God bless you. It’s a joy to come into your homes. And if you’re ever in our area, please stop by. Be a part of one of our services. I promise you, we’ll make you feel right at home. I like to start with something funny, and I heard about this man named Bubba. He lived way out in the country, and there was this stray dog that kept showing up at his house. His wife said, “Bubba, you have to put the dog in the truck and take him out to the woods and drop him off. That’s where he lives.” Bubba drove him a mile down the road, dropped him off. When he came back home, the dog was walking up the driveway, practically beat him back. He did the same thing. It happened again. His wife said, “Bubba, you have to take him way out. Drive him around in circles. Get him all mixed up.” Bubba drove him an hour away, crisscrossed country roads he had never driven down before, and dropped the dog off. Two hours later, Bubba called his wife from the truck and said, “Did that dog make it back home?” She said, “Yeah, here he comes walking up.” He said, “Do me a favor. Put him on the line. I need directions.”
Say it like you mean it. This is my Bible. I am what it says I am. I have what it says I have. I can do what it says I can do. Today, I will be taught the word of God. I’ll boldly confess. My mind is alert. My heart is receptive. I will never be the same, in Jesus’ name. God bless you.
I want to talk to you today about you have a defender. We all have people that come against us, make negative comments, trying to discredit us or belittle us. Human nature is to get in there and try to straighten them out and prove to them how they’re wrong. We think we have to defend ourselves. After all, that’s our reputation. But the problem with this approach is as soon as you get one person straightened out, three more will pop up. There will always be somebody that’s against you, somebody that’s trying to make you look bad. And if you’re constantly trying to defend yourself, you’ll get distracted fighting battles that you were never supposed to fight.
It’s easy to get baited into conflict, thinking “Did you see what they said about me on social media? I’m going to show them who they’re messing with.” Do you know how much energy it takes to try to pay somebody back or to try to prove to them that you really are a nice person? You are spending emotional energy that you need for your dreams, for your goals. Here’s the key. You don’t have to defend yourself. God said he will defend you. He will protect your reputation. Quit worrying about the chatter, the negative comments. Those are all distractions. That’s the enemy trying to bait you off course so you’ll waste your time and energy involved in battles that don’t matter.
“Well, Joel, I’m upset because I’m a good person. What they’re saying about me is not true.” It doesn’t matter how good you are, how loving, kind, upstanding. Somebody is not going to like you. Somebody is going to try to discredit you. It happened with Jesus. When he was on this earth, he went around healing the sick, lifting the fallen, encouraging those that were down. He did nothing but good, but he was falsely accused. He was misunderstood. How did he defend himself? How did he protect his reputation?
It says in 1 Peter, “Even though he had never sinned or done any wrong, he did not retaliate when he was insulted.” When he suffered, he didn’t threaten to get even. He left his case in the hands of God. I wonder how much more peace you would have, how much more you would enjoy your life if you would start leaving your cases in the hands of God. We spend too much time trying to defend ourselves, trying to prove to people who we are, worried about what they think. Why don’t you put your reputation in God’s hands? I can assure you, God can vindicate you better than you can vindicate yourself.
You don’t have to retaliate. You don’t have to try to pay people back, convince them to change their mind. The truth is some people are never going to be for you. No matter what you do, they’re not going to like you. They’re intent on misunderstanding you. They don’t want to see your point of view. They don’t want to give you the benefit of the doubt. Now, don’t go the next five years frustrated because they’re negative towards you, engaged in a battle that you’re not supposed to be engaged in. It’s time to leave that case in the hands of God. Quit worrying about what they think. Quit reading what they say about you on social media. Quit getting all riled up thinking about how you can retaliate, how you can pay them back.
As long as you’re defending yourself, then the true defender, the most high God will step back. He’ll let you do it your way. But when we make this decision, “God, I’m turning this over to you. I’m not going to spend my life worried about what somebody is saying, wasting my energy trying to change their mind, upset because they don’t like me. God, I know you’re my defender. I know you’re fighting my battles,” that’s when the creator of the universe will go to work. When people try to push you down, God will lift you up. When they try to make you look bad, he’ll turn around and cause you to look good. He’ll cause you to shine.
This is what happened in the scripture to Mordecai. He was a good man, doing the right thing, honoring God, but a man named Haman didn’t like him. Mordecai was a Jew. He wouldn’t bow down to Haman and follow the traditions of his people, so Haman was constantly trying to discredit Mordecai, push him down, make him look bad. Mordecai didn’t get upset. He didn’t try to pay him back. He understood this principle that he had a defender. He left that case in the hands of God.
In the natural, Haman had an advantage. He worked for the king in the palace, had a prestigious, influential position. What could Mordecai ever do? But one night, this king couldn’t sleep. He asked his assistant to bring him one of the books that had the city’s history recorded in it. It just so happened the king read about a good deed that Mordecai had done. The king was so impressed, the next morning he called Haman in and said, “Haman, what do you think we should do to honor a man that’s done a good deed and served the king with excellence?” Haman was so self-centered he thought the king was talking about himself, so he played it up big. He said, “King, I think we should put a royal robe on this man., have a big parade, march him up and down the streets, announcing what a great man he is.” The king said, “Haman, I love that idea. Now go find Mordecai and do just what you said. You march him up and down the streets and you announce how great he is.”
What am I saying? God knows how to protect your reputation. Why don’t you put that case in his hands? Quit spending all your time trying to defend yourself. You have a defender. God can do it better than you. He knows how to bring justice. He knows how to vindicate you. This is what Jesus did. He was disrespected. They called him a fraud, a cheat, an impostor. But the scripture says he made himself of no reputation. That means he didn’t worry about his reputation. He knew he would be misunderstood. He knew people would be negative, critical, find a fault. He didn’t waste his time trying to prove to his critics that he was the son of God. He didn’t go around upset because religious leaders didn’t believe in him. He just kept running his race, being his best, trusting his father to settle his cases.
If you’re consumed with what other people think, “Why won’t they respect me? I’ve got to convince them to believe in me,” then you’ll get distracted and miss your destiny. Why don’t you let your defender go to work? God said he will fight your battles. He will take care of your critics. God will deal with those coworkers that are spreading rumors about you. He’ll take care of that friend that’s trying to make you look bad. God knows how to settle your case.
David put it this way, Psalm 69: “Those who hate me without a cause are too many to count. They attack me with lies. They make fun of me. I am the favorite town gossip.” It’s the same way today. People can dislike you without a cause. They don’t even know you. They just pass you by at the office. They’ve never been to lunch with you, never heard your story. It would be one thing if they knew you and didn’t like you, but they judge you from a distance. They don’t like you because you’re happy, because you’re successful, because you’re talented, because you’re a different nationality. Like with David, they’ll attack you behind your back and try to belittle, discredit you. These are tests that we all must pass.
Are you going to get offended and try to straighten them out? Are you going to take that bait and get involved in a battle that you’re not supposed to fight? Stay on the high road. They don’t control your destiny. They’re a distraction trying to lure you off course to get involved in something that’s not between you and your destiny. One of the best things we can learn to do is ignore it. Don’t pay it any attention. That’s how you leave it in the hands of God. And this is what David did. He went on to say, “They hate me, they attack me, they make fun of me, but I keep right on praying to you.” He was saying, “I don’t give it the time of day. I just keep on praising.”
“Well, Joel, what they’re saying is not true. What if they tarnish my reputation?” I’m asking you to put your reputation in God’s hands. He said that he would protect it. And the more successful you are, the higher you go, more people will come against you, and like with David, talk about you without a cause. Everybody loved you until you got that promotion, until you moved into that new house, until you married that beautiful girl. Now the critics have come out of the woodwork. You have to let your defender go to work. You have to be still and know that he is God. It’s easy to get all stirred up thinking about how you can pay them back. What the best strategy is to get even, can I tell you what it is? Be still. Leave that case in God’s hands.
God said in Jeremiah, “I will defend you. I will be your lawyer. I will take on your case.” Years ago, Victoria and I were in a legal situation. Somebody accused us of something we didn’t do. We knew we were in the right, but they filed a lawsuit and we had to go to court. We hired the best attorney we could possibly find. We didn’t want somebody average, middle of the pack. We wanted somebody to represent us that was exceptional, that had a great track record, a lot of experience, and very skilled. We found a man that was just that and we went to court.
Victoria and I didn’t have to get up and argue our case, try to prove to the other side we were right, convince them of our innocence. We just sat back and let our attorney do all the work. He argued for us. He objected when he heard something he didn’t like. He rebutted the other testimony. He was our defender. We had done our part, given our deposition. Now it was in his hands. It was our case, but it was his battle. We didn’t have to fight. Our job was to be still. While he defended us, we rested. We stayed in peace. In a few days, it was all over, ruled in our favor.
Here’s what I’m saying. You have a defender, not somebody that’s average, not somebody that’s mediocre. The most high God is representing you. He said, “I will be your lawyer. I will plead your case. I will take on those battles.” Now, I had a great attorney here in the city, but can you imagine having the creator of the universe defending you? You don’t have to try to prove to people who you are and worry night and day about your reputation. You can stay in peace. You can relax knowing that it’s not your battle. It’s your case, but the battle is the Lord’s. The battle belongs to your defender. Can I tell you he’s never lost a case? And instead of living worried, stressed out, why don’t you sit back and let your defender do his job?
Numbers 12. Moses’ sister and brother started speaking against Moses. Miriam and Aaron, they didn’t like the wife that Moses had chosen. He married somebody from a different nationality. I can hear them telling people, “Why did he marry her? That wasn’t right. He should have known better.” On and on, stirring up trouble, trying to make Moses look bad. Verse 2 says the Lord heard what they were saying.
When people are talking about you, don’t worry. God hears it. You may not even know it’s happening, but God knows it’s happening. He’s your defender. It goes on to say, “The anger of the Lord blazed against Miriam and Aaron.” Why was God so mad? Had they killed someone, lied, cheated, committed adultery? No. It was because they had spoken against the reputation of one of his children. Instantly, Miriam’s skin was white with leprosy.
God takes it seriously when somebody tries to discredit you, belittle you. You don’t have to get upset. God sees what’s happening. He doesn’t sit idly by and think, “Oh, too bad. They’re just ruining their reputation.” No. God goes to work. He knows how to get people’s attention. Sometimes, he’ll cause them to be quiet and change their mind. Other times, he’ll let them keep talking and just keep promoting you. The more they talk, the higher you’ll go. They think they’re hurting you. The truth is they’re helping you. God is paying you back for what they’re saying by taking you to new levels. It’s what the scripture says. “God will prepare a table before you in the presence of your enemies.” The very ones that tried to disrespect you, hold you down, they will see you in a position of honor, promoted, respected, with greater influence. That’s your defender at work.
I talked to a gentlemen here in the lobby a while back, and he was very upset because his boss was against him, was always trying to hold him down. I told this man what I’m telling you that God is your defender. People can’t keep you from your destiny. Don’t live frustrated trying to straighten your boss out. Just keep being your best. You’re not working under people. You’re working under God. Leave that case in his hands.
This man went back to the office with a new attitude. On several occasions, he should have been promoted, but because of this unfair boss, he got passed over. One day, the CEO of the whole company was in town. This man had to make a presentation. The CEO was very impressed with his work. About a year later, a position came available that should have gone to his boss, but this CEO bypassed the boss and offered the position to this man. Now, instead of having to work for this boss that’s hard to get along with, unfair, the tables have turned. The boss is working for him. God knows how to settle your case. He knows how to protect your reputation.
It says in Psalms, “Touch not my anointed.” You are his anointed. You may be in a situation where there’s disrespect, people pushing you down, trying to hold you back. And it’s been that way a long time. You don’t think it’s ever going to change. Well, get ready. Your time is coming. God has heard every negative word spoken against you. He’s seen every person that’s tried to hold you back. Like with this man, vindication is on the way. Promotion is coming. New levels are coming. God is going to make things happen that you could never make happen. He’s preparing that table right now in the presence of your enemies. He’s going to settle that case.
Now, quit living frustrated trying to win somebody over that’s never going to be for you. Your goal shouldn’t be to try to change somebody’s mind, convince them to like you. Take this in the right sense. Some people are sent to dislike you. Judas was sent to betray Jesus. If Saul had not disliked David, David would have never taken the throne. Everybody is not supposed to be for you. You may be trying to win somebody over that’s never going to be won over. Let God be your defender. You don’t have to try to pay them back and get even. Like with Moses, God will take care of your critics. You’re not the judge. You don’t have to straighten people out. Just run your race with purpose, with integrity, with joy, and let the negative bounce off of you.
See, sometimes, we think, “Ah, Joel, if I could just get this person to stop talking about me, then I could be happy again. Then I could enjoy my life again.” I don’t mean to be negative, but somebody is always going to be talking about you. Somebody is always going to be jealous, trying to discredit you. The good news is that’s not your battle. You don’t have to defend yourself. You have a defender. How much freer could you live if you would start leaving those cases in the hands of God? Not fighting battles that you’re not supposed to fight, not worried about your reputation all the time. Instead, trusting God to protect your reputation.
I can tell you this firsthand because being in the public eye, you have a lot of critics. The more influence you have, the more exposure, the more of the negative that comes as well. But the truth is I never think about the critics. I’m happy. I enjoy my life. I’m grateful to be alive. See, I’ve learned this principle that I have a defender. And as long as you’re honoring God, being your best, no person can stop you. No group, no organization. Promotion doesn’t come from people. It comes from the Lord.
It’s interesting. When Jesus was here, the people who were the most against him were the religious people, but Jesus didn’t try to convince them to change their mind. He didn’t spend hours arguing doctrine. He ignored his critics and just ran his race. One time, they criticized Jesus for healing a man on the Sabbath. He did the right thing, but they said he did it on the wrong day.
Some people, no matter what you do, are not going to be for you. You have to accept the fact that not everyone is going to accept you. Not everyone is going to like you or understand you. If you’re going to reach your highest potential, you have to be comfortable being controversial. If you want everybody to like you, you’ll get stuck. Jesus was the most controversial person that’s ever lived. Two thousand years later, people are still arguing about him. He had more critics than anyone, but the scripture says, “He answered his critics not a word.” He didn’t waste his time trying to convince people who he was.
How much time are you spending worried about what they’re saying, upset because of what they wrote about you on social media, trying to pay that friend back for making you look bad? You don’t have time for all that pettiness. It’s a distraction. It’s not between you and your destiny. Let it go in one ear and out the other, and use that energy to move toward your God-given dreams. You don’t have enough energy to answer your critics and fulfill your purpose at the same time. Whatever you’re spending trying to pay people back, trying to prove to them you really are a nice person, that’s emotional energy you’re not going to have for the fullness of your destiny.
Nehemiah understood this principle in the scripture. He was up on the hill rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem. There were two people at the bottom of the mountain, Sanballat and Tobias. They didn’t want the wall rebuilt, so they were constantly yelling insults at Nehemiah, trying to bait him into conflict, making fun of him, saying things like “Nehemiah, if a little fox walked on that wall, it would fall down. You don’t know what you’re doing. You’re not a builder.” Day and night, they kept pestering him. I’m sure Nehemiah was tempted to go down there and give them a piece of his mind, but he was smart enough to realize they were a distraction. What they said didn’t affect his destiny. Their critical words didn’t make the wall any weaker. They were trying to deceive him into losing focus so he would get involved in something that wasn’t important.
The truth is we all have Sanballats and Tobiases. Most of the people that come against us are simply distractions. The negative comments, the disrespect, the insult. Those are bait trying to lure us off course. The good fight of faith is not to try to straighten them out. The real fight is to keep your focus and not get distracted and entangled in things that don’t matter. If Nehemiah would have come down off the wall with all of his men, spend a few days dealing with Sanballat, Tobias, all of their people, he may have won the battle, but the wall wouldn’t have been any further along.
You have to ask yourself, “If I engage in this conflict, if I prove my point, if I win them over, am I going to be any further toward my destiny, or have I just fed my ego? Have I just had my flesh feel good?” Stay on the high road. Your time is too valuable, your destiny too important, your assignment too great to get involved in battles that don’t matter. There will always be Sanballats yelling insults, always be Tobiases trying to get under your skin, agitate you. Don’t worry. You have a defender. Be still and know that he is God. Let him fight those battles. God will take care of your critics.
It’s interesting. When Nehemiah was rebuilding the wall, he was up on the mountain. The critics were down at the bottom. The principle is anytime you start answering your critics, you have to go down. When you start defending yourself, trying to prove to people who you are, you’re leaving the high place and going down to their level. When you realize you have a defender, when you know God will fight your battles, then you’ll do like Jesus and not answer your critics. You’ll do like Nehemiah and stay on the mountain so you can focus on what’s really important.
Maybe today you need to go back up on that mountain. The critics will always be there. People that don’t understand you, people that are never going to be for you. I’m asking you to let God be your defender. Put your reputation in his hands. God has already lined up the right people who will be for you, the right people who will celebrate you and help push you into your purpose.
Here’s the whole key. Don’t waste your time trying to convince the wrong people. Just run your race. Keep honoring God. Be in your best. If you’ll do this, I believe and declare God is about to settle your cases. Right now, he’s preparing that table in the presence of your enemies. He’s going to vindicate you, promote you, and take you into the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus’ name. If you receive it, can you say “Amen”?
I’d like to give you an opportunity to make Jesus the Lord of your life. Would you pray with me? Just say, “Lord Jesus, I repented my sins. Come into my heart. I’ll make you my lord and savior.” Friends, if you prayed that simple prayer, we believe you got born again. Get in a good Bible-based church. Keep God first place.