Abiding in God’s Word

abidingmorning

A couple years ago I started a new annual tradition.  I asked my husband to make one of my Christmas presents a new journal for the upcoming year.  I prayerfully choose a verse or verses to be my theme for the year.  Before the New Year, I search and pray for a section of scripture to memorize and study to bring drastic change and growth in my life spiritually. For example one year I felt led to choose Colossians 3:12-17.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. 

As you can see these verses are jam-packed with instruction for a Christian seeking to live a godly life.  It is my take on the “New Year’s resolution”.  Last year was the year my husband was deployed to Afghanistan.  For that year my verses were 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I knew we had a tough year ahead of us.  I knew it had the potential to be a year full of calamity and hardships, so I chose these verses to help me to rest in the grace and power of my Jesus.  I chose to be weak from the get-go because then I would be strong from the get-go.  And I was, to glory and praise of God alone.  It was not my doing.  If God had not prepared me spiritually for that year, things would have been a lot harder, a lot lonelier and so much more hopeless than I could handle.

The lesson I am learning over these years is that by following his command to abide in his word, God can produce more fruit in my life.

This picture Jesus paints for us in John 15 with the vine and the branches is a beautiful union and relationship of complete dependence.  It is to be steadfast and permanent and only then can the nutrients flow to the branches to produce the fruit.

In verses 4 and 5 Jesus says,

 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 

We are continuing in him and he is living in us.  And any fruit produced is only because of the connection we have to him.

Then in verse 7 he says,

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 

Jesus illustrates this even further and elaborates more on this connection.  First he said twice, “Abide in me and I in you“(vs. 4,5). Then he goes deeper to say, “If my words abide in you” (v.7).

Jesus is showing us how he will live in us and speak to us.  Through his word! There is no other way.  He speaks to us through his word and we speak to him in our prayer.  This is our fellowship. So yes I want to live in those pages.  I want to memorize it and have it in my heart always.  I want it to grow my faith. I need it to encourage others. I need it to recognize and fight off my own sin. Yes, even in this union of the vine and the branches, some pruning must be done.  It can be painful.  But take heart.

Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. (Proverbs 30:5) 

Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17)

God’s word is true; it is truth.  And in this truth we are sanctified. When we take root in the truth, the fruit springs forth abundantly. That means putting off the old self and putting on the new (Colossians 3:5-15). Continually renewing our minds (Ephesians 4:21-24).

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16).

It is not just in trials and tribulation that we need His truth.  We need it in every word we speak, in every thought we have, and in every action we take.  We need it in us so we may be able to obey Jesus’ command in John 15:12;

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”  

By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love (John 15:8-11).

This fruit of obedience that is produced in our union with Christ is the work of the Holy Spirit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:22-24).

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Back in December before I even thought of starting this blog, I prayerfully chose 1 Corinthians 13 as my theme verses for this year, 2013.  I wanted to learn more about God’s love (1 John 4:7-8).  I wanted to learn how to show more love to my husband and children (Titus 2:4). I wanted to learn more about brotherly love (1 Peter 1:22).

It has become glorious testimony for me, seeing the work of the Holy Spirit and His ability to use the Word of God for my sanctification.  As I read and memorize the verses, the sword of the spirit cuts through my sin and prunes the branch.  He is growing me to bear much fruit as I read and follow his commandment to love.

And even now as I am studying John 15 for this blog and Luke 17-24 (GoodMorningGirls.org) and skimming the Psalms in the mornings, and joining a class at PWOC (Protestant Women of the Chapel) I am feeling the flow of the life giving, sanctifying truth as it pulses through the pages and into my heart. The more I take in the more I yearn for it.

So what are you yearning for? Is it the things of God or the things of this world?

By abiding in Jesus, we should have his word abiding in us. I challenge you to prayerfully choose a scripture to memorize.  It can be one verse or it can be one chapter.  You can memorize it in one day or one month. One time a friend of mine challenged me to memorize Psalm 16 with her over the course of 11 weeks.  It is 11 verses long so that was a verse a week.  I pray through this discipline, we will not only have God’s word hidden in our hearts, but will apply it to every moment of our days.  If you want to take this challenge, leave a comment about the scripture you plan to memorize and check in at Abiding Hearts at Home’s Facebook page to encourage each other and let us know how it is going. Have a blessed weekend!

The Charge

This morning on Facebook a sweet, godly friend of mine shared the most amazing poem.  It is an anthem to Christians everywhere.  To learn more about the origin of this poem you can visit Precept Ministries where this was posted originally. As I was struggling to pull myself up out of a spiritual funk this morning, this line stood out to me the most.

“I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. For now I love by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, uplifted by prayer I labor with power.”

I pray that this poem can encourage you all on your walk this morning and this week.  May we all continue to abide in Him.

THE CHARGE

I am a part of the fellowship of the unashamed.
I have Holy Spirit power.
The die has been cast.
I have stepped over the line, the decision has been made.
I am a disciple of His.
I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still.
For my past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure.
I am finished and done with low living, cheap talking, sight walking, small planning,   smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, worldly talking, cheap giving and dwarfed goals.
I no longer need prominence, prosperity, positions, promotions, plaudits or popularity.
I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded.
For now I love by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, uplifted by prayer I labor with power.
My faith is set, my gait is fast, and my goal is heaven,
My road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, and my guide reliable. My mission is clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, diluted or delayed.
I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversary, negotiate with the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.
I won’t give up, let up, shut up until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, preached up for the cause of Christ. 
I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go until He comes, give until I drop, preach until all know, and work until He stops me.
Then when He comes for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me, for my banner will be clear!

 

Serving with Love in the Home

LittleFeet

My kids’ feet stink. I am not exaggerating; S.T.I.N.K.  In the hot and humid Louisiana summer their little feet sweat.  Even in those half sneaker, half sandal shoes they wear everyday they just get gross.  We have a shoe shelf (pile) at the front door and sometimes when my husband walks in from work he gets a not-so-very-pleasant welcome to his nose. Occasionally each shoe gets a sprinkling of baby powder and a spray of air freshener, but the problem returns the next time they wear them.  Sometimes it is even unbearable to sit next to them on the couch, or heaven forbid, the dinner table.

So inevitably most days I end up cleaning at least one little person’s feet.  Sometimes we use soap and water, sometimes-just baby wipes.   Just the other day, in a moment of frustration and annoyance of the stinky feet problem, I was roughly wiping my child’s feet.  They winced a little and I realized how rough my hands and my heart were being on them in that moment.   I was convicted and ashamed. Mostly because of my ignorance to the very close comparison it all had to Jesus’ beautiful example of loving service from John 13.

Before the Passover Jesus, knowing his fate, humbled himself before his disciples.

He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.  When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. (John 13:4-5;12-15)

As parents, especially mothers we have ample opportunity to live out this lesson Jesus gave.

We clean up snot and spit-up, sometimes even with our own clothing. (Note how Jesus wiped them with the towel he was wearing.) We change diapers and wash clothes only to wake up the next day to do it all over again.  We cook elaborate meals only to have to get up from the table and clean the huge mess in the kitchen.  Whether you work or stay home, raising kids and caring for your family is a demanding job.

If you are like me though, from time to time, or even quite often you may find it hard to do these things without getting frustrated.

“Really? I just did your laundry yesterday! How could your hamper be full already, boys?”

“We were late for church again (or didn’t even go) because the baby had his third diaper blowout of the morning just as we were putting him in the car seat to leave.”

“How did you get peanut butter in your hair? We haven’t eaten peanut butter in 4 days!”

“You were just sitting on the potty for an hour. Why did you immediately come and pee on my bed?”

For me, personally it is always a pride issue in my heart.  Somewhere deep down some little voice is telling me I am somehow higher than all this mess.  But I am not.  That is a lie.

This is my joy.  This is all I ever wanted and more.  When I start to hear those little voices get louder (because they NEVER seem to go away), I have to remind myself of Jesus’ example.

He humbled himself to clean the filthy feet of grown men, even the one who was about to betray him and hand him over to those who would crucify him.   How easy it would have been to skip right past Judas’ feet or even wait until Judas was gone to do this act of service and love.  But he did it with love.

Here are 4 ways that we can look to Jesus’ teachings and learn from his example of love.

1. Jesus didn’t just command us how to live, he SHOWED us.

For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. (John 13:15-17)

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:9-11)

2.He showed us that following Him would not be easy or comfortable.

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. (Mark 8:34-35)

And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45)

3. He showed us that we would never be expected to do it on our own, for we cannot.

When Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the word, he loved them to the end.  During supper, when the devil had already put it in the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. (John 13:1-4)

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15: 5-7)

4. He showed us that service is full of love, self- denying and sacrificial love.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:12-13)

It is a blessing to have these three beautiful children to care for and this home and this family to be my work day in and day out.  Even when it is dirty, frustrating, stinky, monotonous and tiring it is the work the Lord has called me to do and I am commanded to do it in love, forgetting myself and putting the needs of others above my own.

Do I always succeed in this? NO. I fall short. I fight the battle against pride in my heart from moment to moment.  But this I know:

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8)

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:3-8)

May we be encouraged by these truths and grow in love as we serve our families; abiding in Him.

This post was shared on 27 Aug 2013 to:

Hearts at Home

image borrowed from www.itakejoy.com  Click the image to see original post.

image borrowed from http://www.itakejoy.com
Click the image to see original post.

 

My most fruitful and meaningful ministry for this season of my life is my home.  My marriage is just shy of a decade old. Without a doubt it will be a work in progress until the day I die, but it is still so young and immature.  It is a pendulum of joy and trials knocking me down from my pedestal of pride to my knees in repentance.

My children are only seven, five and two.  It is my joy, yet my most demanding work to be a SAHM and homeschool them “bringing them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). A LOT of sanctification happens here.

So when I felt the tug on my heart to begin this ministry, I knew it had to be focused on my heart being grounded in my home and the work God has for me there.

All Christian women,

Whether single, married, divorced, widowed,

With or without children,

SAHM’s or moms who work,

Mom’s with young children or moms with grown children,

Homeschoolers or not,

New believers or old believers,

ALL would say that deep down their most important work is done at home.  It is in our God-given nature.

In Genesis 2:18,

The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

And again in Genesis 3:20,

“Adam named his wife Eve (whom we are all daughters of), because she would become the mother of all the living.”

We are made to be helpers and nurturers and we need to be encouraging one another in this calling.

In Disciplines of a Godly Woman, Barbara Hughes shares her observations on this calling specifically in motherhood.

Today’s mothers are pulled in many other directions–and typically away from at-home tasks considered too humble or too selfless for twenty-first-century women of status, sophistication, and power.  Today’s mothers are isolated and unsupported by popular culture in the work of mothering.

We must become convinced in our souls that nurturing is a supremely elevated role. And we need to proclaim that truth to the women around us, emphasizing that the role of mother is an incredible privilege. We older women carry a God-given responsibility to help younger women with families so that they do not become overwhelmed with the mothering task, for it is great .

“Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.” (Titus 2:3-5)

As a young wife and mother I was, and still am, always seeking out an “Older” woman in my life.  And I realize I am called to be this to “younger” women as well.  A beloved and much wiser friend told me just a couple of weeks ago,  “As a Christian woman, we are in the perpetual middle ground of this command from Titus 2:3-5.”

We are always in need of a wiser godly woman who has walked this path before us.  Someone who can encourage us and teach us and sometimes just listen and cry with us because they have been there.  We will not just wake up and be older and wiser with gray hair and gentleness ready to pour forth infinite wisdom.  We are to be abiding in Christ and he will build us into this role over the course of our walk with him.

But, we also always have wisdom to pass on to someone younger.  Do not dismiss your role as the “older” woman just because you do not feel like you have it all together yet.  You will never feel that way.  But in your walk with God no matter how short, the Holy Spirit is your helper and is revealing God’s wisdom and truth.

In this community of Abiding Hearts at Home, we can encourage one another on all walks and in all seasons.

The older believer can encourage the new believer as they struggle with sin and repentance and the understanding of grace. The older believer can be encouraged by the zeal of the new believer for the things of God.

The Married can encourage the newly married as they begin a lifelong commitment to, let’s face it, another sinner just like us.

The homeschooling mom can encourage the moms with kids in school that our children DO NOT always listen to us. And vice versa, the mothers with kids in school can encourage the homeschooling moms to get out of the house and take some alone time every once and a while.  As mothers with school age children, we both share the same struggles and joys.

The married women can encourage the divorced and widowed by offering a helping hand or just being a good listener. And the divorced/widowed woman can encourage those who are married in the lessons they learned and the joys and trials they had in their marriages.

We are all still growing and we all need encouragement.

I encourage you today if you have an “older” woman in your life that has helped you along the way to contact them and bless them with a word of thanks.  This can encourage them even more in their roles.  I also encourage you to keep an eye open for the struggling young mother or wife close to you that is desperately seeking for advice and encouragement.  Do not hold back thinking you are not wise enough, just answer the call to love and when the time comes the Holy Spirit will be your guide.  Just keep abiding and trust that God is doing the work through you and in you.