And, a lady recognized me from television and came over and started talking to me so I was talking to her, asked her name, "Glad to meet you," all that. In the meantime, the waitress comes over and says, "We've got your table ready now". So, I said, "It was good to meet you," went on.
Next day, she called our office, irate. "You say you love people. I would have expected you to have spent more time with me. I felt like you were really rude. And, I don't like it at all". Well, she had an expectation, but her expectation meant she didn't care whether I got to have dinner or not, as long as she got what she wanted. And see, that's what happens a lot of times when people get mad at you and place demands on your life. They're not really thinkin' about you. They're mad at you because you're not giving them what they want, and they really don't care what happens to you. Amen? And, you know, we all want to be liked, that's human nature. You want people to love you and like you, but I'm just telling you, it's an unrealistic expectation. And, as long as you have that you're gonna always end up unhappy somewhere along the way. We expect people to understand us and they're not all going to understand you.
Reality number three: in the world you will have tribulation. You know that's a promise from God just like, "Give and it will be given back to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together". We cheer for that one, but everybody gets quiet at this one. But, Jesus said, "'In the world", John 16:33, "'you will have tribulation. Cheer up: for I have overcome the world'". Let me ask you, how many of you are going through somethin' right now? Well, you know what? You should be happy. You know why? Because you're going through. You're not stuck in the middle in a place you're never gonna get out of. You are going through. When you go through the fire, you won't be burned. When you go through the river, you won't be overwhelmed. "Yea, though I go through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: because you are with me".
Of course, we're going through, but that's good news to the believer. Because the world, without Christ, will never get through. But, you're going through. And, you're gonna come out on the other side. It's like the disciples... In the amplified Bible, in Mark 4, Jesus said to his disciples, "'Let us go over to the other side'". I love this, let us go over to the other side. Matter of fact, the first recorded message, which back then, was on a cassette tape was based on these scriptures. Let us go over to the other side. And, what happened? The very next thing that happened after Jesus said, "Let's go to the other side," was a storm of hurricane proportions arose. And, they couldn't find Jesus because he was asleep.
Every storm's not in the forecast. Don't you love it when you think you're headed somewhere, you believe you're obeying God, and you step out and then all of a sudden you got a big storm and you can't find Jesus anywhere? He got up and calmed the storm, then he rebuked the disciples for not having enough faith and being afraid. And then, the very next verse says, "And they arrived on the other side". And, I love that. Let us go to the other side. Almost anytime you head somewhere that's gonna be progress in your life, you're gonna have a storm in the middle. I know it's not good news. I know that. But, really, it is. Because if we're prepared to handle real life... Just make a decision, "This year I am gonna pass more tests than I have ever passed before in my life". You're going through.
Reality number four: We will all die. Do you know how different I think now that, okay, in four and 1/2 years, I'm gonna be 80. So, 14 and 1/2 years, I'm gonna be 90. Now, Dodie has made me promise that if she lives to be a hundred that I will get up and sing at her birthday party. Which, I don't sing. Now, I'm not sayin' I don't want her to live to be a hundred but I thought about this today Dodie, if that happened you'd be a hundred might be 90. I have to sing, she says. But, here's the thing. In the last few years, I have looked at things so much differently because I know that it's not gonna be all that long, and I'm not expecting to die anytime soon, but I'm a lot closer to it than I was, you know... I mean, sometimes I think, "I'm 75". And I'm like, "Really"? But, the Bible says in Romans 14:12 that, "Every man will stand before God and give an account of his life".
Can you imagine with some of the stuff that's going on today, and the ungodly things that people fight to get the right to do, and how they're going to feel when they stand before their maker? And, I don't want to end on some somber, sobering thought but we need to realize that God sees everything we do. Everything we do. And, we cannot just act like a Christian when we're in church with all of our Christian buddies. It's everywhere we go. And, especially, behind closed doors. Who you really are, is who you are when you think nobody's lookin'. That's who I really am. Who I am when I think that nobody sees me.
The little things, being a person of integrity, things you could get by with, nobody would ever know but God would know. Doing what's right, just because it's right. I told some people today, we were talking about some things about honesty and integrity, and people keeping their word, and being at appointments on time, and stuff. And, I said, "I am glad that I had the privilege of living in an era when things like that were commonplace". Some of you are old enough that you know what I mean. I mean, you gave your word, you kept your word. You had an appointment, you were there, or you called and let people know. You did what you said you were gonna do. I mean, and even people that weren't saved had more morals than some Christians do today. Come on.
And here's the problem we have now. We have whole generations now, that don't even know what the word integrity means. I've had people ask me, "What is integrity? What is it"? And I tell ya, if there's ever a time when we need really, straight-on, sound, solid Bible teaching it's today. So, if you're not entertained at every church service you go to, thank God because you're not going to be entertained, you're going to have your life changed. Every person is gonna stand before God and give an account of his life.
Now, if you're saved, if you've received Christ, you're not going to need to give an account of anything concerning your salvation. You're already in. "Why should I let you in"? "I believe in Jesus". But, the Bible does say that we will also be judged on our works, and that we will receive rewards for the ones that passed the test when they go through the fire. And, I believe that's the fiery eyes of Jesus. And the Bible says plainly, don't have time to go to all these places, but, talks a lot about reward.
Let me tell you somethin'. Somebody who goes through this life that's not so perfect, and stands fast, and does what's right, even if they lose friends and all the things we've been talking about, there is a great reward. I mean, a reward. God's gonna reward us. And, frankly, when I get to heaven, I don't want to still be in kindergarten. I've worked hard. But, the Bible says you can work hard and still lose your reward if your motives aren't right. We can't do what we do to be seen of men, or to be applauded, or to please men. We have to learn to live as if we really believe that God sees every single thing that we do. Is anybody with me tonight?
I'm doing a teaching called, "The disappointment of unrealistic expectations". And, you know, I teach people all the time to expect big things. I don't think we should go around expecting trouble or expecting every day to have some kinda problem. But, we do live in a real world with real issues, and a lot of evil, and a big devil, and lots of demons that hate Christians. And, the fact is, thank God that we can pray, and believe, and dream dreams, and have visions and God does so many amazing, I mean, really and truly people, God does so many amazing things in our lives. I mean, really, just phenomenally amazing, so many little things that we miss and don't pay attention to.
Just one quick example. We were out of town and we were gonna go see an Elvis impersonator. I was a teenager when Elvis was like, really big, and so, I still like to hear him sing. And so, we had tickets and then our daughter decided she wanted to join us. We were out of town and all the tickets were sold out long time in advance for this. And so, we were able to get her a ticket, but we were split, we weren't together. So, I said, "Let's pray that there will be seats open next to us or to you, so we can all sit together". Now, you know, in the natural, your brain wants to say, "Well, that's not going to happen. They already told you that the theater's completely sold out". But, sure enough, every seat in the place was taken.
I saw one empty seat down in front of us, but next to my daughter were four empty seats, people who didn't show up. Well, see... But, you know what? That was God just showing out. And, we take those things as coincidences, but I encourage you, just pray about everything. You know, let prayer be like breathing. Just open that door to give God an opportunity to work in your life. And, whatever you do, let's don't get so used to God, come on, Christians. Let's just don't get so used to God that we forget how exciting it is to know him. But, even in the midst of that and all the blessings we have, there are a lot of unhappy people in the world and a lot of them are Christians. And, if we could all just be honest for a minute, lots and lots of Christians are discontent. They're not content. It's always another thing we're looking for.
"There's somethin' wrong with this church, I'll find another church, then I'll be happy". "Somethin' wrong with this job, I'll get another job, and then I'll be happy". You know, when are we really gonna just make our mind up to be happy right now? And, to be happy with the life we've got because the life you have right now is the life you have, and hating it is not gonna get you a better one. Matter of fact, the one you got is probably pretty good if you get a right perspective.
So, I started talkin' about that it's not just our circumstances or the people around us that make us unhappy. It's really what we expect people to do. Like, I shared, many years ago, and I'm sure a lot of people do this. I was mad at Dave a lot because he wasn't doing what I thought would make me happy. And so, I really had an unrealistic expectation because I gave him the responsibility of keeping me happy. And, any time you expect somebody else to keep you happy all the time, you're gonna be disappointed because they're really kinda hoping you'll keep them happy. So, God said to me one day, "Stop giving Dave the responsibility for your joy. That's your own responsibility".
So, we have all kinds of unrealistic expectations. And, what happens is when we are expecting something that... Well, I mean, like, the Bible says, "In the world you will have tribulation," but we are just so surprised when we have trouble. You say, "Well, God, I don't understand why this is happening to me. I don't understand". We're not so shocked when it happens to somebody else. We're just like, "Well that's part of life, you know, just buck up, trust God, believe God". But, when it happens to us it's a totally different thing. And so, really, what I want to get across in this message is that we really, I think, are in a time and church history and world history when as Christians we need to have consistent joy, not just so we can have a happy feeling, but because of our witness to the world. We have to be different than they are. We have to be, and we should be. And, they are not gonna want what we have or be interested in our story about our Jesus if we look miserable all the time, and we don't handle life any differently than they do.
So, I want us to, I'll call it play a game with the devil, although we never should take him lightly or think about playing games with him. But, his goal is to keep you upset. He sets us up to upset us. He knows what buttons to push. He watches us so close. And, he knows exactly when we're at a weak time, when he can come against us and get us to just lose our cool, lose our temper, get angry, get upset, lose our peace, and say a bunch of stuff that we really shouldn't be saying. Can anybody agree with that and say, "Amen"? So, I like to play this game of just trying to see how often I can make it through the test and just stay totally stable because I'll bet that just frustrates the devil, no end, when he does his best to upset you, and you still just keep loving God, and staying happy, and loving people.
Come on, let's have a goal. There is only one way to overcome evil. Romans, 12:21, "We overcome evil with good". Actually, the best thing you can do when the devil's attacking you is go do something outrageously wonderful for somebody else. Anyway, that's another whole different message. So, the way we look at things is so important, our perspective on life. We're all so prone to thinkin' about our problems and forgetting about all of our blessings. My gosh, we are so blessed. So blessed. Did you hear me? So blessed. We always think about how bad something is, but we don't think about how much worse it could be if God was not on our side. Come on, give God a big praise.
So, I started last night with what is a 10-point message, which is always a joke for me. And, I started talking about the different, unrealistic expectations we get. Or, just facing some realities, just facing reality. How many of you know, we have to be able to do that? We can have our dreams and visions, and we can pray for great things, but we still have to be able to deal with real life, and nobody lives on the mountain top all the time. There's nobody that has every day turn out exactly the way that they would like it to turn out. Life is full of disappointments, but we are in the world not of the world. And so, the world has a reality, but a believer has a reality. The reality in the world is, "In the world, there will be tribulation". But, my reality as a believer, is God will bring me through it all, and he will take it all and work good out of it.
So, the four things I talked about last night, reality number one: nobody and nothing is perfect except Jesus. Nobody. And, I don't have time to go back into that, but we expect so much out of people that we can't even give ourselves. You cannot please all the people all the time. And if you try to, you're gonna lose your own life. And, whatever God's destiny is for you, you'll totally miss it. Because, everybody expects something different outta you, and if you try to keep 'em all happy, you'll get to the point where you don't even know who you are anymore. The third thing we talked about is: in the world there will be tribulation. And, the fourth thing was: we're all gonna die. Can't get away from that.
Now, you know, if you're 20, you're not caring too much about that right now. But, when you get on up there, up there, you start caring a whole lot more. And, we're all gonna stand before God and give an account of our lives. Now, you know, the Bible says a lot about the fear of the Lord. I mean, it's amazing how many times you see in the Bible, the fear of the Lord. It's the beginning of wisdom. And, many people today, don't even have a clue what that is. How often have you heard a sermon on the fear of the Lord? Maybe never. Now, we're not supposed to be afraid of God because we know that he loves us, but we do need to have a reverential fear and awe, and we need to realize that God sees every single thing that we do. And so, it's not really what we do out in public that is so important, it's what we do at home behind closed doors when we think nobody's looking, but God is always looking.
Now, if you've received Christ as your Savior, you're not gonna be judged based on salvation. But, the Bible says that you can spend your life doing all kinds of good works and when you pass through the eyes of fire on judgement day, that every work that was pure, you'll get a reward for it. But, anything that was done with a wrong motive, to be seen by people, to be well thought of, or all these crazy things that we get into, you lose the reward of that, although you, yourself will be saved. Well, I don't know about you, but I don't want to get to heaven and still be in kindergarten, and have start all over again. If I'm gonna spend my life serving God, which is what I've done for the last 42 years, I mean, that's my life, that's what I do. I don't want to lose my reward. Come on.
Reality number five: the devil will never leave you alone. I didn't think you'd be excited. There wasn't one point I had last night that anybody was excited about. But, I've had a lot of people say, "That message just life changing for me". Because sometimes, we get just a little bit too carried away in our thinking, thinking that because we had this relationship with God that we should never have to deal with stuff that the world deals with. And, it's not reality. And, I'm really big on, I mean, I guess it's just part of who I am, but, I don't, I mean, I have big dreams and visions, but I'm a very realistic, common sense, down-to-earth person. Because you're a Christian, that doesn't mean that you lose your mind. You still have to look at things in a realistic logical way.
If you mistreat people, they're not gonna like you. If you spend more money than you make, you're gonna be in serious trouble one of these days. A lot of things, you just can't pray it away. The devil will never leave you alone. And actually, if he is leaving you alone, you have a worse problem than if he wasn't leaving you alone. Because, if he's not bothering you at all that means you're not bothering him. You have no idea what it costs me to preach these messages, because I get tested on every, single one of them. And so, anytime you're making progress, in any way, the devil is going to come against you and try to stop you. There's not one person in here, I mean, you can say, "Well, I just wish the devil would leave me alone. Well, if the devil would just leave me alone...", well, he is not going to leave you alone. I said, "The devil is not going to leave you alone". But, "Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world".
The reality in the world, is the devil is not gonna leave you alone, but as a believer, your reality is you have authority over him. But, you gotta recognize him, and you gotta exercise that authority. Having something and using it is two entirely different things. And listen, I don't think we should focus on the devil. I don't think we should go around talking about the devil all the time. But, we are making a mistake if we never hear about him, and we never think about him, and we never do any reading on him because I went to church for years, and years, and years and I never heard a sermon on the devil, never. I thought he was just like some kinda halloween character that wore a red suit and had a pitchfork. I mean, I was blaming everything in my life on everybody except the enemy.
Come on. I'm sure most of you are familiar with Luke 4, where immediately after Jesus was baptized, before he started his public ministry... Some of you want to be in ministry so bad. Okay, well, you gotta pass a few tests first. 'Cause you never know, what you know, until it's tested. We think we know, and we can tell everybody else what to do, but until it's tested in our own life, we really truly don't know, what we don't know. And so, right before Jesus started his public ministry he was tested. The Bible says, "The Holy Spirit led him out into the wilderness".
Come on. You think the Holy Spirit won't ever lead you into a hard place? Oh, yes, he will. You know why? That's where we learn our greatest lessons. You think the Holy Spirit won't arrange for you to sit right next to somebody at work that almost drives you crazy. Oh, yes, he will. And, if you run away from that one, the next one's liable to be worse. Do you know why? Now, listen. It's the imperfect things in our lives that God uses to perfect us. That might be one of the most important things I say today, get that. It's the imperfect things in our life that God uses to perfect us. We're not worth our salt if we're just spouting out words, and we have no experience. When I tell you God is faithful, I'm telling you, I know by experience that God is faithful. I know that.
And so, the enemy tested him. And he tested him through telling him lies. Not gonna go and read it, but every time the devil would say something to Jesus, the Bible says, "And Jesus said to the devil". You need to talk back to the devil once in awhile. Amen? "Shut up devil. Get behind me. You're a liar. No". That's a good one. "No, not doing that". Come on. And every time that the enemy tempted Jesus, Jesus said, "It is written". "It is written". One of the most powerful things that you can do is confess the Word of God, out loud, every time the devil lies to you. You hear in your head, "You're no good". You say, "That's a lie. I'm created by God and everything that God created is good. Matter of fact, you just have no idea how awesome I am".
How many of you understand what I'm saying, 'cause I gotta press on. Like I said, we don't want to be devil-minded all the time, but we can't forget either that he really is the source of all of our problems. He works through people and he works through circumstances. But, the bottom line is, is that even though people do have a responsibility not to give place to the devil and let him use them, it's still, when you come to the bottom line, it's the devil that's causing the problems. And, until we learn how to deal with him, we're never gonna get consistently happy. But, what I love about this story in Luke, you go through all of it from Luke one to verse 13, after he had finished, so verse 13 says, "And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until another opportune time," came along. So, the devil had no intention of ever leaving Jesus alone. Jesus won that battle and then immediately after that he started his public ministry.
Come on, if you want to do anything for God, don't think the devil's gonna roll out a red carpet for you, and you're gonna have nothing but favor. And then, in Mark 4, there's another great story. The sower sows the word, it's talking about the Word of God being sown into the hearts of different kinds of believers. And it says, "And these are the ones along the path, where the Word of God is sown: and when they hear it, satan immediately comes and tries to take away the word that was sown in their heart". So, I can just prophesy to you. Don't be surprised, if when you leave here today, the devil tries to stir somethin' up between you and somebody else, or gets you disgruntled about somethin' or unhappy about somethin' because the last thing that he wants you to do is go out of this place and even take five minutes thinking about what I said. He wants you to get in the car with whoever you came with, maybe they'll do a little somethin' you don't like.
Next thing you know, now you're all mad, and upset, and in a huff over somethin' that, we waste so much time being angry and upset, and it does not change the situation. I am realizing that more, and more, and more. I even said it again this morning to somebody, just to hear myself say it. I said, "What is the point in getting upset about all these things that we don't like because it does not change the situation, it only hurts us". And, the devil laughs the whole time. Come on. Let's play the game. "Devil, I'm not impressed". You know, doctor Paul's been out of town, and he was trying his best to get back here for the service last night. Had it all timed out, had an hour and 10 minutes, he was gonna do just great. And, he got to the airport, went to his car, and he had a flat tire. Somehow or another, he listened to the message. He said, "I passed the test".
You know, what? If we don't start passing these tests, we're just gonna get to do retakes. In God's school, you never flunk out. You just keep taking the same test over, and over, and over, and over, and over until you finally pass it. How many of you are ready to stay stable, and stop getting rattled about everything that you don't like? Do you mean it? Yes, in the name of Jesus. Satan always comes when you're making progress. He always attacks when we're not paying attention. Just for the sake of time, I'm not gonna spend too much more time on this, but the Bible says in 1 Peter 5, "Be sober-minded: be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour". He's always lurking around, looking around. "Nobody's home, devil". Let's go on to the next one. And boy, I love this. I can take the whole rest of the time to preach on this. I only learned this in the last year. You cannot always do what you've always done. Only a fool thinks that he can always do what he's always done. Now, you may be 20, but you're still aging. We're always in the process of aging. And, everything is beautiful in its time.
I remember in the beginning days of this ministry, which I mean, I taught a home Bible study for five years, 25 people. Then, I went to work in somebody else's ministry. And, of course, like most people that work for somebody else, I didn't think I got treated right and I didn't... And so, God kept me there till I got a good attitude. And then you have no business being in authority over somebody else until you know how to come under authority with a good attitude. Then, I worked there for five years, and then God sent me out, "Go North, South, East and West". And, too long of a story to get into, but I can remember when Dave and I did 36 full-blown conferences, every year, four sessions, each conference, and, I did everything. I did the exhortation. I mean, I didn't do the music because I couldn't do that. But, if I could have done that, I would have tackled that too. I did all the offerings. I did all the exhortations. I did all the preaching, and that was back in the days when you laid hands on and prayed for every person in the building before the meeting was over.
So, I'd be getting in bed at one o'clock, two o'clock in the morning, just getting a few hours sleep. Getting up and doing it again, gettin' on a commercial plane, flying home. And, I would be so tired when I got home that I just felt like I was half dead. And, I would just have enough time to recover, and then, because we were doing three conferences a month, I'd go do it again. I was also running the office. I was at the office every day, all day, along with Dave's help. And, taking every speaking engagement I could get my hands on, and writing books. And, I look back, and I think, "I have no idea how I did that". I do not know how I did that. But, there was a grace on me, for a certain period of time to do that. However, we have to get wise enough to realize when the grace is changing.
Come on, I mean, I could come and just stay for a whole weekend, and we could just talk about this, and you know... Because what happens is when God's grace is on you for something, it's easy. It's easy for me to do this. This is not hard for me. I'm not uncomfortable. I'm not scared. I'm not worried about what I'm gonna say. I'm not worried about whether you like me or not. God gives you grace for your place. But, when you get out of your place, you talk about misery. I mean, everything becomes hard. Everything becomes hard. So, just in order to bring ya up to speed real quick. Last year, this time when I was here on this pulpit, same weekend, I come the first weekend in February all time, first weekend in july.
So, I was having some pretty serious health problems. Didn't know what it was yet, but I was not doing good at all. My mouth was extremely dry, my tongue was burning, I was shaky, I felt weak, I was having shortness of breath, and Joel actually, had somebody on standby to preach just in case I couldn't pull it off. I asked him to let me try because I wanted to see if I'd be able to do it or not. And, in God's fashion he comes and helps you do what you need to do. And, I'm sure, that none of you could tell that there was anything at all going on. I left here and went to the hospital, in Houston. They did every kinda test that they could possibly do. Dr. Paul was helping me, of course. And, it came back, there was nothing wrong with me. For a woman your age, you got the best blood work we've ever seen. Don't you hate it when you feel like you're about to die and everybody tells you how healthy you are? Come on, you know what I mean?
And so, three doctors sat in a room and told me this is because of long-term chronic stress, just doing too much thinking, too much working. "You have to make changes". Well, hey, when you got a ministry like mine, you feel like everything depends on you. If I don't do this, nothing else happens. And so, it's very hard to make changes. It's not only what you want to do, it's what everybody else expects you to do. So, the last year, for me, has been literally, I can say, "A life-changing year". And, I have changed so many things in my life, and it is not easy when you have to let go of things that you've done all your life and sit back and watch somebody else do them.
Now, you're all either are facing this to some degree in your life, or you're going to face it. And I want you to remember only a fool thinks he can always do what he's always done. Americans are the busiest people on the planet. We don't know how to rest. And even, if we sit down in a chair and rest our body, our mind's going a million miles a minute. And, that was the big thing that I had to learn, even more so, than the outward working was to learn how to not worry about things, cast my care, be peaceful, be calm. And, I'm still learning things but it's really been an exciting journey. Life is always changing. And, when life is changing, the first thing you should do when something's changing in your life, whether you like it or not, is change your mind about the change. Did you hear me?
"Well, I don't like this. I don't want this to change". Your husband gets transferred to another state. You don't want to move. You don't want to leave your friends. You don't want to leave your church. You don't like it. So, you're gonna get mad and be miserable, upset for weeks on end. Or, you could just change your mind about the change and say, "This is the way it's gonna be and I believe God's got something good in mind, and it's gonna go well".
You know, sometimes we just need to be a little bit more positive. I asked my trainer, I workout with weights three times a week, and I asked my trainer, I said, "When I'm ninety, if I keep doing this all the time, when I'm ninety, will I still be able to do the same kinda workout I'm doing now"? He didn't hesitate at all. He said, "No". And, I said, "Why not"? He said, "Because you can't stop the aging process. He said, "You could still be in the gym and you could still work out," but he said, "You won't have the same endurance and you won't be able to lift as heavy as you lift now".
We have to face reality. Life is a journey, and there are seasons in our lives when we can do certain things but those are not things that we can do forever. And, there's so much that changes as you get older. I've actually found it to be very exciting. I need more quiet than I used to. I love people, but I don't want to be around people as much as I used to. And, when you come, I want it to be on my terms. Like, I'd rather go out to dinner with somebody because I know that I can get away when I want to. Than to have 'em come to my house, and have to wait for them to decide to leave, three hours after I wished they woulda left. I can't multitask like I used to. It just doesn't work.
Yesterday morning, when I was getting ready to come here, I was running around the house looking for a bottle of water that I knew that I must have made four trips around my house looking everywhere. I had it under my arm. Do you ever call somebody and you forget who you called, and you have to ask 'em who they are? I've had a lot of changes in the last year. So, anybody who thinks they can always do what they've always done is a fool.
Reality number seven: almost everything takes longer than you thought it would. God's not in a hurry. We're the ones in a hurry. He's more concerned about quality than quantity. Everything takes a little bit longer. And, we can take so much stress out of our lives, if we will just leave a little wiggle room. And, I'm not good at that. I'm not good at it at all. I want everything... Right to the minute. So, therefore, I put a lot of stress on myself that I wouldn't have to put on myself. Come on, do any of you feel like God is just really taking his time getting around to doing what you need him to do? And, isn't it frustrating? But, there's a reason for everything. But, the believers reality is this: it may seem slow to us but our reality is, is that his timing is always perfect in our lives.
Reality number eight, I've talked about this a little bit so I'm just going to mention it: those who are diligent receive a reward. Isn't that good? Don't lose your reward, keep your motives pure. Do what you do because you really believe that God wants you to do it, and because you really want to help somebody. Don't be doin' it to be seen, or to be well thought of, or you know, to show out. Just keep your heart right before God.
And then, the last point that I have to make is: what we focus on in life, is what develops. You ever noticed how hard it is to keep your focus on what you're doing these days? We have so many things comin' at us, and we're trying to do so many things. Just stop some time and ask yourself, "What am I doing? And, why am I doing it"? Oh, I hope somebody goes home and thinks.
Okay, so, let me prove my point. I got a camera here that they've taught me how to work and I'm believing I'm gonna... There we go. Now, I got it right. Okay, you know, I like Paul. He's a good friend, and I just admire him. I don't have a picture of Paul. So, let's just say that I want to leave here with a picture of Paul. I can't see you there at all, Paul. Oh, there you are. Alright, I see you. But now, let's just say that while I'm trying to do this thing I want to do, I get distracted, and instead... I think, I've got a picture of Paul, but in two minutes, we're going to find out it's Dodie. Now, I don't mind having a picture of her either, but here's my point, we're all called to do something. And, the Bible says, "No soldier when in-service gets entangled in the things of this world".
And, I'm asking you today, to take a look at your life, and just prune off all the stuff that you're either doing to keep somebody else happy, that you have no anointing to do, no grace to do, you don't want to do it, it makes you miserable, you're just doing it because you don't want them getting mad at you. Now, all of a sudden, you've freed your schedule up a whole bunch. Now, get rid of the things that you're doing with a wrong motive. You don't even know why you're doing it. "I don't know why I'm doing it. Just what I've been doing for 20 years, so I just do it". Get rid of the stuff that's not bearing any good fruit in your life. It's just wasting your time. And you know what? Learn how to say no. It is still painful for me.
Just as last week, I had to turn down three great opportunities to speak for great people, but I know that I can't do it all anymore. And, if I want to be around to finish what God has called me to do, although, I want to do favors for everybody, I can't. And, saying no is hard because when people ask you to do something they wanna hear yes. They don't want to hear no. But, you have to get to the point where you would rather let them get mad at you than miss the call on your life. Sure enough, I got a picture, but it's not Paul. Matter of fact, I don't even know what it is. And see? That's what we end up with so many times in life. "What is this? What? How did I get here? What happened to my life"? You know what happened? You weren't paying attention. You just weren't paying attention and you started to drift. I think it's time to take an inventory and make a few changes.