Joyce Meyer - Ways to Simplify Your Life
Well, thank you so much for joining us for this session of, "Enjoying Everyday Life". And you know, Jesus does want you to enjoy your life. It took me a long time to realize that because I didn't get to have much fun in my childhood. But, he died not just so we could go to heaven, but so we can enjoy the life that he's given us. And there are many different components that play in to that, being able to enjoy our lives. And so, today, I want to talk to you from a little book that I wrote quite a while ago called, "100 Ways to Simplify Your Life". This is like, you use it for devotional, but honestly, if you feel frustrated, you can open this up to just about anywhere and whatever it says is probably going to help you.
So years ago, maybe five, six, seven years ago, it just seemed like I was frustrated all the time and life seemed so complicated. And, you know, we always pray that our life will change. "God, change this, change that, change this, change that". But, when it comes right down to it, and I don't mean this to be negative, but life is probably not going to change. If anything, it may get a little worse. And like I said, I don't mean that to sound negative, but we see the conditions in the world.
And for example, there's so much evil in the world today, and that concerns a lot of people, but the Bible says in Psalm 37, "Fret not yourself over the evildoers for they shall soon be cut down like the grass. Trust in the Lord and do good and you will inherit the land". So, we're not to worry about them, but to keep doing what we're supposed to be doing. And a good thing to remember is as long as you're doing what you're supposed to do, God can always take care of you, no matter how bad situations are around you.
And so, I'm just gonna, it's a little unusual when I use these books. I'm just gonna make some statements about simplicity, and I'm actually gonna open up to some of these and we're gonna take a look at 'em. So, you might get eight or nine different little mini teachings before you get out of here. So, 2 Corinthians 1:12, Paul said, "We behave in the world with simplicity". I think that's an interesting statement. We behave in the world with simplicity.
You know, years ago, I was complicated. I was complicated inside because of the way I'd been raised. And when you're complicated, you're going to complicate everything you do. It's like, nothing can be done simply. And, I've told this before, but I still remember how we might invite, oh say, three couples to come over next Sunday after church. "Why don't you come over next Sunday after church, and we'll put some hot dogs on the grill, and open up some pork and beans, and you know, play some games in the yard, and just fellowship".
Well, that sounded good. That was doable. That wouldn't have taken very much. But, what I turned it into by the next Sunday was a nightmare, because the house had to be all cleaned. And then the hot dogs weren't good enough, and I'm trying to buy steaks that we couldn't afford. And you know, I wanted to Dave to mow the grass and make sure that everything outside was okay. And you know what? I didn't realize it then, but the reason why I did that was because I wanted to impress the people, because I wasn't secure in who I was just to do somethin' simple.
So, when we don't have that security, we begin to complicate everything that we do. And I think part of the reason why we find it difficult to enjoy things today is because we do make it extremely complicated. Americans are the busiest people on the face of the earth. I don't think we even know, I mean, I seriously don't think we even know what life was supposed to be like. You know, we just so glorify work, and everything is work, and we get our value out of work. And like I said, I don't think life's gonna change, so I think we have to change.
And like, I had something happen this week that I was trying to work out. Somebody asked me to come and do an engagement for them, a speaking engagement and it was a long way away, and I was tryin' to work out how I could go and how it would all work out. And, pretty soon, it started getting really complicated, and I just said, "You know what? I don't do complication anymore". And I think it might be safe to say that if it starts getting very complicated then it's probably not God. If it starts getting complicated then it's probably not God. Because, it's hard to be in the middle of a lot of complication and also keep your joy and maintain your peace.
Alright, so the first thing in this book is, "Do one thing at a time". It's amazing how we think boy, if you can multitask that makes you more valuable than anybody else. But, the Bible says to give yourself to what you're doing, and to keep your eyes on Jesus. It stands to reason that however much strength you have, however much grace you have, or talent, or gift that you have, the more you divide it up the less you can give to each thing.
And I've always been the kind of person, I'm one step ahead in my mind of where my body is. I'm a person of purpose, so I'm always planning for the next thing. And one day, my daughter said to me, "Mom, would you please wait until I park the car before you get out of it"? I mean, I'll be four miles away from home, and I've already got my keys in my hand, and got my hand on the doorknob ready to get out. And I, you know, I've made a lot of good changes, but that's just part of who I've always been, you know. And, I have had a busy life and so this is something that I have to really do on purpose. Everybody say, "On purpose".
How many of you agree that you feel like your life could use some calmin' down? Well, you know what? It's not going to happen by itself. The Lord told me one time, "If you don't like your schedule, change it. You're the one that made it". And, it's amazing how much you can simplify your life by just starting to look at what you're doing that's not bearing any fruit, or what you're doing that you're doing for a wrong reason. How many things do we do just because somebody wants us to? And it's not wrong to do things for people because they want you to. But, if it's going to complicate your life, and you really feel in your heart you're not supposed to do it, then what could be simple becomes very, very complicated.
"We are the busiest people in the world. When we do a thing without truly focusing our minds on it, we immediately decrease our strength to do the work and to do it well". You know, our attention spans are not very long anymore. They're pretty short. And I think it's going to take some practice. You know, really, thinking ahead too much is nothing but anxiety. I mean, some of it can just be habit. You know, I think me, just like, wantin' to get out of the car, I'm still working on patience after all these years. It's part of the type a personality. We just want it done and we want it done right now.
And so, I have to purpose to be patient. And boy, have I been gettin' tests lately. It's amazing how many appointments I've had lately that they're not ready when I get there. And it frustrates me when I make an appointment and I get there, and I have to wait 15-20 minutes. What's the point in making the appointment if they're gonna be taking care of somebody else when you get there? So, when you pray for patience, you know what you get, don't ya? Trouble. 'Cause, "Patience is a Fruit of the Spirit that only grows under trial", that's what the Greek says. Isn't that amazing?
Patience is a Fruit of the Spirit that only grows under trial, you can't get it any other way, except practicing. And so, Philippians 4:6, and I love this, "Be anxious for nothing, but in all things by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known unto God. And the peace that passes understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus". Now, it's challenging sometimes not to worry about somethin', but we just have to realize that God is smarter than we are. And you do what you can do, but if it's not working, and you don't know what else to do, then that's the time to cast your care on God, and to pray about it, instead. So, do one thing at a time and it will simplify your life.
Now, the next one of these little devotions is called, "Be satisfied and thankful with what you have". Hmm... You know, Christian or not, I would probably say there's more people that are discontent, than those that are content. We always think, "When we get this. When we don't have this. When we make more money. Oh, it's my job. My house is too small". And to be honest, the discontentment comes from within us and a lot of times it's because we're discontent with ourselves. And, that's one of Satan's favorite tools, by the way. He wants to make you feel bad about yourself, because as long as you feel bad about yourself, you're never going to enjoy anything that you do.
And, I always tell people, "If you don't like yourself, you might as well forget gettin' along with other people, because you can only give away what you have". So, the more you like yourself, and I'm talkin' about in Christ. I don't like everything I do, but we have to know the difference in our who and our do. Who we are in Christ is different than what we do. Because, all of you want a relationship with Jesus. Some of you traveled to be here today to be with us, so you're obviously pretty serious. You want to go deeper in God, and he sees that. And, because he sees your heart, he counts it as already done in Christ.
So, we need to learn to see ourselves the way God sees us. Be satisfied with what you have. "All the affluence in our western culture has created an epidemic of coveting what everyone else has. People crave more and more. Yet, they don't even enjoy what they already possess". Now, before the session today and tomorrow are over, you're going to hear me say a lot about gratitude and thanksgiving, because I am very convinced that a lot of our unhappiness comes from looking at what we don't have instead of looking at what we do have. We are so blessed. I mean, so blessed. My gosh, we're so blessed. And yet, we always find some reason to be unhappy.
And, Paul said that, "He learned to be content", in Philippians 4:11. And I like that, he learned to be content. So, somewhere along the way, he must have figured out this being unhappy thing all the time is not working. And, the only way you can be content is to look at what you have. The more thankful we are, the happier we will be. And really, prayers of thanksgiving should be something that we breathe in and out all day long. Every time something happens difficult, thank God, "You got me through it". Every time we're approaching something that we need his help, "God, I thank you that you're going to help me in this". It helps us stay connected to the Lord all day long. "Be satisfied with what you have".
Here's a good one, "Keep God first in everything". The Lord told me a long time ago, "If you put me first in everything you do, I'll put you first in what I do". God will take care of you if you put him first. And of course, the first thing we'd have to talk about, if we're going to talk about keeping God first, is our time. And whether you're a morning person or not, I want to recommend that you take some time every morning and spend it with God. Now maybe, your life is not like mine. I can arrange my schedule and if I want to spend two hours with the Lord in the morning I can. Maybe, you can't do that, but could you do five minutes? Could you do 10?
You say, "Well, I got a house full of kids and my house is just crazy". Could you lock yourself in the bathroom for... three minutes or four minutes and just, I mean, if it's just something as simple as saying, "Lord, I need you. I thank you that you're with me all the time. I need your help today". I think, "Help!" is one of the greatest prayers that we can pray. You want to put God first in your money. And, that doesn't mean just giving and offerings, but also, in being willing to purchase good books and teachings that will help you grow as a Christian.
We need to make an investment in our walk with God. Do you know what kind of an investment a person has made by the time they actually can put an MD after their name? You can't expect to be good at something if you put no time into it. Right? And so, going to church for an hour on Sunday morning is not enough time. That will not keep you strong. Because, whatever you get in that hour on Sunday morning is gonna take the world about one half a day to suck it out of you, and you need more.
You say, "Well, I just can't do the morning thing". Okay, then how about dedicating your lunch hour or your lunch half hour to God, and go spend time with him instead of sitting at the table gossiping about how unhappy you are at work with everybody else that works there. My husband spent years taking his lunch time, he'd eat and he'd go out and just walk around the neighborhood and pray. And, he said it was way back then when he began to realize that he would not be in the engineering field forever. I mean, he even just kinda had it, I mean, I was already teaching but we had not really started our own ministry yet. But, he knew it would be about seven years and he would quit there and come full-time in the ministry.
You know, if you give God time, he'll speak to you. He'll show you things, but it takes time. Time with God. Keeping God first in your conversation. Keeping him first in your entertainment. Keeping him first in your choice of friends. Let's live in such a way where we act like we really do care about what God thinks about everything we do.
"Be prepared but don't worry about tomorrow". One day at a time. "Lord, give us this day our daily bread". One day at a time. Why is that? Because, Jesus said, "I am". Where is he at? Right now, at this very moment, he's right here with each one of us, and right with each one of you, no matter where you're at, if you're watching a computer, watching TV, God is with every single one of us. You know, we would have thought it would have just been the most awesome thing to be with Jesus when he was here in his fleshly body. But, he told them you're better off if I go away because I'll send the Holy Spirit. And, the reason why people were better off is Jesus was in a body like us, he can only be one place at one time. But when the Holy Spirit came, he can be everywhere all the time with every person, and that's good news. Don't worry about tomorrow.
You say, "But I've got so many things coming up in my life that I just don't know what's gonna happen". Well, I know it's challenging. It took me a long time to get over this worry thing because I'm a person who wants to fix everything, but it just absolutely does no good. I'm sure you've heard me say that worry is like sitting in a rockin' chair and rockin'. Keeps you busy all day, but you go no where. It doesn't help you.
Now, here's a really good one to simplify your life. "Learn how to say no and don't feel guilty about it". Boy, a lot of people must have trouble with that. I got a lot of grins, and laughs, and head nods. You know why? We don't want to be rejected. Nobody wants to be rejected, we want to be accepted. And the honest truth is, is when somebody asks you to do something, they never want to hear, "No". They always want to hear, "Yes". But, if you try to do what everybody else wants you to do you will end up with no life of your own. And, that's one of the reasons why we are so busy.
You know, even like, in raising kids today, and I'm not tryin' to tell anybody how to parent their children, but you know, they don't need to be involved in 10 different activities where you have to stay on the road and be a bus driver all the time, just spending your whole life taking them places and pickin' 'em up, especially, if you have multiple children. And, a lot of parents make the choice to let each child being one activity. But, it's not wrong to tell your children that they can't do everything they want to do. Matter-of-fact, I think one of the reasons why we're in trouble in our society today, is instead of being a parent, we try to be our kid's friends because we want them to like us and think we're the best ever. But they may not really, you or them, may not like how it turns out in the end.
And so, we need to learn how to say no to people. And the key is just simply this, yes, we want to please people, but if we have to displease God in order to please them, then we're outta line. We're supposed to sacrifice for others. I'm not saying just do whatever you want to all the time and not care what anybody else thinks. But, I am suggesting that you make sure you're not disobeying God. And, here's the bottom line. Anybody who is a true friend, anybody who truly loves you, would rather that you say no to them if that was what God was telling you to say. Rather than to feel pressured to have to say yes. And, any friend that you lose, because you won't do everything they want you to do, they're not a friend worth having. Amen?
This is a good one. "Be yourself". There's so much pressure in the world to be like and to look like. And you know, if thin is in, then everybody's gotta be thin. And if they say, "Well, you can't wear these two colors together", then all of a sudden now, we can't wear these two colors together. I always heard you couldn't do navy blue and black together. Now, it's like, it's the thing. So really, "They", run our life. "Well, they say... Well, you know, they say... Well, they say..." And one day, I started thinking, "Who are they"? Nobody even knows who they are, and here we're letting them run our lives.
It's amazing how it feels like it adds value to what you're saying, if you say, "Well, they say". Dave does that to me a lot of times. "Well, they say you should", you know, do whatever and I'm like, "Who is they? And where did you even hear that"? We all go through times in our life where we compare, and compete, and think we've got to be like somebody else. And you know, somebody else can be an example to you. I'm not saying that it's wrong to emulate what somebody else is doing.
That's what it means to be a disciple, means to discipline yourself to follow someone else that you feel is going in the right direction. But, no matter what you do, you can give 10 people the exact same job and there will be a little bit of difference in the way each one of those people do that job. God doesn't want us to be clones of one another. He wants us to have our individual stamp on what we do. And you have to kinda fight, you have to be determined inside to be yourself. Because, everybody wants somethin' different out of you, and you have to decide what it is God wants out of you.
Now, I wouldn't want to close this session today without talking about this. If you want to uncomplicate your life, "Get your mind off yourself". God wants to take care of you. If you take care of his business, he'll take care of your business. That's why I love what it says in Psalm 37, "Fret not yourself over the evildoers". God will take care of that. "You trust me and keep doing good". And so, instead of trying to be unselfish, I want to suggest that you focus more on walking in more love.
See, I think a lot of times we get it negative, you know like, it says in Galatians 5, "Walk in the Spirit, and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh". It doesn't say try really hard not to fulfill the lust of the flesh, so you can walk in the Spirit. And, that's what we do. And it's like this, I just read this again, the other day, if you ask nine out of ten Christians what they think the biggest problem with Christians is, they would say, "Too much selfishness". But, he said, the one who really knows what they're talkin' about would say, "Not enough love".
And see, the more we consider other people, the kinder we are to other people, you know, it's natural to want to be selfish. So, you have to do some of these other things on purpose. Man, I got so many more, and I'm out of time. But, I'm just going to mention this last one. "Do not have a false sense of responsibility". You know what that is? You're taking care of everybody's problems even when they don't want you to. You're trying to help somebody that doesn't even want to be helped.
I had an experience with my brother several years ago. He had problems with alcohol and drugs. And, it all got started when he was in the war in Vietnam and his sergeant gave him and a bunch of the other guys drugs because they were out in the jungles in Vietnam. And he just always had a hard time with it. He never could seem to get off of it. And so, we brought him to live in our home and he lived with us for, between two and three years. And we were involved with him on a day-to-day basis for four years.
And he did pretty good as long as somebody was saying, "It's time to get up. It's time to go to work". "Come on, let's read the Bible". You know, "Do this". "No, don't do that". But, as soon as he got out on his own again, he went right back to the way that he was. And sometimes you have to realize that you want to fix somebody more than they want to be fixed. And if they're not going to participate in their own healing, you certainly can't do it by yourself. And so, this just gives you a little bit of a sampling of all the different ways, like, forgiving people, that's simple, being angry and full of bitterness, that's complicated. That's what makes us miserable. "Well, it's hard to forgive". Well, you know, it's much harder not to.
So today, we're offering this book, "100 Ways to Simplify Your Life", and we're offering it to you for your gift to the ministry of any amount. We just want everybody to be able to have it. And, everything that you send in today is going to go to help pay for the television airtime in your area and also help us to reach out to new people who don't know what you know. That's one of the ways that we can say, "Thank you", to God for what he's done in our lives is to try to make the good news available for other people. So, thank you for being with us today and God bless you.