Joyce Meyer - Living A Highly Productive Life In A Busy World
Living a highly productive life in a busy world. So that's what we're doing this weekend. First of all, let me say that there is no scripture in the Bible where God commands us or ever even suggests to us that we be busy. Doesn't say, "Be busy," but it talks a lot about being fruitful, bearing good fruit. And so I wanna talk to you this weekend about bearing good fruit. We'll talk about it in two different ways. One is the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, all those beautiful things that should be coming out of us that lets people know we're the real deal, that we've got more than a bumper sticker, that we've actually got a little fruit going on here.
And the second thing, gosh, this is so important, bearing the fruit of getting out in your part of the world and really being good to people, helping people, helping people that don't deserve help, helping people that are needy, helping the poor, getting involved in making somebody else's life better other than just spending all your time trying to make yourself happy. Self is still the biggest problem that we have. I just read a chapter in a book on it last week and I'm gonna read it again. I tell you, I need it. We can get so absorbed in ourself that we begin to think that even God survives for us and to make us happy and to give us what we want. Where it really is just the opposite. Although God does wanna bless us and give us things, we're really here to serve him. I think we forget that sometimes. We're really here every day to serve God. Every day we should say, when we pray, "God, is there something you want to do through me today? Show me somebody that I can help. I've got a plan for the day but if you need to interrupt me, you're welcome to interrupt me". God rarely interrupts people at a convenient time.
If you look at some of the Bible stories that we read, it's pretty amazing almost everybody that God called to do something great was busy doing something else when God called 'em. Abraham, named Abram then, was just comfortable living his life, got a wife, got some kids, got a family, hanging out in his tent, and God says, "Time to pack up and go to... I'll show you once you start walking". How would you like that? Leave your family and everything you know and pack up and I'll show you where when you get moving. Noah. I don't imagine that he was expecting to be told to build an ark to prepare for a flood when nobody even knew what rain was. Peter and James, they were fishing. Jesus said, "Follow me". They walked off from everything and followed him.
I think a lot of us wear a little invisible sign on our body that says, "Do not disturb". Those are the signs you hang on your hotel door when you don't want the maid to wake you up when you're taking a nap in the afternoon. It's not what we need to be saying to God. "I've got my plan. Don't bother me". We're here for him. He's not just here for us, c'mon. For some reason, when I was flying in here today, that just came to me so strong. How we just are always, "God, I need you to do this, and God, I need you to do that. And I need you to fix this and now get this problem. And give me favor and I need a blessing and I need more money and give me, give me, and help me, help me. And fix, fix".
And we can take any prayer request to God. He loves to help us. He wants us to ask. There's nothing wrong with asking God for things but, my goodness, if that's all we ever do, then we're missing the point. And so I really wanna encourage you to start asking God every day, "Show me what I can do for you today. Put somebody in my path that I can help today". If you'll start praying that, God'll start surprising you with some things. May not always be convenient but I'll tell you what I've learned after my several years of living, that is is that you cannot be selfish and be happy at the same time. Just doesn't work.
So we don't wanna just be busy. We wanna bear good fruit. Matthew 12:33 says: "You'll know them by their fruit". How is the world supposed to know that Christ is living in us? Just because we put a bumper sticker on our car with a fish on it or because they see us pull out of our driveway every Sunday morning and stay gone for an hour or two or we wear a cross around our neck or, you know. How are they supposed to know? "You'll know them by their fruit". To tell you the truth, if we would act better, we wouldn't even have to really preach all that much. People could see Jesus. We hear a lot about witnessing and telling people about Christ and I believe in that but I think a lot of times you've gotta show people something before they're gonna listen to anything that you have to say.
Now, fruit is seen in our behavior, in our words, and what we do to help other people. So one of the questions that I would like you to answer for yourself this weekend, have a little meeting with yourself sometime after the evening's over. Just ask yourself and be real honest, "Who am I helping in my life? Whose life am I making a difference in"? And yes, you may be raising children and so you're helping to raise them and that's extremely important. We need to know that we're helping other people. Who am I helping? What am I doing to make anybody else's life better? Any time you help people it's gonna cost you something. It'll cost you time, it'll cost you money, it will cost you effort. And one of the reasons why we don't do more for people is because we don't wanna give our stuff away. We wanna keep it. And some people are more selfish with their time even than with their money.
Matthew 21:18-19, I love these scriptures. I wouldn't wanna take on a doctrinal battle over what I get out of this but makes a good point. It says in verse 18: "Now early in the morning, as Jesus was coming back to the city, he was hungry". Well, there's a lot of people in the world that are hungry and I'm not talking about physical food. They're hungry for something. They don't even know what it is. The world is not satisfying them. Life is not satisfying them. They can't get content. They don't even know what it is they want but they're hungry. They need something. They don't even know what they need. "And so seeing a lone fig tree by the roadside, he went to it and found nothing on it but leaves". Now, don't forget that part. "He found nothing on it but leaves. And he said to it, 'never again will fruit come from you.' And at once the fig tree withered".
Now, I used to read that and I actually kind of felt sorry for the fig tree. I mean, it just almost seemed like a mean thing to do. Well, you know, why did you curse the fig tree just because it didn't have what you wanted? It seemed out of character for the Jesus that I know. Until I found out something about fig trees. This used to be in the original classic amplified Bible now they've redone it and this is not one of the footnotes now but it actually said in the footnote that with fig trees when they have leaves on 'em, they're supposed to always have fruit under that leaf. That's just the way they are. In the fruit-bearing season, they have fruit and then a leaf over the fruit. So he was hungry. He saw the leaf, going to it, expecting to have his need met.
Well, I think that a lot of times, all we have is leaves and no fruit. So we have messages on our cars saying, "I'm a Christian". We go to church, we play our Christian music, we have our Christian jewelry, we have our Christian language. C'mon, you know. "Amen, well, praise the Lord". And I think that Jesus cursed the fig tree because it was a phony. It was pretending to have something that it didn't have. And I'll tell you what, I don't wanna be a fig tree that only has leaves and no fruit, c'mon.
To Adam, God said, "Be fruitful and multiply". To Noah, God said, "Be fruitful and multiply". In John chapter 15, Jesus said, "My father is glorified and honored by this, when you bear much fruit, you prove yourselves to be my true disciples". So we're not proving anything by what we say. It's the fruit of our life that proves who we really are. And one of the things that is supposed to happen as we mature spiritually and we do grow spiritually. Just like babies grow from babyhood to adulthood, we grow spiritually. And it takes time, and it takes effort, and it takes work and it takes study, and it takes doing things just like what you're doing tonight, taking a Friday night, going to hear somebody teach the word, worshiping together with a group of people. This is much better than some of the things you used to do and I can guarantee you that tomorrow morning you'll feel better than you used to feel when you did those other things, amen?
I always tell people, "If you just came and sat in a room full of believers and you didn't get one thing out of anything, you just sat here, something good would still be happening to you just by being in the atmosphere and being around other believers. You know what it's like when you get somewhere where the atmosphere is just bad, I mean, just bad, it's full of strife and everything negative and, ugh, you know, just.... well, we've got a good atmosphere going on here. There's somebody on either side of you, in front of you, and behind you that's anointed, amen? They've got God living in 'em. That's a good place to be.
And so I think one of the things that we need as we grow is stability. We need to grow to the point where we can behave the same no matter what's going on in our lives. So that's gonna be a goal for me to be the same, the Christian in the neighborhood, when I'm having a hard time, when I don't feel good, when I lost my job, when I'm sick. You know, it's not right to come home grouchy. "Well, what's wrong with you"? "Well, I've just been busy all day. And the traffic was bad and I've got a headache". Well, can I tell you something? Everybody's got something. Everybody's got something. And Christians sometimes can be some of the meanest people that you have ever seen in your whole life. And that's terrible. Nothing is worse than a mean Christian, amen?
And so that fruit that we're supposed to have coming off of our life is patience. I'm not fully mature yet 'cause I'm still working on that. Joy, peace, loving people, forgiving, being quick to forgive. Good fruit. And the more of that good fruit that you have coming out of you, the happier you are. Because I'll tell you the truth, when we let our emotions rule and we act bad, we behave bad, no matter how many excuses we give for it, it makes us feel bad inside. No matter what we blame it on, we know it's not right and it makes us feel bad on the inside. So I'm telling you the truth and I may say this a hundred times this weekend so you don't forget it, the better you treat people, the happier you're gonna be, amen?
John 15:16: "You have not chosen me," Jesus said, "But I've chosen you. I have appointed and placed and purposefully planted you". I love that. In other words, wherever you're at is not an accident. God said, "I've put you somewhere and I've put you there on purpose and I have planted you so that you would go and bear fruit," c'mon. You say, "Well, I don't like where I'm at". Well, you don't have to like where you're at. You're there to bear fruit for God. If you get about doing what he put you there for, then maybe you'll get promoted out of there. If you keep complaining about where you're at, you might go somewhere worse, amen?
I always say, "Complain and remain: praise and be raised". "What am I doing here"? Well, if we're gonna believe scripture, God said, "I have appointed you, I have placed you, I have planted you, that you might go and bear fruit, that your Father in Heaven might be honored and glorified," which we've already established is the reason why we're here, to honor and glorify God.
Now, the definition of fruit is that which is produced by the inherent energy of a living organism. So in other words, whatever you see pop out on the outside, it's the result of something going on on the inside. And so you know a tree is an orange tree because it has oranges. You know an apple tree is an apple tree because it has apples. So you can know a Christian is a Christian if you see Christian fruit. But if all you hear is talk and an attitude that you're better than everybody else or a judgmental attitude toward everybody that's not as good as you are, amen? You know, there are so many people in the world that are hurting so bad. And a lot of times, as Christians, we get so used to being with each other and all being so spiritual together that we get out and we run into somebody that's just, like, whoa. And the first thing we're tempted to do is kind of just like withdraw and isolate.
And I remember I was with a pastor from England and my husband and somebody else and this guy from England's quite a character and he's really great with people and we went in a Starbucks and the girl that waited on us was, well, her hair was probably five different colors and it was all going in 40 different directions. And she had piercings all over the place. Well, you know, I could feel my religious attitudes, c'mon. Do you ever feel your little religious thing coming up there? It's like, right away you're sure that, "Well...". Well, this guy from england, he leans right over the counter and says, "Man, I love your hair. How do you do that"? And he struck up this conversation with her and they were just, you know, enjoying talking and... we gotta get rid of the religious facade, amen?
I tell this story sometimes but I retell whatever pops in my heart. I was out shopping with another female minister and she's an evangelist and I'm a teacher. And we went in a store and the girl said, "What are you in town for"? And we said, "Oh, we're Christians, we're here to do a conference". And she said, "Oh, I'm spiritual". And I always kind of get, "Hmm". When you tell somebody you're a Christian and they tell you they're spiritual, you usually gotta kind of find out first what kind of spiritual they're talking about. And so we got into a little bit of a conversation and she ripped off a couple of cuss words, pretty bad ones, and she said, "Oh, I'm sorry". But she said, "You know what"? She said, "I think God cusses". Well, I'm, like, I got my back up now. I'm gonna take up for God. I leaned over the counter and I said, "God does not cuss". And my evangelist friend slipped right in front of me and said, "But he loves people who do".
And see, here's what I was trying to do and a lot of religious people do this. We had not even caught the fish yet and I was trying to clean it. You understand that? So you can have an attitude about people you work with and judge all the wrong things they're doing all you want to, but it would be much better if you would do what Jesus does which is he meets people where they're at, c'mon now. He meets people where they're at and then by loving them he helps them get to where they need to be.
Fruit is the visible expression of something that's working inside of us invisibly. So the way that people can tell that God is working in our life is by how we change. Now, it takes time. We don't get it all fixed up all at once. We'll be growing as long as we have a human body, that's why we can never stop learning. We always have to be educating and re-educating and rehearing some of the same things over and over and over again. So Ephesians 3:20 says: "God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above and beyond all that we could ever dare to hope, ask or think, according to his power that works in us". Now, if we just will stop trying to keep Jesus just for ourself and turn him into our own little private supply cabinet... give him our list of 20 things we have to have today to stay saved. "Well, God, if you don't do, if I don't get a breakthrough today, God, I just don't know if I can hang on. I don't know if I can hold on. My air conditioner's broke and the guy can't get here for three days, God. I'm depressed". But you have no idea what God wants to do through you. The amazing things.
Now, you're probably familiar with the parable of the talents. How many of you are familiar with parable of the talents? In Matthew chapter 25 where the owner of the vineyard goes away and he leaves several of his servants with a certain amount of money and expected them to invest it and use it, then when he came back to give him more than what he had left 'em with. And, I'm not going to turn to the story and tell the whole thing, but the first one invested his, got some back. The second one did the same thing. The third one did same thing. The fourth one was afraid and he hid his in the ground. So, when the master came back, the first three he talked to, "You did a good job. Well done thou good and faithful servant". And he didn't give all of them the same amount. He gave them according to what they could handle.
So, God doesn't expect the same thing out of all of us. We're not all called to write a 120 books. We're not all called to do the same thing. We're not all called to be able to sing like Phil does. But whatever we can do, it's a gift that God put in us. And he put it in us for somebody else. Are you there? So for me to sit out there and be jealous of somebody up here that can sing real good, is so ridiculous. Because, God didn't give them the gift for their benefit, he put the gift in them so, you could be blessed. I tell people, God gave me a gift to speak. All it causes me to do is work. It's for you. It's not for me. Now, I enjoy what I'm doing. But, I get the work part, and you get to go enjoy it. You know. You don't have to be in the back room singing notes and practicing music and doing exercises with your voice every day. There's work to what people do.
And so, God gives us a little something what we can handle and he expects to get back more than what he gave. Because he is a God of multiplication. And to the last guy who said well, "I was afraid and I hid what you gave me. But now, here I can give you back what you gave me". God called him a, "Wicked, lazy, idle servant," and he said, "Take it away from him and give it to the one who has the most". So, it's very simple. You use it, or you lose it. In God's economy, if you don't use what God's given you, then he will get somebody else to do what you have the opportunity to do. Every one of you are in ministry. I now announce to you that every one of you, if you're a believer, you are ordained for ministry.
Well, let's talk about the curse of busyness. How many of you are too busy? Come on, don't give me none of this stuff. Let's see. When one of my granddaughter's was eight years old, she's now 18 and she's actually here in the service. Abby, I don't know if you'd remember this or not, but trying to find exactly what you said so I don't mess it up. But, she had do some kind of paper about, if you were going to give a gift what kind of gift would you give? And she said, "If I could give a gift to anybody, I'd give my grandma the gift of time, because she's always so busy". And so, people notice. She was eight. And she noticed that her grandma was busy all the time. Don't be so busy just being busy, that you don't have time for the things in your life that are really the most important. Don't just park your kid in front of a television, talk to 'em. Amen?
Americans are so busy. And we wear our busyness like a badge, we're proud of it. "Let me tell you how busy I am, and how much I've been doing". And sometimes I just want to say, "But is it worth anything? Or is it even what you're supposed to be doing"? And today, in our society, and I think most of you will agree, we have got an epidemic of people not keeping their word. I mean, I am so tired of that. Just so tired of that. You have an appointment, somebody doesn't show up. They don't even call you to tell you that they're not coming. You call again, "Well, what happened to you yesterday? I had an appointment. I took off work to meet you here. You didn't show up". "Oh, I'm sorry. I just got so busy". "Well, I thought you were gonna call me back". "I'm sorry. I just got so busy. I've just got so much going on. I'm just so busy".
You know what? That is a lame, dumb excuse. I mean, sometimes you can get busy and forget something. But if your excuse for not keeping your word is I'm busy, then you need to rework your schedule. And I'm going to tell you a secret, and you can believe this or not believe it. But, we all have the same amount of time. We all have 24 hours a day. It's not like, you know, I have too much time and you don't have enough time. Now, in a lifetime some may live longer than others, but we all have 24 hours a day. And it's amazing to me that some people can accomplish so much with their time, while other people just do absolutely nothing with theirs. And so, I want to say are you busy? But what are you busy doing? What do you have to show for it at the end of the day? What are you going to have to show for it at the end of your life? How many really good friends do you have?
You gotta put time into stuff like that. And you know, I don't mean this at all to be disrespectful... they've both passed on, my mom and dad and thankfully they're both in heaven, and so since in heaven, you can't get mad. They can't get mad at me for what I'm going to say so... and, they would agree now, that they see the other side, but my mom and dad they just basically wasted their whole life. When my dad died, he was 86. There was nobody that carried one thing about him. He didn't have any friends. I mean, I took care of my mom and dad until they died. You know, we tried to treat them decent. But, because of what had happened in my life, it was never really like, I had a real mom and dad. And I had one brother who ended up committing suicide from drugs and alcohol. And they didn't have any money. They couldn't take care of themselves. They were sick.
Life is a gift from God. And every day that you have is a gift and it's precious. And when I say don't waste it, I'm not saying you have to be working all the time. The thing is, is to learn about God's rhythm, and to learn how to discern and sense what you need to do when, and not be just led around by emotions and feelings. You know, if you know that you've got a mess in your home and you need to stay home for a few days and get things cleaned up, you can't get emotional every time somebody calls and wants you to take off and go somewhere. You got to be able to say no, and stay focused, and get the things done that you need to get done. But there's also times when you, maybe want to work all day, and I would have a problem like this, and the better thing to do is not work at all, and just lay on the couch all day, in my pajamas and watch movies all day. And that's not a waste if it's something you need. But if you're doing that every day... then there's a little problem.
So, we have to have balanced lives. But just being busy... Here's what I was going to tell you. You put your time into what's really important to you. If something is really important to you then you will find the time to do it. So, to say, "I just can't find the time to study the Bible". "I just can't find the time to pray". Well, time's not hiding from you, it's right there in front of your face. You don't have to go find it. You've got it, all you got to do is rearrange what you're doing with it a little bit, and start putting first things first. And when you put first things first, everything else will seem to fall into place. Don't major in minors. Amen?
I have a book up here called, "Seize the Day," that I wrote. And I had them bring 400 extra copies of this book that I expect you to buy. And, John Maxwell, many of you probably heard of John Maxwell. He's awesome and I have the privilege of being able to call him my friend. And he said this, that, "We should put 80% of our time into the top 20% of our strengths. Most people waste their time, trying to strengthen their weaknesses. And they may improve only a very little, no matter how much effort they put into it. While they ignore the development of their strengths, and things that they could truly excel at. If everything is a priority us, then nothing is a priority. And we live confused and frustrated lives. Some people try to do everything, so they end up doing nothing really well". Amen? Peter Drucker said, "There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently what should not be done at all". I'm gonna say that again. There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently what should not be done at all.
Now, one of the things that we need to do, Philippians 1 talks about, it's one of Paul's prayers. It's interesting to me, the things that Paul prayed for the church. His prayers were vastly different than a lot of ours is. He said, "I pray that you might learn to recognize and treasure what is excellent identifying the best, and distinguishing the moral differences, so that you may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, actually living lives that lead others away from sin". Now, one of the reasons why I like the amplified Bible is because I'll get something like that out of it. Now see, that makes it plain. He wants you to live a life that actually leads other people away from sin.
So, you've heard it before, good is sometimes the greatest enemy of best. We think we might be doing a good thing by working at church five or six times a week. When it actually might be a better thing to work there twice a week and spend those other hours that you were working at church, because maybe it made you feel good about yourself, might be better if you spent those talking to your teenage kids... so they don't try to have to learn everything they want to learn off the internet. And then, you're getting all over them because of their attitude. Come on.
Now, we're going to talk about pruning tomorrow. How many of you know what pruning is? Oh, yeah! You're going to have to be bold to come back tomorrow, because Jesus said, "Every branch in me that does not bear fruit," he trims it away. And every branch that does bear fruit, he repeatedly prunes it, so that it will bear more fruit, even richer and finer fruit". So, I finally got it. Your pruned if you do, and pruned if you don't. In other words, here's the bottom line. God is not going to leave you alone and let you stay the same. Amen? God is after you. He wants to make every single one of us a better person, so we represent him better in the world, because people are dying and going to hell by the thousands every day. And let me tell you something. There are enough Christians in this earth that if we all got out there and acted out what we say we believe, I honestly believe, the world would already be saved. Jesus could have come back and we'd already be out of this mess.
You don't get to go home and just keep doing what you were doing. You actually have to go home now after being here, and be nicer to somebody. I don't want them looking at you and saying, "Well, going to that Joyce Meyer conference didn't do you any good". I want them to see such a change in you, that next year they'll beg you to go. "Please, go"!
And pruning means to cut away dead parts. God is not interested in dead stuff. Amen? The one guy that Jesus called he said well, "'let me bury my dead relatives first.' and Jesus said, 'let the dead bury the dead. You follow me.'" Come on. What kind of dead things do you have in your life? Things that are sucking up your time and bearing no good fruit at all. Every one of you, and I'll include myself, if we would really be honest about what we're doing with our time... everybody in here can find time to do the most important things in life, which is spend time with God, know his word, develop good relationships with people, all of those things are actually more important than making money. They are.
And we spend so much time trying to climb the ladder of success. Don't spend your whole life doing that and when you get to the top, finally, realize your ladder's leaned against the wrong building. That you got what you thought you wanted, but it's not what you wanted after all. Don't just be busy, make sure your bearing good fruit. Be determined when you're 90, and you know you don't have much time left, that you don't look back and have nothing but regrets. I've worked hard in my life and I've been through a lot of hard stuff, but I'm happy to say and I hope that most of you can say this, if Jesus came for me tonight, I'm leaving a legacy. I'm leaving something that can help people for years and years after I'm gone. And, somebody will miss me. Amen?
There's so many people that die and nobody even misses 'em, because they weren't contributing anything. Don't just be somebody who just sucks up everything. Be somebody who gives out, everywhere you go making somebody else's life better. Adding to wherever you go. You'll get happier. Oh, I'm not going anywhere for a while. Oh, no! I'm sticking around a long time to aggravate you guys. I don't care if they gotta push me out here. If my mouth works... No, I am not a quitter. People ask me all the time, "Well, are you thinking about retirement"? How do you retire from a call on your life? I mean, am I just supposed to go to God and say, "Well, you know, I'm going to retire now". "Could I have a preacher's pension"?
Luke 10:38. You're laughing, and I don't even think I'm being funny. "Now while they were on their way, Jesus entered a village called Bethany, and a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. And she had a sister named Mary, who seated herself at the Lord's feet and was continually listening to his teaching. But Martha was very busy and distracted with all of her serving responsibilities: and she approached him and said, 'Lord, is it of no concern to you that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Tell her to get up, and help me, and do her part'". That's just the way an overly-busy, frantic person is. They can't stand to see anybody else having a good time. They I think everybody ought to work just like they do. "But the Lord replied to her, 'Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered and anxious about so many things: but there's only one thing that's necessary, and Mary has chosen that better part.'"
Now, let me say a word to you about worry. Every day that we spend worrying is a totally wasted day. You know why? Because, worrying doesn't change a thing. Bible says, "You can worry all you want to, it will never make you one inch taller". Worry just does no good. It's like sitting in a rockin' chair, rockin' all day long. It keeps you busy, but you're still in the same spot at the end of the day. And I'm not saying that I never get into it, but it has helped me to realize I am wasting my time, because this is not going to change anything. I'll tell you another thing that's a total waste of time: Self-pity.
Come on, we might as well end good tonight. "Poor me. I feel so sorry for me". You can be pitiful or you can be powerful, but you can't be both. Amen? So many ways that we waste our time. God wants us to walk in wisdom. And you know what I believe wisdom is? This is my own little definition. But I think that wisdom is to choose to do now what you'll be happy with later on. But a person who doesn't have self-control, they do what they feel like doing, or what they want to do, or what screams at them the loudest. And if the devil can keep you running, running, running, running, he can keep something screaming at you all the time. So, you have to measure the fruit compared to the effort that you're putting in the things. And if you do that... how many of you honestly believe that if you took a really honest look at your time, that there's things that you could easily cut out? Okay, then. Guess what? If you stay frustrated because you're busy all the time, it's your own fault.