Simple Living – Straighter Paths

This is an outline and the questions from yesterday’s sermon – “Wise Living is Simple Living”

Introduction.
Simple living requires the wisdom of God.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight (NIV).
1. Christ may save us but we still often walk crooked paths.
When we choose to align ourselves with the wisdom of the world, we walk down crooked paths.
Crooked paths lead to frustration, despair, defeat, weakness, resentment, and joylessness.
2. Straight paths create simpler lives.
We can clutter our lives and divert our paths by the small decisions we make.
>> What we say and how we say it.
>> How we spend our money and how we earn it.
>> How we treat others.
>> How we live with our family.
>> How we live out our ambitions.
 Every decision has meaning.  Every choice makes an impact.  It can either simplify our life, or complicate it.
3.  Straight paths come from the wisdom of God.
God’s wisdom is not a natural endowment.  It is from above (James 1:5).
     A. I must trust Him with all my heart.
     James 1:6-8
 To ask “believing” is to ask with the full commitment to act.
Questioning may be good to gain understanding.  It is not good when we use it to justify our inaction or to make God prove Himself.
     B. I must acknowledge Him in all my ways.
 To acknowledge God is to recognize His presence.  It means we give Him the honor.  We yield to Him and His leadership because He is here.
We don’t give Him the religious part of our lives and not the secular part of our lives.  He is present in all areas of our lives and we must acknowledge that.
     C.  I must not lean on my own wisdom.
 We can’t think we know better!  If we do, we will make bad decisions which clutter our lives and create crooked paths.
Conclusion.  
We need to get off the crooked paths that complicate our lives.  It begins by recognizing that God has different paths for us to experience – straighter paths.  And those paths are part of a simpler life.
Sermon Questions 6/10/2012 : These questions were texted during the sermon.

Q1:  How can we distinguish between things to spend our money on or to be ambitious about which will straighten our paths and lead to fulfillment versus those which will make them more cluttered and crooked?
(answered life)  This a good question about two areas of our lives where can complicate our lives, money and ambition.  I will be speaking on each of these topics a little later in the summer.  Suffice it to say right now, that we have to allow God’s thinking and priorities to shape our lives.  Our lives will be on “straight paths” if we’re pursuing His desires for us.  If we begin to make money and life-purpose decisions outside of His values and priorities we will clutter our lives and our path becomes more crooked.  Studying the Word of God, building relationships with those who are wise in the ways of God and keeping a submissive spirit (an openness to be shaped), is vital.
Q2:  What if there seem to be multiple options that are valid choices in a given circumstance — do you think there is only ever one right choice?
(answered live) Yes, there are times when there is one right choice.  Our choices may look equal, but sometimes we need to dig beneath the surface.  Take the offer of two jobs, for instance.  One in a Christian organization, one in a secular organization…  you may be drawn to a Christian organization because of the sense of belonging, etc. that might be part of the workplace.  But your opportunity to impact lives for the Kingdom might be better in a secular workplace.  What is God calling you to do?  How does He want to use your gifts?  What will move His Kingdom forward?  On the other hand, you might need the support and need to give support to those in a Christian organization.  It takes discernment and that comes from above.  But let me also say, if you choose one and it seems to be a wrong choice, it doesn’t mean God can’t use that and somehow you are derailed from His will for the rest of your life.
Q3:  Through what lens should we view trusting God as a success in the midst of really hard times?  Many times those who trust go through the most difficult times, and many who don’t trust much are shaken by the hard times.
(answered live)  Job is the perfect example of the faithful person going through hard times.  Success and straight paths don’t mean easy paths.  They are just straight because they lead to the will of God for your life.  And sometimes God’s will is for us to struggle.  Because struggling with God transforms and changes us.  We need to change our definition of success.  Success is simply accomplishing God’s will for us.  And that sometimes brings great difficulty.  But, in the end, we know it also brings great reward.
Q4:  How do we prevent becoming bitter when the things making your life complicated are not of your own doing?
(answered live)  The straightness of our path is not really something others can affect.  We must trust in the Lord and acknowledge Him even in the midst of dealing with difficult people.  If God has allowed difficult people in your life, then you need His wisdom more than ever to know best how to handle it.  As we trust, understand and grow, we begin to see these circumstances as opportunities to exercise the wisdom of God and create a straighter path.  Bitterness toward others come when we think they’re controlling our situations.  And though they may affect us, if God is leading us, they are not in control.
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