Sunday, June 23, 2019

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Live a Simple Life

Over the past five years, I have learned a great many lessons through my studies and preaching of God’s word and studying the life of Christ Jesus who is “the champion who initiates and perfects our faith”. None has been so important than the lesson of living a simple, quiet life. In this day and age of instant gratification and amusement, this one lesson is the most difficult to learn and to put into practice.

As I reflect on my life and my desire or, better put, obsession to gain more and more, I realize that my life is not simple or quiet. It seems that the more I have; the more time I spend doing other things. Rather than spending time quietly meditating on His word, I spend my time trying to improve my station in life by pursuing things of this world. Instead of pointing to a pile of money and possessions and asking myself, “What more do I need,” I should be asking myself, “What have I sacrificed to gain worldly possessions that will rust, fade away or be eaten by insects.” 

Think about all of the “stuff” you have in your life and how you sacrificed to achieve or purchase something. We have all done it in our lives. We are conditioned since birth to pursue and purchase those things that are supposed to be the symbols of success and prestige. Deep down inside, we want people to envy us and to be called “successful”. Instead of feeling fulfilled, we continue to pursue and purchase more things to complete the facade of success that we want the world to see. When we get what we want, we are content for the moment and then we look again for something else to pursue and purchase.

The world that we live in is a world of fool’s gold. One of my favorite aphorisms is "all that glitters is not gold". The value of everything we possess is determined directly by the amount of resources and effort we put into acquiring it. Think of it this way. If you buy a car for $25,000, what is the real value of it? Look at all the time you must spend at work to make the monthly payments. Consider all of the added expenses associated with the new car, insurance, maintenance, fuel and the list goes on. I see people literally become slaves to their possessions and, in some cases, the possession slowly becomes their obsession and the center of their life to the exclusion of all else.

Since the 1950s, our televisions have been the prophets of our prosperous lifestyle. We have been brainwashed into believing that we need something to make us someone. Instead of our faith and deeds of kindness making a statement, our possessions speak for us. What message are we sending the world? Are we truly God’s children who worship and respect God and love and care for others like Jesus taught us? Or, are we children of the world only looking for the next thing that will give us the satisfaction of knowing that others envy us?

Paul, in the fourth chapter of his first epistle to the Thessalonians, writes, “11 Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. 12 Then people who are not believers will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others.

By living a quiet, simple life devoted to working with our hands and hearts, we tell the world that we are not to be counted with the masses. We have been called out to be not of this world. Remember, when we accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Savior and Lord of our life and followed him in believer’s baptism, we died to this world and arose to walk in newness of life. 

In chapter six of the second epistle to the Corinthians, Paul describes exactly how we are to be, “17 Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the LORD. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you.

We are to separate ourselves from those who are unbelievers and the things of this world. If we are to be welcomed by the Lord, we must not touch filthy things or continue to be a part of this sinful world.

I am not saying that you give up driving cars and start living in tiny homes. What I am saying is that those things should not be our statement to the world. Our love for one another and, most importantly, our desire and purpose in life to serve, worship and love our Heavenly Father just as Jesus taught us to should be our testimony to the world that we are different and that we no longer hold on to the things of this world.

In Mark 8, Jesus calls out to a crowd that has gathered around, “34 If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. 35 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. 36 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? 37 Is anything worth more than your soul?

Jesus asks a great question, “Is anything worth more than your soul?’

That question is something that each of us must answer. We must be willing to put aside the things of this world and live a life devoted to self-sacrifice and a life of service to God and to those in need and to those who are thirsty for the living water. 

In Matthew 5, Jesus tells the multitude who have gathered to hear him speak, “16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

When God blesses us with prosperity, it is not a testament to our hard work. It is a testament of God’s love and desire to provide for His children. We are, and will always be, nothing without Him in our lives. He is our Father and all that is good can only come from Him.

As you go through the week ahead, I ask each of you to examine your life. Are you doing as you are being commanded to do or are you hanging on to the old ways of this world? Do you live for Him or do you live for the things that will rust, fade away or be eaten by insects? In the end, what will people say about you when, as Shakespeare put it, “shuffle off this mortal coil”?

By living a simple, quiet life, we live a life like Jesus lived which is a life devoted to our Heavenly Father and to loving and caring for those around us. When we live this sort of life, we can easily and most definitely stand firm in His grace. 

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

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