The enemy loves it when we are too busy. That means our lives are out of balance – on edge. If we are out of balance and edgy then our priorities are confused. If we are too busy then we are not vigilant. We can’t be too busy and vigilant at the same time. The enemy will always slip in and steal the abundant life and he will do it every time. You are no exception.

ABUNDANT LIFE – Living in the Kingdom

By Pastor Delbert Young

Pruning Priorities

priorities

audio

We are talking about living the Abundant Life. Let’s read our scripture from the Amplified Bible.

(Amplified) John 10:10 The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have {and} enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).

There is a thief that will come to steal life from us. As we are seeing, the thief is not always the devil. If we look in the past we will see that the thief has stolen life from us. He will kill the good life that we enjoy today. The thief will also destroy any future abundant life that we could have. The Good News is that Jesus came preaching the gospel of the kingdom to stop the thief and to make assessable the full, overflowing, abundant life that God has planned for us.

BUSY: We live in a very fast passed society. Everyone is always rushing here and there. I have to meet this deadline and then meet that deadline. Moms are rushing to take the kids someplace and then pick up and take them another place. Dads are rushing to work and then home to the next event. The children are busy. The parents are busy. Everyone is busy, busy. Are we enjoying an abundant life, or just busy? Are we fulfilling God’s plan for our lives?

Many people today live uptight and stressed out lives. A person’s living uptight and stressed will make them sick physically and mentally. It will steal life from us.

People today are frustrated and on edge. Car rage is too common. People will bite your head off for no reason. They are not happy. They often feel unsuccessful because they can’t seem to get it all done. The thief has struck and destroyed life.

I watch people trying to please everyone and too busy to fulfill their own destinies. We please the kids. We please the parents. We please the spouse. We please our friends. The please the boss. We please the preacher. But, are we pleasing God?

Life has become like a treadmill to many. They are running full speed, not going anywhere. They are so into trying to keep up that they don’t know how to get off. Maybe your life is like that today. Jesus came to give you some Good News today.

OUT OF BALANCE: Usually when life is a treadmill, we need to look at our priorities. They probably need more than adjusting. They probably need pruning and uprooting.

Bubba decided he wanted to get married to his sweetheart. While enjoying some grits and gravy for dinner one evening, Bubba brought up the subject with his Ma and Pa. “Bubba, you can’t get married yet,” said Ma. “You’re the baby of the family.” “But Ma,” Bubba said, “I just had my 38th birthday last week.” “We know that, Bubba,” Pa chimed, “but your Ma and me think you should put off getting married until after you graduate from high school.”

Sometimes priorities can become a mass of confusion. Obviously Bubba’s priorities had suffered overgrowth. It’s that way with us sometimes. Priorities become so jumbled that we don’t know which priority is the priority.

Life was out of balance for Bubba and it’s out of balance for us sometimes.

(Amplified) 1 Pet 5:8 Be well balanced), be vigilant {and} cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon {and} devour.

(KJV) 1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant . . .

The Greek word translated sober in the KJV (Strong’s #3525 nepho {nay’-fo}) means to be sober, to be calm and collected in spirit. We may think we are calm and collected until someone cuts us off in traffic. Or, we realize we have just exploded in anger and railed on someone for nothing.

The enemy loves it when we are too busy. That means our lives are out of balance – on edge. If we are out of balance and edgy then our priorities are confused. If we are too busy then we are not vigilant. We can’t be too busy and vigilant at the same time. The enemy will always slip in and steal the abundant life and he will do it every time. You are no exception.

Think about it. People are so busy that they are too busy for God today. They are too busy to pray, too busy to come to church, too busy to come to Wednesday workshops. They are too busy to take care of their marriage. They are too busy to spend time with their family. We are running the treadmill. We are out of breath and perspiring, but missing the abundant life that is rightfully ours. The thief has struck again and is stealing life. We are out of balance.

God wants us to be productive, but we can’t get being busy confused with being productive. We must remain balanced. Just because you are going 90 miles an hour doesn’t mean you are being productive.

MUST PRUNE PRIORITIES: Life will never be abundant if we refuse to set priorities and then not go against the priorities we have set. How do we do that?

We have Crape Myrtles at our house and on our property at church. They are capable of producing beautiful blossoms all summer long. A few years ago, they stopped blooming. I was told that they needed to be pruned back. If they were not pruned back, they would spend all their energy maintaining the excess growth and would not properly bloom. Eventually, they would split, break apart, and the tree would be damaged. I knew that was true because we had some at our home that did exactly that.

It’s that way with us. We are created to have lives that bloom and blossom. Christ followers are created to have lives that others observe and say, “That is a beautiful life. I want a life like that person has.” But we allow the excess in our lives to use up our time and energy. We are unable to produce the beauty we are created to produce. They create a lot of split limbs and damaged lives. Christ followers produce a lot of leaves.

One day Jesus saw a fig tree from a distance and then approached it wanting to eat some figs for himself and those in his kingdom. He saw there were no figs on the tree, only leaves. Our lives are that way. All our energy goes into leaf production. There is no real fruit to bless the Lord and his kingdom. We will never enjoy the blessed life if all our energy is going into being busy and there is no fruit being produced.

WE MUST LEARN TO PRUNE AND KEEP PRIORITIES. How do we do that?

If you have areas of your life that are constantly draining life out of you then realize that is not a fruitful area. It’s a busy area. It’s a leafy area. It’s taking life from you for no real reason. It probably should be pruned off or at least pruned back.

RELATIONSHIPS: That could mean walking away from a friendship. Some relationships take a lot of energy and pull the abundant life out of us. Have you ever had one of those? Every time you get around that person, it drains life out of you. You go away exhausted. It took your time. It took your joy. It dominated your life and it brought no fruit. There were leaves. You did something, but no fruit. That could well be the enemy using that relationship to devour you.

I know we must minister to people, but we can’t allow people to control us and manipulate us. Miserable people want you miserable too. That is not God’s plan. Some of you have relationships that take all your time and keep you from chasing your God-given-dreams. You have to say, “I am not going to allow that person to stop me from doing what God wants me to do.” We have to prune.

Let me make sure that everyone knows that I am not talking about pruning off your husband or wife. Don’t you say that Delbert said I could prune you off you ugly thing.

INVOLVEMENT: Pruning may mean that you can’t be involved in everything you have been involved in through past years. You say, “People depend on me and they will get upset.” Well, that could be the devil devouring you and stealing your abundant life. Folks, you know as well as I that we will never keep everyone happy. We have got to discover what God wants us to do and make it the number one priority.

I have to constantly remind myself of my priority. We were at a prophetic conference years ago and Bill Hammond spoke a prophecy over me. He said that I was like a bottleneck. He explained that I felt everything at church had to come through me. By that happening, I hindered the flow. He said that the Lord wanted me more like a mason jar. In other words, I didn’t need to be busy with everything in this ministry. I needed to find my priority and concentrate on it.

VOCATION: If we are really going to be serious about the abundant life, it may mean pruning something very dear to you. It may mean a change of direction in your vocation. I did that several years ago. I had a business, but it was draining our finances. It was rough on our marriage. I had to close it and go back to work at a textile factory. A few years later, God allowed me go into the ministry. I don’t think I would be doing today what I am doing had I not pruned my vocation.

So many Christ followers live very mediocre lives when simply setting and keeping priorities would allow them to enjoy the abundant life and find their destinies.

The enemy will slip in disguised as being busy and devour our time, energy, and money – life. We need to constantly evaluate our lives. And, just like with the Crape Myrtles, we need to regularly prune back so that our lives can blossom. We can produce the best life possible.

THE WORD BUSY MEANS: (1) to be fully engaged or occupied; (2) overcrowded or cluttered with details; (3) unavailable for use by anyone else.

Sounds like most of us today, doesn’t it? But God never told us to be busy. He told us to be fruitful. Look at the very first thing that God spoke to man.

Genesis 1:28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply . . .

We bring God glory when we are fruitful, not just busy.

(TLB) John 15:8 My true disciples produce bountiful harvests. This brings great glory to my Father.

SOMETIMES PRUNING IS NOT ENOUGH. If we want to produce bountiful harvests, we must realize there are seasons of life. Because something was producing fruit years ago, doesn’t necessarily mean it will produce fruit today.

PREACH TREES: When I was a boy, my dad planted about 20 acres of peach trees. It took about 3-5 years to get the orchard producing. Then after about 12 more years, the trees nearly stopped producing at all. We found that the life of a peach tree is only fruitful from 8-15 years. At that time, they must be pulled up and replaced.

Sometimes we need to uproot some things in our lives. It’s not that what we are doing is bad. It’s that what we are doing is simply not fruitful today.

ACADEMY: We began a Christian school here in 1990. It was a good thing. It blessed a lot of lives. Some of you went to the school and some of you have children that went to the school. It was a good thing for a season. Eventually, we felt it had lost its productivity. We were a school with a church instead of a church with a school. If you were closely involved with it, you know the drain it was on this ministry. Finally, a day came when we knew it was time to close the school. All the leadership discussed it. Though we didn’t want to close it and our hearts were broken, we all knew the season had changed. Since that time, we have been more able to focus on our priority of reaching people and making them devoted followers of Jesus Christ.

We can’t allow ourselves to be hardheaded. We have to be willing to say, “I am not going to allow the thief to take life from me with being busy. I am going to prune my life. I am going to cut off everything that is stopping me from enjoying my best life.”

We know the Lord is telling us to shut doors and move on. The Lord will never tell us to shut one door without his opening a bigger and better door for us. However, as long as you have that one foot positioned to keep the old door from closing, you will never be able to take the steps necessary to walk through the new doors that God has waiting for you. If you want to go to new levels of victory then cut and uproot everything that is holding you back.

DEAD HORSE: Sometimes it’s like trying to ride a dead horse. You can kick that thing, but it’s not going to go anywhere. It’s time to dismount and find another horse.

Hebrews 12:1 THEREFORE THEN, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses], let us strip off {and} throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily) clings to {and} entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance {and} steady {and} active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us,

How many times do we get entangled with things that keep us from running our individual races? Even a good dead horse is still dead.

Many people today are entangled and missing out on God’s best because they will not prune and keep their priorities. They are entangled in things that steal life from them. They are doing good things and producing a lot of leaves, but it’s still a dead horse.

We allow so many things to distract us. Once Jesus was at the house of Martha and Mary. Martha was busy making everything perfect. The food was cooking just right. The house was perfectly clean. She was busy, busy. She was doing a good thing. She was preparing a meal for the Son of God and the apostles of the Lamb. That’s a good thing. Martha noticed that her sister Mary wasn’t helping her. She looked around and saw Mary just sitting there next to Jesus. Martha marched in and said, “Jesus, this isn’t right. I am in there doing all the work. Tell Mary to get busy and help me.” The response of Jesus was interesting. Let’s read a few verses from that passage.

Luke 10:40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

Luke 10:41 “Martha, Martha [PUT YOUR NAME THERE],” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,

Luke 10:42 but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Martha had the same opportunity to select her priorities that Mary had. Instead, Martha chose to do a good thing instead of the best thing. Good things will keep us from experiencing God’s best thing. What Martha was doing, though good, was actually a distraction that successfully kept her from God’s best.

There will always be many distractions in life. There will always be many good things to do. There will always be people to help. There will always be some way to spend your time. But distractions will stop you from living the abundant life.

The apostle Paul understood this. He had to set his priorities.

(TLB) 1 Corinthians 9:26 So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I fight to win. I’m not just shadow‑boxing or playing around.

Paul said that he would not allow himself to get all involved in things that hinder him from reaching his goal. He ran straight. He didn’t waste time shadowboxing or playing around with things that didn’t matter. He did not entangle himself with many things. He was after the best thing.

Friends, the enemy will use being busy to stop you from enjoying the abundant life. He will stop you from experiencing God’s best by doing good things. Unless you are willing to prune off the excess, you will eventually stress out. The limbs of your life will break and you will live a damaged life. There are things that need to be uprooted. The season is over. Some of us need to change horses. The one we are kicking is dead.

Jesus came to stop that thief. Prune off and pull out today those things that are only taking your abundant life.

I want to encourage you to take a look at your priorities. Write them down as in 1, 2, 3, etc. See if there that may be some that are holding you back from the abundant life that is rightfully yours.

If you will regularly – at least once a year – prune off the excess, you will experience new growth that will produce a beautiful life. Your life will blossom. I promise you that your life will be fruitful and victorious. God will turn your mourning into dancing. He will make your crooked paths straight. He will make your valleys level. We will experience the abundant life that Jesus came to give us.

Other Related Sermons:

Get Busy Living – sermon video audio notes

The Good Shepherd – sermon video audio notes

Himself He Could Not Save – Palm Sunday sermon video audio notes

Also see:

Sermons Change The World

Life Gate Church sermons by Delbert Young