November 1, 2009
New Living Translation
Oh For the Simple Life…
Reading of Ecclesiastes 5:8-15
The Lord be with you:
And also with you
Let us pray…
Our Loving God, we pray for your Spirit to be with us today as we gather to hear your word. We pray that you would give us the vision that you have for our lives so that we may follow the path you have laid before us. Help us to be more like you Son Lord Jesus Christ. Speak Lord…your children are listening.
Today we are celebrating “All Saints Day”…we are celebrating those Saints that have gone before us as well as those that are still with us, showing us an example of how to live our lives. These Saints have left a lasting impression on our lives. They have shown us Christ within our midst. I am so thankful for the Saints that have been and those who still are in my life. They have helped me on my journey with Christ.
Today not only are we celebrating the Saints gone by and among us, we are also embarking on a Spiritual journey together. We are beginning to learn more about how God would have us act and how we should live our lives. The sermon series we are sharing together by Adam Hamilton “Enough…Discovering Joy Through Simplicity and Generosity” and I am truly excited. I am looking forward to learning about how to live a simpler, generous life, one that I can become more of a blessing to those around me.
You see…one of the things that I admire about these Saints we are celebrating is the simpler life that they lived and still do…A life that is rooted and grounded in Christ. Look at people like Mother Theresa…Gandhi…Missionaries…John and Charles Wesley…the people of the first church…just to name a few. Have you ever been to the Shaker Village on Strawberry Bank? Just to see their simplistic life is inspiring to me.
The American dream, as we know it, has turned into the American nightmare. We live in a world that the more stuff we have, the more successful we are seen in the eyes of those around us. We fight for what we think we need and when we get it, we want more. It’s not “enough”. We want what we want and we want it now! No waiting…we don’t have time for that…we have to get more stuff. In Adam Hamilton’s book “Enough”, he gives a good description of society’s problem. Our society suffers from two very sinful illnesses…viruses so to speak:
1. Affluenza→ we have a need for bigger and better stuff. We all have been infected with this disease at some level. Look at the commercials during children’s shows. It’s almost Christmas and “Big Business” is spreading the disease to our children. Have you seen some of the commercials they have been showing? Gotta have this toy…it’s improved and better than before, don’t be the only kid on the block that doesn’t have one…the girls have come to me and have said that they need this or that and when I ask why they need it so bad the response is “Well…so and so has it. I want it too.” Even our children need to “keep up with the Jones’” never mind we as parents needing to keep up.
2. Credit-itis→ we are able to buy things and pay for them later…we are given an opportunity to buy things that we may not have normally bought for the lack of money. Now…we can have whatever we want…we can go past our need and have the “really good things in life.” We can have instant gratification. We can buy it now and work for it later. We don’t have to save up money anymore…we can get it on credit! We have the credit card companies just chomping at the bit to send us that credit card. We can now have that bigger and better stuff. But at what cost? Remember the story in the bible about the “prodigal son”? He wanted it all and where did it lead him when he had it? It lead him to brokenness and despair…it lead him to realize what was important in life. What a teachable moment that was for his father…
What are we thinking…or maybe…we are not? Why do we do this to ourselves?
In Adam Hamilton’s book, he claims that there is a deeper problem that goes much beyond the surface of things. You see…he sees that there is a Spiritual issue within these viruses. We were made in God’s image but somehow is has become distorted. Instead of desiring God we have come to desire possessions. Instead of trusting in God for our security we find security in our stuff. We were meant to love our neighbor and help them but we have decided that competing with them would be a better course of action. We should be living that simple life but we have traded it for a life full of stress and business (you know…to get more stuff) and keeping all that stuff for ourselves.
He also claims that the Devil plays a role in all of this too. The Devil loves to play upon our sinful nature. All the Devil has to do is to keep convincing us we need to have that American dream (or should I say nightmare?), we can live life to the “fullest” now and pay for it later, besides…we’ll be dead before it’s pa.ied off anyway…by doing this we are robbed of our joy, we are made slaves to our stuff and we are not doing God’s will for our lives. But what are we to do? How can we stop this vortex…this black hole…of needing stuff?
There are two things that we need to do in order to begin to have that simpler life that I am sure we all long for:
1. We need a change of heart → We need to have a renewing of our heart each day. We should be on our knees each and every day praying for God to transform us into the person that we were meant to be…to take away our desire for stuff and change it into a desire for God…to help us be single-minded…Christ minded…in what we say and do.
2. We need to let Christ work in us → As Christ works in us we will begin to have a sense of a higher calling…a calling for a simpler life, one of faith and generosity. We will begin to look for different ways to spend our time and the resources that god has entrusted us with. We will desire and purse good financial practices so that we can be debt free...able to be in mission to the world around us…we exercise restraint in our lives…we will no longer want to keep up with the Jones’ and think it more important to keep up with what God wants us to do. We need to get back to the basics of life…one perfectly grounded in Christ.
Play Video “Basics of Life”
I would ask that you would pray with me. Sit right where you are…with your hands in your lap…palms up…and say this prayer with me…quietly, under your breath. “Change my heart, Oh God. help me to hold my possessions loosely. Help me to love you. Teach me simplicity. Teach me generosity and help me have joy. I offer my life to you. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.” (Adam Hamilton, “Enough”, pg 71)