I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:10-11

Monday, September 19, 2011

Abiding Fruit

 “Fruit is produced to be eaten, not to be admired and put on display. People around us are starving for love, joy, peace and all the other graces of the Spirit. We do not bear fruit for our own consumption; we bear fruit that others might be fed and helped and that Christ might be glorified." Warren Weirsbe, Be Free.

  The word of God tells me that

the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; (Gal 5:22-23)

It is my desire to live a fruitful life so that others may see Christ in me. 

But I struggle... I don't always love, I lose my patience, I am not always gentle and kind and good. 

So how do I bear this fruit in my life?  Why is it such a struggle?  How can my life reflect Christ?

I am going to be studying this for the next 13 weeks as I join Katie from Do Not Depart and Lara from To Overflowing for another online Bible Study, ABIDING FRUIT.  They have teamed up with Inspired to Action’s Maximize Your Mornings Challenge, and have hand-picked thirteen different passages of Scripture to help us understand how the fruit of the Spirit can become evident in our lives.

This week we will be studying Galatians 5:16 - 26.  I have already started digging in... will you join me?

Download the study guide here .  There will also be weekly posts here at Do Not Depart and I will update here at Hide and Seek what God is teaching me about Abiding Fruit!

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Doing is Being!

I have been wanting to post that I completed my Philippians study and share my thoughts on the last section of chapter four but God has kept me in chapter 4 specifically verses 12 and 13.

"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. "

A couple of weeks ago, when my study was ending (so I thought)  the meaning of these verses became  clearer to me as I studied.  I felt like I understood what Paul was saying about being content...

But then real life hit and I found myself in a situation where I had to trust God daily to provide for me.  I realised at that point that my contentment was dependent on how comfortable I was.  My attitude during this trial revealed to me that I hadn't learned the secret that Paul had learned of being content. 

God kept bringing me back to these verses.. what is the secret?  Why am I not trusting God?  Why isn't my situation changing?  What can I do to bring back a more comfortable existence? Has God forgotten me?  Why is he not changing my circumstances?  These are all the thoughts I was battling with.

As I read these verses over and over it it became clearer to me that I was more focused on the part of the verse that says "I can do all things through him who gives me strength.' Specifically I was more focused on the "I can do."  I was looking at what I could do do get myself out of the situation I found myself in.  I was trying to "help" God figure out a solution and then getting upset when he didn't deliver like I though he should.

The "do everything" in verse 13 refers back to the "being content in any and every situation" in verse 12.  " I can be content in every situation through him who gives me strength."

I got it!! The doing is really being.  Just stand still and be content in the situation God has me! Trust him to take care of me.  Don't try to do, just be.  Be content.

God brought me to the end of Philippians and gave me an examination.  I want to say I passed with flying colours but thankfully God gives more grace and he is a patient God...it was an open book test and he held my hand through the whole thing.   He grew me though this situation and brought me to a different place in my walk with him.

I know it doesn't end there... there will be other trials but I pray that I will continue to remember the being before the doing!

The study with Katie is done but I am still in Philippians, right now reading Be Joyful (Philippians): Even When Things Go Wrong, You Can Have Joy (The BE Series Commentary) by Warren W. Wiersbe.

I think Philippians has become my favourite book in the Bible!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Every When

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

Philippians 4:4 is one of those verses we readily agree with when things are going well, when life is great, when the road is smooth. But what about when we hit a bump, when things are not going our way and when life becomes challenging or even painful. What then? How can we rejoice? Is it even possible to rejoice?

Paul tells us to rejoice always.

Always in the Greek is pantote. Pan meaning every and tote meaning when. We should rejoice at EVERY WHEN!

So I must rejoice
...When my kids are not cooperating.
...When we are down to our last dollar.
...When laundry and dishes are piled high.
... When my day doesn't go as planned.
... When my child is sick.
... When I am treated unfairly.

You may ask, "But how can I rejoice in those situations?"

God doesn't ask is to rejoice in the situation.. he wants us to rejoice in him through the situation!

Rejoice: from the Greek xar: lean towards and xaris meaning grace. Literally rejoice means to experience God's grace.

We can rejoice in what God has promised us:

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.Psalm 46:1
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33b
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matt. 11:28

But now, this is what the LORD says--he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. Isaiah 43:1
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak." Isaiah 40:29

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand." John 10:27, 28


Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the LORD, who has compassion on you.Isaiah 54:10
As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him." Psalm 103:13

These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. John 15:11

I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. Jeremiah 31:3

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Phil. 4:7

These are just a few of God's promises to us. In his Word are so many more- open it this week and see what God promises you. As you read and choose to believe what He says, you will have no choice but to rejoice through "every when"!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Race

I have fallen behind a couple of weeks in my Philipians study but I am pressing on!  Isn't God's grace wonderful! 

As I pondered Philippians 3 verses 12 - 14 stood out to me. 

Paul has just been speaking about how insignificant his human standing and efforts are in light of what Christ has done in his life.  He has gained so much through his faith in Jesus Christ... he has recieved salvation through Jesus death and ressurection... through no effort of his own.
"But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith." (Phil 3: 7-9)
But then he states
"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
What does this mean? 

                 Is there now something I have to work for... I thought salvation was free to me. 

                                      Is Paul saying that part of salvation requires my effort? 

Paul is NOT saying that we have to work for our salvation-- it is free to all who believe (Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8-9.  
BUT he is saying that we do have to strive to fully understand the gift that was given to us through Christ as he states in verse 10 and 11:

"I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead."

This is what Paul has not yet obtained... this full understanding of what Christ has done... this is the prize he presses on for!

Imagine this...

It is a crisp November day and you are visiting friends in New York City.  They invite you to go and see the  New York City marathon.    Sounds like fun, maybe you will be inspired to start that exercise program you have been meaning to start.  Even though thousands have gathered, somehow you are fortunate enough to get a spot right near the finish line.  The crowd is energized.  You see the first runner nearing the end.  He is strong and fit and raises his arms in victory as he tears through the tape!  He has won!  The crowd breaks into applause which can be heard for miles.   Then something strange happens. 

You see the winner talking to the race officer and suddenly he's looking in your direction, he's pointing toward you.  You look around to see who he may be looking at.  When you look back the race official is walking toward you.  When he is a few feet in front of you he calls your name.  Your heart starts racing.  "How does he know my name?" Your mind is spinning as you answer.   The officer explains that the winner of the race  wants to name you the winner and he wants you to recieve the prize for winning the race.  "Me?!  Are you sure?  I have done nothing to deserve it!"  He convinces you that this is for real, it is not a joke. You just have to accept it.  "Really!  Wow... thank you very much!!  That's very generous of him! But why me?"  you keep asking.  "But wait," says the officer, "If you accept your name will be written down in the book of winners- guaranteed,  BUT in order to claim the prize there is one stipulation-- You must run and finish the course!"  

TWENTY SIX miles??? ARE YOU SERIOUS?"  I can't even walk 2 miles without feeling it!

The winner who so graciously is giving up his title to you comes over and shakes your hand.  "My father asked me to run this race for you... you are a winner in his eyes," he says.  "He wants you to have the prize as well!" 

None of this makes sense but somehow you begin to understand. You are almost speechless but manage to say, "This is very kind and generous of you but there is no way I can do this, I am not a runner, I will never make it."   He  takes your hand and replies, "Don't worry, I will train you, I will run with you, you can do this,  you just have to reach for it.  Trust me!"

For months you train, you begin to build up endurance and strength.  During the training you learn more and more about this father and son.  You learn that the father has adopted you... and is providing everything you need for this race.   This means that man who has run this race for you is your brother. The more you learn the more you are amazed.  The son tells you about the home of the father... it's description is beyond anything you have ever seen.  He tells you how you will get to go and meet him once you have finished the course.  Once you have run the race you will go to him to claim the prize and live with him.. he has a room for you!   In spite of all you have to look forward to, some weeks are tough-  you don't like the training.  It is grueling, your feet are blistered, your muscles ache,  you want to give up.  Some days you miss practice, you try to avoid your brother, your new friend, the one who has made you the winner.  But he is always there encouraging you.  Sometimes along the route you begin to trip but he reaches out and catches you.. he won't let you fall.  The more you get to know him, the more you trust him.  He tells you not to worry about your failures, your missed practices. "Just press on," he says, "Remember the prize I have promised you."  You fix your eyes on the goal and then finally the day comes.. the big day, the day you have been training for, the day you will recieve your prize.  It is the day you complete the race! 

You cross the finish line.  It is beautiful!!  There is your father saying "Well done!!"  your brother, the one who made you a winner before you even knew him is there beside him holding your crown!  You have run for the prize and it is now all yours, completely and fully... forever!!! 

This is what Christ has done for us!  Our Christian walk (or should I say run) is helping us to understand this gift more fully! 

I love how these verses read in the GOD'S WORD ® Translation:

Philippians 3: 12-14
It's not that I've already reached the goal or have already completed the course. But I run to win that which Jesus Christ has already won for me. Brothers and sisters, I can't consider myself a winner yet. This is what I do: I don't look back, I lengthen my stride, and I run straight toward the goal to win the prize that God's heavenly call offers in Christ Jesus.

 Run the race well my friend!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Patient Instruction

"Didn't I tell you to pick up your toys?"

"How many times do I have to tell you to use your manners?"

"If I have to tell you to stop fighting with your brother one more time..."

Are you a mom?  Does that sound like you?  Sometimes I get frustrated having to tell my kids the same things over and over.  I often think they should get it the first time.  So when I read the first verse of Philippians 3 this week it sort of slapped me in the face.

Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.

Wow.. Paul wasn't saying to the Philippians.. didn't I just tell you these things; why is it taking you so long to learn it? 

No.. he is patiently repeating himself and sees it as protection for the Philippian church. It is not a burden for him to instruct them, like it sometimes feels to me. 

I have to change my focus from what I am telling them to why I am telling them.  It is an asphalés, a safeguard.  The Greek word that comes from a meaning not and sphallō meaning to totter, cast down, fall.  

Marcus is learning to walk.  Over and over he takes two or three steps between me and his dad or one of his siblings.  He gets a kick out of it but there are always protective arms there ready to catch him when he stumbles.  It is never a burden for us to catch him, we all know that if we don't he will fall and could hurt himself.

My prayer is that as I parent my kids I will do so patiently, not tiring of instructing, catching them as they fall until they are strong enough to walk this life on their own.
What about you?  What has God taught you this week as you have dug into his Word?

Friday, July 1, 2011

An Ordinary Guy

Are you ever tempted to put certain people of the Bible on a pedestal and think that you could never be like them?

Katie of Do Not Depart asked me to share how this week's Philippians study spoke to me.

Head on over here to see how an ordinary guy did some extraordinary things!

Thanks Katie for the opportunity!!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Working out and Shining Bright

Sometimes when I encounter a familiar passage during my Bible study there is the temptation to skim over it quickly but I am so glad I stopped a while this week in Philippians 2:12-18 and unwrapped the words in this passage. Here are some things God spoke to me about:

v12-13 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

Salvation and living the Christian life is a partnership with God. The gift of salvation is free to to accept because of the saving work of Christ on the cross, but it doesn't end there. We have to katergázomai: work out our salvation. It is the idea of working hard to the end. We are not saved just to be saved. With salvation comes a responsibility to fulfill the purposes of God, to persevere, to be involved. We cannot earn our salvation through our works, but we are to carry out the work of God once we are saved... and it is serious business, not to be taken lightly!

So now, that we know we are supposed to be working, how are we supposed to work, with what attitide?

v 14-15 Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe...

We are to do everything without complaining and arguing. I was convicted this week as I read these words... I am quick to throw this verse at the kids when they fuss about doing a chore, or getting their school work done, but what about in my own life? Do I do the work God has for me with a willing heart? Or do I grumble and complain when things get hard, when I am out of my comfort zone, when I have been called to serve others? I am in a season of life that is hard, it is busy, I am tired, sometimes I want to give up. But I can be pure and blameless in God's eyes and shine like a star if I just get on with the work God has given me to do. As I serve my family, teach my kids, care for my husband I am a shining star to those around me... pointing others towards the cross... bringing glory to God!

Now, what about you? What has God been teaching you as you dig into His Word? I pray you will be a shining star this week to those around you as you do the work God has for you to do!
Want more about Philippians... go over to Do Not Depart to join the discussion.