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Simplify your life
Luke 21:28 (NIV) “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
We all can feel the anticipation, the excitement, and the expectancy in the air. Something is happening. Something is changing. What exactly is it? What are we looking forward to?
Isaiah 60:1-4 (NIV) says, “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. “For behold, darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples; but the LORD will rise upon you and His glory will appear upon you. “Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. “Lift up your eyes roundabout and see; they all gather together, they come to you. Your sons will come from afar, and your daughters will be carried in the arms. “Then you will see and be radiant, and your heart will thrill and rejoice; because the abundance of the sea will be turned to you, the wealth of the nations will come to you”
Isaiah is prophesying about the future of Israel, but this prophecy is also for the church. This is how things will happen in these last days. We will shine! People will come to us! God is asking for a greater commitment from His children. We need to get serious about Kingdom business. Derek Prince, in his book “Prophetic Guide to the End Times: Facing the Future without Fear,” tells us,
“We often hear it said, ‘God wants our time, our talents, and our money,’…if we give these to God and think we are doing God a favor, we deceive ourselves. God is really saying, ‘what I want is you! And when I have you, I have everything you have.’ In these closing days, God is not going to settle for a lesser commitment. We need to ask ourselves; have I ever totally given myself to God without reservation? Have I placed myself at His disposal? That is commitment.”
Psalm 110:1-3 (NIV) “The Lord says to my lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” The Lord will extend your mighty scepter from Zion, saying, “Rule in the midst of your enemies!” Your troops will be willing on your day of battle. Arrayed in holy splendor, your young men will come to you like dew from the morning’s womb”
I love the way that is worded. “Your people will volunteer freely!” Isn’t that our desire? To do something wonderful, something big, for God? So what is stopping us? In praying about this, God showed me several things that seem to hold us back, but I kept coming back to this one thing. We, especially in the Western World, are too busy. We run here, go there, sign up, make commitments we can’t keep, and wear ourselves out being so busy. So today we are going to focus on how to simplify our lives.
How many of us watched the “Little House in the Prairie” or read the books and dreamed of a simple life? Sure they didn’t have the modern conveniences that we have, but they had a more precious commodity…time. They worked hard, but they weren’t rushed or stressed. Choices were fewer, obligations were fewer, and their expectations were fewer. How many of us lose sleep over our hectic schedules or feel overwhelmed with life? Be honest, how many of us cringe inside when we hear about another service, an extra class, or some other thing that should excite us, but our minds scream “how can I do one more thing?!” Then we feel guilty, throw ourselves into another obligation, sometimes only half there, half awake, and half committed, only to feel disappointed in the results? This isn’t God’s plan for us.
So what is robbing us of our time? It is more complex than we think. The root is in our priorities. What is important? You would be surprised what is important if you would take a closer look at your life. Let’s look at Luke 21: 28 again. “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” We need to start here. In the same book mentioned before, Derek Prince says,
“Jesus does not say, ‘Be frightened’ or ‘look for a hiding place.’ He does not say to plans some method of escape and concentrate on survival. His attitude is look up. Things are going to get better. It is very important that we who are God’s people present to the world the picture of confident assurance. (That will impress them, and will make them want to know what we have that they don’t)- enabling us to face these pressures and crisis with calmness and confidence.”
How much of what we do is out of fear, or trying to survive? How many times have we said, “if I can just get through this day, week, month? These thoughts make us run, or hide, or both. We keep ourselves busy so we don’t have to face reality. We think if we can just get the latest new (phone, game, clothes, house, car, gadget, etc) thing, that life will be easier, better. That just isn’t true. When we live like that, we have jumped onto a merry-go-round made by Satan! His plan is to keep us distracted, self-centered, wore out, and trying to do it all in our own power.
That is not God’s plan for us. He wants us to have time for ourselves and our families. To have things we enjoy having and doing. But God never intended those things to rule us or take control of our lives. How can we be committed to Him in the way we need to if we are short on time, short on attention and just plain short on energy? He wants the commitment, expects it. So we need to make some changes.
Let’s prioritize. First make a list. What is the most important things to you? What do you place the highest value on? What are your goals in life? We need to make time for these things. List the top ten. Now take a closer look and cross one of the list. Think of it as surgery. We are cutting of the tumor, the parasite that is stealing your life. I know it is scary, but we all agreed that something needs to give, something needs to go. It is time to start making choices.
Deuteronomy 30:19 (NLT) “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!”
We have choices to make. Is it part of or important to God’s plan for my life? If the answer is yes, then keep it. If the answer is no, delete it. Simple. Not easy to do, but good for us.
Here is a short list of things you need to consider. There are great websites and book on simplifying your life. Find some, and read them. Most importantly, pray about it and ask the Holy Spirit to show you where the weeding needs to be done.
•Evaluate your commitments
•Evaluate your time.
•Learn to say no.
•Limit your communications (twitter, facebook, snapchat, iphones, etc) and simplify your computing life.
•Limit your media consumption.
•Purge your stuff and simplify your wardrobe.
•Limit your buying habits.
•Free up your time.
•Spend time with God.
•Spend time with people you love.
•Slow down. Your driving, eating, and any other area where you rush. Give yourself more time for tasks.
•Establish routines. Create a workable system for housework.
•Learn to live frugally. Consider a smaller home, a smaller car, a smaller yard. Live closer to work.
•Do something you love, have a creative outlet.
•Go for quality, not quantity.
•Don’t over schedule your day! Leave time between appointments.
•Whenever you are faced with a choice, ask yourself, “Will this simplify my life.” Always be sensitive to the voice of God, because often He asks us to do things that will stretch us.
This is a great start. Don’t try to do it alone! You need God’s help and guidance to do it. Sometimes we will need to do radical surgery. Other times we need to take baby steps.
One of my favorite sayings is: “I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy, I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.”
Living freer, having more time for God, and building a stronger commitment to Him will so be worth it!
Let me start by saying we cannot save ourselves. That was pretty evident when we tried it on our own. Some of us tried to just run away from our lives and escape into drugs, alcohol, sex, our jobs, hobbies, etc. It never works because at the end of the day, we still are who we are. It was only the sinless, pure love of God that could save us. He loves us so much that He paid the price to cleanse us of our sin. He has given us a new nature, a new heart and a new vision.
I John 1:1-3 NKJV “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”
God is Holy. There is and never has been, nor will ever be any un-pure thing in Him. He tells us to be Holy as He is Holy. (Lev. 11:45 and I Peter 1:16). Unfortunately, there is still some things in us that aren’t exactly pure. In several places in His word, God tells us to purify, cleanse ourselves. (I Corinthians 7:1, James 4:8, Ephesians 5;25-26 just a few). Yes, He cleansed us of all unrighteousness when we accepted Him as Savior, but we still continue to live in a corrupted world. We have been saved, but we are still being saved. It’s a process. We tend to go back to our old nature, to resurrect the “old man.” To put it plainly-we sin. So we have to be diligent to “purify” ourselves.
The Holy Spirit is faithful! He will not only convince us of our righteousness, our right standing with the Father, thru the shed blood of Jesus, He also convicts us, shows us, points out our sin. Allow Him to pinpoint the areas in our lives that are less than pure. Then ask God to forgive you. Ask for His strength and help to do it, then get out the scrub bucket. We have to take responsibility. You do not teach your children to be responsible by doing all their chores and homework for them. In the same way, God, who is the best parent ever, expects us to do something.
How do I purify myself? That ultimately depends on what your mess was made of. Let’s look at a few types of sin. First of all there are the obvious things like adultery, lying, drunkenness, homosexuality, drug addictions, fornication, hatred, strife and all those so called “big ones.” Our society likes to call a lot of those things “diseases” or “sickness”. But God is clear, those are all choices. Don’t be deceived what you sow you also reap. When we sow to the flesh, we reap corruption. Let’s call it like it is, these are sin. So the first step, after having asked God to forgive you, and to help you, is to STOP! I know it sounds too simple, and too easy, and I know from first hand experience that it isn’t either one of these things. But your only choice is to either admit it is sin and stop the sinning, or continue on the path to hell. You can’t walk towards God and walk toward hell at the same time. They are two completely opposite directions. As soon as you turn from own you are headed for the other. That’s what repentance means, turning away from our sin.
Now, moving on, as most of us have more subtle sin in our lives, though not any less sinful to God. If we lack faith, that is sin. Sounds drastic I know. But the Word is clear, without faith it is impossible to please God. So worry, anxiety, and fear are all sins. Now there is a Godly fear of the Lord, and there is a healthy fear, such as the fear of getting burned keeps us from laying our hands on a not surface. That is not what I am talking about here. Fear of failure, fear of sickness, fear of rejection, phobias, irrational fears, those are all sin. I had to face all of the above! So I know it is hard to overcome. We do it by repenting first, always. Then again asking God to help us. Then what does God say about fear? Use His word. “Perfect love casts out fear” or “I have not given you the spirit of fear.” There is another clue. Fear is a spirit. Cast it out, rebuke it harshly. Then take hold of the love and peace of God. Most of this stuff begins in an ungodly thought pattern. Line up your thoughts with the Word. Use the truth.
For any sin, ask the Holy Spirit to show you what triggers your sin, what feeds the lust? You may have to put down that book. Turn off that movie. Shut off the computer. Stop hanging around with certain friends. Shut your mouth. What ever the case may be, He will show you areas where you have to work. Don’t get me wrong, God can and will in His sovereignty, deliver people from all kinds of stuff, but He then expects you to work at staying delivered. Again, remember the kid and the chores. It’s for our own good. We tend to value things more if we put some effort into it. When you are going through the process and after you have come out of the other end, Glorify Him! You may have been a co-laborer with Christ, but God gave you the strength and the knowledge to get it done. He showed you were to build and where to tear down. He deserves the praise.
When dealing with sin in our lives it is important to remember that God is not an angry dictator waiting to catch us doing something on His “don’t do list” or failing to do something on His “do do list.” He is a loving Father who wants our lives to flow with His goodness, His blessings, His anointing and the only way that is going to happen is by trusting Him. We have to believe what He says. He watches over His word to perform it. To make sure it comes to pass just the way He said it would. He says we are healed. He says we have been delivered, that our lives should be abundantly blessed. He says we are accepted, loved, treasured, and His children. Do what you know to do, do what God says to do. Then leave the rest up to Him. You may not see fast results, but you will see results.
It’s time to get ourselves lined up so that we can do the work of winning souls. If we are all messed up, who would want a life like ours. So we can’t spend years “purifying” ourselves. We keep an open communication with God. We stay sensitive to His voice. When He says, “stop doing that” or “do this” we need to not waste any time. The time is short. The only thing delaying Jesus’ return is that He is giving us more opportunity to reach the lost. He wants a huge family. So let’s get out messes taken care of quickly, and when we stumble or fall, get up and get going again. Don’t dwell on it. God says the righteous may fall seven times, but they get back up!
Trust God and do your part. Then move forward. Shine that light, be the salt. Point people to God. Let them see you come through your problems. Tell them how God helped you.
It may be scary to face our sin. To put your trust fully in Him. But that is the leap of faith we are always hearing about. You might not see the path clearly ahead of you. The end of the path may be completely out of your sight. But God sees it! He knows where you are going and the best way for you to get there. Just take that first knee knocking step. He’s there with you. In fact He said He would never leave us not forsake us, and “lo I am with you always, even unto the end.” Now that should instill some hope.
God wants you free. Free from sin and the bondages they create. Free to receive. Free to do His work.
Won’t you break those chains?
For more inspiration read all of I John.
Your death on the cross
Purchased back your own
Though once was bound now I’m free
I am free to love, Free to live
Free to serve, free to give
All for you-all for you
You have seated me there
In Heaven with you
Given me authority
You have called me out
I have work to do
Setting those in bondage free!
They are free to love, free to live
Free to serve, free to give
All for you- all for you
I will go to the camp of the enemy
I will shout from my heart-screaming LIBERTY!
No more bondage-no more shame-no more sickness-no more pain-no more lack-no more fear-no more wait-the time is here!
We are free to love, free to live
Free to serve, free to give
All for you-all for you
Copyright © by Jodi Woody
August 9, 2013