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Posts Tagged ‘simplicity’

simplicity

Luke 9:1-6

When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt.Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere. (Italics mine)

Jesus made it clear to the disciples that He wanted them to live simply, focusing on the ONE important thing in their lives, proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ. I have heard people say that God has chosen certain people to be rich. I don’t buy it. That just doesn’t sound like the God of justice and equality that I know and love. Why would God choose some to be filthy rich and others to be homeless and hungry? Nope, doesn’t sound like the loving God that I worship.

In fact, scripture tells us just the opposite:

1 Timothy 6:9

Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.

Luke 18:25

Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

James 5:1-6

Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes.Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.[a] You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.

Matthew 6:24

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

I am not judging the rich in our society, but it comes down to what you do with those riches: will you horde them and selfishly keep them to yourself or will you share out of your abundance in obedience to God? Will you live in a million dollar mansion on a hill isolated from others or live simply, sharing with those in need in your community? The same questions also apply to those pastors and leaders of mega churches: are you going to waste millions of dollars on a huge church, perfectly manicured gardens and dozens of programs to entertain your congregants or are you going to maintain a simple building and give the millions to those in need in your community? Are you going to move your church to the fancy neighborhood in the ‘burbs or are you going to stay in the ghetto where your presence may actually do more good than you could ever imagine?

1 Timothy 6:17-19

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God,who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

Luke 12:33

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God,who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

Being rich is not a sin in itself. It is what you do with what God has blessed you with. Live simply and share your riches with those who are in need. Taking a look back at what Jesus told His disciples in Luke 9:1-6 we learn that we are to simplify our lives in three ways:

1. Material possessions

2. Time

3. Money

He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt.

The disciples were told to take NOTHING for the journey! Jesus knew that material possessions and money would distract them from their purpose: proclaiming the good news and healing people. God provided what they needed, when they needed it. They lived simply. Their time was spent building relationships and proclaiming the good news. Period.

What does living simply mean to you? Take a look at the three things listed above and pray for God to guide you in ways to simplify your life, so that you can focus on our ONE true purpose: proclaiming the good news, building relationships and loving people to Jesus. List three ways under each category (material possessions, time and money) in which you can simplify your life. Give yourself a certain amount of time to accomplish those goals. How do you feel? Now, list three more ways to simplify for each category.

Don’t get discouraged. Simplifying sometimes means sacrifice. Is God worth the effort? I think He is. If you need encouragement along the way, I am here for you. Don’t give up! You can do this! One baby step at a time. Your reward will be treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21).

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Black Friday

1 Timothy 6:6-7

But Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.

When Paul wrote this letter to Timothy, he addressed the greed of the Ephesians. He wanted to warn the Ephesians about the consequences of  their greed. Their greed was the root of their problems and Paul knew it needed to be addressed.

I admit that I have been guilty of letting envy get the best of me when so and so gets new furniture or so and so gets a new car. There are times when I cry out to God, “I work, and do what I’m supposed to do. Why do I never get these things? Why do I always have to struggle?” This kind of attitude breeds bitterness. I have needed an attitude adjustment more than once!

In today’s society, materialism and consumerism has led to greed. Greed is a sin and it leads down a very dangerous path. We all want the newest vehicles, the newest and biggest houses, the newest and most expensive smart phones. You name it, we want it! No one is satisfied with living simply anymore and we have suffered the consequences of  living with our discontentment. Those consequences include: living a life apart from God, always wanting the next best thing, continual dissatisfaction with what we have and with life itself.

If you have fallen into the trap of materialism, I encourage you to meditate on the following questions and answer as honestly as you can. Begin a dialogue with God and ask Him to show you where you may need an attitude adjustment.

1. Has my materialism produced an attitude of greed within me?

2. If so, what consequences have I suffered as a result of my materialism?

3. Am I really satisfied with my life, or am I in a constant state of dissatisfaction?

4. What is God telling me about this materialistic attitude?

5. What steps is God leading me to take to change this attitude of materialism?

6. What steps is God leading me to take to live more contently in my life?

7. How will I implement those steps?

8. What is my timeline in making these changes?

Living contently in our lives is an ongoing and sometimes painful process. It is a heart issue and sometimes we may find ourselves subject to undergoing the  pruning process of our heavenly Father, in order to rid us of the hardened areas of our hearts. This is a process, friend. Don’t get discouraged if the process is taking longer than you expected. Take one step at a time. Open your heart to our heavenly Father and find joy in the simple things in life.

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