05Sep

My time is not my own

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Sometimes, I find myself overwhelmed by my to-do list.  Housework is a neverending cycle.  I’m trying to finish up this degree I’ve invested so much in. My kids need me. My husband needs me.   And I need to be the woman God calls me to be.

Sometimes, all that stuff gets in the way of me. I’m an introvert by nature and “need” quiet time.  Read a book.  Surf the web…pinterest, Christian blogs, facebook…there are MANY things online to distract me.

I could find countless online articles right now that talk about the importance of MY time.

But, the truth is, I don’t have any time.  If I am in Christ, my life is not my own.  My time is not my own.

Philippians 2:5 tells us, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”  What mind was in Christ Jesus when it came to HIS time?  It was as in everything else—humility, always putting other people and the will of His Father above everything else.

We can find this in Mark 6:27-34.  John the Baptist was beheaded.  The disciples told Jesus about it and Jesus said, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”  The verse (31) goes on to say “For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.”  They were tired, hungry and needed a rest.  They were seeking solitude.  To wind down.  As a stay-at-home mom, how often do I seek solitude, some time to wind down?  I know what I do when that solitude is interrupted.  I get frustrated.  What did Jesus do when His solitude was interrupted?

“But the multitudes…arrived before them and came together to Him” He didn’t even get a moment of solitude in this passage because there was a throng of people waiting for Him when He got there.  What did He do?  “Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them.”

Wow.  When my family interrupts what I think should be my quiet time, my solitary time, my few minutes away from everything…I get frustrated.  When Jesus was interrupted, he was moved with compassion.

In a similar instance in Mark 1:32-38, we see Jesus retreat to a solitary place to pray.  Jesus had been ministering to people the whole day.  We are told in verse 33 that the whole city was gathered together at the door, and He healed many.  The next morning he woke up extra early to pray in solitude.  Jesus had a very busy day.  He was looking to refresh Himself!  How many times do I feel like I’ve had a busy day and deserve the right to refresh myself with some quiet time?

But, Simon and others came looking for Jesus and said, “Everyone is looking for you.”

The life of a mom means that there is always someone looking for us, someone needing something.  And I get frustrated. I want to be able to read my Bible, fold the laundry, even do chores without interruption, and a little time to wind down at the end of the day.  Jesus could have said the same thing…Just give me a few minutes to pray in peace, people!  Leave me alone.  But, he didn’t.  Instead, He replied, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.”

Jesus knew that His purpose was to carry out the will of His Father.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.  I pray that I could grasp that same understanding.  My life is not my own.  My time is not my own.  My purpose is to carry out the will of my Father.  Nothing more (despite my own ambitions), and certainly nothing less.


 
08Aug

Life in the Rearview Mirror (Philippians 3:12-16)

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Read: Philippians 3:12-16

Key Verse: “One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
–Philippians 3:13-14

Dig Deeper:  After these words, Paul goes on to say that all who are mature in Christ should have this mindset, and if not, God will reveal it to them.  So, all of us should have this mindset, but what exactly is Paul talking about here?  What things are (or at least should be) left behind and forgotten?  Anything that gets in the way of our moving forward in Christ.

Here are some things I think we should leave behind.

1. Worldly Pursuits

God’s word tells us that once we are in Christ, we are a “new creation.”  We are new in Him.  Jesus says to follow Him, we should deny ourselves.  When we accept Christ, we become a servant to Him.  Worldly pursuits should be behind us and we should have a focused goal of following Christ.  Worldly pursuits could look different for different people, but I don’t believe they are just sinful activities.  Instead, I believe it encompasses anything we strive for that takes away from or goes against God’s purpose in our lives.  Striving for worldly goals will only result in discontent, and distract us from the ultimate goal that Paul is speaking of here.

2. Regret and Condemnation

We’ve all made mistakes in life, whether you were a drug addict or a goody two-shoes.  We all have regrets, past sins, failures, etc. I fail as a wife.  I fail as a mother.  I fail as a friend, daughter, and child of God.  Every.single.day, I fall short of who God has called me to be and who my family needs me to be.

Yes, I need to learn from my mistakes and strive continually to be the woman that God created me to be.  But, I cannot live in a place of self-condemnation.  God inspires us with conviction.  Satan disables us with condemnation.  Regret wastes too much energy.  Instead, past mistakes should be forgotten, so that we can move on and move forward in Him.

3. Grievances and Wrongs against us.

God’s word talks many times about forgiving those who wrong us.  There is a great quote, “Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”  Holding onto a grudge eats away at a person’s peace, and allows bitterness to take root in one’s heart.  God requires forgiveness from us, just as he offers forgiveness to us.  In addition to that, He realizes the harmful effects of bitterness and holding a grudge.  It will hold you back and prevent you from giving yourself fully to Him and His purpose.

Remember Lot’s Wife…

In the midst of discussing the second coming, Jesus says this simple statement in Luke 17:32, “Remember Lot’s wife.”  We can find her story in Genesis 19:1-26.  I challenge you to read it.  There are so many disturbing aspects to this story, but mostly it shows the dangers of holding on to worldly pursuits.  Lot was so caught up in the sinful world in which he was leaving that he had to be physically pulled away from the city (Genesis 19:16), even after being told that it would be destroyed.  In Lot’s wife, we see the dangers of looking back to such a life.

If there is something in your life that needs to be left behind and forgotten, I pray that God will help you release it so that you can do as Paul, and forget those things that are behind and press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus!

What other things do you think we should forget and leave behind?


 
02Jul

Phil 4:8-9: The Peace of God, part 2

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The Peace of God

The Peace of God (photo credit)

Read: Philippians 4:8-9

Key Verse: “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things.” 

Dig Deeper:  In “The Peace of God, Part 1,” I talked about God’s shield in times of worry, in Philippians 4:6-7.  I’ve read these verses countless times, but this time, God led me to focus on verse 8 (quoted above).  Again, I’ve read the verse countless times and always read it as a call to purity in our thoughts, which I still believe it is.  I never really thought about it in relation to the preceding verse or thought it had anything to do with worry or peace. 

As God led me to keep reading and put the verses together, a light bulb came on.  I don’t think it’s an accident that this verse follows the verses about worry and the peace of God. When I worry, I’m thinking about bad things.  I think about the worst case scenario (which usually doesn’t happen).  I think about all the needs and how I can’t see how they are going to be met.  I live in fear of things that could happen, and allow myself and my heart to be overcome with the what-ifs, as I meditate on the bad.

What if, instead of meditating on the bad things, I instead do as this verse instructs and focus instead on the good things.  What if I meditate on God’s truth and His promises?  What if I focus on things that are of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy?  What a paradigm shift I could experience if I allowed positive thoughts to push away the negative ones.

I know this sounds simplistic, but it makes so much sense to drive out those negative thoughts with positive ones.  If you literally have nothing good in your life to think about, just start praising God for who He is, because no matter our circumstances, He is always good.  Too often, we choose instead to “meditate” and focus on bad things, which brings us down and steals our peace and joy. I believe that if we truly make the choice to “meditate” on those good things, negativity will have no place.  And satan will lose such a hold on our lives.


 
29Jun

Phil 4:1-7: The Peace of God

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We’re not quite here yet, in our reading of Philippians, but I’m skipping ahead a bit…

Read: Philippians 4:1-7

Key Verse:  “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  -Phil 4:6-7

Dig Deeper:  Earlier today, I was thinking about our upcoming move.  Right now, it seems surreal that in about a month we’ll be moving to the other side of the state, and we just found out about 3 weeks ago that it was a possibility.  There’s still so much that we can’t do until we hear back from that final person, but at this point that final person is mostly a formality.  So, we’re left waiting, and there is so much stuff to worry think about in the meantime.  I’ve shared with you our really tight budget.  If we can’t sell our house in a month, we’ll be paying expenses at a new place, plus nearly $700/month here as well.           

Furthermore is the issue of finding a place to live.  We aren’t sure about financing until our house sells (if we would even qualify for a second loan), and on top of that we were hoping to take our time and find that perfect place (in our price range) rather than being hurried to jump into something.  But, there aren’t many places available to rent there (very small town), so renting may not be an option.

On top of all this is the overwhelming amount of details such as switching everything over, the overwhelming task of trying to downsize and physically get everything ready to move.  Not to mention overwhelming emotions involved with moving 5 hours away from my family and hometown that I have lived in my whole life, and praying that we’re doing the right thing for our family with this move.

All of that with the backdrop of not being able to do a lot of it because we’re still playing the waiting game.  So, with these and countless other related “worries” running through my mind, I cried out to God today, “Lord, shield my mind from all these worries.”

In that moment, I heard a still, small voice in my spirit.  Such a shield is available.  And he led me to the passage above, one of my favorites.  “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

If I let Him, He will bear my burden of “worry.”  All I have to do is bring my needs and concerns to Him, and He will replace my worry with His peace.  That’s a pretty good trade!


 
30May

Philippians 2:9-13 (Work out Salvation)

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(If you’d like to read the first studies posted on Philippians, go here)

Read: Philippians 2:9-13

Key Verse:  “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” –Philippians 2:12b-13

Dig Deeper:  There is a lot of confusion surrounding this verse and its meaning.  I believe that I am saved by faith through Christ’s sacrifice and grace, “and not by works, lest any man should boast.”  (Ephesians 2:8-9).  I believe the message of this verse is a healthy reverence for God the Father, and that we should not be stagnant as Christians.  Even though we can never earn salvation, as Christians, we are called to a higher purpose (Romans 8:28), a higher standard of living.  We should earnestly desire to seek after Him, following His will and not our own in everything that we do.

As Christians living in the world, we buy into the self-focused messages of the day.  We make excuses for ourselves.  I hear the phrase all the time, “I’m human and I’m going to sin, and that’s okay.”  Whether it is large sin, or small, this is a dangerous attitude.  We cannot give ourselves permission to sin, when God calls us to holiness (1 Peter 1:13-16).  Yes, we are human and there is grace if we fall.  But, I don’t buy into the idea that we can’t help it.  I know this isn’t a common interpretation of this verse, but 1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us that with every temptation, God will make a way that we can bear it.  The verse preceding this states, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” The entire passage is about sin and desires.  I believe that when we are tempted, God will provide a way out.  We do not have to sin, and I believe that every sin is a conscious choice that we make to go against God’s will, and that we should fight against ourselves daily to rid our lives of sin.

Verse 13 is key:  “for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”  We are born into sin.  Our nature is sin.  Although we are called to fight against that, we cannot do it alone.  It is God who works in us to allow us to withstand temptation.  It is God working in us that gives us the strength to fight the temptations of our flesh.  However, we still have free will.  We have to choose to live for Him, daily.

Father, I pray that your Holy Spirit would lead me away from temptation and help me as I seek to live for you, and your higher calling.  I pray that you would reveal to me areas of my life in which I have become complacent.  Reveal my sin and shortcomings so that I can work to replace them with YOU in my life.  Thank you, Lord, for your grace and your mercies new every morning.


 
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