Articles

The Secrets of A Productive Life with Rick Warren

October 4, 2019


– Today, I wanna wrap up our
series on living with a margin by looking at the secrets
of a productive life. You know, that’s the goal
for living with margin is we wanna do, to be more effective, with less stress and less pressure. And so take out your message notes, get out your outline right now that says the Secrets
of a Productive Life. You know, I have traveled
all around the world training leaders, and every country
that I’ve had the privilege of visiting and training those
leaders, I’ve noticed that there’s a universal
desire for productivity. Most people really want
their lives to count. We want our lives to matter. We wanna feel useful, we
wanna make a difference, we don’t wanna waste our lives, instead, we want our lives to be productive. And you know, the people
who are productive are the happiest when they’re
actually being productive. You’re more happy when you
are being more productive. Now, the Bible word for
this, using what God has given to you, is called stewardship. Productivity is always about making the most of what you’ve been given. God is responsible for what he gives you, but you’re responsible
for what you do with it. Now, making the most of what
you’ve been given is called productivity, and this is
true not just of people, but also businesses and churches and organizations, even
nations, for instance, you know, in the United States of America, that nation has only 10% of
the population of the world. U.S. has only 10% of the
population of the world, has only 7% of the landmass of the world. But that nation, our nation, produces almost 40% of the world’s goods. Friends, that’s called productivity. Now over the past 40 years, hundreds, maybe thousands of books
have been published about how to increase your
personal productivity, in your life, in your career, you know, even in your hobbies. And it’s no exaggeration
to say that a lot of people around the world are obsessed
with being more productive. How do I get more done? But really, it’s not
how much you get done, it’s are you doing the right thing? You know, there are
seminars, there are classes, there are courses you can
take to be more productive, but it may surprise you that the Bible, the Bible, has actually the most to say about how to live a productive life. Now, here’s the key. The Bible doesn’t use the
word productivity so much, it’s in there, that word’s there, but depending on the
translation you’ve got, doesn’t use the word
productivity as much as it uses another word for productivity,
it’s an organic word, it’s a biblical word, and
that word is fruitfulness. Fruitfulness, or bearing
fruit, is the biblical way of talking about you
living a productive life. The Bible’s very clear that
God wants you to be fruitful, or productive, that He
made you to be fruitful, he has shaped you to be
fruitful, he expects you to be fruitful, he wants you
to live a productive life. Fruitfulness is a major
theme of Jesus’ life. In fact, at the very end of His life, right before He died on the cross, one of the last things Jesus emphasized, of all the things He
could have talked about with His closest followers, the disciples, was that He expected them to now go out and to be productive. He expected them to bear fruit. And at the very end, the very, you know, last word’s important, right
before Jesus goes to the cross, the very last thing He talks about is he gives an entire
chapter, John Chapter 15, to the subject of being
fruitful, being productive. We’re gonna look at several
verses from that passage today. Now the Bible tells us
that God wants to see fruit in our lives and in our ministry. We’re going to look at
some of the principles that produce productivity in your life, in your ministry, in your
family, in your career, whatever. So let me just start by asking this. What do you want with your life? I mean think about that, really. What do you really want to
accomplish with your life? ‘Cause if you don’t know, there’s no use talking about productivity. I have to say that at the end of my life, more than anything else, I wanna be able to say
that I led a productive, a fruitful, a purpose-driven life. Now then the question becomes, well how does God measure productivity? In other words, what does God
consider to be real fruit? Now, the word fruit in the
Bible is the Greek word karpos, it’s a Greek word, and it’s used 66 times in the New Testament. So fruit’s a big theme in the Bible. So let’s go back to John Chapter 15, look at Verse Eight there on your outline, where Jesus makes this
important statement. He says this. “This is to My Father’s
glory,” in other words, this is how you bring glory to God, “that you bear much fruit, “showing yourselves to be my disciples.” Now, this is an incredibly
important verse for your life. Because it teaches three things about productivity and fruit. First, it tells us that
fruit brings glory to God. Bearing fruit brings glory
to God, write that down, bearing fruit brings glory to God. And the Bible says that
the goal of our lives is to bring glory to God,
and so, how do we do that? Well, whatever fruitfulness
is, whatever productivity is, it brings glory to God, so we certainly wanna learn how to be productive, because that brings honor
to our Heavenly Father. Second thing, write this down. Bearing fruit shows that I’m a disciple. It’s the proof that
you’re in God’s family. The Bible says it’s the proof
that I really know the Lord. By this you show, you’re My disciples. If I don’t have any fruit in my life, how can I claim to be a
disciple, a follower of Christ, a Christian in the family of God? He says fruit is the proof that
you’re a follower of Christ. Number three, write this down. God wants me to bear much fruit. Circle the word much. God wants me to bear much fruit. God is not satisfied with just
a little fruit in your life. He wants you to be very productive. He wants you to be hyper
productive, super productive, more than in abundance. God has always been the God of abundance. And the way that he created the world, He always creates more
resources than are needed. And then we use them
wisely, we find ourselves being all that God wants us to be. And God wants you to bear much fruit. God wants you to be very
productive with your life. Now I want you to notice this,
in John Chapter 15 Verse 16, there on your outline, Jesus says, “You did not choose me, but I chose you.” You did not choose me but I
chose you to go, and what? “Bear much fruit.” And that fruit will last. Now again, that’s an
incredibly important verse. So I want you to write
down two important truths. First, write this down. Bearing fruit is the
purpose of my salvation. Jesus said, I chose you to bear fruit, to bear much fruit. He said, I didn’t save you
just so you could go to Heaven. I didn’t save you so you
could sit and soak and sour. I saved you to serve, to bear fruit, so that you could live a
productive life for me. God has made an investment in
your life through salvation. What kind of investment? Jesus gave His life for you. He died on the cross for you. He created you, He saved you,
He puts the spirit in you, He’s made an investment
in you, and one day, He’s gonna do an audit
of your life and mine, and He’s gonna say, what did you do with what you were given? I came and died on the cross for you, did you live a fruitful life? Did you live a productive life? That’s what the parable of
the talents is all about, an important parable that
Jesus told in the Bible. Bearing fruit is the
purpose of your salvation. Second truth, this is really
important, write it down. A truly productive life is
one where the fruit lasts. Circle the word lasts. You know, there’s a big
difference between fruit that blossoms and then
immediately rots and vanishes and fruit that lasts over the long time. In my life, one of the
values that I’ve always held most dearly is consistency
over the long haul. There’re a lot of people who
are flash in the pan successes. They’re overnight successes,
their ministries just start off great and their lives start
off great and they skyrocket and they’re well-known
and they’re successful and they have a lot of impact, and everybody knows what’s
going on in their life, but then, they fizzle out in a few years. And you go, where are those people today? Okay, one minute they’re the hero, the next minute they’re a zero. I’m not interested in that. I’ve always been interested
in consistent, plodding, day-in, day-out, growth,
progress, development, becoming more like Christ. What I’m interested in is
consistency over the long haul. You know, I’ve been walking
with Jesus now over 50 years. And I’ve been serving Him
full-time over 45 years. I wanna be able at the end of my life to hear those words where God says, well done. Well done, good and faithful servant. You were faithful to the end. You completed your assignment. You finished the race. You completed the course. The Bible says that real life and real fruitfulness
and real productivity will not be judged on how
much you accomplished in life, or how big an impact you made. But the real question of fruit
is not how big the fruit is. But did it last? Did the fruit last? Now the whole reason that I
wanted to do this margin series with you is because you
cannot stay productive over the long haul, you can
short term, but you can’t over the long haul, without
margin in your life, where you make space to
slow the pace of your life. Our best requires rest. So important, God put it
in the 10 Commandments. The Sabbath, every six
days, you take a day off. That involves making space to
slow the pace of your life. If you don’t have margin, you’re not gonna make it to the finish line. I wouldn’t have made it,
you know, coming up on, you know, 39 years here
at Saddleback Church, if I hadn’t learned how to pace myself. Now, I need to explain to you,
as we begin talking about how to live a productive life,
which is the result of margin, is understanding that there
are many different definitions of the word fruit in scripture. So let me just give you four real quick, okay, can you write these down fast? When people talk about fruit, well what kinda fruit
are you talking about? Well, there are at least four kinds of fruit talked about
in the New Testament. First, write this down, there’s
the fruit of repentance. Sometimes, when the Bible
uses the word fruit, it’s literally talking
about, turn away from your self-centeredness and turn
to God-focused, turn to God. That’s what John the Baptist talked about. When John the Baptist said,
bring forth fruit of repentance, he’s talking to the religious
leaders like the Pharisees, and he goes, you guys
aren’t showing any fruit. You don’t have any change
of heart, I don’t see any fruit of the spirit, I don’t
see any fruit of repentance. I don’t see a change of
mind, a change of heart. So repentance is the first
kind of fruitfulness. And if you’ve never repented,
it simply means to say, I’m turning from my control of life to God’s control of my life. Alright? Now, number two. Another form of fruit is what is called the fruit of the spirit. That’s a specific list
in Galatians 5:22 and 23, it lists nine character qualities. The fruit of the spirit is
love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, and self-control. That is the fruit of character. And so sometimes when the
Bible’s talking about fruit, it’s talking about the
character of our lives. And that’s another kind of
fruit that God wants you to be fruitful in, He wants you to
grow more and more like Christ. Number three, a third way
the word fruit is used in the Bible is it’s the
fruit of another Christian. In other words, when you
bring somebody to the Lord, when you help somebody else
into the Kingdom of God, when you help somebody else
be born again, when you share your faith, you bring
them to church, whatever, you know, just like a baby
kangaroo produces baby kangaroos, and an elephant produces baby elephants, people produce baby humans,
the fruit of a Christian is another Christian. And God wants you to bear fruit. God wants you to reproduce. He wants us somehow to tell
other people about Him. Somebody told you. You are somebody else’s
fruit, do you realize that? You’re the fruit of somebody else’s effort of telling you about the Lord. And you know, there are only two things you can’t do in Heaven. I’ve told you this before, but
you might have forgotten it. Only two things you can’t
do in Heaven, you can sing in Heaven, you can worship
in Heaven, you can fellowship in Heaven, you can read the
Bible in Heaven, you can pray, you can eat, you can relax,
you can have fun in Heaven. All those things that we do on
Earth, you can do in Heaven. There are only two things
you can’t do in Heaven. Number one is sin. There’s no sin in Heaven. And number two, you can’t tell
an unbeliever the Good News. You can’t witness, you can’t share your faith, you can’t
share your hope, why? ‘Cause there’s no unbelievers in Heaven. Now, of those two things,
sin, and tell other people the Good News, which one do you think God leaves you here on Earth to do? (laughs) Well, not to sin. And if you’re not gonna tell
anybody else, why doesn’t God just kill you and take
you on to Heaven anyway? The fruit of a Christian
should be another Christian. Just like an apple tree bears apples. And so that’s the third way fruit is used. It refers to repentance, it
refers to character, like fruit of the spirit, it refers to
other people coming to Christ. There’s a fourth way that
the word fruit is used in the Bible, and it’s
actually the fruit of ministry. And what this means is being
involved in serving God the way God shaped you, using your gifts, your heart, your abilities,
your personality, your experiences, you know,
we have a class on this, Class 301, Discovering
Your Shape for Ministry. I wrote that class many years
ago, and literally thousands and thousands of people have
gone through the Saddleback and tens of thousands of
people all around the world take Class 301, which is a
class to help you discover how to be the most fruitful
based on your shape, all the things that God made
you to shape you to become the minister, the servant of
God that he wants you to be. And every Christian is a
minister, you know that, not every Christian’s a pastor, but
every Christian’s a minister. And He wants us to show
fruit and be productive. Now, Jesus took this issue of bearing fruit very, very seriously. One time, He’s walking
into the city of Jerusalem, and the Bible says He saw a tree. And it was fruit tree that
had not borne any fruit. It’s all leaves, plenty of leaves on it, but no fruit at all. Now the purpose of a fruit tree is to bear fruit, not just to have leaves. And the Bible says, and Jesus never does anything by accident. Jesus looks at this barren
fruit tree, no fruit on it, and the Bible says he did something very serious, he cursed the tree. And that seems very harsh, He cursed, the disciples are amazed
that He would do it. It hadn’t borne, He just
cursed the fruit tree ’cause it hadn’t borne any fruit. Later, when they’re
walking back out of town, they come back by that tree,
and it had withered and died. Now, that was not a parable,
or a miracle to show off. It was to teach a lesson about the seriousness of not bearing fruit. A non-fruit-bearing, a
nonproductive follower of Jesus, is a contradiction. God says, fruit gives him glory. Being productive is His plan. It’s proof of our salvation,
it’s proof of our discipleship, it’s proof that we know the Lord. So what we’re talking about
is not some peripheral issues we end this series on
margin, but it’s actually the heartbeat of your
relationship to Jesus Christ. You know, in a story where
Jesus talks about the importance of fruit in Luke, Chapter 13,
Jesus says this in Luke 13:7. He says, I’ve been coming to
look for fruit on this tree, but I haven’t found any, so cut it down. Why should it use up the soil? In other words, why
should it take up space? Now in that parable, Jesus is
talking about, particularly, the fruitfulness of Israel,
the nation of Israel, and how He had been
walking around that country for three years and hadn’t
seen really any fruit. But the principle here is this. If it doesn’t bear fruit, Jesus says it deserves to be cut down. And He makes this point over and over and over again, friends. Not just in one place, but in place after place in Scripture. John 15:2. Matthew 3:10. Look at this verse,
Matthew 3:10, Jesus says, “Every fruit tree that doesn’t
bear fruit will be cut down.” So what we’re talking about
here is extremely important. You know, you’ve heard
probably people say the phrase, this is a Christian cliche, well, God doesn’t expect us to
be successful, just faithful. You ever heard that one? God doesn’t expect you to be
successful, just faithful. Well, you know what? It’s only half-true. Of course God wants us to be faithful. But God also expects us to be fruitful. So I would start by asking you, what’s your definition of success? God doesn’t want you to be successful according to the world standards. How do you define success? Think about that. If I say, what is success to you? Because you can’t define
productivity or fruitfulness if you can’t even define what you consider to be a successful life. When we read the
Scripture, God’s definition of a successful, productive
life, it’s extremely clear. To God, success is fruitfulness. Success is productivity. So all those things,
repentance, character, bringing other people to
the Lord, and fulfilling my shape in serving God by
serving others, ministry. Just having a lot of leaves in my life is not enough. Looking good is not enough. Having a great image
is not the same thing. Activity, being busy, is not
the same thing as fruitfulness. Activity and productivity
are not the same thing. You can be active and not productive. So what is it that
produces a productive life? Why is it some people grow and develop and are productive and others don’t? I want you to be
productive, as your pastor, I love you, I care for
you, I pray for you, and I want you to be successful
in every area of your life. I want you to be productive and I want you to be fruitful in every area of your life. So I’ve spent a lot of
my time studying this. And I’ve learned that there are four conditions for fruitfulness. You know, we’re sitting here with actually some fruit trees behind me. And they don’t all bear fruit every year. But they all do bear fruit
or they’d get cut down. And there are four
conditions for fruitfulness that are essential for your life, and your family, your ministry. And I wanna conclude this
series on living with a margin by quickly giving you these four things. Because this is kind of the action steps of everything you’ve heard for the past seven other messages. Okay, write these down. Four conditions for fruitfulness, first, if I want my life to bear fruit, I must cultivate some roots. I must cultivate deep, deep, roots. That’s the starting
point of a fruitful life. You have no fruit without the root. The root produces the fruit. Look at this verse, Jeremiah 17. “Blessed is the man
who trusts in the Lord, “whose confidence is in Him. “He will be like a tree,”
here’s the metaphor, he’ll be like a tree, “planted by water “that sends out its roots by the stream.” It doesn’t fear when the heat’s on. Do you fear when the heat’s on? It doesn’t fear when the heat’s on, its leaves always green, It has no worries in a year of drought. It never fails to bear fruit. Now, I want you to
notice that God is saying that roots are the key to fruits. That we need roots to make it
through all the tough times. And in this verse, did
you notice that there’re two different kinds of tough
times that you’re gonna go through in life, and
you’re not gonna bear fruit in those tough times
unless you have roots. Now, first He says, we have to
have roots, write this down, during the time when the heat’s on. He says, when the heat’s on. You gotta have roots. Now, when it’s just hot, they
have to have those deep roots in order to pull the water of the ground. What is the heat on in your life? It’s the pressures, it’s the stresses. It’s when life comes in
on you and you don’t have the ability to handle it yourself, you have to have the spiritual roots, or you just are gonna dry
up and panic otherwise. You know, I grew up in
Northern California. In the giant Sequoia Redwoods area, a little town called Redwood Valley. And if you’ve ever been
through the redwoods, you know that these
giant trees can withstand enormous things like a forest fire. Forest fire can come through
and burn part of a tree, it’ll grow for hundreds of more years. Sometimes a redwood tree,
it’ll go through a fire and half the trunk will be burned away. But the tree keeps on growing through hundreds of years and
hundreds of feet tall. The reason why it can
withstand that partial loss due to the heat is because
of its root system. Now here’s the interesting
thing you may not know. The roots of a redwood tree
are not particularly deep. They’re not really deep, but what they do is redwoods always grow in
groves, they grow together. And so what they do is their
roots go down moderately deep, but then they go out and they
crisscross between each other and the trees in a grove of redwoods form a pattern of support, and a network that will hold each other up when the heat’s on, when the fire comes. You need a small group,
you need a church family. You need to join Saddleback,
if you’re not a part of a church family, get
involved, get your roots not just deep, but get them
intertwined with other people. You know, if you were to look
at oak trees and you dig up the roots, you’d find that the
combined length of the roots of a large oak tree actually
go several hundred miles. That’s why oak trees
grow so solid and steady when they can handle all different kinds of seasons and difficult times of life. You know, and there’s another tree, I’ve done a lot of study
on this in the tropics, banana trees, by the way, are
practically indestructible, did you know this, because of their roots? You can burn them down,
you can chop them up, you can bulldoze over
them, they’ll come back. The only way to get rid of a banana tree is actually to uproot it. You gotta have roots. Now notice the Bible
says in Proverbs 12:3, “The righteous cannot be uprooted.” Can you? What does it take you
to knock you off-kilter? For a starting point in
life, to be fruitful, to be productive, you’re
gonna have to have some roots when the heat’s on. And notice it also says,
you have to have roots when our resources are limited. When our resources are limited. That’s when the time
of drought comes along. Now, you know what a drought is. It’s a long period of doing without rain. And in California, we just
went through the period where we had like the seven-year drought. And you know what it
did to a lot of things. But if you have roots, then
you’re gonna keep on going. Now a drought in your
life’s when you don’t have what you need at that particular moment. Some of you are probably going
through a drought right now. You don’t have the money you need. You don’t have the energy you need. You don’t have the support,
the relational support, the emotional support,
that you need right now, and you’re going through a
time of a drought in your life, you just don’t have what
you need, the energy, the knowledge, the connections, whatever. And of course at times
in life you’re gonna go through times where
you have to do without. We heard about that in the message on contentment in this series. And the things that you normally depend on for comfort and strength
and support and happiness. You can lose your job,
you can lose your health. You can lose a dear friend. The emotional support you
counted on isn’t there. But how do you get by on those limited resources in a drought? Having deep roots. See, the issue is, how do you handle these losses in your life? Do you wilt, do you dry up? Do you blow away when the
heat’s on, or the drought’s on? You know, I read a survey once
said that an average pastor leaves a church because of
five people who are critical. If you don’t have roots,
you’re gonna be blown away by what other people say
about you on social media, and you’re like, that,
you know what you call a, a plant without a root? It’s called a tumbleweed. And if you’ve seen them,
they have no roots, they dry out and they
blow around aimlessly. Some people are tumbleweeds,
they live a tumbleweed life. They’re just going from church to church, from place to place, job
to job, life to life. But you know, out there
in that desert, not only are there tumbleweeds, you
can also find saguaro cactus. And they’re beautiful. And the saguaro cactus can
produce beautiful fruit even in the middle of a hostile desert. It can go months and months
and months without water. And the secret is its roots system. Did you know the saguaro cactus root will often go 50 feet out in diameter? Now, notice this verse in Jeremiah. It said when the year of drought comes, anybody can survive a day of drought. Anybody can survive a week of drought. Maybe you could even
survive a month of drought. But to make it over the long haul, during a year of drought,
when the times are tough, and you’re like, you’re
gonna have to have roots, now here’s the question,
how do I grow deep roots? Well I suggest you
memorize this next verse. Psalm 1:2 and 3. Write it down on a card and
memorize it, it says this. It says, “They find their
joy in obeying the Law “of the Lord as they
study it day and night. “They are like trees that
grow beside a stream, “that bear fruit at the right time, “and whose leaves do not dry up. “They succeed in everything
they do,” what a promise. Did you underline that? They succeed in everything they do. Are you kidding me? What’s the key to succeeding
in everything you do? Meditating on the Word of God. Memorizing the Word of God. Filling your mind with the Word of God. Thinking about the Word of God. As we stay in God’s word
on a consistent basis, day after day after day. We did a whole session
on this in this series on how to have a quiet time. You have a quiet time. Then you’re developing the kind of roots that give you the strength to handle the tough times in life. Let me give you one other verse. Colossians 2:6 and 7. “Since you have accepted
Jesus Christ’s Lord, “live in union with Him. “Keep your roots deep in Him. “Build your lives on Him, “and become stronger in your
faith as you were taught.” So, here’s the first thing,
and if we just stopped the message right there,
that would be enough. Start getting into the Word
every day, as you get into this, every time you restudy,
memorize, meditate, think about this book, you’re
building roots in your life. But that’s not all there
is to fruitfulness. You know, I’m a gardener. Last year I grew 56 kinds of vegetables and 17 kinds of fruit. So I know this stuff. And let me give you the second key. I won’t spend as much time
on this, but it’s important. I have to eliminate the weeds in my life. If you’re gonna be fruitful,
if you’re gonna be productive, you not only have to deepen
the roots, you gotta eliminate the weeds, and this is
what margin is all about. Now Jesus illustrated this so clearly in the Parable of the Sower and the Seed. He talks about the guy,
the farmer goes out to sow the seed, and
as he spreads the seed, it lands on four different kinds of soil. And he says, these four
kinds of soil represent four different responses to God’s word. In other words, it’s four different kinds of heart conditions. And there’s the hard heart,
there’s the impulsive heart, there’s the crowded heart, and there’s the good heart, that’s the best response. It’s all in Luke Chapter
Eight, in fact, this story is actually told in Matthew,
Mark, Luke, and John. So important it’s told
four times in the Bible. The seed is the Word of God. And the seed falls among
different kinds of soil. And one of the kinds of soil is called the soil that has weeds in it. And it says, the seed
falls among the weeds, and it stands to those
who hear the Word of God, but when the seed starts to
sprout, it says the weeds of, the worries of this life,
and the cares of this life, and materialism, the riches
of this life and pleasures and hobbies and what the crowd
thinks and all these things are weeds that choke them
and the fruit never ripens. Because all the weeds. You can’t just plant a seed,
you gotta remove the weed. Jesus is saying that
there’re things in your life that are choking out your productivity. What are those things? What are the things that are choking out the fruitfulness in your life? Those are the weeds. And you may need to go home this afternoon and do some weeding in your life. This is what margin’s
all about, making space to slow the pace so that I’m more productive, more effective, and more fruitful. You know that the U.S.
government discovered 205 different varieties of the
weeds in the United States? I don’t know about Argentina
or China or Germany, but I know that in the
United States, they said about 205 different kinds
of weeds in the U.S. You know what I’m convinced? 75% of them are in my backyard. (laughs) I could charge admission to
Warren’s Weed Farm. (laughs) And have you noticed
that weeds actually grow easier than the stuff you
want to grow like roses and food and stuff like that? (laughs) What are the weeds in your life? The weeds in your life
are anything that hinder or limit or choke your growth. That choke your relationship to Christ, that choke you from continuing to develop. To maintain your success,
your productivity, your fruitfulness over the long haul, to be a success sustainer,
not a success starter, to make it to the finish line, you gotta have the attitude
of continual weeding and continuous learning. Notice it says that the weeds
crowd in and they choke. How many things have happened to you like that in your schedule? Activities that choke out the life blood, you don’t have any
energy to read the Bible. You don’t have any energy
to be in a small group. You don’t have any time,
you skip church services, you skip the stuff that builds you up, because the weeds. And if you got weeds in
your life and you don’t have the roots in the soil,
you’re gonna dry up. I know Charles Garfield, this guy wrote a book called Peak Performance. And he studied peak
performers in all kinds of fields around the world, and he came up with a list of the common characteristics. And one of the characteristics
he said of peak performers, whether it was an athlete or a
singer or a CEO, or whatever, is a sense of balance. A sense of balance. He said, they’re balanced,
peak performers are balanced in their personal life
and their private life. They’re balanced in their
character and their career. They’re balanced in their
hobbies and their work. They have balance in their relationships. Jesus had balance. In Luke 2:52, it tells
us, Jesus grew in wisdom, that’s intellectual growth, and stature, that’s physical growth,
that’s physical health, favor with God, that’s spiritual growth, and favor with man, that’s
social growth, okay? The balance comes in having spiritual and physical and mental and emotional, all of these, the social thing, together. And that comes by weeding
out the weeds in our lives. I want you to go home and think about what do I need to weed. Weeds are the concerns and
interests that take the time and energy and keeps
you from bearing fruit. You know, there are people
who tell me all the time, I just don’t have time to serve the Lord. Well then, you’re too busy. I’d say you need to watch out, because God will do some
weeding in your life. You know, I used to have
a sign in my office. I still have it but I just put it away, it said, beware of the
barrenness of a busy life. Because you can get so many irons in the fire, you put out the fire. And you’ve heard me say it so many times, if you think you’re burning
the candle at both ends, you’re not as bright as you think you are. You need to do some weeding. It’s interesting that Jesus mentioned three varieties of weeds. He says there’s the cares and concerns that choke your life, that’s worries. He says they get you uptight. That’s bills, finances, health, whatever, what are you worried about. And then he says, riches. He says actually money can be a weed. Greed can be a weed. (laughs) Greed can consume your life
and choke out the desire, you’re so busy making
money, so busy trying to make a living, you don’t make a life. And I’ve seen people, once
they’ve tasted a little bit of money, they forget their relationships, they forget their spouse,
the kids, and they taste it, and all of a sudden, it’s a
real problem for many people. It’s a materialistic motive. Now, the Bible says, in the Book of Peter, that we’re not to live our lives for what the Bible calls in King
James, filthy lucre. He says, because, not for
what we can get out of it, we serve the Lord ’cause we love the Lord. You know, if I didn’t get
anything more from God in my life than he’s already given me,
I own the rest of my life. He’s already done more for
me than I could ever do. So don’t be greedy, greed is a weed. Then notice, it says the
third weed is pleasure. The pleasure in life can crowd out, that’s chasing the good
life when you’re always looking for fun experience,
and that’s anything, you know, recreation can
become a weed in your life. But we’re gonna go to the river this weekend and we’re not gonna worship. 1,000 of people don’t come to church every weekend around the
world, millions of people, because they’re out recreating, they are wrecking creation in recreation. Now, question, how much effort
does it take to grow weeds? Zero. You don’t have to do anything
to grow weeds in your life. Weeds are always a sign of neglect. You hearing me? Weeds are always a sign of neglect. You don’t have to cultivate them. In fact that’s the difference between a weed and a vegetable. Vegetable, you have to feed,
cultivate, you work on it, and it still dies. (laughs) But a weed, you don’t pay any
attention to, and it grows. Weeds are a sign of neglect. When I neglect my quiet time, when I neglect the things that keep me balanced in my life
and my relationships, the weeds are choking out my productivity. So, in Luke 14, Jesus gives us the Parable of the Great Feast, he
says, there once was a great feast and he
invited many people, and, but it was time for the
feast, he said to his servants to tell his guests to
come, everything’s ready. But they all, all the guests, began to make one excuse after another. The first one told his servant, I’ve bought a field, I
gotta go look after it. And please accept my apology. And another one said, I’ve
bought five pairs of oxen and I’m on my way to try them out, please accept my apology,
can’t come to the party. And a third guy goes,
I’ve just gotten married, and for that reason I
can’t come to your banquet. The servant goes back
and he tells his master. The master’s furious and
he says to the servant, well then just go out into
the street and the alleys and the towns and just
bring back everybody, poor, crippled, blind, homeless, the lame. Soon the servant said,
you know, your order’s been carried out, but
there’s room for more. And the master says to
the servant, well go out into the country roads and
the lanes and make people come in so that my house will be full. You know, Jesus is giving
an example in his story. He says, we have three different excuses that can be weeds in our lives. First guy goes, I bought a
field, I gotta look at it. That represents the guy
who lets his investments choke out the productivity in his life. Is that you? I got so much going on, I got
so many irons in the fire, so much happening with my investments, I gotta watch my wealth. And after I’ve reached a
certain place in my life, certain financial security, then I’ll start serving the Lord. You know what I’ve
discovered is people who wait ’til retirement to start serving the Lord, when they get to retirement,
they’re not worth much. You have to have a lifetime of spending serving the Lord to be effective. Second guy says, I bought a pair of oxen, now think about this. I’m on my way to try them out. Now in those days, oxen
were the primary way you build your business. So he’s basically saying, my
work, my career comes first. Can’t serve the Lord right
now ’cause of my job. And the third guy says, you know, I’ve just gotten married, and
for that reason I can’t come. He’s saying there are relationships that are holding me back. Any of these three, investments career, relationships, can keep me from being in the will of God. Can keep me from being productive, can keep me from being fruitful. So there comes along the third key factor for being effective and
productive, write this down. I have to not only
develop deep roots, okay, I have to weed my garden, number three, I have to cooperate with
God’s pruning in my life. Pruning. John 15:1 and 2, Jesus
says, I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. He lops off every branch that doesn’t produce,
and prunes those branches that bear fruit for even larger crops. What’s pruning? Well, in pruning, you’re
actually cutting off not only dead branches, but you’re
actually cutting off living branches to improve the shape and to stimulate growth of
whatever you’re pruning. Now let me tell you
something, as a gardener, as a farmer, I know that
pruning is absolutely essential for increased productivity
as a CEO, as a mom, as a teacher, as a business
owner, as a student. It’s not optional. If you’re gonna be
productive in your life, you’re going to have to go
through pruning over and over and over, many, many times
of pruning in your life. You know, I learned this actually from my elderly Jewish
neighbor named Ezra. Ezra used to live right
across the street from me, and he had the finest
roses in our neighborhood, and he was a professional rose grower. So I asked him one day why
his roses were so productive, and he says, ’cause I’ve
pruned them ruthlessly. So I asked him one day if he’d come over and prune my roses and
teach me how to do it. And when this guy came
over, and he’s a pro, and he was a wonder to watch, and I stood back and I just
watched, and as he began working on my roses, I was absolutely
shocked at what he did. I thought he was just gonna cut
off like a little dead here, a little dead there, and
all that, shape it up. He’s going after live stuff too. Branches full of leaves, full of flowers, blooms that haven’t even bloomed, he’s cutting it all
back and he’s ruthless. And I asked him, what’s the
problem with most people pruning, and he says,
they’re too timid to cut back what really needs to be
cut back in their lives. Wow, I’m giving you an awful lot to think about in this message. What do you need to cut back in your life? Here’s the lesson that I
think is very important. God says, I prune you for
effectiveness, and in your life, it’s not only the dead wood
that I’m gonna cut off, but sometimes I’m gonna
cut off areas of success, areas that are being
wonderfully fruitful right now, and even things that haven’t even produced yet, but you know
they’re gonna produce. And he’s cutting it
off, he’s preparing you for even greater productivity. So in the prime of successful life, you have a health problem, or in the prime of successful
life, something goes wrong and you find yourself on
the shelf for a while, or you may be feeling
out of it for a while, and you’re in a period
of pruning, the purpose is for even more
fruitfulness, that’s the goal. When you’re going through
pruning, it’s never fun. When you’re going through
pruning, it’s often confusing. But the key is to remember
it’s gonna produce greater fruitfulness, greater productivity,
that’s a benefit to you. You know, I was watching TV one night, and it said that you should
talk to your plants. (laughs) That if you talk to your
plants, they would grow better. Well, you know, I’ve never tried that. But I’ve often thought
that when you’re pruning, what you say when you’re pruning a plant might make a difference. You know, I’ve often thought,
you know, as I’m pruning my roses now, you’ll
thank me for this later. Or, this hurts me more than it hurts you, and the rose is going, not a chance. I can’t imagine a plant saying back to me, you know, I thought you loved me. You’re a loving gardener. And yet you’re cutting me all off. That is so typical when God puts us through
the pruning process. You say, don’t you love me, God? Aren’t you angry with me? Why are you setting me
on the shelf like this? Why are you doing this to me? Why did you bring this health problem? Why did you bring this delay? It is a huge mistake when we
think of pruning as punishment. Don’t ever confuse
punishment with pruning. They’re two very, very different things. Pruning is for the future. Punishment is for the past. God doesn’t punish you, ’cause Jesus took all your punishment. Pruning is positive,
punishment is negative. In fact, you should take it
as a compliment when you go through a pruning period,
because what God is saying is, I see in you the potential
for even greater fruit. I see in you the potential for
even a more effective life. I see in you the potential
for maximum productivity. So if you’ve ever lost a job, guess what, God’s got a better idea. Now, how does God prune? What does he use? Well, he uses a lot of different things. But generally, he uses three categories. Problems, pressures, and people. Now, when I’m talking about other people, I’m talking about critics. People who attack you,
misunderstand you, misjudge you. Now sure, there’s no circumstances in your life that God
cannot use to help you grow. There is no circumstances in
your life that God cannot use to develop you if you will
just learn the right response. In fact, even the problems
that we bring on ourselves by our own stupidity,
by our own sinfulness, by our own bad attitudes,
mistakes, ignorance, God can use all that stuff too. Those crushing disappointments you’ve had, that financial reversal,
that unexpected illness, that job loss, being asked to leave a job, or walk out, you know, of
something that you loved, even the breakup of a marriage, or a rebellious child, or the death of a loved one, God can and God will use all these things in your life. Even when we brought them on ourselves. It doesn’t matter the
source of your problems. Always trying to figure
out what caused it. Doesn’t matter the source of your problems as much as how you choose
to respond to them. Now why does God prune us? Hebrews 12:11, look at
this verse in your outline. No discipline seems pleasant at the time. It’s painful. Later on, not now, later on, however, it produces a harvest of
righteousness and peace for those who’ve been trained by it. Notice, it’s for our benefit, circle the words, no
discipline seems pleasant. I don’t have to tell you
that, you already know it. It’s unpleasant. You ever looked over at a
pruned tree or a pruned bush? They’re very unattractive. They’re very ugly. And I’m sure it’s very
unpleasant for the plant. You know, years ago, Kay and
I lived in a house that had a front yard that had 12
very tall eucalyptus trees, right in the very front
yard, and they were about 80 feet tall, they were
enormous, way out of proportion to this little tiny house we lived in. And they weren’t very sturdy
and they weren’t very strong. And you know, any time
a wind came through, a branch would break off,
it was pretty dangerous, in fact, one of them broke
my windshield on my car. So I had a tree company come
out and top these trees. And they literally just cut them all off. And so, I had these 12,
about 15-foot totem poles in my front yard with
no branches, no leaves, just 12, you know, it looked very ugly. Kinda looked like a stone
henge or some alien being implanted 12 giant toothpicks
in my front yard. (laughs) But as time went on, those
ugly, unsightly sticks blossomed and blossomed,
they produced fuller growth, and in fact, there’re now more leaves than they ever had before on those trees. I remember back in 1985, when Kay went through a very time of pruning. She was bedridden. And she went through a difficult time, she couldn’t understand why God would put her on the shelf for about four months. She was pregnant with Matthew. And while she was pregnant, she developed a very rare complication, and couldn’t get out of bed for about four months. And at that time, she was
teaching our weekly Bible study to hundreds of women at Saddleback Church. And being bedridden,
all of those activities came to a screeching halt. We just couldn’t figure out why that was happening at the time. But during that time of
rest and that recuperation, when she’s flat on her back,
forced to look up to God, she said God taught her
truths and principles that built her character,
that prepared her for the great fruitfulness that she has today. Now, here’s my question. Can God’s pruning fail? Yes, it can. God’s pruning in your life can fail if we don’t cooperate with it. See, our tendency when God
prunes us is we wanna resist, we wanna rebel, wanna
question, doubt, gripe. We wanna become impatient. But God says, you know what? If you respond by trusting me, if you respond by giving
thanks in every situation, ’cause this is the will of God for you, knowing that I’m working all
things together for good, you’re gonna see increased fruitfulness and productivity in your life. Now there’s one last
condition to the secret of fruitfulness, and
I’ll go quick on this. But, I wanna live a productive life. I have lived a productive life. And I want you, my friends, our family, to live productive life. Here’s the fourth key. Get your roots down, okay, you know, get your roots down, and then dig out the weeds
and then do the pruning. And here’s the fourth thing. I must patiently wait, I must patiently wait
for and expect a harvest. Growing fruit takes time. You don’t put a seed in
the ground and next day you got a fruit tree,
or apples, or tomatoes. You don’t plant a seed and
harvest the next day, no. John 12:24 says this. Truly, truly, I say to
you, Jesus is talking. Unless a grain of wheat
falls in the ground, and it dies, it’ll remain alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit. And he who loves his life will lose it. Growing fruit takes time. You have to go through
the waiting process. And nothing is more uncomfortable than when you’re sitting in
the waiting room of God, when you’re in a hurry and God’s not. You know, I remember, I bought
my wife some nasturtium seeds a couple years ago, and she likes them, and we were gonna plant
them out on the slope, and two years from the time,
we still had no flowers. You know why? Because the packet’s still in
the garage, in an envelope. Plants have to be planted. (laughs) You can’t buy the seeds
and hope they’ll just grow. You gotta cover them up with dirt. And then you wait, and
you pray and you expect. And just as a seed creates
new life out of death, for you to be more effective in your life, there’s gotta be a dying
to your old nature. There’s gotta be a dying
to your old desires, your old plans, a dying
to your old ambitions, during the waiting process. Are you hearing me? I’m talking to you, this is God talking to you right now through me. Growth takes time. And there’s a dying process
during that waiting period, while you’re waiting for the
fruitfulness that you dream of. For the productivity that you dream of. It takes time, but don’t give up. Stay plugged in to Jesus Christ. You may be saying, you know, I know where my life needs to go, I know where my life needs to head, I just don’t see any changes yet, hang on. Jesus said, I’m the vine,
you’re the branches. If you remain, circle this word
remain, look at this verse, if you remain in me, connected to me, and I in you, then you’re
gonna bear much fruit. It’s inevitable. For apart from me, you can do nothing. Now the key word is the word remain. Don’t give up, stay in
contact, depend on him. Keep plugged in. Pray, wait, expect, and God will reward you at the proper time if you do not give up. Let us not grow weary in doing well. Stay persistent, we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Now, friends. If you’re not, if you’re not seeing any spiritual fruit in your life right now, you may be in this waiting stage. I read the other day
about a 600-year-old seed that finally sprouted. Group of scientists had
been digging in an old area in some Indian ruins, and they found a necklace, and old necklace,
around an Indian corpse in an Indian grave, and
it was 600 years old, and they took one of the
seeds from that necklace, and they planted it. And it grew. And even though that seed had
been dormant for 600 years, it still grew after it’d been planted. So I’m not really interested in how long your life’s been dormant. Maybe weeks, months, maybe years. Maybe decades. I’m talking to some people
in retirement right now. And your life’s been dormant for years. Give yourself fully to Jesus Christ. Say, Lord, I want the rest
of my life to be the best of my life, I wanna work
on these four things. I wanna develop some roots. Spend time every day with you. I wanna weed out the
weeds, eliminate stuff that needs to be eliminated. Some things aren’t necessarily wrong, they’re just not necessary,
you cut them out of your life. I wanna cooperate with pruning. God, if you need to prune some
things out of my life, do it. Maybe you just need to wait and say, God, I trust you with what I’ve planted. And that’s what I’ve sown. But knowing that it will
inevitably bring a harvest, that’s the first law of the harvest. I’ve given you a lot to
think about this weekend. Let me lead you in a prayer,
would you bow your heads? Heavenly Father, I hope
that some of these things that we’ve looked at today
from your Word will sink in and will transform our lives. We want our lives to count,
we want our lives to matter. We don’t wanna waste our lives. We wanna make a difference,
a difference with our lives. And we don’t want to
just live shallow lives. We wanna be productive,
we wanna be fruitful. We wanna hear you say, well
done, good and faithful servant. So help us to take these
four steps from your Word. To cultivate deep roots, just pray this. Say, God, help me to start
developing deeper roots, and you know how to do it,
daily time and the Word of God. Help me to read your Word every day and to think about it
and talk to you about it. Cultivate deep roots, deep
into the soil of God’s love. And then say, God, give me the courage to eliminate the weeds. The stuff that’s choking
out my relationship to you, and my productivity. Help me to recognize what’s a weed, and what’s not. And then say, Lord, help me to
cooperate with your pruning. You may be in it right
now, you may be going into a season of pruning, I don’t know. But there will be times in your life where God will cut
things back if you don’t. Sometimes God makes you
lay down in green pastures to force you to look up. Say, God, I wanna cooperate
with whatever you wanna cut out of my life, maybe it’s
a wrong relationship, maybe it’s a wrong goal, a
wrong value, a wrong dream. And say, Lord, I wanna
patiently wait for a harvest, I wanna expect the harvest in faith. Say, help me to cooperate
with the principles of spiritual gardening. Father, I pray that this series on margin will be life-changing for many people. For those of the messages we’ve missed, may we go back and listen
to them and maybe even go and review the whole thing again that we may build deep roots in you, in your love. And that we may eliminate
the weeds and prune off the unnecessary stuff
and wait for the harvest. I pray, Lord, that you
will make men and women in Saddleback Church the most
productive people in our area. The most fruitful people in our area. And may we grow in the fruit
of character and the fruit of repentance and the fruit
of bringing others to you, and in the fruit of being
effective in our lives, for Jesus’ sake. And I pray a blessing on all of our people in the name of the Father and
the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen. – Thanks for checking out
this message on YouTube. My name is Jay and I’m
Saddleback’s online campus pastor, and I would love to invite you
to join our online community. Here are three ways you
can take a next step. First, learn more about
belonging to our church family by completing Class 101 online. Second, don’t do life alone anymore by getting into an online-only small group that meets on platforms like Skype, or learn more about hosting a group with your friends in your home. Third, join our global Facebook community to connect with others
with the online community and be more engaged in the day-to-day. To take any of those next steps,
visit Saddleback.com/online or email [email protected] Hope to hear from you soon.

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