Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fruit of the Spirit: Joy

Ok, so I just lost my first try at this post.  Thankfully I didn't have that much put into it yet, but still, it's really just been that kind of a day around here.  Sigh.  Anyway, I'm going to keep this fairly short and sweet tonight.  I'm just too fried tonight.

There are quite a few ways that peace is used.  To break it down very simply there is peace with God, peace with others, and peace with yourself.  Also in the new testament peace is used as a greeting, similar to the Hebrew greeting of "shalom".

Beyond that God is a God of peace and peace is a blessing that Israel was anticipating when the Messiah came.

In the New Testament, peace is seen as the present possession of every believer.  Jesus gives us His promise of "peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you" (Jn. 14:27).

Peace is a result of our reconciliation with God.  Yet it is so hard for us to experience at times.  I'll do some more study tomorrow and hopefully have a bit more to share.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fruit of the Spirit: Day 10

Yesterday I spent some time going through some of Spurgeon's thoughts on joy.  Specifically how we need to look after our joy and nurture it.  Today, to continue that thought, I want to see if I can list specific ways that can be done.  It's easy to say "ok, go look after your joy", but it can be quite another to actually do that.  What does it look like to nurture joy in your life?  To a certain extent, this might be a question whose answer varies from person to person, but I'm still going to try to lay out some specifics to help us in this journey.

1.  A true understanding of what it means to be saved.

David prays in the psalms for the Lord to restore to him the joy of his salvation.  We need to remind ourselves of what Christ has done for us.  We need to remember the sacrifice he made and not let that knowledge grow stale, old, and taken for granted.

2.  A true understanding of what we are saved from.

We are saved from our sin, the things that we did to destroy ourselves and others.  More than that, though, we are saved from Hell and eternal separation from God.  Which leads us to 3...

3.  A true understanding of what we are saved for.

(Grammer police, I realize these last two points are probably driving you crazy.  I'm sorry, but not sorry enough to fix it.  I write the way I speak, what can I say?)  Anyway, we need to study the Scriptures and learn what eternity has in store for us now that we are saved.  The wonders of heaven never cease to amaze me when I contemplate them.  They also remind me of Who my focus should be on and Who I'm living for.  A book I once read said that if you make eternity a line going on forever, our lives are a tiny dot in comparison.  For that reason, we should live for the line, not for the dot.  It is hard not to be joyful when you remember the hope of heaven Christ has given us.  A place where "there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying[, and t]here shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away" (Rev. 21:4).

Beyond these, I would be remiss if I did not encourage you to be faithful in Bible study and prayer as a main way of renewing your joy.  These concepts are doctrines that can be found all over the scriptures and the best way to keep our eyes on Christ, and to learn what He wants us to know, is to spend time with him daily.

Tomorrow, I'll see what I can dig out about peace.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Fruit of the Spirit: Day 9

Ok, I wanted to do more about joy, but I'm honestly having trouble finding much detailed information.  This kind of surprises me, but for whatever reason, that's the way it is.  Maybe it's because joy is so often linked to suffering and having joy in the midst of trials.  Maybe it's not an easy subject to cover.  I just don't know.

I did finally find some writing on the subject of joy in Kent's collection of Spurgeon's sermons.  I have actually never looked through this series before, and wow I had no idea what I was missing!  I love the old language, it flows so wonderfully off the page and reminds me of Oswald Chambers' writing a bit.

In one of his sermons he digs into 1 John 1:4, "And these things we write to you, that your joy may be full".  I wouldn't think you could write a whole sermon on one little verse like that, but after reading just a bit it amazes me what he is able to pull out of that one short verse.  I don't want to just give you quote after quote, but the ideas a language are so well woven it will be hard to put it into my own clumsy words.  But I'll do my best!

For tonight, let's just look at the first point: Our joy needs looking after.

If joy were easy, if it came naturally, this wouldn't have needed to be written.  Instead, God inspired John to write a whole book with the goal that our joy would be full.  He (God) knew that we would need encouragement.  He knew we would face trials and tribulations that would drag us down and cause us to take our eyes off of Christ and our blessed hope.  So what did God do, in His infinite love for us?  He gave us His Word to encourage us, to give us hope and to help us keep our joy.  Our joy is centered on Him and when we become distracted by the sin and suffering we encounter we need God's Word and God's people to help us refocus on Him.

We must look after our joy and nurture it, help it grow and cause it to flourish because it can so easily be beaten down.

I pray that you and I will take the time we need to tend to our joy and to encourage it to grow that our joy may be full!


So...I dropped the ball.  Yesterday, I totally forgot to post a blog.  Completely slipped my mind.  Friday?  Well, Friday I was just lazy.  So, yeah, I've missed two days.  I'm a little upset about it, but it's also been nice.  I have a lot on my plate and I seem to keep adding to it.  I keep going back and forth on whether or not this blog is actually helpful.  I'm not overly sure that it is, but I can't totally convince myself of that either.  

Whatever that case may be, it's definitely been stretching/stressful to try to post everyday.  I'll do my best to keep up from here (but no promises!).

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Day Six: Joy

As much as I need to keeping teaching myself about being more loving, there are still eight more characteristics to explore. The next in the list is joy. For me, this is a fun one. Joy is akin to happiness, and it makes me smile just thinking about it. The difference is that happiness depends on our experiences while our joy should be grounded in our knowledge of God and what He has done for us.

Our joy is to present even in the midst of tribulation. James says, "count it all joy brethren, when you fall into various troubles" (Jas. 1:2). The only way we can sustain our joy even in troubles is through God's help.

Our joy is to be full. At a quick glance, I'm counting at least five place where the Bible mentions our joy being full, usually in connection with going through tribulation. Jesus Himself tells us to ask, that we may receive and then our joy will be full (John 16:24). What can fill your heart more than knowing that the God of the universe hears your requests and desires to help you in your time of need? I am thankful to have a God who loves me that much and more.

Here are a few other verses on joy:

"For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit."
Romans 14:17

"Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!"
Phil. 4:4

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fruit of the Spirit: Day 5

I have all kinds of excuses on why I didn't get to this post tonight.  Basically, I let my emotions get the best of me and "just didn't feel like it".  Nice, I know.  I still don't feel like it, but I'm here, and I'm trying.

Part of the problem is that I feel like such a hypocrite tonight trying to write about Biblical love when I have been the worst example of that today.  So, instead of what I was going to write, I'll just let y'all into my heart's prayer tonight.  (If you're curious, I was originally going to reference John 13:35 and how we are known by our love.)

Dear Lord, please forgive me for my short temper today.  I want to be a good mother, but so often that desire is overshadowed by my own faults and failings.  Help me, Lord, to love my children with Your holy love and to be a godly example to them.  Teach me how to build a home that honors You as it directs them.  I pray that You would be at work in their lives, even in spite of my failings.  Please, Lord, more than anything, give me wisdom as I raise these children You have placed in my care.  Thank You for your amazing love and the example that I can never live up to.
In Jesus' name, Amen.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Day 4: Love!

I'm finding this to be more difficult than I thought it would be.  I don't usually post more than twice a week, so really there's no reason I should be surprised that posting everyday has been hard to work in.  It has been good, though.  I've been spending more time thinking about and studying biblical things than I have in a while.  Sadly, Bible Study is something that is easily pushed aside when life gets busy.  

This exercise has already been showing some benefits in my life, though.  Just this morning when my children were screaming I reminded myself of God's love for us and that we should show that love to others.  So instead of getting upset with them, I was able to take a breath, say a quick prayer, and deal with the conflict in a much (much) better way than I would have.  

So, with that intro, let's look at a few things about love...

Because love is the first characteristic listed, I believe it puts a primacy on that characteristic.  It is, after all, only because of God's love for us that we are able to have a relationship with Him.  Then only through that relationship can we truly love others.  It's all connected and it all begins in God's amazing love.  

As Christians, we have the Holy Spirit inside of us, giving us access to His love.  That is why we should love and be known by our love.  As it is God's love that should be shown through us, here is a quick list of a few of the things that God's love is:

~Unmerited (Rom. 5:8)
~Great (Eph. 2:4)
~Transforming (Rom. 5:5)
~Unchanging (Rom. 8:35-39)

As I'm dealing with my children each day, I'm trying to remind myself that my love should have the same attributes.  It is hard for me to remember, but a good challenge to work on.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Fruit of the Spirit: Day 3

Due to technical difficulties (and the fact that it's late and I'm tired) I'm going to save my thoughts on love for tomorrow.  For tonight, I'll leave you with God's thoughts on love :).

"Love suffers long and is kind; 
love does not envy; 
love does not parade itself, 
is not puffed up; 
does not behave rudely, 
does not seek it's own, 
is not provoked, 
thinks no evil; 
does not rejoice in iniquity, 
but rejoices in the truth; 
bears all things, 
believes all things, 
hopes all things, 
endures all things. 
 Love never fails.
...And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; 
but the greatest of these is love."
1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Goals for the Week

~Up at 6 every day
~Clean all dishes out of the sink after each meal
~Blog each day (for my 31 Day Challenge!)
~Make my bed each morning
~One special activity with the kids each day
~Lay out my clothes each night
~Do a toy cleanup with the kids each night before they go to bed
~64+ oz. of water each day

To Do:
~Spend one night cleaning out my coupons
~Do a full menu plan
~Clean out my recipe folder
~Organizer recipe folder
~Start my Holiday Control Journal

I've been doing really well with my water lately.  Maybe soon I can take it off my reminder list because it will be so ingrained!  Maybe.  We'll see...

I tried to keep my to dos to small, easily accomplished tasks that will help me eventually conquer my bigger goals.  Hopefully I will actually do them this week!  If I can get my recipe binder all set up, then next week I can start working on tweaking our meals.  If I can figure out how to do that and still find things my family will eat.  That is healthy.  And cheap.  Oh dear.

Fruit of the Spirit: Day 2

I have not set out a plan for the month since I just jumped in off the cuff yesterday.  So, we'll have to see how things go (I think I might try to lay out a general plan tonight).

Anyway,  I thought today I'd start by digging into the background, what's going on around the verse and a few of the basic things.  Then tomorrow I can start taking each word one by one.  So here we go...

Galatians was written by Paul with the intent to combat the legalistic teaching that was creeping into the Galatian church at the time.  The church was being taught that they (a church of mostly Gentiles) needed to be circumcised and to follow the law of Moses to be in proper standing with God.  In essence they were being taught that faith in Christ's death on the cross was not enough.  With this in mind, when we look at the fruit of the Spirit we must remember that it is not a list of things we must do to be godly, but instead trust in the Spirit to work these out through us.  This does not mean that we should not cultivate these characteristics, but ultimately that it is the Spirit of God within us who makes it possible to attain them.

The fruit of the Spirit is given by God when one is saved and brought into the family of God.  It is similar to the gifts that the Spirit gives in that they are given at the time of salvation and we spend the rest of our lives cultivating them and watching God grow them in us, but different in that every believer gets all of the fruit of the Spirit.  In fact, as it has been often pointed out, the "fruit of the Spirit" is singular, signifying that they come as a package deal.  Therefore, if you are saved, you have the capability to be all of these things: loving, peaceful, kind, etc.  It's just up to us to surrender to the Spirit's work within us and allow Him to bring them out.

This is quite a challenge for me as I get ready for tomorrow.  I hope to begin to be a better example of the fruit of the Spirit to my children and others around me.

Tomorrow: Love!

*I used the Expositor's Bible Commentary and my Baptist Study Bible for these notes.  I'll try to note each day what I'm using in my study.  I try not to just regurgitate what I've read, but even still, they deserve credit for their information.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Fruit of the Spirit: Day 1

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such there is no law."
Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJV)

I love these verses.  They challenge me on every level to be more than I naturally am.  More than I could ever be alone.  

Since having children I'm reminded almost daily how far I have to go, and I've learned to cling to these verses more and more.  I love my children dearly and I try to be a godly example to them, but it's rare that I go through a day where I don't fall short in at least one of these areas.  Usually more than one.  Children are a wonderful tool in God's hands to remind us of our own shortcomings and our desperate need for Him to work through us.  

Most of the time I feel like I need these verses posted in every room of the house as a reminder.  Or maybe tattooed to the back of my hand.  

So, this is why I chose these verses out of the many things I could study for the next month.  I want to dig into them and focus on them and use them more actively in my life.  I want my life to be characterized by the fruit of the Spirit.

31 Days of the Fruit of the Spirit

I discovered through one of my current favorite blogs (A Slob Comes Clean...seriously, read her.  She's hilarious!) a 31 day challenge for the month of October.  The challenge is to pick a topic and to write on it everyday for 31 days.  I like the idea because it would give me a better goal for my blogging (not to mention some focus).  I love to do things by the month as well.  It's a nice start-stop type of thing that lets me feel like it's not going to be forever.

I thought about it for a while and while I have many things that I could stand to focus on more, I kept coming back to the idea of something spiritual.  This blog is, after all, Pursuing Godliness.  I know weight loss and housekeeping are not at odds with godliness, in fact I believe taking care of my house and myself is one of the ways that I bless my family and fulfill my role as wife and mother, but I also would like to have more spiritually based things going on around here.  So I decided on studying and posting on the fruit of the Spirit for this month.  Since there are 31 days and only nine characteristics listed this will definitely be interesting.  I'm excited to see where this goes!

The challenge originates at The Nesting Place, and there are many, many others linked up that will be fun to check out.  I will not be linking, for one because I don't know how to do a button (they want either that or a picture) and for another because I'm just not feeling that brave.  Most of the ones I've clicked through seem to be trying for professional blogging, whereas I'm just doing this mostly for me.

Be on the lookout for my first 31 Days post later on!

Tired, but here

It's coming up on two weeks since I last posted.  The time in between has been so hectic and crazy and I'm pretty exhausted even though I'm typing this in the morning after just getting a relatively good night's sleep.

I didn't make a plan this week.  I thought I could do it without one.  I was wrong.  I also weighed myself for the first time in a while and discovered I'd gained back ten of the 20+ pounds I fought so hard to lose.  Again because I gave up on working the plan.

I'm tired, and when I'm tired I want to make excuses about why I don't need to be so strict on things.  Problem is, when I give up on the plan and the daily structured way of doing things nothing works.  I had even planned on giving up blogging for a while because it takes so much time and I didn't think I needed the accountability anyway.  Come to find out, I do.  Even if no one reads it, I still need to make the time to post here because it keeps me on track.  I'm not by nature a writer, and I don't know how good I am at it, but having to get things ready to put up here goes a long way to getting me to do the daily things that I need.

Sigh...a lot of this doesn't come easily or naturally to me, but I just have to remember to keep plugging because the end result is worth it.