When we are overwhelmed by the responsibilities of life or uncertain how to respond to the tragedies of life, we need to SIMPLIFY.
In a chaotic world, where we catch a glimpse of heaven and experience a glimpse of hell, we can learn to live for what matters when we SIMPLIFY.
At Gateway Church in Austin, we continued a series called Simplify.
You can work through the Next Steps for this message with your family or in a small group.
Below is the message I shared at Gateway South:
Eric Bryant | Simplify on Vimeo.
Here are Notes from the Message:
We all go through this existential crisis wondering about our identity, wondering about our purpose.
As children, our parents try to help us figure out who we are and as teenagers we try to assert who we are. Finally, as adults, we choose who we think we are. Some of us are still working on this.
As a child, my parents tried my parents tried to help me figure out if I would grow up to be an athlete, a scholar, or a politician.
In my teen years, I shifted my interest to music. Specifically, I wanted to be a rapper and part of a group like Run D.M.C. (See below). Later in high school, my taste shifted to rock and roll with my favorite bands being Stryper, Def Leppard, and Quiet Riot which led to this unfortunate yearbook photo.
Some of us have allowed others – our families, our bosses, our friends, or even our enemies to dictate who we are.
Others of us have found our identity and our purpose, but we find it hard to live this out. We default to the worst version of ourselves.
In this final week of our Simplify series, if we can answer the following questions, we can really simplify our lives!
- Who am I?
- Why am I here?
If we know who we are then we can say “no” to opportunities that don’t fit us rather than clutter up our lives.
If we know why we are here, then we can focus on our purpose rather than get distracted or even overwhelmed
So how do we simplify our lives?
Many of us do too much. We work too much, we buy too much, we eat too much. We need to address the external realities that need simplification.
We do have responsibilities though. Life is demanding and a well-lived life can be VERY demanding.
So our mission in this simplify series is not just the less is more approach, even though that certainly comes to play.
Our mission is how do we live…truly live…simple lives in the midst of our realities and responsibilities? How do we do that?
- Be focused.
- Be Content.
- Be Rested.
- Today, Be You.
In week one, we talked about Being Focused.
Rather than trying to juggle everything, we take all of our responsibilities and entrust them to God. Then we allow Him to guide us to focus on one responsibility at a time. When we walk humbly with God – aware of our need for His help – we are in a position to bring kindness and justice to the world around us.
In week two, Robb Overholt talked about Being Content.
Rather than trying to fill our lives with materialism or alcohol or television or work, we allow God’s love to fill our lives.
In week three, we looked at Being Rested.
I shared 5 ways to learn to rest – taking a Sabbath, eliminating hurry from our lives, learning to say “no,” becoming generous, and praying slowly.
I love this idea that Rick Shurtz shared:
We have all the time we need to get done what God wants us to get done on any given day.
We may not have time to fulfill our own agenda, but we have plenty of time to fulfill all God has asked us to fulfill.
The Scriptures give us an idea of God’s design for our lives:
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart….”
Psalm 139: 13-17
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!
Consider for a moment:
- What if this is true of you?
- What if the Creator of the Universe created you on purpose and for a purpose?
- What if God truly knows you and His thoughts about you were beyond our ability to count?
Think of all the time we could save and all the heartache we could avoid and all the clutter we could eliminate, if we could know the One who knows us better than we do and discover who we are meant to be!
I realize that not everyone here has the same understanding of who God is.
- Some of you may be here just to be nice to someone you care about.
- Some of you aren’t sure there is a God. Some of you believe there is a God, but you don’t believe He can be known.
- Some of us see Jesus as someone who gives great advice.
- Some of us see Jesus as God revealed in human form and the Source of Life.
For just the next few minutes, no matter where you may be on your spiritual journey, I want you to have an open heart and an open mind.
Even if you follow Jesus wholeheartedly, consider for a moment, what if we came to the place where
- we stopped trying to be someone we aren’t.
- we stopped trying to please other people.
- we stopped trying to impress others.
- we stopped being afraid of others.
- we stopped trying to pursue our own selfish interests.
What if you could become truly and uniquely You?
Kenny Conley, our NextGen Pastor at Gateway North (Gateway McNeil) says it this way:
“Be the me He sees.”
Our Heavenly Father sees you so differently than you see yourself.
You were created on purpose and for a purpose!
So today I want to talk about how we can “Be the Me He Sees.” For those who follow Jesus, you can experience this when you remember that You are His, You are Holy, and You Need Community.
You are His.
We were created in the image of God, but we live in a broken world.
In His love, God pursues us, and He gives us freedom to follow Him or reject Him.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork (masterpiece), created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
To become the best version of ourselves requires His help.
To become the masterpiece He has in mind and to do the good He has prepared in advance for us to do requires trusting Him.
It is by God’s grace through faith that we are connected to God!
Grace is the love He has for us that we do not deserve. His love for us is real and true even though we do not deserve it. He pursues us and even helps us believe! In fact, He puts us in the exact moment in history and place on this planet where we have the best opportunity to experience His grace and discover His love so we say “yes” to trusting Him by faith.
Consider this remarkable passage:
From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’
We cannot work our way to God, but we do not have to do so because He came to us. That is the essence of the Christmas story – the Creator of the Universe becoming human – a baby born of a virgin who grew up to heal people, to teach with authority, to perform miracles, to live a life without sin so that He might take on our suffering. By dying on the cross, Jesus took on Himself all of the wickedness of humanity. He became the ultimate sacrifice for us all. By raising from the dead, He proved He was more than a good person or a good teacher or a prophet. He was as He said He was – the Messiah, the One who can rescue us. Only He can restore the image of God in us as was intended!
Colossians 1:13-20 (ESV)
Jesus has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible… And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
Jesus transfers us from the domain of darkness into Christ’s Kingdom – an invisible Kingdom where there are no boundaries. A Kingdom that is advanced by faith, love, and hope – not by violence or war. Christ’s Kingdom welcomes all – no matter what they may look like or where they may be from or how they may vote or how much money they have or don’t have.
It takes humility to say “yes” to Jesus.
Religion is our attempt to do enough good that we do not need God’s help. We see ourselves as good enough that we don’t need forgiveness.
Or we choose to define God as we would like. We see Him as we want to see Him rather than allowing Him to reveal Himself to us as He really is.
Instead of religion or putting God into a box, we can experience the fullness of life when we stop trying and start trusting.
There is so much freedom when we just come to Him and rest. We let Him rescue us instead of trying to rescue ourselves.
This is true for all of us. Today could be the day you stop pushing and working and hustling. For the first time, today could be the day you choose to put your faith in the work Jesus has done on your behalf rather than trusting in your work.
Or maybe you have surrendered your life to God. You have accepted Jesus’ sacrifice as something you need. But you’ve wandered away. Maybe you’ve shifted from what God wants for your life to what you want. He hasn’t answered prayers the way you wanted or when you wanted. You’ve slipped back into your own ways rather than God’s ways.
To discover who God intended you to be means entrusting your life to Him – your past, your regrets, your thoughts, your actions, your hopes, your dreams – all to Him.
When we surrender our lives to Jesus – we are transformed! His Holy Spirit comes to live within us and guide us and help us be who God intends.
You are holy.
In Christ, our position has changed. We have been transferred from the domain of darkness to the Kingdom of the Light of the World!
An authentic and real relationship with God begins “by grace through faith” AND we continue to live this new life “by grace through faith.”
When we say “yes” to Jesus “by grace and through faith” – we acknowledge we need Him to save us.
To live “by grace through faith” means we acknowledge we need Him to help us live.
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
So what does this mean? How do we pull off this new life?
When we do something we regret. Ask God for forgiveness and remember you are His and you are holy! That is the old you trying to creep back into your life and drag you back into the darkness.
When we have thoughts that are dark, take those thoughts tempted! Those are not the new you! That’s the darkness trying to trick you into defaulting back to the old self and to the ways of the world.
Remember: it is not a sin to be tempted. Our response determines whether we are heading.
We should use temptation as a reminder to pray and quote Scripture to get us back in alignment.
If you feel far away from Jesus then quote Him – remind yourself
You Need Community.
Some of you, Gateway is where you first experienced community in a life-changing way! For the first time you felt others accepted you, loved you, and even cared enough to have hard conversations with you to help you in your journey. Some of you have discovered that God can use you as an encouragement in the life others. You’ve found community as you’ve served others with others!
A loving community is both inclusive
and willing to have hard and honest conversations.
Here’s what is exciting to me!
I am a better person because of you. Your encouragement. Your gentle rebukes. Your example in giving and serving. My family and I are growing closer to Jesus because of you!
We need others in our life to help us stop living in the darkness and to continue living in the Light!
In addition, there are people in your life right now that will experience the fullness of life in Jesus through you!
In our new building:
- Children will discover a relationship with Jesus and grow up and choose a different path than their parents did – avoiding some of the same pitfalls and pain and heartache.
- Teens will learn to hear God’s voice.
- College students will discover their calling.
- Singles who are wanting to be married will find their soul mate.
- Couples’ marriages will be healed, and they will bring healing to other couples.
- Adults will discover life and freedom in Jesus and bring that life and freedom to their neighbors, co-workers, family, and friends!
To help you as you pray about your involvement, check out the following:
The Website – www.life24seven.org
The Pledge Card
Be praying as we bring our pledges to Gateway South this Sunday!
Yeah!!! Video from South Campus Service!!