Joyce Meyer - Ways We Waste Our Time
Well, I pray that the word this afternoon will be rich and powerful, and just exactly what you need to hear to send you home ready to face some of the things that you have to deal with, but do it in the way that Jesus would do it instead of the way that maybe you have been doing it. So, we're gonna talk this afternoon about ways to avoid wasting your time. You know, we only have so much time and you think differently about time the older you get. And by the time you've lived about three-fourths of your life, or two-thirds of your life, or whatever, you get to the point where you really don't want to be wasting your time. If there's things that you want to do that you haven't gotten around to do it yet, you want to do them, but you don't want to waste your time, well, I'd like to recommend that you never waste your time, not even when you're in your 20s or 30s, but it does become really important to you the older that you get.
And you may be 20 now, but someday you will be 70 and 80, and will happen faster than you think it will happen. And I believe that time is a very precious gift. And time, you can either waste it or you can use it wisely. But whatever you spend your time on, once you've spent it, you cannot get it back. Now, I want you to think about that seriously. If it's an hour or a week, or whatever it is, if you spend three days angry, you've totally wasted those three days and you'll never get those days back, not ever again.
In the early years when Dave and I first got married and I still had such an out-of-control temper, I remember being mad, which happened often. I mean I grew up around that. That was how I saw my dad handle everything. He just got mad and stayed mad till you got your way, and so that was what I did. And I remember Dave saying to me one day, he said, "Wouldn't it be awful if Jesus came back today and you spent the last day of your life on this earth angry"? And that really made me stop and think. There's so many things that we do that are a total waste of time. They don't do any good at all.
So, I'm gonna share a few things with you this afternoon, and I'm sure you can probably come up with other things on your own. But how about if we make a commitment to start investing our time rather than wasting our time because we don't want to come to the end of our life and look back and have nothing but regrets. I think that is one of the saddest things that can happen to a person is for it to be too late to go back and do what you wish you would have done and should have done, and just end up regretting the way you've lived with no way to fix it.
So, the first thing that is a total waste of time is what the Bible refers to as dead works. Now, God wants us to do good works, but he wants us to avoid dead works. So, what are dead works? Well, dead works are our energy trying to do what only God can do. Do you know how hard it is to try to make something happen that only God can make happen? And the more you try to make it happen, the bigger mess you make out of everything. Anybody had any experience with any of that? We see this plainly with Abraham and Sarah when they wanted to have a child and God had made them a promise, and it was a promise that was impossible to be fulfilled without God because they were both way beyond child-bearing age. Abraham was a hundred, Sarah was close to that, up in her 90s, I guess, and past child-bearing years. And they'd never had a child of their own. God had promised them that they would, but they got tired of waiting.
Anybody ever get tired of waiting? So, they got tired of waiting and came up... well, Sarah, but it was just as much Abraham's fault because he followed her lead. Sometimes you need to follow the woman's lead, but sometimes you need to say NO because we can tend, occasionally, to be a little emotional. And so, I guess on a certain day, Sarah just got really tired of waiting and she got a bright idea. You know what a bright idea is? It's one of those things where you're like... "That's what I'll do and that'll work". And then we even say, "That's what God wants me to do". You know, God does speak to us through our thoughts, but every thought that you have is not God. And so, some things you need to wait on and pray about a little bit more before you just go with the first thought that comes in your head.
So, she had this bright idea that she would give her handmaiden to her husband to be his secondary wife. How many of you already know that that's stupid? Okay, I mean that had trouble written all over it before it ever got started. And she could bear children, so she wanted her husband to have intercourse with her and that she would get pregnant and then she would take that child as hers. Well, Abraham listened to what she said and did it. And sure enough, she got pregnant. Well, soon as she got pregnant, then she got a bad attitude toward Sarah. "Nah, nah, nah, nah, I'm pregnant and you're not". I don't know if that's exactly the way it went, but she got a bad attitude. Well, then Sarah got mad because Hagar had a bad attitude. She had the baby and Sarah and her never could get along after that. And so, Sarah then went to Abraham and wanted him to go deal with Hagar. And he said, "You take care of it, it's your own problem". And she said, "No, you do it". She blamed it on him, he blamed it on her, and it just turned out to be nothing but a big mess.
Well, we can read their story and say, "How dumb". But how many of us do the exact same things day after day? When we want something, we can find a thousand different ways to try to make it happen and think all of them are God. Dead works are works that don't work. I've learned how to recognize when I'm in, what the Bible calls, works of the flesh. Maybe I don't recognize it every time. Maybe I don't recognize it as fast as I should, but one of the things that happens when you're in works of the flesh is, because they don't work, you get frustrated. You feel like that you're pushing, pushing, always pushing trying to make something work that's not working.
I'll give you an example. How about trying to change the person you're married to? How's that working for you? It is just so aggravating because you don't want them to do whatever it is that they're doing or there's something you want them to do that they won't do. And so, you find all kinds of ways to try to talk them into it or get them to change their mind, and all you ever do is argue, and it seems like the more you try to change them, the worst they get. People don't like being forced to do things. Nobody likes to be controlled. And the truth is is unless the heart is changed, no change is ever going to last anyway. And so, God's the only one that can change a heart, so therefore God is the only one that can really change people. And in case you haven't noticed, we all are just a little bit different. And most of you probably are married. If you're married, you're married to somebody that is the opposite of you, amen? I mean, Dave and I could not be, there could be not be any two people that are any more different than Dave and I are, and we have been married 51 years.
Now, some decisions had to be made along the way that we were going to make this work, and both of us had to come to some agreement within our heart that we were going to stop trying to change each other. Can I tell you if you want to have a long-lasting marriage and you want to have peace in your home, you can go home and you can stop trying to change the person that you're married to. I said, you can go home and... you know, I'm real aggressive and Dave is more one to wait. "Well, let's just wait and see". I don't want to wait and see, I want to do something. So, I would tell him, "You're always 9 miles behind God". And he'd say, "Yeah, and you're always 9 miles ahead of him". But see, really the truth is the reason why you end up with somebody different than you is because if you learn how to work together, you keep each other out of trouble, amen?
But what normally happens is two people get married, or two friends get in a relationship, or it happens with your kids, you try to make everybody be like you, and that's foolish because a lot of times you don't even like yourself and you're trying to make everybody else be like you so you're not gonna like them any better then than you do now. We're all different. You can't be somebody else, so you might as well get good at being who you are. God is never going to help you be anybody other than who you are. And not only that, you need to love yourself and appreciate yourself and not just stare at all your weaknesses, but look at your strengths and let God use them for his purposes in the earth. When you stop trying to make all your kids be what you want them to be... Come on. A lot of times we want to live our unfulfilled dreams through our children. We want them to do what we want them do, and the only thing that's gonna happen is they're gonna end up not liking you and maybe not wanting any kind of relationship with you at all because everybody wants to be free to make their own choices.
The Bible says, "Train up a child in the way that he should go". And the amplified says, "According to his own individual bent or personality". Train up a child in the way that God wants him to go, not the way you want him to go. Well, I've raised four children and they're all alive and I am too, but I'll tell you what, I don't have the time do it, but I could tell you with each one of them things that I just thought there's no way that we're gonna make it. One of my daughters, in particular, was extremely messy, disorganized, very forgetful, and irresponsible. And I thought for sure that when she did ever leave home, that she would lose herself and not even know where she was at. And the thing that is so funny is now that daughter, who's my oldest daughter, her name is Laura, she actually, she gave herself a title, the calls herself the mom-ager because she manages me and my life. She takes care of all our bills. She runs all my errands. She keeps up with so many things for me, and she does such a phenomenal job. Her and I were just talking the other day, and she said, "You know, I think even for me, taking on this responsibility and seeing that God has anointed me to do it has really helped me to grow up and even feel better about myself".
You'd be surprised sometimes the things that you're able to do if you'll just take a risk and step out and try to do them. I would have never in my wildest imagination ever thought that she would be taking care of me because I didn't think she could even take care of herself. So, I'm telling you this so you have hope for your children that no matter where they're at now, things are gonna get a lot better, amen? If you want to enjoy your life, I want you to listen what I'm getting ready to say. You have to love people where they are, not where you want them to be. Did you get that? You love them where they are, not where you want them to be. That's exactly what Jesus does for us. He meets us where we're at. He loves us where we're at, and then because of that unconditional love, we respond to it by then wanting to be all that he wants us to be. If you give people the right amount of love and acceptance, they're a lot more likely to want to give you what you want than if you try to force them all the time to change.
Another huge, what I would call, work of the flesh is trying to change yourself. Now, that may sound a little bit odd because you hear preaching and you need to do this and you need to do that, and I've been telling you how you need to go home and walk in the fruit of Spirit and how you need to go home and help other people. And every single bit of that is true, but here's the problem: if you go home and try to do it without getting God involved, you're not gonna succeed. Works of the flesh is either some plan we've come up with to try to make something happen in our life that God is not giving us the direction to do, or it can be something that God has directed us to do, but we're trying to do it without God's help. And we need to realize that no matter how many times we've been successful at doing something, every time you try to do it again, you still need God's help.
I have preached thousands and thousands and thousands of messages. I was thinking in the back room and I just said out loud, I have done some preaching in my life. I mean, I've been doing this for 42 years, and so it's not like, you know, this is my first time, but I can promise you that I did not come out here without asking God to help me. I did not come out here without leaning on God and letting him know that this would be a total flop and a failure if he didn't show up. And so, no matter how good you think you are at something, the best way to fall flat on your face is to start thinking that you can do it on your own without him.
John 15 Jesus said, "Apart from me, ye can do nothing". Now, that doesn't really mean we can't do anything, but it does mean that we can't do anything that's gonna really be successful. We can't do anything and have real peace about it and have real joy in doing it if we don't lean on him. And so, I would suggest that you lean on God and learn how to ask God for help about 5,000 times every day. "God help me, help me". Listen, I don't even try to put my contact lens in without asking God to help me. Amen?
So, dead works, it's a waste of time because you can work and work and work and work and work, and it still won't work. When I talk about not trying to change yourself, examples that I think of are when I first started hearing teaching like you're hearing this weekend... and for some of you, some of this is brand new. You're like, "I've never heard stuff like this, or wow, you know, I got... I'm really a mess. I got a lot of work to do when I go home". Well, the thing is is you're hearing things and you're taking them in, but you don't just need to go home now and try to be real nice and real kind. And, you know, I've done all that in the flesh and just gets to be almost comical.
One of the first word churches that I went to, by that, I mean a church that was really preaching the word. The pastor's wife was so different than me. And I was teaching a Bible study in the church, and she's the pastor's wife, and she is so sweet and tiny and blond hair and blue eyes and so submissive to her husband. And I'm just like, you know, a storm blowing in. And I'm loud-mouthed and don't want anybody telling me what to do. And so, I'm real bold, and she's real meek. Well, we had a hard time getting along. For some reason, we just couldn't seem to hit it off. And the thing that was interesting when we finally, like, got to the bottom of it was I was trying to be like her and she was trying to be like me. I was trying to be real sweet. I actually did this, I even tried to lower my voice and talk a little bit sweeter and, you know, just be a little bit meeker and walk a little softer. And, you know, somebody would say, "What's wrong with you? What are you doing"? You know, and then I would think that, certainly that's the way it is. If I'm me, you don't like it. If I try to be what you think you want me to be, then you don't like that either. You just can't please people no matter what you do.
I remember hearing messages on the mouth and the power of words, and so I would be like, "That's it. I'm gonna keep my mouth shut if it's the last thing I do". And so, I would literally not say anything. See, the flesh is always into extremes. It will either not do it or overdo it. And so, I talk too much, now I hear a message on how powerful words are, and so now I'm not gonna talk at all to make sure that I don't get myself in trouble. Well, I remember those days, and I am so glad that God taught me about grace and that grace is the only thing that can change us. And if you want to do what's right and God sees your heart and you ask him to help you, he will change you. He'll change you as you study the word and as you spend time with God.
Let me tell you something, if you want the things that you hear in your churches to work in your life, what you need to do, if, like, if there's been a few things that have really stood out to you and you think, "Man, really need that in my life. I need to be more stable. I need to be more forgiving. I need to not be so quick to get angry". Let's just take anger as an example. Then instead of going home and just trying to not get mad, the thing to do is to start really studying the word on anger. Don't think that just because you heard one sermon from me that you're gonna go home now and, magically, that problem is going to have disappeared because I can promise you Satan will test you, and if anything, he'll set up some very special circumstances for you just to try you.
And here's what would happen, you would fail if you try to do it on your own, then the devil would tell you, "You see, going that to meeting didn't do you any good at all. You didn't change at all". The devil is what? A liar, that's all he knows how to do. We have to learn how to catch him in his lies. So, you go home and you say, "This is something, God, that I really want to grow in and I need your help". Now listen to me, "I need your help. I cannot do this on my own. My heart is I want to change, but I can't do it apart from you. And I'm gonna stick with this until I see victory".
So, you get six, seven, eight scriptures that deal with anger, you look at them. You study them. You look at them enough that you remember them. You spend time with God over that particular thing. I always tell people the word of God is like a medicine cabinet, and if you have a headache, you don't go stick a band-aid on your head. And if you've got a temper, studying prosperity is not gonna help you. You need to study specific subjects for specific problems. It's just like taking medicine for your soul. And you need to also realize that you don't need to be in a big hurry because the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 3:18 that as we look into the word of God, that we begin to see what we're supposed to be and we see what we are, and that God changes us from glory to glory, that means little by little, and it happens by the Spirit of God, not by my own determination, not by my own willpower, but God changes us because he sees our heart and we go about it the right way. And I can tell you that if there's 50 people, they may all be at a different place of spiritual maturity in their life, but when Jesus comes back, everybody will be quickly completed and will be what we're supposed to be. You don't have to have arrived, you just need to be on your way, amen?
Well, we waste our time when we try do what only God can do in our lives. But when we trust him, he can change us and make us very fruitful, and his strength and peace will be ours. We'll enjoy the journey of life.