We live in a time where it is rare to define anything as simple. From the constant buzzing of our emails and texts to the bigger concerns of our education, family, career and retirement plans, daily life is complicated. I think that’s why we like to take vacations and breaks out in nature, because nature reframes life as simple.
I believe God also wants to reframe our lives as simple. He places a high value on simplicity. He gives us relationships, prayer and his written word to help simplify our lives and emotions to the things that really matter.
So how do you simplify your life? You need to get beyond your to do list, your daily grind and your schedule, and get to what really matters – your faith.
Long ago God spoke in many different ways to our fathers through the prophets, in visions, dreams, and even face to face, telling them little by little about his plans. But now in these days he has spoken to us through his Son to whom he has given everything and through whom he made the world and everything there is. God’s Son shines out with God’s glory, and all thatGod’s Son is and does marks him as God.
Hebrews 1: 13 TLB
Long before there were churches or denominations or any kind of organized religions, there was just God desiring a relationship with his people. He would speak in visions and dreams, through prophets, floating fingers writing on walls, burning bushes, and even donkeys, expressing a desire for us to have faith in him. He would people tell his plan little by little. One would have to wait to see the whole picture. It is with time we learn and come to trust God. Faith is patient, faith is enduring, and faith is simple.
You can’t simplify something without thoroughly understanding it – if you do, you will get a simple solution that doesn’t reflect what was intended. Albert Einstein once said,
“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
So do you actually understand what it means to have faith? In order to simplify your life, you have to understand what faith actually is.
When we think of faith, we often think in terms of how faithful we feel in a given moment. For example, we say things like:
- I’m struggling with my faith
- I am unbelieving that my [friend, spouse, self] can change
- I had faith, but had a bad experience
But true faith isn’t measured by our feelings. True faith is what we believe about God, believing with God and believing in God. True faith is believing that God exists and he wants to have a relationship with us. True faith is believing that God’s final expression and measurement of the depth of his love, was through his son Jesus. It means that we believe Jesus shows us God’s care,
concern, faith, belief in us and his burning desire to be close.
Where is your faith in God today? No matter where you are at today, here are a few simple steps you can take to simplify your life by understanding and building your faith.
Faith Overcomes Fear
Since we, God’s children, are human beings—made of flesh and blood—he became flesh and blood too by being born in human form; for only as a human being could he die and in dying break the power of the devil who had the power of death. Only in that way could he deliver those who through fear of death have been living all their lives as slaves to constant dread.
Hebrews 2:14-15 TLB
Part of the reason Jesus came was to free us from fear. So when we give way to fear, we are no longer living by faith in the power of God. Are there any fears enslaving you right now? These are some common ones that I think grip us on a regular basis:
- Fear of rejection
- Fear of admitting need
- Fear of being honest- about sin, emotions, choices, thoughts, and desires . . . Not just what happened but why it happened.
We all know he did not come as an angel but as a human being—yes, a Jew. And it was necessary for Jesus to be like us, his brothers, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God, a Priest who would be both merciful to us and faithful to God in dealing with the sins of the people. For since he himself has now been through suffering and temptation, he knows what it is like when we suffer and are tempted, and he is wonderfully able to help us.
Hebrews 2:16-18 TLB
So let us come boldly to the very throne of God and stay there to receive his mercy and to find grace to help us in our times of need
Hebrews 4:16 TLB
A really important measure of our faith is how much we believe that God can help us deal with our sins and emotions. When we believe this about Jesus, we will not be afraid to be honest or humble.
So what step of faith can you take to overcome fear? Make a daily decision to be honest with your sins and seek God’s help to overcome them.
Faith Is A Response
Although God’s promise still stands—his promise that all may enter his place of rest—we ought to tremble with fear because some of you may be on the verge of failing to get there after all. For this wonderful news—the message that God wants to save us—has been given to us just as it was to those who lived in the time of Moses. But it didn’t do them any good because they didn’t believe it. They didn’t mix it with faith. For only we who believe God can enter into his place of rest. He has said, “I have sworn in my anger that those who don’t believe me will never get in,” even though he has been ready and waiting for them since the world began.
Hebrews 4:1-3 TLB
Some of us may fail to get to heaven or get an eternal relationship with God. This scripture is not talking to those who try and fail, but to those who fail to try. The Israelites heard and understood the message but did not combine it with faith. They chose not to believe what God said.
When you rely on yourself, your wisdom, your efforts, or your experience, you push God right out of the equation. Sometimes we do this because we think we can simplify our lives if we can just control everything in them. But life does not get simpler because you take control, it actually gets harder. Life is unpredictable and when we are unbelieving we will live our lives reactionary to every up and down.
What do you count on more - prayer or your abilities?
Christ is useless to you if you are counting on clearing your debt to God by keeping those laws; you are lost from God’s grace. But we by the help of the Holy Spirit are counting on Christ’s death to clear away our sins and make us right with God. And we to whom Christ has given eternal life don’t need to worry about whether we have been circumcised or not, or whether we are obeying the Jewish ceremonies or not; for all we need is faith working through love.
Galatians 5:4-6 TLB
Faith is not an emotion, it’s a decision to respond to what God says because you believe his promises. Faith is evident in our lives; it is a decision to love. The amount we are willing to love reflects our faith; when we believe, we will sacrifice, serve and love because we believe Jesus has done the same for us.
We become more loving when we have more faith. Take a step of faith and daily pray to combine lessons you are learning in life with faith.
Faith Comes From God’s Word
Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”
John 6: 29 NLT
It takes work to have faith. How much work do put into prayer and listening to God’s word over your emotions?
Let us do our best to go into that place of rest, too, being careful not to disobey God as the children of Israel did, thus failing to get in. 12 For whatever God says to us is full of living power: it is sharper than the sharpest dagger, cutting swift and deep into our innermost thoughts and desires with all their parts, exposing us for what we really are. 13 He knows about everyone, everywhere. Everything about us is bare and wide open to the all-seeing eyes of our living God; nothing can be hidden from him to whom we must explain all that we have done.
God’s word is full of living power. It will change your life. And it doesn’t just happen once; it will change your life daily. It cuts to our innermost thoughts and exposes who we really are.
Why don’t we like reading the Bible? We often don’t like it because we don’t want to be exposed. We like our secrets. We like our presentations. We like control.
But faith comes from embracing the truth of who the Bible says we are and who God is. Giving up control over our image is actually freeing and can help us be truly close to God and people around us.
What does it look like to really work on your faith?
- Reading lots of the Bible – Think about what your greatest influence is on you each day (job,
school, pleasure, pressure, stress).
- Applying the scriptures daily – Decide to change based on what the Bible exposes in you.
- Using the scriptures daily in your life and relationships – Keep in clear focus what this is for; it’s not to be perfect or a good person, but God wants to be close to you and wants you to love him and the people around you.
Decide to read the Bible daily to influence how you feel, think, what you invest in, and what you believe.
When we focus on our faith we will find that everything else matters less. Begin to take these steps of faith today and you will begin to simplify your life.