Friday, January 10, 2014

A "Word" of Understanding

"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure."
Philippians 2:12-13

Lately, I have gotten back in the habit of keeping a dictionary near when reading my Bible. I love to look up certain words and understand the context they are being used in to help me understand more clearly what exactly it is saying. After reading these two verses today, I looked up the word "work". 
There were so many definitions given, but I wrote down the ones that seemed to fit best in the context and then realized something - it seemed like each time the word "work" was used it could be replaced with a different definition given. This was exciting! I mean, honestly, if you read the passage above it may seem confusing how many times the word "work" is used (eg. "work out your own salvation", "for it is God who works in you"). You may read that and think "Well, which is it?" It's both. Let me show you what I did that made it all make so much more sense, at least to me.

"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, prepare for use exerting oneself physically and mentally your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who brings to pass in you, both to will and to function according to plan or design for his good pleasure."

It all started to make so much more sense! You see, we are responsible for our obedience. This is the "work out your own salvation" part. We are to prepare ourselves for use by exerting ourselves physically and mentally (obeying). That is how we "work". 

God is the one who brings it to pass. It is God's work in us that allows us to obey. He is the author of salvation and brings to pass salvation in us.

His "work" in us is so that we have the will to obey and will function according to the His design and plan for us. A plan for His good pleasure - because He delights in us and in our obedience. 

I don't know about you, but while I had a semi-understanding of the above passage before, this just made it so much clearer and I had to share! I am so excited to have a better understanding between the connection of what God expects from us and His part that He fulfills in us. So amazing!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!!

I waited to write this post until today, because I like to begin new things by looking back. Why? because I think when we stop to look back we go forward remembering what we have learned.

For me, this past year felt like one long trust fall into the arms of God.

If you go back through my old posts, you would know that my word for last year was FOCUS. I wanted to learn how to really focus on God. I'm still not sure if that was right or if trust or peace would have been a more accurate description of what God did in me throughout this last year.

From the very beginning, I knew our finances were going to be a big part of God working in me. Last January is when my husband and I began to make some significant changes regarding our finances. Mainly, being more of a team with him making the final decisions. I knew this would be hard for me, because I'm somewhat of a control freak, but I also knew I had to learn to let him lead. It started in chaos. Not that we were fighting and arguing, but that we thought we had everything all figured out and it wasn't. Of course, I should have known this would be a learning process. However, God used this to start preparing me to trust Him for what was to come later. He took care of us at that time and He has continued to do so.

Our church was beginning the process to prepare for the start of community groups. Joshua expressed he wanted us to have one in our home, and he wanted to lead it. This is so against his nature, I knew this must be God's leading, so I agreed and we began to prepare for it. God had already began working on me, teaching me to let my husband lead. This was just going to be another step in the process, but I welcomed it.

 Not too long after this, Joshua decided I needed to quit my job. We had been talking about it for awhile. Both knowing God was leading to this, but both being hesitant about actually doing it. Finally, Joshua told me I had to do it, and I knew he was right. So I quit. You cannot believe how much more well rested I have been since I did! Yeah, we're loosing out on that money, but honestly, I don't even notice because God has provided in so many ways.

One trust fall after another.

But none would impact my life as much as Nehemiah.

Just about a month and a half after quitting my job, we found out we had lost the baby I was carrying. I will not go into all the details about it now, I've written many blogs about that time that you are welcome to go back and read. What I will say, is that all those trust falls I had just done, were not without purpose. Because I KNEW that God had me in His arms and I had never known greater peace and joy than I did when I held Nehemiah in my hands and looked into his face.

I will not say the rest of my year went great, but, God held me. The peace never left. He has continued to work in my heart and life in different ways and each step, He has given me what I needed to take it.

So as a new year begins and I think about what God may have in store, I remember the peace He gives. The joy He gives no matter what is to come.

I still like to make some resolutions each year, but I'm a little more broad, as I realize whatever method I start out the year using to accomplish one of these goals may need to be a adjusted or scrapped and a new method used.

Once again, I chose verses for each member of our family to pray for them. I didn't realize until today, that the verse I chose for myself, was one that was frequently used in my blogs throughout the last year. How fitting that I keep in mind God's faithfulness throughout this new year with Phil. 4:6-7.

Here are the things I want to challenge myself to do this year:

1. Pray for others more. Really pray for others frequently and consistently. I want others to know the peace and joy that I have and to experience God's rich blessings of life, hope, and the Holy Spirit.

2. Follow through. I'm one of those people who starts projects, but then doesn't finish them. I want to challenge myself to be better at finishing the projects I start. This may include being better at deciding what projects to begin.

3. Be healthier. I want to eat healthier and exercise more. (I'm eating Reese cups as I write this.) Over the last few months I have been doing much better at eating healthier and enjoying it! I have learned for me to be successful in that area, it can't be about following a specific diet plan, but learning about making healthier choices and then making changes little by little as I am ready to do them. As far as exercising more - I'm still trying to figure out how I can do that better.

4. Be ready for whatever God wants to teach me. Often I'm too hard-headed and stubborn to accept that God is trying to get me to learn something. With all that He has taught me, I want to learn more.

This year my word will be PRAYER. I do believe last year I learned to FOCUS on God. This year, while I continue to focus on Him, I want to deepen my communication with Him. I already pray a lot, but I know I always have a lot to learn.

Have a Happy and Prayerful New Year!