A Little While 01

"But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions."
Matthew 19:22

Would you be willing to give up everything you owned to follow Jesus? That is a question none of us want to be confronted with. But that is the gospel because Jesus makes it real clear that in order to be His disciple, we must deny ourselves, take up our cross daily and follow Him. Jesus' question to this young man does not imply that he must give up everything to be saved, but it does serve as a litmus test regarding the young man's genuine interest in salvation. Here is where faith and feelings separate. If I was blessed to have a lot of possessions (and I think we all really are blessed to have far more than we need), I probably wouldn't feel like giving them away, even to follow Jesus. Faith though, reminds me that all I have is God's anyway; it's not mine. God has even given me the strength and wherewithal to accumulate this stuff I have. Faith also enables me to trust in Jesus Christ as the one and only redeemer of my soul. So, not only is all the stuff His, I am His as well! Our Lord may not ask us literally to give or sell all we have and follow Him, but I believe in a spiritual sense we ought to be willing to let go of anything in this world that prevents us from sensing His divine presence in our everyday lives.

Mr. Webster defines clutter like this - "to run in disorder," "to fill or cover with scattered or disordered things that impede movement or reduce effectiveness," "a crowded or confused mass of collection," "things that clutter a place." Can I get a witness? Could it be that our clutter inhibits our fellowship with the God who created the universe? Have we allowed prosperity to pile up so high that we can't see any spiritual fruit. The most important question that should be asked is not, "What's in your wallet?" but "What's in your heart?" Clutter will stop up our sinks but it will also clog the comfort zone of Christ's presence. As we travel down life's highway be aware of "Caution, Work Zone" signs. That means slow down or even detour. The devil knows just how to cover up our Christian witness; he does it with clutter. That's why Jesus said in the sermon on the mount not to put our light under a "bushel" but to remove the clutter so that our lights might shine so that others may see what God is doing in our lives and glorify Him. I believe there are multitudes of God's redeemed children, chosen before the foundation of the world that cannot follow Jesus for muddling through the clutter. And, I'm afraid I'm one of them. If we're honest, probably the reason we don't love Jesus with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength is because of all the clutter in our lives. It's not that we don't want to, it's just that we have too many irons in the fire so to speak. I think we would be amazed at how clearing clutter from the mind and our surroundings will free up space to receive more peace, clarity and love from God. After all, we are vessels of mercy, not vessels to collect clutter!

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The reason the devil likes to play the clutter card on Christians is that it displays his sneaky subtlety. Clutter is not just things and "to do" lists, but also includes our emotions, mental faculties, and our spirituality. For example, we can't be effectively serving Christ with a cluttered mind containing past sins or present lusts. If our hearts are filled with anger or bitterness, I doubt we will be doing much praying or worshipping. Thank God for His goodness in leading us to repentance. Repentance is how we unstop our spiritual drains and pour our hearts out to God. Yes, Jesus knows how to remove clutter and that it does need removing. He asks the young man to do it on his own, but if we refuse, he can remove it for us. God did just that to King Nebuchadnezzar in the book of Daniel. Nebuchadnezzar had too much stuff and it caused him to forget God and where it came from. It may be somewhat of a stretch to connect the flossing of our teeth with the spiritual application of grace to remove the clutter from our lives. Yet, it is true that if we don't remove the clutter from between our teeth it will most likely result in decay. Likewise, if we don't deal with the clutter in our Christian walk, we'll probably be tripped up.

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So, we can address our clutter or we can wander from God and sputter . I think we ought to do at least one thing each day we don't feel like doing, just for God. Most likely, we won't feel like letting go of our clutter. That's because we like it or it's because we're lazy. Either case offends God and should be reason enough to get serious about making sure there is nothing between us and our Saviour. The chorus to the beloved hymn "Nothing Between," written by Charles Tindley, captures a worthwhile working melody for clearing away clutter. "Nothing between my soul and the Saviour, so that His blessed face may be seen, nothing preventing the least of His favor, keep the way clear! Let nothing between." Remember, Martha was encumbered (cluttered) with many things, while her sister Mary sat at Jesus' feet letting nothing between her and her Saviour. Jesus noticed that too and He commended Mary for making the right choice, a life without clutter. For sure, our Lord knows everything about us, including our thoughts and heart. He also knows every sin we have ever or will ever commit and He still loves us. We should be comforted and thankful that we are forgiven. But He also knows how much clutter is in our lives and how much more fruit we would bear without it. If Jesus Christ has removed our sins by His atoning work on the cross, we ought to remove the clutter in our lives to show just how much what He did for us means to us.

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Notice the trees in this picture. They are dying! Actually the picture was taken just east of Statesboro near Highway 80 at a construction land clearing job site. These trees are not dying because of insects or disease, nor from the effect of lightning or storms. These trees are dying because of clutter! Too much dirt has been piled around the trunks. When that happens, the oxygen supply is cut off from the roots and microorganisms that benefit the tree. Also the bark protecting the cambium (the channel where all the nutrients flow up into the tree to give it life) rots because of so much dirt piled above the root collar. I'm sure the owner of the property did not intend to harm these trees because thy were left on the site for aesthetics, to benefit, to add value to the land.

Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are like trees; the planting of the Lord, according to Psalm one verse three. The concern we should have about clutter in our lives is that it can cause us to lose our witness and faithfulness for Christ while we're on Earth. These trees are not going to be revived. They will have to be cut down, piled and burned. Some of those trees are probably forty or fifty years old. What a waste! As redeemed children of God, it's good to know that we cannot lose our eternal salvation. But it should break our hearts to know that we are not fulfilling our purpose because of too much clutter; things we really didn't need in the first place.

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Most of the time clutter comes when God goes. Christ Jesus was serious when He said that we are to seek first God and his righteousness. When we do that, we apply a clutter shredder to things we don't really need. Jesus even allows for clutter removal in the model prayer because He teaches us to pray to the Father for our daily bread, which is really all our daily needs including needs which are emotional, physical, mental and spiritual. We get into trouble with clutter when we attempt to have more than God wants us to have. The landowner with the dying trees obviously wanted more level ground on the site. Spiritually speaking, we cannot change the elevation of grace. Clutter can cause us to forget where we came from and that we are sinners and that we are helpless worms. Possessions can possess us and that's the root cause of disaster.

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Just like the trees in the photo, Christians can suffocate when they are buried too deep in clutter. Prayer for the believer is like breathing. Shouldn't we be more devoted to the one who gives us breath than we are to anything which takes our breath away? It is true when our pockets are full, we forget God, but when they empty we cry out to Him for help. Possessions make us cling to this world when our hearts should be longing for the presence of God. We must change our hearts and seek first the kingdom of God. Covetousness is a sneaky thing. It makes us want more and more, makes us jealous of our neighbors and makes us miss being with our families to work long hours to buy more stuff to clutter our lives. Covetousness and the cluttering results should signal a call of caution when we realize we are working and accumulating to impress people we don't even like.

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It's probably not going to happen over night, but there is an old proverb I heard that says, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step." I'm embarrassed to let you know this about me, but I have just started picking up my work clothes and hanging them up in the closet. Heretofore, I would just pile my jeans and everyday shorts in a pile in the laundry room. Even though they were clean, they still created a clutter pile. I realize I probably shouldn't expose even my clean laundry, but the point is, if we are going to deal with clearing out the clutter in our lives, we need to start at home.

Jesus not only knows about our clutter, he also has a remedy for clearing it out.

"And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it and dung it."
Luke 13:8

If the clutter in our lives is causing us to be spiritually dull and we're not producing fruit, then it's probably a good time for us to do some digging and fertilizing. Maybe the ground or soil of our hearts has become hard and compacted by the weight of people, places and things stacked around us excessively. The Bible is clear on material possessions. If they are a higher priority in our lives than God is - we must repent. God gives blessings to us naturally so that we can be a blessing to others, not to maintain a luxurious lifestyle to benefit our greed. Let's be diligent to take care of our spiritual trees; digging, stirring up and fertilizing the blessings God gives us.

Brother Randy

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