If you’ve listened to my teaching much at all, you probably know I had a rough childhood. In fact, I didn’t really have one.
I was seriously abused throughout my childhood. My life was horrible! I don’t remember ever being really happy until I was in my 20s. My mind was a mess; my emotions were a mess; I didn’t know how to maintain a decent relationship; I had all kinds of fears; I developed phony personalities to protect myself; I was lonely, in debt, miserable, depressed, discouraged and physically sick. For many years I had a big mess in my life.
Why God wants you to invest your life in Christ—today
I like this saying: The greatest gift you can give your family and your world is a healthy you! In this day and age, there’s a lot of focus on appearance—your clothes, makeup, your car, your house, even the kind of computer you have. But you can look great on the outside and be an absolute wreck on the inside. That’s how I used to be. I dressed myself up every day, but inside I was a mess in my mind, emotions and attitude.
The Bible says Jesus came to make us completely whole—spirit, soul and body. He wants to heal every part of us because He’s “into” wholeness. He wants to restore everything we lost through sin, ignorance, attacks of the enemy and mistreatment from others. Listen—God is a God of restoration.
What if we were to use everything God has given us to reach our world?
Scientists have long known that we use only a small portion of our intellectual capabilities. Consider what might happen if we used just a little bit more--or even all--of our latent mental abilities.
Civilization would be much further along than it is now. Technology, inventions, science and medicine all would be more advanced. Education would be improved. Music and art would be drastically enhanced and more enjoyable.
Selfishness is not learned behavior—we are born with it. The Bible calls it “sin nature.” Adam and Eve sinned against God by doing what they wanted to do and what He told them not to do.
The sin principle they established was forever passed to every person who would ever be born. God sent His Son, Jesus, to die for our sins and to deliver us from them. He came to undo what Adam did.
When we accept Jesus as our Savior, He comes to live in our spirit, and if we allow that renewed part of us to rule our decisions, then we can overcome the sin nature. It doesn’t go away, but the greater one who lives in us helps us overcome it daily (see Gal. 5:16). That does not mean that we never sin, but we can improve and make progress throughout our lives.
When I trusted God and began exercising (even though I didn’t want to), I learned a life-changing principle
Until I turned 64, I’d never exercised in a serious way. I had walked and done a few things to stay in decent shape, but I was not dedicated to exercise. I had reached into my excuse bag many times over the years and come up with all kinds of “reasons” I could not exercise. But, the Lord spoke to me and encouraged me to begin a serious workout program so I could be strong for the last third of my journey through life.
I already had good eating habits, but when it came to going to the gym several times a week, I used the excuse that I simply could not do that because of my travel obligations. I truly couldn’t figure out how I could manage to put serious workout time into my already busy schedule. I finally decided to do what I could do instead of focusing on what I couldn’t do.
When God called me into ministry, I had a full-time job and was making good money. We had a nice, comfortable suburban lifestyle, but I was miserable on the inside because I was religious and didn’t have a deep, personal relationship with God.
After an encounter with the Holy Spirit in 1976, my life really changed. I began developing an intimate relationship with God, and I wanted to help other people experience what I was experiencing. To do that, I had to quit my job so I would have the time I needed to study the Word of God.
There are many types of fear we could name or count, but they all have the same source and the same purpose. They all are from Satan and they all are intended to steal the life Jesus died to give us.
We often think fear is simply an emotion or feeling, but it also affects us physically. In Who Switched Off My Brain? author Caroline Leaf notes, “[Fear] triggers more than 1,400 known physical and chemical responses, and activates more than 30 different hormones and neurotransmitters.” Fear, she says, is at the root of all stress. When fear causes a stress reaction, it actually “marinates” the body in toxic chemicals. This, of course, is terribly unhealthy and threatening to our physical well-being.
No, not like that—His choice is for you to fulfill your destiny
God chose me. He didn’t just get stuck with me, and He didn’t settle for me because there was no one else He could choose. He deliberately chose me. And the same is true for you too.
I didn’t have a special talent when He chose me. The thing I do best is talk, and He’s made me a mouth in the body of Christ. My voice is unusual and unique—not the kind of voice you would think He would choose to broadcast all over the place. But God has given me the opportunity to speak to billions of people around the world. And I don’t always use correct grammar or pronounce words just right, but we don’t have to be polished according to the world’s standards to be used mightily by God.
Famed philosopher and orator Edmund Burke once said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” It’s true. Doing nothing is easy, but it’s also dangerous. Where there is no opposition to evil, evil will multiply.
We all fall into the trap of complaining about the things that are wrong. But complaining does nothing except discourage us even more. It changes nothing because there is no positive power in it.
One of the most beautiful things the Bible says is that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (see Rom. 5:8). He did not wait for us to deserve His love. He loves us unconditionally. To be honest, that’s hard for many of us to comprehend because we are so accustomed to having to earn everything in life.
Because of His great, wonderful and intense love for us, God poured His life out for us freely (see Eph. 2:4). That is revolutionary love! Real, revolutionary love must give itself because it can never be satisfied doing anything less.
One of the easiest ways to fuel a “love revolution” is to decide to make others feel valuable. Mother Teresa said: “Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody: I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.”
I have discovered that most people we meet or come into contact with in our everyday lives don’t have a sense of their infinite value as children of God. I think the devil works very hard to make people feel devalued and worthless, but we can neutralize the effect of his lies and insinuations by building up, encouraging and edifying people.
I frequently stay in hotels during my ministry travels. When I am in my room, I always put the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door so nobody will bother me. Hanging this sign on my hotel room door is acceptable. Putting it on my life isn’t.
Have you ever noticed that God does not always do things on your timetable or in ways that are convenient to you? Paul told Timothy that as a servant of God and a minister of the gospel Timothy had to fulfill his duties whether doing so was convenient or inconvenient (see 2 Tim. 4:2).
To be successful in accomplishing God’s will for our lives, we must have determination. One definition of “determine” is “to settle a dispute by an authoritative decision or a pronouncement.” This definition encourages me because I make “pronouncements,” often as a way of building my determination in certain areas.
Sometimes the best way to overcome the temptation to give up is to say to yourself: “Oh, no you don’t! Stop your whining and straighten up right this minute!” Over the years, when I have felt like giving up and had no one to encourage me, I’ve said to myself: “Joyce, you can make it! It may be hard, but you can make it and don’t you dare think you can’t!”
Following god is easier when we are led by his spirit rather than by our emotions.
It is God's greatest desire that, as believers, you and I progressively learn how to be led by His Spirit. However, there is a powerful enemy that stands in the way: our emotions. Satan is the most powerful enemy we face externally, but internally, it's our emotions that give us some of the biggest problems.
Many of us struggle with fear. Yet those of us who are believers in Jesus Christ have no need to fear. Why? Because He is always with us. Because He loves us with a perfect love. And as 1 John 4:18 states: “There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror!” (Amplified Bible). God knows that fear is the first emotion to typically hit us the moment He calls us to do something that will move us to a new level in life. Whether it’s low-level nervousness or full-blown panic, the degree of fear varies, but most of us experience some form of it.
We might be changing careers, getting married, having children, leaving all that’s familiar for the mission field, going back to work after 20 years as a homemaker, becoming serious about diet and exercise, and so on. Our minds fill with excitement, yet we think: What if? What if? What if?
Any time we step out to do something new, especially for God, we almost always—and almost immediately—face a negative circumstance that tries to discourage us or convince us we cannot do what God asks of us. Something will come up to tell us it is too hard, does not make sense, or will not work; or that we are not qualified to do it. The enemy uses such words and thoughts to discourage us, hoping fervently we will never accomplish what we set out to do.
Revelation 12:4 gives insight on how the devil tries to plant fear in us before we even get started: “And the dragon stationed himself in front of the woman who was about to be delivered [give birth], so that he might devour her child as soon as she brought it forth.”
The dragon (who represents Satan) had stationed himself in front of her so he could devour her newborn child. This scene represents a dynamic that often happens in our lives as believers. Every time God puts a fresh new idea in our hearts or gives us a dream, vision or new challenge for our lives, the enemy will be there to oppose us. I am not referring simply to the times we want to do “big” things for God; the enemy is not selective.
When we receive Jesus as our Savior, that’s a new level. When we begin to move into a deeper walk with God or begin to pray bolder prayers, those are new levels. When we begin to give time, money and energy to God’s kingdom, we are moving to a new level.
God constantly calls us to new levels. Some seem big and important; others seem relatively small or insignificant. Whatever the case, when we reach a new level with God we face a new level of opposition from our enemy, the devil.
Along with opposition, however, comes opportunity (see 1 Cor. 16:9)—but God is always with us, and we have no need to fear. Some things may seem too great for us, but nothing is impossible with God. He is not surprised or frightened by anything.
If you are determined never to give up on your dream, then you have to take chances; you have to be courageous. When you face situations that threaten or intimidate you, you do not need to pray as much for the fear to go away as for boldness and courage so you can move ahead in spite of the fear. I can promise you, fear will not go away. It is not something you can get rid of, so you must learn to overcome it.
The spirit of fear will always try to keep you from going forward. The enemy has used fear for centuries to try to stop people, and he is not going to change his strategy now. But you can defeat fear; you are more than a conqueror through Him who loves us (see Rom. 8:37).
Courage is not the absence of fear; it is pressing forward while the feeling of fear is present. I want to encourage you to be determined to face fear when it comes against you. Stand firm, trusting God and knowing He is always with you.
Joyce Meyer is a New York Times best-selling author and one of the world’s leading practical Bible teachers. She has written more than 80 books, including the popular Beauty for Ashes and Battlefield of the Mind, and her most recent, Never Give Up! Enjoying Everyday Life (all FaithWords). She is also the founder of Joyce Meyer Ministries Inc. and the host of radio and TV programs, which air on hundreds of stations worldwide.
Indecision is a miserable state to be in and certainly is not a fruit of the simple life. Simplicity prays, seeks wisdom and decides. It doesn’t waffle. It sticks with the decision it made unless there is a very good reason to change it. The apostle James said the double-minded man is unstable in all his ways and will not receive anything he asks from the Lord.
How can God give us anything if we can never make up our minds concerning what we want?
Inevitably, our journeys through life bring us to many unavoidable decisions, and we will always get into trouble if we make them emotionally or according to what we think or want. God wants us to make wise decisions. I believe having wisdom is choosing to do now what we will be happy with later.
"To thine own heart be TRUE," the old saying goes. It remains a timely and relevant life lesson that all of us would do well to remember. When we veer off the course that our heart is advising us to follow, we can make our lives very difficult. Putting aside our own convictions and following what others think we should do will lead to an unfulfilled and empty existence.
What do you want out of life? What do you believe God's will is for you? Some people spend so much time meeting what they think their obligations are that they don't even know what they want. They never ask themselves because they've already decided it is out of their reach. I am not talking about selfish desires; I am talking about something deep in your heart put there by God. Everyone is called and equipped to do something.
It takes boldness to follow your heart instead of the crowd. When God called me to teach His Word, it was not popular at all for women to do that. I lost friends, and even some family members rejected me as a deceived and misguided rebel. I didn't have a very good reputation among the people in our community. It still amazes me that I found the courage to follow God rather than those around me.
I think I had become so weary of "life as usual" that I was willing to do whatever it took for me to feel satisfied deep down on the inside. I learned that being excessively concerned about what others think leads only to torment. Although all of us enjoy being well thought of, it is not possible to be liked by everyone all the time.
I experienced rejection at first when I decided to live to please God, but after a while He gave me new friends who were pursuing the same things I was, and together we stand against the fear of what people think. In God's economy, we usually have to be willing to lose something we have in order to gain what we really want in life.
People who are real friends will help you be all God wants you to be. They won't use you and then discard you when you no longer please them. When you spend time and energy trying to please others, you take a great risk in losing yourself. God must be No. 1 in your life. Even if everyone else walks away from you, He promises to never leave you or forsake you. I hope you understand that "never" means never.
The Bible says we should cast all our cares upon God for He cares for us (see 1 Pet. 5:7), and that includes the care of what people think. I can only live my life to please God, and if that troubles some people, they need to take it up with Him.
Life gets too complicated, confusing and frustrating when we try to please both God and people. We must be free to be ourselves. The years I struggled to be someone other than myself taught me that it is much easier to just be me and follow my own heart.
You don't have to compare yourself to or compete with anyone (see 2 Cor. 10:12). Jesus came to set people free in many ways, and this is one of them.
All God expects is that we try to be the absolute best we can be. He wants us to follow the desire He placed in each of us. Since I started doing that, I have grown by leaps and bounds. I believe the same thing will happen to you when you let God be God in your life.
Following your heart can simplify your life. There is nothing simple about ignoring the dreams and visions that God has given you and trying to force yourself to enjoy doing something you actually hate. You may think following your heart will be complicated, but the truth is, it is absolutely necessary if you ever intend to enjoy a simple life of obedience to God.
Joyce Meyer is a New York Times best-selling author and one of the world's leading practical Bible teachers. She has written more than 70 books, including the popular Beauty for Ashes and Battlefield of the Mind, and her most recent, 100 Ways to Simplify Your Life (all FaithWords). She is also the founder of Joyce Meyer Ministries Inc. and the host of Enjoying Everyday Life radio and TV programs, which air on hundreds of stations worldwide.
In Philippians 3:13, the Apostle Paul says that one thing he really made an effort to do was to forget "what lies behind" (The Amplified Bible)—letting go of what already had passed. I believe Paul tried fixing earlier mistakes and discovered how complicated and impossible that was. There is only one thing we can do with the past—give it to God!
When we let God take our messes and turn them into miracles, the Father has the ability to use our mistakes for our good if we will only trust Him.
Isaiah 61:3 says He will give us "beauty instead of ashes," but I find that many people want to hold on to their ashes, the cinders of the past, as reminders of their shortcomings and failures. As we begin a new year, I want to encourage you to make a quality decision to give up your ashes. Every day is a new day containing tremendous possibilities—new life, new hopes and new dreams.