With all of these pressures and at this breakneck speed, it’s little wonder even our spiritual lives take a hit. If the weight of the world is affecting your walk with the Lord, maybe now’s the time to step back, evaluate, take a deep breath, and simplify.
Although life was less hectic when Jesus walked the earth, He still faced incredible challenges and suffered agonizing trials, but there was a simplicity in his relationship with his Father that we can use as an example of how to simplify our lives. Simplifying your life can result in you feeling just like you do after a “make over”, a day at the spa, or a long relaxing vacation. When you start living your new simplified life you will be able to balance all the stuff this world can throw at you and still maintain the relationships that you cherish with friends, family, associates, and with God. It’s time to stop, take a deep breath and simplify..
Overcome Your Fears
The first step in simplifying your life is overcoming your fear. The fear of failure; the fear of being alone, the fear of not having enough, the fear of whatever. It doesn’t really matter how much you clean up your calendars, simplify your relationships or your finances, when fear strikes, all bets are off. You can put on a facade of confidence but fear will paralyze you and destroy that facade.
2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV) For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
Fear is destructive; God doesn't want you to live with a spirit of fear. He wants you to live with the spirit of power, love, and a sound mind—a disciplined thought pattern. He wants to help you conquer the debilitating, paralyzing, worries and fear that hold you back.
It’s God’s will that you live free from fear, and that you experience peace. When you face your fears God shows up. The bible, God’s Word, is full of references of God’s desire for a fear-free, peace-filled world and life for you. His promises are key to conquering your fear. Here are a few.
1 Peter 5:6-7 (NKJV)6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
1 John 4:18 (NKJV) There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.
Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV) Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.'
John 16:33 (NKJV) These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."
Romans 8:15 (NKJV) For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father."
What fears are you facing today? Search for a Scripture that offers you comfort and courage; write it down and put it where you can see it.
So many people are depressed and discouraged today because their focus is on themselves and on their present circumstances. They are pre-occupied with their problems--what they don’t have and what’s wrong with them. They don’t realize it, but they’re allowing the enemy to steal their hope. This negative frame of mind keeps you from moving forward in life. Your focus is all wrong.
Luke 10:38-42 (HCSB)38 While they were traveling, He entered a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home.39 She had a sister named Mary, who also sat at the Lord’s feet and was listening to what He said.40 But Martha was distracted by her many tasks, and she came up and asked, “Lord, don’t You care that my sister has left me to serve alone? So tell her to give me a hand.”41 The Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things,42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her.”
What Martha was doing was not wrong;, in fact she was preparing a meal and making sure that her guests were being well taken care of. She was being a great hostess. The fact that her sister wasn’t helping her was causing stress and anxiety. If I am cleaning the house for somebody coming over, mopping the floors, vacuuming, cleaning up the bathroom and Ruth is sitting listening to gospel music or even reading her bible and we are expecting our guest in 30 minutes I may be a little upset..
Martha's focus on tangible, practical issues masked the deeper questions she wrestled with: Why am I the only one working to make things better? Why do people ignore me? Why don't other people follow the rules? Why am I always worried? Is it okay to enjoy things? Jesus knew this, so when Martha confronted him in exasperation, He paid attention to her. He heard her words, but more than that, He heard her heart. He redirected her focus, calling her out of her circumstances: “but few things are needed—or indeed only one” (Luke 10:42). The one thing she needed was Him.
Like Martha, the answer to simplifying your life and becoming the new you is to focus all your attention, thought and worship on Jesus. He is the only one who provides lasting purpose to fulfill your deepest desires.
Hebrews 12:2 (HCSB) keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.
Paul gives you an example of someone working hard and focusing on something that in the end doesn’t really mean anything when you consider eternity.
1 Corinthians 9:24-25 (NKJV)24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.
In Paul’s day, instead of giving gold medals for winning first place in an Olympic event, a crown of olive or laurel leaves was placed on the winner’s head. By the time the athlete went home that night, the wreath would already be wilting and falling apart. Think of that. All that energy expended for a wreath that didn’t last beyond the day.
1 Corinthians 9:26-27 (NKJV)26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
Paul contrasts this with putting your efforts into running a race of another kind—a race that advances the purposes of God in the world. If you enter into that race and you run hard, God will give you a wreath that doesn't perish, an eternal crown, a reward that doesn't wilt, but that lasts forever.
Take a look at your focus. Is it in the right place? Or is the pace you’re keeping causing you to drift and your focus becoming blurred? Are you running after something that is fleeting, that won’t last?
Look to God’s Word for things that will help you to focus and simplify your life. Something that will keep you focused on where you need to invest your time, energy and gifts. Choose a scripture and make it your own.
Here are some suggestions:
Psalm 27:4 (NKJV) One thing I have desired of the LORD, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD, And to inquire in His temple.
Philippians 3:12-14 (NKJV)12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
Proverbs 16:3 (NKJV) Commit your works to the LORD, And your thoughts will be established.
Isaiah 50:7 (NKJV) "For the Lord GOD will help Me; Therefore I will not be disgraced; Therefore I have set My face like a flint, And I know that I will not be ashamed.
Colossians 3:2 (NKJV) Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.
Ecclesiastes 9:10 (NKJV) Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.
If you don't already have a scripture of your own that you can lean on to focus you and none of the scriptures in this post or this series works for you take a look at My Picks at the end of this and the other posts in the series.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NKJV)1 To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:2 A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted;3 A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up;4 A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance;5 A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;6 A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away;7 A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak;8 A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace.
In this scripture there are twenty-eight seasons. You are likely to experience everyone of them in your lifetime. To simplify your life you need to recognize the season you’re in right now-- identifying it bring clarity. When you identify it you are more likely to notice God’s hand in it, able to learn the lessons He wants you to learn, and to maximize the spiritual growth opportunities in your current season.
There’s a reason for every season in your life. When you’re in a hard season you want out of it and you try things to help you get through it. Some of those things like, alcohol, drugs, food, busyness won’t help. It’s easy to want to escape the discomfort, and ignore reality. If you’re a Christian, God is continually working to refine your character and make you more like Jesus. He has things to teach you, especially in the uncomfortable, painful seasons of your life. Learn all you can during them.
Romans 8:28-29 (NKJV)28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
You aren’t in your current season by accident. God’s hand is in it, and there’s a purpose for it. Once you realize it you won’t cling to this season if it’s a comfortable one and the next one is difficult. You’ll be willing to eagerly step into the new season.
Here are some the the things that the bible says about moving forward into you new seasons.
Isaiah 43:18-19 (NKJV)18 "Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old.19 Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert.
Psalm 32:8 (NKJV) I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
Deuteronomy 1:6-8 (NKJV)6 "The LORD our God spoke to us in Horeb, saying: 'You have dwelt long enough at this mountain.7 Turn and take your journey, and go to the mountains of the Amorites, to all the neighboring places in the plain, in the mountains and in the lowland, in the South and on the seacoast, to the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon, as far as the great river, the River Euphrates.8 See, I have set the land before you; go in and possess the land which the LORD swore to your fathers--to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob--to give to them and their descendants after them.'
Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV) For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV)6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Psalm 37:5-6 (NKJV)5 Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.6 He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday.
The Legacy of a Simplified Life
There’s no point in simplifying your life if you’re headed to an end that doesn’t matter to begin with. Solomon, who the bible says was the wisest man who ever lived is our example of that person who seemingly had it all but when he died his kingdom ended and was split in two. We’ve seen similar empires crumble. Remember Blockbuster, Lehman Brothers, Enron --- all multi-billion dollar companies. We have the option of learning from Solomon’s mistakes. Don’t get to the end of your life and realize you spent your one and only life on this earth on distractions.
With limitless wealth at his disposal, Solomon tried to find satisfaction with the fervency of a world class athlete. He recorded his findings in the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes—twelve chapters about what matters and what doesn't matter. He records what will satisfy you and what will leave you feeling as if all you did with our life was chase the wind.
Ecclesiastes 2:17-23 (NKJV)17 Therefore I hated life because the work that was done under the sun was distressing to me, for all is vanity and grasping for the wind.18 Then I hated all my labor in which I had toiled under the sun, because I must leave it to the man who will come after me.19 And who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will rule over all my labor in which I toiled and in which I have shown myself wise under the sun. This also is vanity.20 Therefore I turned my heart and despaired of all the labor in which I had toiled under the sun.21 For there is a man whose labor is with wisdom, knowledge, and skill; yet he must leave his heritage to a man who has not labored for it. This also is vanity and a great evil.22 For what has man for all his labor, and for the striving of his heart with which he has toiled under the sun?23 For all his days are sorrowful, and his work burdensome; even in the night his heart takes no rest. This also is vanity.
Be careful where you pin your hopes and dreams. It’s not simply the risk that those things might not satisfy—which is scary enough. It’s the risk that they might disappear altogether. Even if you’re successful and build something great---when you retire or die, then what? It could all turn to dust in a heartbeat. All your time and effort could end up blowing in the wind.
Matthew 6:33 (NKJV) But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
When Jesus said this He meant just what it says. Our priority is to seek the things of God over everything else. That means that first we are to seek salvation because that in itself is greater than all the riches in the world. It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do the things that help to sustain our physical lives, but it does mean that our focus should be on God and His kingdom and not those things. If our priority is “taking care of God’s business--seeking His salvation, living in obedience to Him, sharing the gospel with others--then He will take care of “our business”. If you keep that attitude there is no need to worry.
How do you know you are seeking God’s God’s kingdom first? Ask yourself these questions.
- Where do I spend my time and energy?
- Is all my time and money spent on goods and activities that perish, or in the services of God—the results of which live on for eternity?”
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NKJV)16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Believers who have learned to truly put God first may then rest in this holy dynamic: “…and all these things will be given to you as well.”
God has promised to provide your every need. God’s idea of what you need may be different from yours and His timing may conflict with yours and sometimes we may suffer loss. If that happens remember Job who God allowed Satan to devastate, but in the end God restored him with double what he lost.
Job 1:2-3, 13-19 (NKJV)2 And seven sons and three daughters were born to him.3 Also, his possessions were seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred female donkeys, and a very large household, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the East. - 13 Now there was a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother's house;14 and a messenger came to Job and said, "The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them,15 when the Sabeans raided them and took them away--indeed they have killed the servants with the edge of the sword; and I alone have escaped to tell you!"16 While he was still speaking, another also came and said, "The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants, and consumed them; and I alone have escaped to tell you!"17 While he was still speaking, another also came and said, "The Chaldeans formed three bands, raided the camels and took them away, yes, and killed the servants with the edge of the sword; and I alone have escaped to tell you!"18 While he was still speaking, another also came and said, "Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother's house,19 and suddenly a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people, and they are dead; and I alone have escaped to tell you!"
Job 42:10-13 (NKJV)10 And the LORD restored Job's losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.11 Then all his brothers, all his sisters, and all those who had been his acquaintances before, came to him and ate food with him in his house; and they consoled him and comforted him for all the adversity that the LORD had brought upon him. Each one gave him a piece of silver and each a ring of gold.12 Now the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; for he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand yoke of oxen, and one thousand female donkeys.13 He also had seven sons and three daughters.
If you follow God’s Word it’s going to lead you toward a path of to freedom and focus on God and His kingdom. You’ll be in a relationship with Jesus Christ. You’ll believe His promises. You’ll know that He has a place prepared for you. You’ll anticipate it and that leads to that sense of peace.
This kind of simplified life will not only affect you but your children, if you have any, and those people you have touched. You may never know some of them. The legacy of your simplified life will also affect the people touched by those you touched. That’s how God has designed the way He blesses us. That will be the legacy of your simplified life.
The Starting Place
If you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior then you have taken the first step in seeking first the Kingdom of God and simplifying your life. If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus you need to establish that first. That’s the first step in seeking the Kingdom of God. Here’s what you need to do:
Romans 10:9 (NKJV) that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
Pray this prayer in all sincerity. It doesn’t matter where you are. You may be at you desk on your computer, or somewhere on your laptop, you may be reading this on your smartphone, or your tablet. It doesn’t matter just pray in all sincerity. Don’t just say it if you don’t really mean it, because if you do you will just be speaking words. But if you are tired of trying to change things in your own power, and are ready to turn your life over to the One who can make you a new creature with a renewed heart and mind pray;
“God, I know that I am a sinner. I know that I deserve the consequences of my sin. However, I am trusting in Jesus Christ as my Savior. I believe that His death and resurrection provided for my forgiveness. I trust in Jesus and Jesus alone as my personal Lord and Savior. Thank you Lord, for saving me and forgiving me! Amen!”
If you truly understand and believe what you just prayed then these promises of eternal life apply to you. So do all the other promises that God has made to believers. To find out what they are and how they apply to you find a bible believing church and start to fellowship with other believers. Welcome to the family of God my brother or sister.with