Let us Pray: Father God thank you for this day, thank you for this opportunity to share the insight you have given to me with others. Let the words of my mouth & the meditations of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, In Jesus name Amen.
Our church theme, A Church Called to Continue comes from Acts 2:41-42 which reads – “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized; and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
As I often mediated on this scripture I began to ask God to speak to my heart, tell me what I… what we.. as 21st century believers needed to do, what we needed to be, so we too can be like the 1st century believers… continually devoting ourselves to the things of God. God answered with these four words, live a simple life.
A SIMPLE LIFE
One of the biggest challenges we face in our frazzled (physically & mentally exhausting) and hurried, fast paced society is living a simple life. We long for the simple things of life without all the demanding interruptions. We have so much information and “things to do” coming at us we forget how to turn it off. Our lives get flooded with appointments and commitments and meetings that we find our lives in a mess due to stress.
Often we make plans to visit this area of life and before we even get there other complexities of life meet us in the hallways we venture down on a daily basis.
So I asked God ..How do we face this great challenge in life to live a simple life in the hallways of a complex society?
God took me on a journey in order to give me insight and directed me to Mark 8:34-38 as he began to answer my question. He said:
“IF ANYONE WOULD COME AFTER ME, HE MUST DENY HIMSELF AND TAKE UP HIS CROSS AND FOLLOW ME. FOR WHOEVER WANTS TO SAVE HIS LIFE WILL LOSE IT, BUT WHOEVER LOSES HIS LIFE FOR ME AND FOR THE GOSPEL WILL SAVE IT. WHAT GOOD IS IT FOR A MAN TO GAIN THE WHOLE WORLD, YET FORFEIT HIS SOUL? OR WHAT CAN A MAN GIVE IN EXCHANGED FOR HIS SOUL? IF ANYONE IS ASHAMED OF ME AND MY WORDS IN THIS ADULTEROUS AND SINFUL GENERATION, THE SON OF MAN WILL BE ASHAMED OF HIM WHEN HE COMES IN HIS FATHER’S GLORY WITH THE HOLY ANGELS.”
Here he gave me 4 principles that will help us to live that simple life that is pleasing to him and will bring a sense of peace and fulfillment to us.
1. PUTTING THE FIRST THING FIRST
It doesn’t matter what you do or did for a living the first principle of living the simple live is crucial. PUT GOD FIRST!!!
Jesus told the crowd to deny themselves. You are not in charge of your life. You are to surrender control over to Jesus. The simple live is a sacrificial life. It is dying to the selfish desire of you and living according to the will of God.
Matthew 6:33, 34—(Jesus sermon on the Mount):
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore not thought for the morrow. For the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."
Jesus understood this principle of putting the first thing first. He often practiced this by getting alone with God. He would get alone and pray, and listen and talk with God.
How can we know the will of God without knowing God? For many of us living in this fast paced society our relationship with God is on a part-time basis. Jesus knew God had a plan for his life and would continually seek Him. God has a plan for each of our lives but how will we ever know what it is if we don’t spend time with Him so he can tell it to us?
King David, with all his responsibilities understood this principle when he wrote in Psalm 46:10 this first things first priority: “BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD”. He too knew he needed that alone time with God.
We have to realize that by being still we can learn things, we can hear things, and we can experience things that we would otherwise miss in the frazzled and hurried society we find ourselves living in.
2. CLEAR THE CLUTTER
Here is one of the greatest battles of our lives: WANTS VS NEEDS!
Simplifying ones life occurs when we are able to distinguish between what is a “want” and what is a “need”.
Clearing the clutter is about CONTENTMENT.
Contentment is about learning how to stop chasing what you don’t have. Contentment is about that 10th commandment of not wanting what your neighbor has…you know trying to keep up with the Joneses. Contentment is about being able to live the life your budget allows you to live.
Philippians 4:12—(Apostle Paul wrote about contentment)
“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”
The Apostle Paul was content because he could see life from God’s point of view. He had detached himself from the nonessentials and was concentrating on the eternals.
Often in our lives the desire for more or better possessions is really a longing to fill an empty space in our lives. When you feel empty inside what are you drawn to?
Are you content in whatever circumstances of life you find yourself?
No matter what frazzled or hurried experience meets you in the hallway you can be content and live the simple live through Christ. Draw on the presence of Christ in your life. You can clear the clutter of wants and simplify in the needs of life.
We can trust that God will always meet our needs in life. We must remember the difference between our wants and our needs. We may not get what we want. However, by trusting in Christ, our attitudes and appetites can change from wanting everything to accepting His provision and power to live for him.
3. PROFIT AND LOSS
“What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul? “What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?
What are you trading our soul for? What are you pursuing in life?
Many of us spend all our energy seeking pleasure. Whatever we have on earth is only temporary; it cannot be exchanged for our soul.
The profit is found in pursuing Jesus…. the loss is in giving eternal life up for the sake of earthly pleasures.
Jesus said that a life spent on pursuing possessions, position or power is ultimately worthless. He warns us in Luke 12:15 when he said: “Watch out! Be on our guard against all kinds of greed: a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
He went on to tell the story of a farmer who built a bigger barn to hold all his crops. The farmer was so proud of his wealth. He ended up dying before he could begin to use what he had stored in his bigger barn. The farmer planned more for this life than life after death.
Planning for life before death is important. But even more crucial is our planning for life after death. What kind of barn are you building? A barn full of yourself and stuff here on earth OR a barn full of a simple life of living for Jesus? If we are accumulating stuff for ourselves then we will enter eternal life empty-handed.
A simple life is one that seeks to build a barn to store up treasures in heaven and not on earth. A simple life’s values are eternal and not worldly. A simple life invests more in people than in possessions. A simple life doesn’t seek to gain the whole world and lose one’s life with Christ.
4. UNASHAMED OF HIS NAME
Then Jesus wrapped it all up by saying that the simple life is a life that is unashamed of Jesus. The simple life is not embarrassed about living for Jesus. Jesus said that if we are embarrassed about him to our family and friends here in this life that He will be embarrassed about us when we come to live with God our Heavenly Father.
So it became very clear to me what a simple life is:
· The simple life puts Jesus first in all things!
· The simple life clears the clutter of wants and needs and learns to be content with what one has.
· The simple life builds its barns for eternity.
· The simple life is not ashamed of living for Jesus!
And in order to live that simple life we need to :
· Be still!.......Be still and know he is God
· Be content…….Be content with our needs
· Be barn-builders……Fill our barn with eternal treasures
· Be unashamed of Jesus!....Live for Jesus unashamedly
Perhaps the struggle so many of us have in living for Christ, being devoted to His cause, responding to His leading, “walking by the Spirit” is that we continue to live for ourselves.
In order for us to continue steadfastly…..we must first be committed to living a simple life in Christ, in the midst of this frazzled and hurried world of ours.