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Simple Living Study #5, #6 Joy, Rest, and some other bits March 12, 2015

Posted by P, J, or J in Uncategorized.
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If you’ve already read four posts about Simple Living,

you might be interested in more, so here in one bumper blog are the remaining notes from the series – days 5, 6, a conclusion, something deeper, and a few extra readings.

This time I’ve not included the scripture text in the blog post or even linked to it but I’m sure you can find your way around http://bibles.org , your own favourite Bible site or app, or even go old school and use a print version.


Day 5: Overflowing joy

Prepare

Don’t hurry on to the reading this morning. Think of a time in church where you really felt close to God in worship. Imagine yourself there again. Call to mind the thoughts and feelings as love and joy and thankfulness fill your heart to overflowing.

 

Read 2 Cor 8:1-7

Read verse 2 again. Giving is more beneficial to the giver when flows out of joy than when it is comes grudgingly out of guilt. There is often more to benefit the recipients too.

Many churches and charity fundraisers could do well to remember the phrase “God loves a cheerful giver”. 2Cor 9

That does not mean that Tearfund posters can only show smiling faces or that Comic Relief is more righteous than Children in Need. People often do give more when they are happy and churches need to be careful of not exploiting this by merely hyping up the worship before a collection.

Never think that by giving more you will become happier, or that the joy God gives has to be paid for. Recognise instead that joy naturally overflows into generosity.

Some of the early churches responded spontaneously to those in need but Paul was not afraid to remind and encourage other congregations. In the first letter to the Corinthians Paul encouraged a system of regular giving. If he were writing to UK taxpayers today he would probably have asked them to fill in a Gift Aid form as well.

Respond

Think about what your church is doing to support others with the money you give. Remember Christ as you give and to praise God for his indescribable gift.


Day 6: Knowing your limits

Prepare

Think of a neighbour who is all alone. Where was the last flood? Name a country torn apart by war. What kinds of trade exploit the poor? When was the last earthquake?

What was your last chance to do some good?

Now take a deep breath and rest. There are over 6 billion people on this planet. They are not all your responsibility.

Read

Luke 5:12-16

Jesus took time away from the crowds. He needed time to pray, and to rest and to relax. He didn’t heal everyone. He didn’t preach in every town.

Everything he did was done in obedience to the Father. He healed, he taught the crowds, he trained the disciples.

Overcommittment is not the greatest problem in our churches but there are a few Christians who need to learn to to less.

Unable to say “no” some people are sucked into every job that needs doing. When the task is worthwhile it feels good to be busy. God often grants us energy and enthusiasm beyond what we might expect. We are meant to work hard but we are not meant to work every waking hour, seven days a week.

Our faith is meant to lead to works. Our works are not meant to lead to ill health or family breakdown. Our value is neither in what we own, nor in what we do. Rather our value is rooted in our relationship to our Father God through Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.


Conclusion

The final command.

If life seems too complicated then here is the whole thing summed up.

Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John10.10)

True meaning, true value, true happiness is found in Jesus.

The Bible is a complex story of God’s relationship with humankind. Jesus summed up it’s teaching in two sentences:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind. “, and “love your neighbour as yourself” (Matt 22:37-40)

His final command, was “go and make disciples of all nations”. The command had a promise attached.

“…and surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age”.

Many of us would benefit from simplifying our lives and freeing ourselves from things that distracts us from drawing closer to God.

There are many good books written on how and why we should simplify our lives. There are many books, songs, CD’s, and seminars, to help us get closer to God.

Our society is rich not only in money and possessions that could lead us away from Christ, but also in the resources to help us grow spiritually.

When Jesus said “do not worry about what you will eat”, he wasn’t talking calorie controlled diets. For at least half the world life is a daily struggle for survival. For hundreds of millions of people food is scarce and security is just the name given to the soldiers.

One last exercise: Write a list of ways you would like to do more for people in the rest of the world if only you had the time and money. Write a second list of the things that do occupy your time and your money.

The next step is up to you.


Going Deeper

The message of advertising is simple “buy and be happy”. If you have access to a dictionary of quotations look what other people have said about money and possessions.

Here are a couple of interesting ones:

Few people have the spiritual resources to be both wealthy and godly” Erwin W Lutzer

“Feel for others – in your pocket” CH Spurgeon

“When I have any money, I get rid of it as quickly as possible, lest it find a way into my heart.” John Wesley

If you really want to be challenged take a while to explore a few of the things Jesus and the writers of the Old and New Testaments had to say Commit a couple of these to memory or read more from the list below*.

“He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honours God” Pr 14:31

“…give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, `Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.” Pr 30:8-9

“a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Luke 12:15

There are always opportunities to store up treasure in heaven but so many pressure to seek treasures on earth. Let God’s word and a heart that longs for him guide you. Don’t just say you love him. Put your money where your mouth is.

*There are plenty more references throughout the Bible. Here are just a sample

Ex 23:6, Deut 15, Pr14:31, Ps14:6, Ecc 5:12, Is 3:14, Is 10:3, Jer 22:3, Jer 17:11, Ezek 16:49, Mt 13:44, Lk 4:18, Lk 12:33, Gal 2:10, 1 Tim 6:3-10 , Heb 11:26, Rev 3:17, Rev 18:14

Here are a few alternative quotations to the ones above,

“Every crowd has a silver lining.”- PT Barnum

“When money speaks, the truth is silent ” – Russian proverb

“Sad is the man who has nothing but money” – Jewish proverb

He who serves God for money will serve the devil for better wages – English proverb

God will not merely judge us on the basis of what we gave but also on the basis of what we did with what we kept for ourselves. – Ewin W Lutzer

“If your riches are yours, why don’t you take them with you to the other world?” Benjamin Franklin


Extra reading:  Test yourself

 Read Ephesians 4:28

Where do you fall in the following three levels of Ephesians 4:28. Level 1: you can steal to get; level 2: you can work to get; level 3: you can work to get in order to give.

Too many Christians live on level two working to get and keep. Almost all of the forces of our culture urge them to live on level two. But the Bible pushes us relentlessly to level three. “God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance…” Why? “… So that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work” (2 Cor. 9:8). That’s level three: enough for us; abundance for others.

From “Carnal Cash into Kingdom Currency – Paul’s Word to the Rich” by John Piper. Fourteen years ago the full article was available at www.desiringGOD.org but they seem to have done some reorganizing since then.


I hope you’ve found something in all the notes, and the scriptures to challenge and encourage you. You might even have been one of the people who read them first in Closer to God back in 2001. I suspect printed Bible study notes are on the decline as people move more and more to apps and online resources but whatever you use to keep engaging with God though his word I pray that you do indeed find joy, rest and some other bits to help you in your walk.

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