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

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 katerg√°zomai: 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.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Putting down the mirror

In our Philippians study this week we looked at  Paul’s charge to unity through following the example of Christ.  As I read through Philippians 2:1-11 three verses kept jumping out at me.

3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Plain and simple.  As Christians we are to have the right motive, be humble, and be others-focused.  Easy right?!   No, not easy because that is not what comes natural to us as human beings.  We are prone to be self-seeking, to have a "what's-in-it-for-me" attitude.  This is where we need to depend on the Holy spirit to convict us and allow him to lead us.  I have been trying to regularly ask myself these three questions:

Why am I  doing this?

Who am I promoting: myself or God?

How can I bring joy to (name of another person)?

Do my answers to these questions always match up to God's commands to not be selfish, conceited and to be others focused?  Unfortunately no, but through God's grace and in His strength I can keep trying!  It is a constant battle to be intentional in these areas, but the rewards are a joyful life!

What I love is that God doesn't just give us a command here and leave us, he gives us an example to follow.  "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ."  Christ.  Fully God. Fully servant.  COMPLETELY others- focused! 

We have a choice, to live life looking in a mirror, focused on "ME! ME! ME!" or to live life looking through binoculars focused on Christ and others.  One will bring immediate, short-lived satisfaction, the other will bring lasting joy.  God, help me to put down my mirror!  What about you?  What choice will you make?

Head over to Do Not Depart to join the discussion and see what others learned this week!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Digging in: God's purpose

Have you ever had a delicious, flavourful dish, maybe something you have eaten for the first time... you are not quite sure what's in it but you really enjoyed it? You eat it very slowly, enjoying every morsel and then you ask the person who prepared it how they prepared it.    "Wow, I didn't realize there was nutmeg in there...I was wondering what that flavour was...  yes, I could tell you used garlic, I love garlic...  "

I am having a similar experience with the book of Philippians.  I am pulling the verses apart bit by bit, chewing on every word, studying each passage in context, exploring word meanings, understanding about the audience Paul was speaking to... the flavours of the book are coming alive.

In week four of the study I have joined at Do Not Depart  we looked at Philippians 1:27-30.  Here we find several commands culminating in God's purpose in our suffering.

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have. 

Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ-

Paul uses the term politeuesthe which means to live as a citizen.  Philippi was a Roman colony so the Phillipians would understand this.  Though they did not live in Rome, they,  as citizens of Rome enjoyed the benefits of being Roman, dressed like Romans, spoke like Romans and followed Roman laws.  Likewise, we are to be so in regards to heaven.   We must live as if we are in heaven, representing heaven.  Sometimes, living in this world our thoughts and actions can get influenced by the society we live in, we must constantly examine our conduct and measure it against the standard of the Gospel.   

Stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man- 

We are to be unified as believers.  contending or striving together.  The word in the Greek is sunathlountes from two words:

sun- with,  joined close, in close identification with


athleo- engage, compete, in an (athletic) contest.  It is from the word which means to wrestle.

We are not only to be united when things are going well but we have to wrestle together.. fight together.. work hard together with other believers.  We have to be on the same team.  One of the areas of my life that I have opportunity to apply this is in my marriage.  Marriage is what God has set up in this life to be a picture of Christ's relationship to the church.  While my husband and I may not always see eye to eye, we have a responsibility to God, each other and other believers to be united... to strive together to bring glory to God.  No matter what, we are on the same team! The miracle of bringing two different people together as one will be a testimony to those around us... it will defeat the enemy who is seeking to destroy families... to tear apart marriages, to make our society more and more unstable.  We have victory over the the the devil when we fight together! 

Lastly, this passage tells us that we are called to suffer for Christ.  SUFFER?? It actually says charizomai- we have been given grace (God extending himself to us) not only to believe in Christ but to suffer for Christ.  GOD'S PURPOSE?  To bring honour and glory to him... If I change my perspective and see suffering as a blessing I can then more freely trust God to bring me through the suffering.   How awesome is that?!

This week we are on to chapter two.  I can't wait to dig in!  What have you been feasting on?  What tasty morsels have you unwrapped this week?  Let me encourage you to "Taste and see that the LORD is good!" (Psalm 34:8) 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

It's not about me

Week 3 of the Philippians study focused on Paul's desires as we studied chapter 1 verses 19-26.

Here are some notes I made through out the week:

vs. 19 

For I know that as you pray for me and the Spirit of Jesus Christ helps me, this will lead to my deliverance.

Power is supplied through prayer.  Paul expected that the Philippians church would pray for him. He was depending on their prayers.
Application:  Do I lift up my spiritual leaders in prayer? Am I faithful in my praying, can others depend on me to pray for them?

vs 21- 26
For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live.
Knowing this, I am convinced that I will remain alive so I can continue to help all of you grow and experience the joy of your faith. And when I come to you again, you will have even more reason to take pride in Christ Jesus because of what he is doing through me.

In this familiar passage what jumped out at me was the two objects of Paul's desires regarding his deliverance.  He knew he would be taken out of his present circumstance two ways... death or a physical release from captivity.

Death meant a departure from this physical, sinful earth to be with his Saviour, Jesus Christ his first object of desire.  He saw this process of death not a something to be feared but as the necessary  process to the ultimate reward of a fruitful Christian life- eternity with Christ. 

His second desire is for others... to live his life to point others towards Christ.  He knew his remaining in the flesh would be better for the spiritual development of others. 

What was glaringly absent to me, as I read and reread this passage several times throughout the week was any desire for his own comfort. His ambition in life was to please Christ and serve others.  Period.

Application:  So much of my time is spent seeking after things to make my own life comfortable, more enriched, more entertained... seeking that perfect life with access to all physical comforts available in this world.  

I should be focused on Christ first and then on serving others and pointing them towards Christ. 

Are my pursuits in life lined up with this truth or is my life being lived for myself?

My prayer is that when I depart this life, I will not have been all about me.

What has God been teaching you this week as you have studied his word?