In this message, we learn how to overcome being overwhelmed by life.
Well, hey, everyone. It’s great to be here with you. Can we all give each other a big welcome from whichever campus we’re at? Wherever you are in the world, thanks for joining us. So we are in a series called Overwhelmed and I want to continue that series with you this week by talking about being overwhelmed by life, overwhelmed by life because if you’re anything like me, you’ve been overwhelmed by life many times and you’re probably overwhelmed by life right now. And our core verse throughout this series is John 16:33 that says, “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble but take heart, I have overcome the world.” Those are great words from Jesus, a great promise from Jesus but a lot of times if we look around our lives it doesn’t feel that way. Like it’s the fall season right now and I think I finally figured out why it’s called the fall. It’s not because leaves are falling on the ground.
It’s because everybody is ready to fall on their face like the fall is really tough. It’s way different than the spring. The spring is when everything kind of just continues but the fall is when everything kicks off. It’s when everything starts like school, it’s when you’ve got all new grades and you’ve got new teachers and you’ve got new schools so it’s a whole lot of adjustment there. You got new teams and new sports, you got new activities and the church world, you know, is like the break of the of the summer and so you got all the things that kick back off again in the fall and then you’ve got, you know, the NFL starts and college football. You got your fancy teams. You got your watching parties and you got your games and then you got the holidays. You got thanksgiving in Christmas that are coming up and you got the end of the year numbers in the business world, you got extra meetings on how we’re going to hit projections and how are we going to — and all that cramped in just four months. It’s a month shorter than the spring. So, yeah, it’s fall on your face like the fall is really tough and we’re busy, busy people because I think if we’re honest, you know, it’s really — it’s not just the fall, it’s all the time. All the time.
We’re busy, ready to fall on our face. I would say it like this. We are overwhelmingly busy and yet chronically unsatisfied. We’re overwhelmingly busy and chronically unsatisfied. We’re living life at a pace that is stealing, killing and destroying the life that’s in our lives. Like if you were to walk up to somebody right now and say, “Hey man, how are you doing?” The number one response you will get is, “I’m so — busy. I’m so busy.” And when did that become acceptable or normal instead of being viewed as dysfunctional and unhealthy? Like imagine if you went up to somebody and you said, “Hey man, how you doing?” He’s like, “Well, my legs broke.” And you’re like, “Your legs broke? Like dude, like go do something. I need to take you to the doctor. I need to take you to the hospital. Like we got to do something about that.” He’s like, “Oh no, it’s cool. Like it’s been broke for years. I just learned to deal with a broken leg.”
You’re like, “Dude, you’re crazy. Like do something about that.” As ridiculous as that sounds, that’s how ridiculous it is when our number one response to how you doing is I’m so busy because when did it become okay to tolerate destructive things in our lives? Because what’s all that busyness doing for you anyways besides making you stressed and tired and overwhelmed and dissatisfied? So the next time somebody tells you like I’m so busy, say this, “So what are you going to do about that?” It’s going to get awkward real fast and they’re going to get busy like busy getting out of that conversation. But if you look at Jesus, Jesus was never overwhelmed. He was never busy. He was never hurried. He was never stressed. He wasn’t like, “Man, how am I going to get from this town to this town and how am I going to heal that guy and how am I going to preach this message and how am I going to walk on this water like — He was always at peace. He didn’t worry about it. He always had time to pull away and spend with His Father. He always had time to play with little children.
He had time to talk with His disciples. He had time to invest in other people and we’re like, “You know, yeah, I’d like to do those things too but I’m just really busy.” I can promise you that Jesus’ job description was bigger than any of ours and so if He had time to do it, we do too. He came to model what life can be and should be like. And He tells us in John 10:10, “He says, I have come that you may have life and life abundantly.” He came not so you would be overwhelmed by life but that you could overflow with life.” That’s what He came for. And Jesus gives us a perfect picture of what our lives looked like. In Matthew 21:18-19, He gives a great picture — and remember when Jesus went on earth, He was a regular person. So He tired and He got hungry and in Matthew 21:18, it says, “Early in the morning, as Jesus was on His way back to the city, He was hungry and seeing a fig tree by the road, He went up to it and He found nothing on it except leaves and then He said, “May you never bear fruit again.” And immediately the tree withered.
It’s like zap. Zoom, it withered like that’s the definition of hangry. Like I bet the disciples are like, “Go find that kid with a bread and loaves like the fish and loaves and give it like Jesus is in a bad place.” And it seems like a really harsh reaction from Jesus until you think about the purpose of the tree. The purpose of the tree was not to bear leaves, it was produce fruit. That’s the purpose of the tree. I think Jesus gave us a prophetic picture of our lives. They’re full of activity but there’s no fruit. They’re full of leaves and there’s no fruit. We’re overwhelmed and we’re unsatisfied because how does your life feel right now? Like are you overwhelmed with the work? Are you full of activity in your relationships but there’s no fruit? Are you striving to have that perfect looking life because that’s not our design. You were not designed to strive to produce leaves.
You were designed to restfully and gracefully produce fruit. You were not designed to be overwhelmed by life. You were designed to overflow with life and you can see this all the way back at the beginning. This was your created purpose. God says in Genesis 1:28, the very first words He speaks over mankind after He created them, He says, “Be fruitful.” Be fruitful. Fruitful means to live a life of productive beauty to your full potential. Now, think of fruit, fruit is beautiful, it’s attractive, it’s nourishing, it’s life giving, that’s what we’re supposed be like. Our lives — we should be living that way to our full potential. You were created to be fruitful, not leafy, overflowing not overwhelmed. Think of the fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control, faith. Did your life look like that?
Do you see the fruit of the Spirit in your life? Because that is living to your full potential. Those fruits overflowing in your life and in all areas of your life like in your marriage, in your friendships, at school, in your ministry, in your activities, that’s what it looks like to be fruitful, to overflow with those things. And that may sound like great to you, like, “Yeah. I love that. I love to get from an overwhelming life to an overflowing.” But, how, how do I do that? I’m really glad you want to know that. Jesus tells us exactly how. So, if you probably can look in John 15:1-5, Jesus explains really clearly what to do about this. Look in verse 1, he says, “I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off ever branch in me that bears no fruit. While every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. And you are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.”
Remain in me as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself. It must remain in the vine and neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I’m the vine. You are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit, but apart from me, you can do nothing. So, there’s two thoughts to that, half for you, out of that passage that I want to share with you. And the first one is this. The first step to an overflowing life is you got to rest in Jesus and receive from Jesus. You got to rest in him and receive from him. Look at those two verses, verses 4 and 5, he says, “Remain in me as I also remain in you.” Rest in him, no branch can bear fruit by itself. It must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I’m the vine. You are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit, but apart from me, you can do nothing.”
You got to rest. You got to rest in him, so you can receive from him. And think about a branch. Like, all a branch does is rest. It just rests on the vine. Like, you never see a stressed out branch. That’s why trees are so quiet. You don’t see branches like, “Fruit”. Like, they just rest. The vine takes care of all of it. That’s why Jesus says in Matthew 11:28, he says, “Come to me all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Just rest in me. And as we’re resting, we receive. Think about a branch again. A branch doesn’t achieve anything. It just receives. And think about if a branch tried to do that. Like, it takes itself off the vine and goes on like sticks itself from the yard and tries to get its own stuff and goes and jumps in the bird bath and get a drink, like, go and poke its head in the fertilizer bag. And, like, it’d be ridiculous trying to see a branch like achieve its own stuff.
But that’s how ridiculous we look when we go and try and achieve and receive from other things instead of the one thing because if you’re not receiving from the one thing, Jesus, you’ll be stressed by everything. That’s why Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:33. He says, “Seek first my kingdom and my righteousness and everything else will be added to you.” He says, “Just let me be the king. Let me be Lord. Receive my righteousness. Receive my grace and my forgiveness. Receive my identity. Make me your one thing and I will take care of everything. Just rest in me and receive from me.” King David gives us a great picture of somebody who learned to rest and receive from the Lord. The 23rd Psalm, Psalm 23, it’s one of the most well known passages in the bible. I mean you could have never gone to church and a lot of us are familiar with that, you know, where, “The lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.” And I think most of us think when David wrote that psalm, like, he was probably, you know, laid back and this like perfect green field and little brook by him.
And he’s like petting a little white lamb and he’s just thinking about what a good shepherd God is. And when David wrote the 23rd Psalm, he was probably in the most overwhelming circumstances of his life. He was hiding in the Kidron Valley outside of Jerusalem because his son was trying to kill him, his son who would’ve taken his kingdom from him. So, this is King David who’s now lost everything. He’s lost his reputation. He’s lost his kingdom. He’s lost his family. He’s about to lose his life. It’s in that situation, in an overwhelming circumstances where he says, “The Lord is my shepherd. I have all that I need. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.” He had learned that when he rested and received from the Lord, the Lord overflowed into his overwhelming circumstances and conquered it.
And so, when was the last time you just stopped to rest and receive from Jesus? Because if we’re honest, most of the time when we’re overwhelmed, the first thing we should do ends up the last thing we do or we don’t do it at all. We turn to everything but Jesus. We have to rest in him so we can receive from him. And that may sound great to you like, “Yeah. Yeah. I want that, too, but how? How can I do that?” Well, it’s great. Jesus told us more. The second thing he tells us is you got to create margin by pruning. You’ve got to prune. You got to cut some things out. If you look in verse 2, he says, “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, so it’ll be even more fruitful.” In the house we’re in, we bought it three and a half years ago and the worst thing about our house when we bought it was the yard and the landscaping. Like, it was just totally overgrown. Like, the shrubs and the bushes were just — they were massive.
Basically, we didn’t know there was a house there. We thought we just bought huge flower beds and we never even saw the house. And then, the trees were all overgrown and like there were dirt patches because the grass couldn’t grow and there’s weeds and there’s like fire ants and wasps and it was totally stressing everyone out. And like, you know, the kids couldn’t go out and play because they always get bit by something and the dogs would always track dirt in. So, it was just this overwhelming thing. And over the last three years, we’ve done a whole lot of pruning. We cut a lot of dead things out. We pruned back and cut back a lot of the stuff that was overgrown, the bushes and the trees and all. Then, we cut out and we removed a lot of things that were fine, but we needed to just create some space, some space for some new things and some space for other things to grow. And now, our yard and our landscaping, like, it’s the highlight. It’s like Mr. Miyagi’s backyard. Like, now, it’s this place of peace and joy and now, it is overflowing with life. Like, there’s kids over all the time playing.
And there actually is a house you can see, like, a beautiful house, too. Like, it’s this great thing. The thing about that with your life is your life is so overgrown that people can’t even see you. Like, all they see is how busy you are, your friends, your family, your spouse. They say like, “I don’t even know you. I just know all the things that you do.” What if you started to cut those things out and prune those things away to reveal the beautiful person that is really there? I think the main reason we get to this place, this place that have been overgrown and overwhelmed is because we don’t fully realize the impact of saying yes, that every time you say yes, you say no. It’s one of the only words you can say that you say two things at the same time. Every time you say yes to something, you immediately say no to something else because you just took away the margin for it. So Deuteronomy 11:26, it says, “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse. Choose wisely.” Choose wisely if you’re going to say yes or no. Choose wisely what and where to prune. And there are three types of things that we see here that we have to cut out.
The first thing we’ve got to cut out is we’ve got to cut out dead things. In verse 2, it says, “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit.” This is the harmful, like hurtful things that you’ve allowed to remain in your life. Addictions, unhealthy relationships, sinful habits, unforgiveness, bitterness. You’ve got to trust God enough to cut those things out of your life. Ephesians 4:22-24 says, “Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life which is corrupted by lust and deception.” Get rid of that dead stuff. “Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature created to be like God, truly righteous and holy.” You are not those dead things anymore. You have a new nature, righteous and holy.
Like, don’t keep them around. But we compartmentalize and we think, “It’s just one branch. It’s not that big of a deal. I can tolerate that.” But you cannot leave a dead branch on a tree or on a bush and you can’t leave a dead branch in your life because that disease and that decay spreads. And you know exactly what things those are because the Holy Spirit’s already been telling you. You need to get rid of those dead things in your life. So what dead things do you need to cut out? And the second area is this, we’ve got to cut out leafy things. We’ve got to cut out leafy stuff. In verse 2, it says, “He cuts off every branch that bears no fruit.” It is not necessarily dead, but it bears no fruit. These are the things that from a distance, it looks awesome. Like, “Look at all my leaves. Look, people. Look, Jesus, my life is so full. I’ve got all these leaves.” And Jesus is like, “Yeah, your life is really full, but there’s no fruit.”
These are the things in your life that take all your energy and your effort and your focus but they give you nothing in return. It’s the life that we try and present to everybody else with all of our social media and our house and our cars and all of our activities that drain us and take everything we’ve got and they give us nothing back. I remember at the fall of last year and into the spring of this year, I can’t remember really anything about it, except being overwhelmed. And I have little glimpses of like practices and games and meetings and activities but I really don’t remember — like nothing stands out except being totally exhausted. And so, this summer, my wife and I decided like going into this fall, we’re not going to do that again. We’re not going to let whole chunks of life just sail by and don’t remember anything about it.
And we’ve got four kids and so we made the decision not to do any sports or extracurricular activities and to stop saying yes to all of the invitations that we got. Like, “You didn’t do sports?” Like, “Yeah, we said we’re not going to do sports anymore.” And we didn’t die. We’re still here. Our kids are still here. You can really do that and it wasn’t easy. I mean, my wife and I, we’re both athletes and our kids are athletes. Like, my daughter, Piper, I swear she could be the first female on Major League Baseball. Like, she’s awesome. But when we looked at our life, we made a decision. Like, what kind of life do we want? Leafy or fruitful? And people challenged it. People questioned it, you know, coaches and friends. And it made them feel uncomfortable, but we did it. And you know what? So far, it’s been probably about the best fall we’ve ever had. We’ve actually had dinners together as a family. We’ve had cookouts. We’ve played board games. We’ve gone to movie nights. We’ve had amazing conversations like with each kid and together as a family. We’re actually growing and enjoying the fruit of being a family.
So what leafy things do you need to cut out? And then the last area is we’ve got to cut out good things. He says that while every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. Jesus says the reward for fruit is pruning. Like, “What? There’s fruit.” It’s because he’s committed to you having an abundant life. He doesn’t want you to just have okay fruit. He wants you to have amazing fruit. And when a tree has too many branches with fruit, it spreads the resources too thin and you just end up with okay fruit. It’s just good. But less branches means more fruit. So you have to be willing to prune off some good fruit if you want to have great fruit.
Like me tell you a story about a guy in our church that’s a super talented guy, awesome guy. I mean, he was serving on our worship team. He was leading a group. He was doing really good things with really, really good fruit. But he could sense that God was inviting him to something more if he was willing to let go of some good things. And that takes a lot of faith. It takes a lot of wisdom because it’s good stuff. It’s good fruit. But after a lot of prayer and counsel, he knew God was inviting him to prune some good things out. And so, over some time, he stepped out of the worship team and he turned his group over to somebody else. And that created space for him to step into some new things. And he discovered that he had an even greater anointing, even greater gifting in some other areas. And now, he’s literally helping hundreds of people take the next steps on their journey with Jesus. He’s helping hundreds of people get into groups and he’s leading groups. He had good fruit before, but now he has great fruit.
So what good fruit do you need to cut out? And I acknowledge, like this is hard. It’s hard to prune, because we think, “Who will I be without that thing?” That’s why you can’t prune it. That title, that job, that relationship, that income, that activity, that possession. But if you think that, you’ve got to prune it because you’re letting that thing define you instead of Jesus defining you. And if you’re brave enough to do this, if you are brave enough to cut out some dead things and some leafy things and some good things, let me encourage you with this. It’s okay to grieve the pruning, because pruning is painful, but it produces fruit. And it’s okay to grieve something that has to go, like even things that are bad for you and you’ve gotten attached to them, it’s okay to grieve it. But then let it go. And then focus on your pruning. It’s also really easy to like put the pruning shears in the pocket and then like get out the chainsaw and fire it up on the person beside you like, “Yeah, I’ll prune you. I got you taken care of.”
Well, Jesus says don’t worry about the speck in someone else’s eye when you got a plank in your own eye. Just focus on your pruning. And you don’t get to prune the things that God has asked you to do. So you don’t get to go and prune your ministry. You’ll only like, “Sweet. Like now I’ve got more time to work and I get more stock because I don’t know how to love people and serve people and lead people anymore.” Like you don’t get to prune that. You don’t get to like, “Doc, prune my marriage.” Like stop, that’s a dead thing. I’m done with that. How to forgive and reconcile. Like no, we get where we are because we haven’t been receiving from Jesus. We’ve been trying to do it from everywhere else. And so we got to prune the things that we have added into our lives, not the things that God has asked us to do. And you may have no clue where to start with this. And you may feel overwhelmed right now in just the pruning. Like, I don’t know what to prune or where to prune. Let me break it down for you real quick. Just how about these areas? Your relationships. Look at your relationships. All your relationships has three kinds — dead, leafy and good. What dead relationships do you need to cut out of your life? When you’re around them, they just bring death and destruction in your life. What relationships are leafy? It takes all your time and energy and effort and they give you nothing back. And what relationships are good that you might need to either focus on or create some more space for a great relationship.
And then your activities. Constantly look at your activities. What activities are you involved in that just bring bad stuff in your life, dead things? And what activities that take all your time, energy, effort and give you nothing back? And what activities are good that some of them, they may need to go to create some space for some great things? Your possessions. What possessions that you have that all they do is create fights? You just fight over them. And you’re in financial bondage over them and it just brings a bunch of death? Which ones are taking all your time and energy just to keep that thing around? And which ones are good that you might need to let go of to create some space? And then your commitments. Look at your commitments that over time have now just begun to pile up and you’ve got this overcommitted life? Which ones are just bringing death in your life? Which ones are taking all your energy and giving you nothing back? And which ones are good that you need to reevaluate?
And the last one is your beliefs. Like what does that mean? Romans 12:2 says, “Be transformed by the renewing of you mind. Then you’ll be able to test and approve God’s will – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Right thinking leads to right living. You got to prune those beliefs. What beliefs do you have that just take you to dark places? Beliefs about God or yourself that are just nothing but death. Or what loops do you get on? And you just lose — you lose nights of sleep to and you just spin and spin and spin. And it takes all your energy, it sucks all your life and you just loop around and around and around. And what beliefs that you need to focus on that are good? But you need to create space for those to become great beliefs? And if you feel overwhelmed with all that, okay, how about just one? How about just one branch? Could you just start with one because God can’t fill an already full life. You got to create some space for him to take out your overwhelming and give you an overflowing. You got to let him prune you so he can full you.
And this is how we walk like free into following the cloud. You know, we’ve just finished the series, Follow the Cloud. Hearing God’s voice and responding to him, following him, and I think talking about being overwhelmed was the perfect thing to follow that up with because I think if we’re honest, that’s probably the number one reason why we don’t follow Jesus in our lives. It’s not because we don’t believe it. It’s not because we don’t want to. It’s not because we don’t think it’s important and it’s valuable. We’re just too overwhelmed to do it. We don’t have the time and the margin to ask and listen, much less the time to respond. We don’t give ourselves the space to even hear him and say, yes, to follow him. And Jesus ends this passage with an awesome bonus verse. Verse 11, he says, “I have told you these things that you may be filled with my joy.” Yes, your joy will overflow. It’s an obedience that you move from an overwhelmed life to an overflowing life.
No longer being overwhelmed with stress and worry and the pace of life. You get to overflow with joy. So are you willing to trust God as a good gardener? Are you willing to trust that where God is leading you is better than where you are? That where he’s leading you is better than where you’ve ever been because it is so worth it to trade an overwhelming life for an overflowing life. So would you close your eyes with me? And let me just ask you, what’s the Holy Spirit saying to you right now? What are of your life is he saying, “Will you just trust my love and my grace, my goodness for you? Or we’ll be willing to just let him come in and just cut that thing out and make space for him to fill it? Can you be willing to just trust a good Father who has given everything so you could be his beloved son or daughter?
He’s going to take care of you. He’s going to take you to places that you could have never imagined that are better than you’ve ever experienced. If we’ll trust him to say, yes, I’ll make you my one thing. I will let you be Lord. I will receive your righteousness and I will let take care of everything else. I give you my overwhelming life and I receive your overflowing grace and love. So Jesus, we thank you. We thank you that you’ve done it all. You’ve done all of the achieving and all we have to do is the receiving. We thank you that we don’t have to fight for it anymore, we don’t have to earn it, we don’t have to strive for it. We can rest and receive in you. And we don’t have to figure this out on our own. Thank you that you have placed your Spirit within us to give us wisdom and guidance in what to do and what our next step is. And so I invite you to unlock revelation for each everyone of us. Every area that we need to cut out the dead things, the leafy things, the good things. I invite your wisdom. I invite your faith to fill us up. May we be a people that hears your voice and responds, a people who follows the cloud. We thank you. We pray that in the mighty name of Jesus, amen.