Joyce Meyer - Bearing Fruit During Hard Times
This morning, I want to talk to you about bearing fruit in hard times. You know, it's not hard to be nice when everything's going pretty good for you, when you're feeling good, you don't have any big problems, you just got a nice raise at work, you get to go shopping tomorrow, or you're going on vacation next week. It's not hard to be nice to people during those times, but it gets a lot more difficult when everything in your life seems like it's going wrong and it has been going in that direction for quite a while, yup, amen.
And I firmly believe that one of the things that the Holy Spirit wants to work with us on, and it takes time. I doubt that there's anybody in the room, including myself, that's perfected this. If my husband was here, he probably has. I have never seen a human being as steady and stable as that man is. He does not care what people think of him. He's not gonna worry about what they think of him. He's just stable. I don't care what's going on, he's just the same where I was always like... you know, I mean if things were good I was, "Yeah, praise the Lord," and then... Yo-yo Christianity, up when our circumstances are up and down when they're down. And I'm telling you what, it is exhausting, is it not? It just is absolutely exhausting because then we're almost like a puppet and satan's got the strings and so, all he has to do to throw us in the toilet that day is to just come up with something we don't like and boy, we're just right down there with it.
And you have to get to the point where you don't want to live like that anymore and you're not gonna live like that anymore. And you have to get to the point, where you stop waiting for your circumstances to change and you decide, God, you change me. That's what has to change, not your circumstances. Jesus said, "In the world, you will have tribulation, cheer up". "I have overcome the world," amen? John 16:27 he said, "My peace I leave with you, stop allowing yourselves to be upset and disturbed". John 16:33 he said, "In the world you will have tribulation, cheer up. I've overcome the world so I say the way that you went against the devil is the one, two knockout punch. Stay calm and be happy. Now, but we don't feel like it. I have a book for that. It's called "Living beyond your feelings". In other words, you can have feelings, but you can't let them have you. If we keep letting our feelings rule our behavior, then the devil has just got us on the run all the time.
Jeremiah 17 beginning in verse 5, "Thus says the Lord, cursed is the man who trusts in and relies on mankind, making weak, faulty human flesh his strength, and whose mind and heart turn away from the Lord. For he will be like a shrub in the desert: and shall not see prosperity when it comes, but will live in the rocky places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land". So, looks to me like those who put the trust in people, the world, even today, you know, it's like, "Well, they need to do something about that". Who is they? They need to fix everything and we don't even know who they are. We are they, amen? We're the they that needs to fix things.
We look too much to the government, depend too much on them to provide for us and, you know, we need to get our eyes — people are gonna disappoint you. Can anybody say amen to that? People will disappoint you, you're gonna disappoint yourself if you rely on yourself. But God said, "If you follow me, you will never be disappointed". That doesn't mean that you'll get everything you want all the time, but you will get what's best and what's right. So, that's the future of the man who puts all of his trust in the world's system and people. "Blessed with spiritual security is the man who believes and trusts in and relies on the Lord and whose hope and confident expectation is the Lord. For he will be nourished like a tree planted by the water, that spreads out its roots by the river: and will not fear the heat when it comes: but its leaves will be green and moist. And it will not be anxious and concerned in a year of drought nor will it stop bearing fruit".
Now, I love that scripture. I learned that scripture started... a pastor that I had way back in the beginning of my walk with God used that scripture a lot. And we have to understand that a tree, its branches can only be as wide as its roots are deep. So, we have to be deeply planted in the things we believe about God. We have to, the Bible says, be rooted in Christ Jesus, be rooted deep in his love for you. When you have deep roots, the storms of life don't blow you over. A little twig of a tree out in the yard may get destroyed in the storm, but we've got some giant trees in our backyard that have been there for probably hundreds of years and they don't move. No matter what kind of storm comes, they don't move because they have deep, deep, deep roots. But what a lot of people want is they want a lot of fruit in their life. They want a lot of stuff. They want a lot of opportunity. They want to be well known. They want to make a lot of money. They want to have a bunch of stuff. They want that kind of fruit, but they're not actually bearing the right kind of fruit. They're going after things that really have no ability to ever keep them permanently happy. And so, I love this scripture that a tree that is planted in God, deeply planted in God, and let me just say that I think we need to go deeper, deeper.
I've started doing a series of books, the first ones, first two will be released next spring. And they're Bible commentaries on starting with the epistles and I'll see then where I go from there because I don't think, I don't want to tell people anymore, read your Bible. I'm saying study your Bible. We need to be more deeply rooted in the word of God. We need to know it to the point where no storm in our life can take it away from us, amen? Don't ever, when things are going bad for you, say, "God, don't you love me"? You open your mouth and you tell the devil, "God loves me and I will come out of this. I'll come out of this on the other end and this is going to end well". We all have storms in life. You're not gonna live and have a perfect life and never have problems. But we want to grow to the point where even during the worst times in our life, we are so deeply planted in God that we can still bear good fruit, amen? Does anybody need to hear this today?
Psalm 1:1-3, "Blessed fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked following their advice and example, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit down to rest in the seat of scoffers". I'm just gonna make this quick, it is important who you spend your time with. That's exactly what that's saying. The man who sits down in the midst of sinners and takes their advice is gonna end up in trouble because you do become what like what you're around if you're around that long enough, amen? You listen to my teachings day after day after day, and you'll start to sound like me. You'll start to say things like I say. But if you spend all your time with a complainer and a gossiper, then it's not gonna be very long and you're gonna be the doing the same thing that they did. Some of you could immediately fix some of your problems if you could just get a new batch of friends. Amen? Get around some godly people.
"His delight should be in the law of the Lord, and on his law his precepts and teachings he habitually meditates day and night. And this man will be like a tree firmly planted and fed by streams of water, which yields its fruit..." this fruit thing is everywhere. "In its season. It's leaf does not wither: and in whatever he does, he shall prosper and it shall come to maturity". So, if I'm seeing this properly, when you bear good fruit, the result is God prospers everything you lay your hand to, but we want to avoid the fruit and just get the prosperity.
You're not gonna hold unforgiveness in your heart and see the things that you want to see happen in your life. If we want to have what God says we can have, we have to do what God tells us to do. It's a very simple formula. I will repeat it again. If we want to have what God says we can, we must be willing to do what God says we are to do.
One time I was murmuring because I felt like there were things that God had told me that I couldn't do that I saw other people doing. One of them, for example, was like the kinds of movies that I feel like I can go to. And there's a lot of things I'd like to see that I just don't feel like I can go see because of some of the stuff that's in them. And yet I know many people, even people in ministry, who have no problem at all seeing those kinds of movies, but you're not responsible for what everybody else does. You're only responsible for what you do. And so, I was complaining one day to God, "Well, I don't know why you're so strict with me, you know? They, you know, they can do it. And, you know, why can't I do it"? And you know what God said to me? "Look, you've asked for a lot, do you want it or not"?
I'm the one praying that God'll let me reach the whole world with the gospel and so the more you want to do for God, the narrower your path is going to be. Is anybody hearing me? You gotta get off the broad path. It's easy to walk on the broad path. You'll have lots of company on that path, but Jesus walked a narrow path and anybody who wants to end up with the kind of life that God says that you can have, I mean life beyond anything that we can imagine. And to me, part of that life is to have every kind of problem imaginable and it not bother you at all. How many of you think that's a good life to have? How many of you would love to just not care what people think about you, you know, just doesn't bother you at all because you know your heart and you know what God thinks of you. So, you're not gonna ruin one more day of your life by being upset about what somebody else think of you that doesn't even know you at all.
These are the real things that God wants to give us. It's not just more money, or a bigger career, or, you know, more fame or to be more well known. Those things come and go and let me tell you something, no matter how popular you are, the day will come when somebody will come along that will be more popular than you. And so, you gotta have yourself to live with and you need to know who you are and know who you are in Christ, amen? The devil's got me mad this morning. He shall be like a tree planted by the water. Then in a whole year of drought will continue to bear fruit. It's not enough just to bear a little fruit when things are going good.
Maybe we could be honest and ask ourselves a few questions this morning. How difficult is it for you to keep an even temper when you're under personal pressure? Just throwing some stuff out. Whatever. How hard is it for you to keep being good to other people when it doesn't seem like anything good is happening for you? What level of peace do you maintain during personal trials? Are you able to remain joyful when you're going through something really difficult?
You know something somebody told me one time, "Joyce, you never really know anybody until you see them in all kinds of situations". And you know what? That is so true. You never really know very much about a person until you see how they react when things are not good for them. I'm so grateful that God put me with my husband because I grew up in such a pathetic situation and to me turmoil was normal. I lived in the middle of turmoil. I didn't know that anything else even existed and nobody could have told me about peace and me gotten it. I had to have somebody show it to me and I had to see it for a long period of time.
And year after year, I would see Dave just continue to love me no matter how I acted and that didn't mean he didn't confront me but he would love me. He stayed calm no matter what was going on in our life and I finally thought I want that. And see, that's what God wants us to do out in the world. He wants us to be like that so other people can actually see that you have something worth having and they're gonna say, "I want that". Then you're not gonna be trying to cram something down their throat all the time. They're gonna be wanting to know from you how can you be that way, what is different about you?
Let me tell you something, the world is hungry. They don't know what they're hungry for. They keep trying to fill up that hunger with things, but they are hungry because when you don't have God in your life, you're never gonna be satisfied because you were created for him. You weren't created for anything else and without him, it's impossible to be permanently happy. You never see the real person until you see them under pressure. Then pressure, that shows what's on the inside, doesn't it?
Now in Colossians 3:12 through 15, the apostle gives a very detailed list of acceptable Christian behavior. Everybody say, "Behavior". See, of course, the first thing that's important is what we believe but faith without works is dead, James said. Faith always comes first, but good works should follow. Now, if you just have good works and no faith in God, then that's useless because we're not saved by our works. But if we're saved by faith and you become a new person in Christ and he's living in you, it should be a very natural desire then to want to do good things. But we have to grow in that. We have to learn new habits. We have to learn new ways to respond. Literally, the moment that you are born again, you enter the school of God. And you'll be going to school until the day he comes back to get you, ever learning and relearning and going over and over some of the same things so we don't let them slip away. That's why I'm proud of you for taking the time to come out and sit in something like this today instead of just being out doing some of the other things that you could be doing.
Now, I'm gonna make it very make it very clear that we cannot behave the way we should without God. This is not just something that you can jump up and decide to do, "I'm gonna leave here and I'm gonna be nice". Well, probably not, you know? I can be nice all day when nobody was home, it was when the people came home that I got in trouble. I mean, if there were just no people, I could be so godly. But they are everywhere, everywhere. We're gonna talk more about that this afternoon.
So, here's this list, Colossians 3:12, "So, as God's own chosen people, who are holy set apart, sanctified for" uh-oh, "His purpose and who are well-beloved by God himself, let them put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience which has the power to endure whatever comes or whatever unpleasantness comes with good temper". Don't you wish that wasn't there? "God, I don't want to have to endure it and have a good attitude. I want you to get rid of it".
Now, I don't know if you noticed or not the words "Put on". "Let him put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility". That word "Put on" is found several places in the Bible and for me, it became a very important phrase for me because I learned by that that means that I have to do these things on purpose. Not one of you went and stood in your closet this morning and had your clothes just jump off the rack and on to your body. You had to choose them and put them on. And some of you put on one thing, it didn't look right. You took it off, you put on something else. I did that this morning. My goodness, I had silver on the back of my pants and I had gold on the front of my shirt. Well, Lord knows, every woman knows that won't work. I had to match. So, then I had all of my suitcases locked up and closed up, well then because I had on gold earrings and so then I had to open up the suitcase and I had to get the stuff back out. It's amazing what we do to go out in front of people and say, "Look how put together I am".
Well, if we would spend the same amount of time getting ready spiritually... how about if you get up in the morning and you put on an attitude that doesn't look good on you? What if God says that, "Nah, that don't look good on you, uh-uh. That's not for you". Then you change it just like you would change your clothes. Is everybody with me today? You put on Christ, you put on love, you put on peace, you put on righteousness. These are things that you do on purpose with God's help.
To bear fruit, good fruit, there's a little somethin' that has to happen. And it's called pruning. Now, some crazy, wild branches just need a little clip. If you don't know what pruning is, it means that when a tree starts to get... It's going this way and then all of a sudden, some branch wants to go that way. It can ruin the looks of the whole thing. So, you prune those off. Pruning takes away dead stuff, or stuff that is going in the wrong direction. And the Bible says that he's the vine we're the branches. That every branch in him that does not bear fruit, he prunes, takes away, cuts off. Every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes so that it bears richer and more excellent fruit.
So, it seems to me like the pruning thing is a fact of life. We can't get away from it. You're pruned if you don't bear fruit. And if you do bear fruit, God says, "Oh good. I've got somebody I can work with, we're gonna have 'em bear more fruit". So, sometimes as God's dealing with us, it just takes a little, a little adjustment. But for some of us... there's a bigger job that has to be done. Come on now. Some of you need to get a pair of these and just put 'em on the wall somewhere. My husband had a tree in our front yard pruned back one time. I mean, you know, I knew it needed to be done, but when I came home from work, I was so mad when I saw that tree. Because it just was down to almost nothing. Come on, do you feel like you've been cut down to almost nothing? And he said, "Just be patient". My husband has a lot of that. I don't have as much of it as he does. "Just be patient and you'll see, next year."..
Well, I didn't want a pretty tree next year. I wanted a pretty tree right now. Now, how many of you know, that's our problem? We don't want anything next year, or in five years, we want it right now. Well, God doesn't work that way. Sometimes, he prunes us back. Like for example, they say, like, say a peach tree, a good farmer or a peach orchard grower, if they're really good, the first year the tree bears a little tiny fruit, they go and pluck it off. The next year it's a little bit bigger, they pluck that off too. And if they'll be patient, and not let it actually bear fruit the first few years, then it will come around and bear fruit like no other tree. Come on now, some of you are where I'm at. You're with me.
You know, when God called me to teach I thought for sure I'd roll out of bed the next morning and go to the world. I felt like God said, "You're going to go all over the world and teach my word". Well, I didn't know that meant like years from now. See, a lot of us God has called us to do something, but we don't want to settle down and let him prepare us. Come on, I'm talking to somebody. We don't want to settle down and let him prepare us for the thing he's called us to do.
You know, it's interesting, David was anointed to be king 20 years before he wore the crown. Hello? 20 years before he wore the crown. When God puts something in your heart, you see the end of it. You see it, like, "Wow"! But it's going to start out like a little tiny fuzzy peach popping out on a tree and God's going to come along and pull that baby off and say, "Not yet". Well, sure enough next year, we had a gorgeous tree in the front yard.
And God loves us so much, that he will kick things out from under us that have become props to us. Like maybe, when you're a baby Christian, God will give you a couple of just awesome Christian friends that just keep you propped up all the time. I mean, every time you have a bad day, they're right there to tell you how awesome you are. And to prophesy your great future. Come on, you know what I'm talking about. And then, really what's happening is you're leaning on them too much and not leaning on God enough. And so, he arranges for them to no longer be in your life. And I don't know they may even do something that hurts you. Oh, yeah. 'Cause in the process of them keeping you propped up, you got to thinking that they were just these... "Oh, perfect, amazing people," that would never hurt you.
Hey, listen. I know, 'cause I've been through all this I got some stories I could tell you that would make the hair stand up on your head, if it's not already doing it. I mean, when I had my little women's Bible group at the church that I was at, and I had my little Thursday morning meeting, and I had my little leadership team, and they were 12 ladies and I just thought they all just loved me. They just loved me. They're for me. They'll back me up. And you know, a time came when one of 'em decided that she wanted my job. She felt like God told her that she should be doing the teaching instead of me. And she started talking to a bunch of the others. Before you know it, they were all finding fault with me, and ended up gossiping about me, and telling some lies, and turned against me. And it was one of the hardest things that I have ever, ever, ever gone through in my life. But can I tell you something? If I wouldn't have gone through that, I wouldn't be here today.
You know why? Because I trusted them too much. I had too much of my confidence in them. And God loves you enough, now, please don't misunderstand what I'm getting ready to say. But God loves you enough that he will let something happen in your life that will hurt you for a period of time because it's intended to make you a better person in the long run. Because here's what would have happened. God was getting ready to promote me to the next level of my ministry because he was about to call me out of that church to start doing what I'm doing now, and I started on a much, much, much, much, much smaller scale. And I would have taken all them with me. And the higher the ladder you go, the more damage people that aren't really what they seem to be can do in your life. So, you better be thankful that God reveals some of their weaknesses down here, instead of waitin' until you get up here. Amen?
It took me three years to get over that, it hurt me so bad. But I'll tell you what, I got used to being by myself, and going to God for what I needed. Putting my trust in Him and I'd learned some wisdom about getting too entrenched with people. Come on, we need people. People are wonderful. We need our friends, but there's a trust that belongs only to God. And when you start giving it to somebody else, it's going to come back and bite ya.
There's a beautiful few scriptures in Isaiah 61, the first three verses that carried me through many, many, many very difficult years. And I just like to take the time for us to read them because we get into this fruit-bearing thing again here. Isaiah 61:1-3, "The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed and commissioned me to bring good news to the humble and afflicted: he has sent me to bind up the wounds of the brokenhearted, to proclaim release from confinement and condemnation to the physical and spiritual captives and freedom to the prisoners".
Well, I was one of those broken-hearted people and I'm sure many of you are like that too. And Jesus came just for people like me and like you. "He came to declare the favorable year of the Lord, the day of the vengeance and the retribution of our God". Don't you love that? God is your vindicator. Come on, God is your vindicator. And when anybody has treated you wrong, if you will treat them right... "Oh Lord. Oh, help me Jesus". Come on. Do you know how hard it is to be nice to somebody that you know has been talking about you behind your back? Whoo... That's when I need those big pruning shears.
I had something happened one time, that just makes a good point. Somebody that we did business with, we actually gave a lot of business to them. With an outside company, not somebody that worked for us, but they worked with us a lot. Somebody told me that they were in a restaurant at a booth, and these people that we did business with were sitting right behind them, and they were just raking me over the coals. I mean, just... "She's this.".. And, "She's that.".. "She's not this.".. And "She's not that.".. Well, I got my plan. "Well, they will lose our business starting tomorrow". "And I'm going to tell them this... And I'm going to tell them that.".. And I'm... And I'm... And I'm... And I'm... And God interrupted me, he said, "No, I'll tell you what you're gonna do". "You're gonna pray for them and send them a gift".
Well, honestly, and I'm telling you the truth, I so much wanted to send them an anonymous copy of my book, "Me and my big mouth". You don't know how bad I wanted to do that. And so, I could feel the minute that I said, "Yes," to God, I could feel joy. Now, I mean, I know that sounds stupid, but when you do the right thing you always get joy from it. Even if it's hard, it always brings you joy. So, I wrote him a thank you note. Telling him how much we appreciated doing business with him over the years, and you know, looked forward to a great future together, sent him some gift certificates to go out and eat lunch. I so badly wanted to send 'em gift certificates to the restaurant where they were talking about me. My flesh was looking for any little tiny way to let them know that I knew. Well, if I'm going to be this good, I want them to know, that I know, what they did and that I'm being nice anyway. But no, God would have none of it. I had to just do what he told me to do.
But here's the thing, now look at me when I tell you this — the moment that I did that, I was free. When you do that, people can't hurt you anymore. Because you see, the secret that's found in Romans, 12:21, "We overcome evil with good". The way to overcome evil is to kill it with good. You've heard the phrase kill 'em with kindness. "He came to grant to those who mourn in Zion the following: to give them beauty instead of ashes... The oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a spirit of heaviness". And then it goes on to say, "That they might be trees of righteousness... The planting of the Lord". Fruit bearing trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord.
So, God wants to take people that have really been messed with, and messed around, and hurt, and used, and abused, and heal them. But he doesn't want to heal us just so we can sit around somewhere and feel good. He wants us to then learn to give to other people what he has given to us. Is anybody home in the house this morning? Don't despise the chastisement of God. Ask God to deal with you. I dare you to ask God to prune you. If you want, you can ask him to start with the little ones. "How about just a little snip here and there, Lord? Not any of that big stuff".
How many of you know what I mean when I say God has to cut the dead things out of our life? Okay. Well, a lot of this busy stuff... You're busy with dead stuff. You're putting your time in the stuff that has no life in it. Come on. Sitting at the lunch table with people that you work with and listening to them crab and complain about the business place and gossip about everybody, you're putting your time into somethin' dead. And God wants you to be done with dead stuff. He wants you to get with the living, and live for him, glorify him.
God's got something wonderful that he wants to do in all of our lives, but we've got to get rooted in him. We don't get healed just to be healed, we get healed so we can help other people. Listen, I know that what I'm doing makes the devil so mad he can hardly stand it. If you think the enemy comes after you, you oughta try something like this. Because God has healed my life. And he has done amazing things in me. And I believe the only way that I can get the devil back for what he did to me in my childhood, is to help as many people as I can possibly help. So, instead of sitting around and being bitter the rest of your life because you got a bad start... It's not so important how you get started, it's how you finish. Amen? And I'm here to tell you, no matter what you don't have, you do have God. And as long as you have him on your side, you and God together can defeat anything in your life. Anything.
God has a good plan for every single one of you. Not one person is in a pit so deep that God can't reach down in it and lift you out. Nobody has sinned so much that they can't be forgiven. I want you to listen to me today. I'm not just preaching to everybody else here, Jesus is talking to you this morning. And he wants you to know that he's the God of fresh starts, and the God of new beginnings. Let go of everything that lies behind and start brand new today. "This is the day the Lord has made I will rejoice and be glad". Don't spend today being depressed about yesterday. Amen?
Be a fruit-bearing tree of righteousness. Make a decision today that you're going to start praying some different kind of prayers. Not just God, "Give me, give me, give me, give me, give me. I need you to do this... I need.".. No, pray for God to show you somebody that you can be a blessing to today. You can start at our lunch break. Maybe you'll see somebody that looks a little down or... Use a little discernment. Maybe there'll be somebody that you'll notice that you could go and just encourage them. Lift them up. Maybe you could buy somebody a book. Go out and buy four or five books and just walk around and look for people to give 'em to. Well, what are you laughing for? I mean it.
You know, we had one man that, and he actually still works on the team now. But he used to come to our meetings and he'd show up at every meeting and all he did was buy resources and then walk around and give them to people. And he wore a long trench coat, and sometimes he kinda scared people. People are like... And, you know, there are so many things that you can do, other than just sit around and feel sorry for yourself all day. So many ways, little ways that you can be a blessing to people. It may involve money, but it may not involve money. Let me tell you something. No matter how bad you're hurting, there's somebody else in this room today that's hurting worse than you are. I'll tell you what God wants to say to you today. Something he said to me one time, "Joyce, you tend to my business and I'll tend to yours". Can I give you that word today? You tend to God's business, and let him take care of yours. Amen?
"God, show me who I can help today. Help me walk in the fruit of the spirit. Show me what I can do, to serve you. Deal with me Jesus, get out your pruning shears and make me the way you want me to be. Not the way I want to be". Finally, the Bible says in Hebrews 12, "Do not despise the chastisement of God". We're to love it when God deals with us. It takes a little bit to get there, but I'll tell you right now, when I feel God's conviction in my life, when he lets me know that he doesn't like the way I'm doing something, I am so grateful now, that God loves me so much that he will not leave me alone in my mess. Amen? So, when God puts his finger on something in your life, don't murmur, thank him. "Thank you, God that you love me enough to call my attention to this. Now, I'm trusting you to help me overcome it".
Well, when we're right in the middle of something that's very difficult, it's not always easy to trust God, or to keep bearing good fruit. Sometimes, we just want to withdraw and hide, and just sit somewhere and feel sorry for ourselves. But remember, it's not in our own strength that we get through challenges, it's by completely depending on the Holy Spirit. That's the thing that makes the difference. And it's very important to continue doing good even when you're in the midst of having difficulties. The Bible says in Psalms 37, "Trust in the Lord and do good". "Trust in the Lord and do good," and I love that. I think that's very important.