Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Take Time Tuesdays....

Chapter 3 ~ "The World Is Too Much with Us"

"Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you." 1 John 2:15

"We Christians must simplify our lives or lose untold treasure on earth and in eternity. Modern civilization is so complex as to make the devotional life all but impossible. It wears us out by multiplying distractions and beats us down by destroying our solitude, where otherwise we might drink and renew our strength before going out to face the world again. " A.W. Tozer; early 1800s

As I began working on this week's study, I told myself that I was pretty good at "not loving the world"; living a fairly simple life (albeit hectic)... As I first read through the scripture and quote above, I just breezed through it. Yep. That is definitely a problem for people, isn't it? Then I read it again. And again. And again and again... Tozer's words stunned me ~ if that was his observation in the 1800s, what would he say about our life now? What would God say? Is that me? And then I began to wonder ~ how much do I love this world and what it offers? Do I love God more? Am I willing to lay aside this world, so the Father's love can flow into me and overflow through me? Are my human feelings a snare for me as I live for "now" instead of "for Him"? Wow! I have much more to work through than I originally thought. I did tell God I wanted to simplify my life, but my concept of what it would look like is completely different than what it is going to look like. In actuality, being a "woman of simplicity" is going to mean a MAJOR lifestyle adjustment!

I loved the new revelations I found this week:
  • Cynthia shares that on page 34, "God's Word clearly addresses our dilemma by reminding us not to love the world's ways or the world's goods, for when we do, we sacrifice our love for our Father. John cautions us because, "the world around us is under the control of the evil one" (1 John 5:19). The evil one delights in distracting us - whether it is preoccupation with an abundance of possessions or filling the world with technology that leaves little time to rest quietly in green meadows. How much we need to remember that this world is not our permanent home; we are only passing through (see Hebrews 13:14).
I never really thought about my life or life here on earth in this way before. Quite a different perspective, isn't it?! Humanly, it is very difficult to keep on focus on the temporary state of our time on earth and keep our eyes fixed on our ultimate and eternal prize - heaven! Certainly an area I struggle with...
  • "Our Lord did not teach detachment from other things: He taught attachment to Himself. Jesus Christ was not a recluse. He did not cut Himself off from society, He was amazingly in and out among the ordinary things of life; but He was disconnected fundamentally from it all. He was not aloof, but He lived in another world." Oswald Chambers
This is an area I have struggled with for many years. I love spending time with the Lord and living according to His Truths, but I stumble in trying to be in, but not of the world. I'm still not sure what that looks like or how it is lived out day-to-day. How thankful I am that God is still working on my life!

Anxiety and worry are discussed in this chapter. These are two big areas in my life in which God has been working on transformation for many, many years and I still haven't arrived yet! I'm getting better ~ worry less, trust more. I need to meditate more on His scriptures that reassure me the when I abide in Him, devote my life to Him, trust in Him ~ and resist the world ~ my life will be more fruitful! Anyone else challenged in this area? Anyone been completely set free from this?

Thoughts from an Older Woman: (page 39)
  • "My concern is that because the world is too much with us, we easily forfeit the blessing of living a God-paced life that has time for solitude and respite from our noisy world. It is our time spent quietly in His presence that transforms our minds and renews our strength to go back into the world to be the women He wants us to be."

This week ~ this is the cry of my heart. This is who I desire to be. It is NOT who I am today. I have forfeited much over my many years, but I don't want to continue along the same path. I may not be this tomorrow, but as I truly simplify my life and devote myself to Christ, it is who I can become!

I will admit that I really liked the visual picture of Psalm 4:6-8 (from The Message):
  • "Why is everyone hunger for more? "More, more" they say. "More, more." I have God's more-than-enough, more joy in one ordinary day than they get in all their shopping sprees. At day's end I'm ready for sound sleep, for You, God, have put my life back together."
  • "Many are asking, "Who can show us any good?" Let the light of Your face shine upon us, O Lord. You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound. I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety." NIV (same passage as above)
I'm beginning to really understand how our love for this world definitely gets in the way of "trying" to love our Heavenly Father. When in reality, choosing to love my Father first will cause the rest of my life to fall in pleasant places and I will not need to worry about the little details of daily life nor shall I need to scurry from "here to there" trying to gather what I think I need in this world... sigh.

I'm hoping to spend more time over the next week or so with this week's reflection and I hope to post additional thoughts later...

"We are not here to possess the world. We are here to show, by how we use the world, that Christ is more precious than the world. " John Piper

Abundant blessings dear ones! I will be traveling to and from Colorado; leaving later this week and returning next Tuesday ~ so I will not have a post next week. Have a glorious and bountiful Thanksgiving holiday celebration and I look forward to reading your comments. :)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Take Time Tuesdays...

Week 2 ~ Gracious Acceptance

"It requires the greatest effort and produces the greatest humility to receive anything from God; we would much sooner earn it." Oswald Chambers

Max Lucado wrote, "You are saved, not because of what you do, but because of what Christ did. And you are special, not because of what you do, but because of whose you are. And you are His." Amen!

"Good works are part of God's plan. They are not the price of salvation, but the proof. The believer is not saved as a result of good works; good works are the result of salvation. They are the result of God's working in the believer's heart. They are the evidence that He is alive from the dead. They are the proof of the glorious togetherness that exists between the believer and the Savior." John Phillips

"My heat is not proud, O Lord,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
But I have stilled and quieted my soul;
like a weaned child with its mother,
like a weaned child is my soul within me.

O Israel, put your hope in the Lord
both now and forevermore." Psalm 131

"His heart is not lifted up; his eyes do not look enviously and hungrily to the heights beyond him; he does not dwell in anxious, wearisome thought on matters which are best left alone; he concentrates his sympathies and his energies on that which demands his attention, and which is productive of good to himself and those around him; he is perfectly contented to be just what God has made him, to go where his Master sends him, to do what is placed in his hands to do. He is so far from thinking of himself essential to the prosperity of the Church and the redemption of the world, that he hopefully, and even confidently, leaves that in the care of the Supreme." E.R. Conder and W. Clarkson

Welcome to week 2 of our Becoming a Woman of Simplicity study! These are a few of the quotes and scripture verses that really snagged my heart this week... The Conder and Clarkson quote blows me away. Oh, to live life in such a way... Can I actually be transformed to that level?

Was your week quieter, simpler, more focused on Christ than the week before? Oh, how I desire to answer positively ~ but our life is still chaotic... However, I continually remind myself that this is a lifelong journey and continue focusing on the little steps of progress I make.

This week was especially wonderful for me, as I went through the study, for it reminded me that I am God's daughter, because He chose me and I accepted Him! For me, that visual picture was worth much to my heart!

Now, I am so excited to share a little discovery I made this week:

"For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In Love He predestined us to be adopted as his sons (and daughters) through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will - to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding." Ephesians 1:4-8 (my emphasis added)

Okay ~ I had an 'aha' moment when reading this and then felt overwhelmed to tears rereading this passage and realizing HOW MUCH He loves us and how AMAZING HIS GRACE is... Still trying to take it all in.

My revelation: "He chose us in Him BEFORE the creation of the world to be HOLY and BLAMELESS... Reading the Genesis account, I always thought Creation was first, but here it says that He already chose us in Him before the creation to be... Wow! We are all so important to God - so much more important than any of us truly realize. He considered us before He even created the world! Now, to me, that is very humbling and exciting ~ all at the same time!

Ephesians 2:10 was also exciting to read (again): "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." There is that message again ~ He was thinking of us even before we were born - preparing in advance the good works He wanted us to do during our lifetime... And yet, this work is not the price of our salvation, but the proof!

He is showing me the importance He places on His sons and daughters. Am I willing to place the same importance on my relationship with Him? With this new revelation, that importance level will be changing in my life. He has helped me to see a "new thing" in His Word!

Big questions this week:

  • As you study Matthew 11:28-30, how does taking Christ's yoke enable you to do good things God has planned for you?
My answer ~ He enables me to learn from Him; a humble and gentle heart (not forcing me to do the work). It's easy and not a burden; my soul will rest.

"Walk with Me and work with Me - watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythm of grace." Matthew 11:29 The Message

I really liked the phrase, "unforced rhythm of grace" too. It sounds so natural and easy, doesn't it?
  • If you truly respond to Christ's call and take His yoke, how will your life and service be different?I really had to think about this one a little... Hmmm....
Well, my thoughts are that it will be like breathing out and breathing in ~ a regular part of who I am. My life and service will be a natural extension of my relationship with our wonderful Heavenly Father!

I have a few more thoughts, but I'm going to end with another quote from Oswald Chambers, "Until I am wholeheartedly walking with God, He is not able to accomplish the special work He has for me. When I am abiding, then I no longer have to wonder if I am doing enough. God's plan is simple: He takes responsibility for my life and service; I take responsibility to maintain my concentration on God. And when there is nothing between Jesus and me, I can calm and quiet my soul and serve simply and purely in devotion to Christ."

Is this who I am? Is this who I truly desire to be? Am I making my devotion to Christ my main priority?

No, I'm not there yet ~ but I have a more clearly defined goal in my life now. How I pray that I spend the rest of my life pursuing it...

I'm looking forward to hearing your comments from this week's lesson. Abundant blessings upon each one of you!

And remember ~

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Take Time Tuesdays...


Going to be very honest with everyone ~ I've been tremendously busy this week and needed to finish a major project and I slid in under the wire to do this week's study. I did not spend as much time in the material as I would have liked to. That said, here are my insights:

Backing up to the Preface, I was struck by a couple of things the author shared ~
  • "God invites us to enter into His rest, to receive His peace, and to be still. It doesn't mean that life is not difficult or sometimes overwhelming, but it does mean that we can live with a deep, abiding sense that 'all is well with my soul'."
  • Simplicity is embracing that "a continual growing knowledge and intimacy with God is essential to being able to live a life that can at once be simple but profound enough to confront the recurrent challenges of daily life. Trusting and resting in God grants us inward simplicity that can then lead to an outward simplicity obtained by making wise choices in a complex world."
Wow! The Preface got my attention and it was already breaking down walls and redefining simplicity in a manner that seemed quite foreign to me. How could I live simply in a complex world? Can it really happen? I was hooked and wanted to know more...

"But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ." 2 Corinthians 11:3, NASB

"We simplify, not just to be less busy, even though we may be right to pursue that. Rather, we simplify to remove distractions from our pursuit of Christ. We prune activities from our lives, not only to get organized, but also that our devotion to Christ and service for His kingdom will be more fruitful. We simplify, not merely to save time, but to eliminate hindrances to the time we devote to knowing Christ. All the reasons we simplify should eventually lead us to Jesus Christ." Donald S. Whitney

I love this quote by Whitney! It made me stop and think... Why do I want to be a woman of simplicity? Do I want my life to be easier? Do I want more free time for activities that I enjoy? Is it because I feel overworked and I'm just tired? Did I really embark on this study, so I would simplify my life and have less distractions and be enabled to spend more time in my devotion to Christ; that my service would be more fruitful? The quote ends with, "all the reasons" - is this the end result of my reasons?

I would really like to answer a firm YES, but I realized it wasn't true... I'm not sure why I want simplicity. It does sound like a wonderful way to live. "Hi, I'm Joanie and I live a life of simplicity." It might make you jealous... In reality, I am tired. I do want my life to be easier. I do feel overworked and stressed and I want a vacation! But the more I pondered this quote and then worked through the first chapter, I realized how dearly I want simplicity so I can have more time to be devoted to Christ and hopefully become more fruitful in my service to His kingdom works (whatever He has for me to do). Okay ~ that's some major revelation! Shall we continue? Onward ladies...

After getting stopped at the quotes, I then began reading the first chapter with the intent to 'speed' through it and I turned the page, read a little more and then thought to myself, "I'm in big trouble here - so much is speaking to me!"

EMPTY PAGES? Do I have empty pages for God? Empty hours? Empty rooms? More often than not, I find myself caught up in too many worthy activities ~ as the author shares with us. It's only the first chapter and I feel like she's speaking directly to me. Do you feel like she's speaking to you too?

I am guilty of juggling too many worthy activities ~ absolutely guilty and I won't even deny it. And yes, too many activities have taken time away from my relationship with God. The author says, "My concern is that we live in a world where doing, communicating, and possessing so rule our lives that we have allowed even good things to overtake our time and distract from the best." I've accepted good, as being good enough when God has "the best" waiting for me...

Psalm 23:1-3 (from The Message) and on page 15 ~

God, my shepherd!
I don't need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
You find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to Your Word,
You let me catch my breath
and send me in the right direction.

Well, this certainly got my attention. In meditating upon Psalm 23, I found (b) in the discussion difficult to answer. What, for you, would be green meadows and peaceful streams? For me, I take those words literally. I want to live in the country where there is peace and quiet and a simpler way of life... Reading these verses from The Message does give me much to consider! He lets me 'catch my breath and sends me in the right direction.' Hadn't thought of it that way before. Hmmmmm. Definitely need to consider this more.

Did any of you struggle with the scriptures regarding "experiencing spiritual rest"?

Psalm 127:1-2
Isaiah 30:15
Matthew 11:28-30

The Isaiah passage hit me the hardest: "This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it." Ouch. I feel like I've learned so much over the years, but now I feel like I've been hit over the head with a 2x4. Why didn't I realize this sooner? I was too busy with worthy activities to focus on my pure devotion to Christ. Well, He has my attention now and I'm hearing the Words He is speaking into my life. I have a feeling my life is going to be making some big changes throughout this study and beyond...

The big question: Why do you think we are not willing or able to receive the Lord's quietness and rest?

For me ~ if I'm not doing then I'm not accomplishing anything. I've even told this to my doctor. My worth, my identity is in what I DO! If I'm spending time resting, I'm not getting things done that need to be accomplished and I feel I have fallen short. Wow! My perspective is really messed up, isn't it? I see I need a RENEWED way of thinking! Thank you Jesus for this study!

The second big question this week: Based on your study, so far, how would you evaluate your life in regard to having a restful spirit and a single-minded pursuit of the Lord? Write down what dulls your senses to His still, small voice and what helps you to hear Him as He leads you along the right path.

Dulling: My attention and energy is invested in too many different directions. It's difficult to give my full focus to one thing. I am irritated by my environment ~ city noise, loud music, commercial airport, aching muscles, etc. Focused on the "negatives" instead of the blessings in each day.

Help: When I spend time in His Word, spending time in His Creation (going for a walk, the beach, the countryside, the mountains) and being surrounded by fellow passionate Christians.

A few final thoughts...

The Message translation of Psalm 46:10 says, "Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God." (This grabbed my attention. Did it grab yours?)

Thoughts from an Older Woman ~ "Abiding is not an activity, it is a lifestyle."

This week's study challenged me. It made me think about what my priorities are in life. It made me realize that my motivations may not be from pure sources. It made me want to commit to this journey at a greater level and discover more of what God desires for me and to allow Him to transform my life.

Please leave your comments about what you got out of this week's study and let us know if you created a post on your own blog. (Next week I hope to have a Mr. Linky to make it easier to share your posts.) I'm so looking forward to embarking on this journey with you!

Abundant blessings dear friends!