Pray Expecting Answers

IMG_0923We have the Psalms, the prayers of the apostles, the prayers of many saints in Church history recorded for us; we know that Jesus himself taught us how to pray and we still feel that we don’t know how to pray.  We still feel inadequate and that our words are never the right ones. We don’t know what to ask for or how to ask for some things. We are Reformed Christians, we believe in God’s sovereignty and so we try our best not to sound like those who name and claim promises and demand answers from God as if they had the power to do so.

But I am afraid that because of this idea of wanting to pray aright -according to each of the points on which our theology stands – the prayer life of many has lost all fervency. The words that come out from our mouths are as dry as our hearts. Our eyes never cry because we don’t let them do so. We are more worried about controlling our emotions than the Psalmist. We know the motions and so we pray the Lord’s prayer not daring to be specific in our prayers. Our favorite prayer is “Let your will be done, Lord” and often pray it holding back, like in a strong dam, all that we really want to say.

Friends, it will do us good to read more of  what the Puritans, Spurgeon, Ryle, Pink, Owens, have written and learn from them how to be good theologians on our knees. The secret I have found in the writings of these men is that the main thing that ruled their prayer life was this: they all knew God and knew that God hears our prayers and answers His children. They prayed with fervency and much confidence. They knew that no Christian prays in vain, that no Christian waits in vain, that no Christian claims to God in vain. They all prayed expecting answers from God.

We should take our Bibles and pray the Scriptures back to God, and do it fervently, trusting that our prayers do reach the ear the Lord. But along with the Scriptures, we must also bring our anxieties, our own individual petitions -big and small-, our fears, our longings before God. We can earnestly plead to Him and ask for His divine intervention and trust that He will come and meet us in our needs. This is not arrogance, this is what coming boldly before the throne of grace in Jesus’ name looks like (Heb. 4:16).

O, how we need to pray more from the heart. How we need to expect more answers from the Lord. Why do we come to prayer more often than not, thinking that God will not answer us? Or why when we pray we think that He will always say no to our petitions? Haven’t we forgotten that God is our good Father who LOVES (yes, all caps!) to give good gifts to His children (Mt.11)? Haven’t we forgotten that He will never withhold from His people good gifts (Ps.84:11)? How we need to be reminded in our prayer closet of the words of the apostle Paul, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Rom. 8:32)!

Let us be praying people, but let us pray knowing that our God hears us and rewards those who seek Him: “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (Heb.11:6)

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky

Recommended book: The Power of Prayer in a Believer’s Life, a collection of sermons by C.H. Spurgeon edited by Robert Hall.

What Are You Reading in the Bible?

Summer-18-Bible-Challenge-FB-Invite

When I am far gone and people who knew me talk about me, I want them to remember me as a woman who always encouraged others to read all the Word of God, to love it, to pray it, to believe it all, to live by it every day.

And I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities that God has provided for me to do what I have always done , but with a much bigger microphone this past year. God is good!

This week about a thousand women all over the world concluded the first Bible Reading Challenge put together by Christ Church: We read the whole Bible in 8 months following a plan that I put together trying to make it easy to follow because of its structure. Starting with the fact that the New Testament is the inspired commentary of the Old Testament and understanding that the Bible has one main story line: A Redemption Story, then I tried to pair the readings in a way that people would read the selections of the day and then say, “Aha! I now see this super clear connection that I never saw before!” So we read, for example, the book of Hebrews at the same time that we read the book of Leviticus. I tried to place most Psalms where they belonged in the timeline. We read specific Psalms at the same time that we read in the book of Samuel  the circumstances David was going through when he composed that specific Psalm.  The plan was also unique because we started and finished with Psalm 119 and the very last day we closed with Romans 8. So powerful!

Now many more women (over 2,000 as I am typing this and hundreds of men) are ready to start the Summer Bible Reading Challenge this coming Monday, June 4. These next three months we will be reading the New Testament, and if you choose to do the extended version, you will read the NT once plus many epistles three times all together. I planned it in such a way that we would read some epistles back to back and some other books by author to get the most of them, to be immersed in them. For example, we will start with John, his letters, and the book of Revelation, and those doing the extended plan will also read in a week two times the epistle of Paul to the Galatians. I really encourage you to join us, Friend. Find all the information for men and women (and in 6 other languages too!) here.

So, Friend, what have you  been reading in your Bible lately? What will you read next? Would you consider joining us?

Read the Word, read it all, believe it all, pray it all, live by it.

Under His Sun and by His grace,

Becky Pliego

 

 

One Link, One eBook, One Seminar

Happy Saturday, Friends!

One link: I want to suggest to you this article by R.C. Sproul in which he explained -in his very clear and biblical way- what living “Coram Deo” means. It is a short read with much to think about.  Find it here.

One book: Monergism is offering for free The Bruised Reed by Puritan Ricard Sibbes (eBook), which is one of my favorite books and one I try to read once a year. Take advantage of this gift the kind people from Monergism Books are offering now.

One seminar: My friend Rachel Jankovic will be teaching a Live Webinar which consists of 4- sessions entitled, Spiritual Spring Cleaning. Check it out, and I can assure that you will find it super helpful and fun. Find all the details here.

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky

 

 

 

Plundering the Egyptians?

pexels-photo-250609.jpegOnly after ten horrible plagues, did Pharaoh let God’s people go. Not surprisingly, the people of Egypt were ready for the people of Israel to go –quickly, please . Their land was now devastated by the plagues, they had buried their firstborns, what was coming next? They were afraid all were going to die. The night of the great deliverance, of the great Exodus, Moses told the Israelites to ask their Egyptian neighbors for gold and silver, and clothes, and yes, the Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked. Thus they plundered the Egyptians. (From the book of Exodus)

This story is wonderful, and that last line? It has become a favorite among Christians. But are we using it rightly?

What exactly did the Israelites plunder? Material things that would serve them well in their long journey to the Promised Land. God in His kindness, provided generously for His people. The days and nights are ahead were going to be many and hardship was awaiting.

There are many instances in the Old Testament in which we see this same thing. God goes before His people, they fight big battles and over and over again God gives them victories than seemed impossible. And so many times the Israelites plundered the nations God gave them into their hands (read the Old Testament to find for yourself all the many instances in which this happened).

And every time God told them what they should plunder and what they shouldn’t take from these nations. And the things they were never supposed to take were their religious views, their idols, and their ways of worshiping and living. The command was clear, but in their unbelief, in their practical atheism,* they brought with them these things, they tried to incorporate these gods, these spiritual ideas, these new ideas of worship into their lives, forgetting -or better yet, not wanting to remember, that judgment would come too.

But, “Why shouldn’t we bring in these ideas with us? Aren’t we being legalistic? Isn’t this *your* own interpretation? What is an idol? Please, define it first.” The Post-modern Christian today joins the Israelites in asking theses questions.  “We have been made free, we have God on our side, can’t anyone see how He has given us this land? We are God’s people, we are His, we can certainly bring with us some great ideas that they have used in their worship services, some systems of beliefs, some ways to deal with sin that might work well for some of us, right?”

Hint: Don’t forget that  God killed Uzzah  because he tried to keep the Ark of the Covenant from falling from the cart… Wait a minute, from where? From the cart? The Ark was never supposed to be transported in a cart that was an idea that the Israelites decided to plunder from the Philistines, and of course it sounded more practical than doing it the way God has established it should be transported (read  Numbers 4:15, 1 Chronicles 13, and 2 Samuel 2)

Well no. We shouldn’t even start considering plundering the religious ideas from the world, their belief systems, their way of feasting, their way of dealing with sin, their ways of worship. Those things can’t be baptized. That would only bring destruction upon us and our children, it would bring judgement, it would bring corruption to our families and churches. It will bring worldliness into our lives which should be holy.  Christian, Friend, we have Christ, we have the Word of God, we own the Truth. Think about that for a minute. Why would we even want to imitate the lives of the pagans and take their advice on how to live this life God has given us in Christ? Why would we want to add to the great and precious promises God has given us in Christ their beliefs? That is not plundering the Egyptians, that is foolishness and sinful, that is to willingly walk into a Baal altar to offer ourselves and our children.

Read the Old Testament. Read it all. Read the New Testament. Read it all. Now put the two things together. We don’t get to define what an “idol” is. We don’t get to define what “worldiness” means. We are the People of the Word, the People of the Book. Let God’s book define that for us and let us flee from all idols.

Many will say, “But wait, are you saying that we shouldn’t read the books authored by unbelievers, that we shouldn’t listen to their music, that we can’t enjoy their art and walk in the cities and parks they have built? By all means, no! What we are not to consider plundering from them is their idols, their religious systems, their definitions of the virtues that pertain to God, the way they think we should be doing life, they way they insist we educate our children, the way the want to get rid of the hierarchy God has established  for marriage,  the church, and the world.

My eldest son and I have been having some wonderful conversations about this and we thought that we all should start using the term “worldliness” more and more in our conversations with other Christians. Read the epistle of James and read his warnings against worldliness. Read it, Friends, and tremble and “examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! (2 Cor.13:5).

Why do we believe that we are less vulnerable to be deceived by sin than the Israelites? Consider the weight of this warning, “take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said,

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”” Paul, in his letter to the Hebrews

The good news is that Christ has come to destroy the works of the evil one, He has come to set us free from all sinful habits, from all idolatry.  Repent and believe, and He will help you see that Christ’s way is the only way to live fully.

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky

 

 

*Practical atheism, a phrase I plundered from John Piper.

To Lent or Not to Lent

pexels-photo-792953.jpegIn our family we don’t observe Lent for the same reasons our Pastor explains in this interview. However, because we still want to keep the Christian calendar, what we have done for years is that after dinner we stop reading the book or devotional we have chosen for  the year and start reading about the Cross and the Resurrection of Christ. Just like in Christmas we gather all the books that tell of the Incarnation of our Lord, in this season we too look for good the books that talk about the Cross and the Resurrection of our Lord and mediate on their significance in our lives.

Super simple and yet it has proven a great blessing to us.

A few books I would like to  suggest you are these:

Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross editor Nancy Guthrie

“This collection of readings, drawn from the writings and sermons of 25 classic and contemporary theologians and Bible teachers, focuses on the wonder of Christ’s sacrifice.”

Love to the Uttermost, by John Piper

Love to the Uttermost: Devotional Readings for Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday, ends on Easter Sunday, and aims to focus our attention on Jesus as he displays his love to the uttermost (John 13:1). These meditations on the self-giving love of Christ are all excerpted from the preaching and writing ministry of John Piper.”

Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die by John Piper.

“The most important questions anyone can ask are: Why was Jesus Christ crucified? Why did he suffer so much? What has this to do with me? Finally, who sent him to his death? The answer to the last question is that God did. Jesus was God’s Son. The suffering was unsurpassed, but the whole message of the Bible leads to this answer.”

Spurgeon’s Sermons on the Cross of Christ

You can also read books about the work of Christ, about how Sanctification works, about the mortification of sin, etc.

May the Lord open our eyes to see what a great Salvation we have in Christ!

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky

Of Boys and Men

I have wanted to revive this blog for a while. And actually I have a list of things I want to write about but honestly I have been putting them off for another day. I am probably overthinking this blogging thing way too much… Maybe tomorrow? Is this a thing worth writing about? But today, a situation pushed one of the items on the list to the top with such a hard thrust that brought me to this blank page. So, sorry, Friends, there will be no “Welcome-back-to-the-blog-party” today.  That will have to wait.

pexels-photo-261909.jpegMoms of Boys, please, please don’t make excuses for your sons. Please! You will pretty soon regret doing that. Stop that habit now, it will destroy your dear son’s life.

I have been teaching, for almost 11 years, high-school students, and without a doubt, I can tell you that more and more I am seeing moms of boys excusing the irresponsibility of their sons.  And more and more moms are using their sons’ personality traits to do so. He is introverted. He is very smart but you just can’t see it. He is the most responsible 15 yo boy I know and the most hardworking one, but you are not extending enough Christian Grace to him. Please be more understanding and give him some room to grow.  He is too tired, he is growing up, you know? He was late to class because *I* forgot to wake him up, please don’t deduct points from his grade. etc. And so it goes. And so goes the destruction of their sons.

Proverbs speaks to all of us, of course, but it was originally written by a father to his son. And it is very interesting to see how the father urges his son to listen his mother’s instruction (1:8) and to not forsake the teachings of his mother (6:20). So clearly we moms have a huge role to play in the life of our sons. But how are going to use that influence? What we we teaching them? Are we instructing them with the Word of God in hand?

We read the articles around the web and we see what a terrible need there is for truly godly men to rise, for pious men to lead their families in the Lord, for godly men to own their responsibilities and step out and be brave and do the right thing. And at the same time we hear the big question resound all over, Where are these men?  I have no doubt that part of the answer is one that Moms of Boys must give.

I am not writing here to address the problem of lack of Father figures -of Father hunger, I am writing here to address the responsibility moms have in all this.

Moms of Boys, stop making excuses for your son. Let him own both, his own responsibility and his irresponsibility, and the consequences for both. Ask God to give you eyes to see what you don’t want to see. Ask God to open you eyes to see what others see in your son and you keep denying.  Ask God to give you a brave heart to say “No, I am not covering that lie anymore.” “No, I cannot keep this situation from your Dad.”No, I cannot call your teacher to give the explanation you want me to give.”  And even this, “Yes, I agree with you, I believe that the grade your teacher gave you is unjust; but son, I believe that God is allowing this in your life to show you that in this world, not all things are just. You can learn so much from this. Toughen up and do it again. Honor God. Be a man.”

Behind a weak man, many times there is an overprotective mom, a mom that believes her son is the most wonderful, mature, and responsible young man in the world. Behind a weak man, many times there is a mom that puts every effort to make of every situation a safe-place for her son. Behind a weak man, many times there is a mom willing to be the one who faces the teacher or boss, or pastor while her son is playing video-games.

Moms of Boys, take heart, look up to Jesus, the Perfect Man and lean on Him for grace to do what He has called you do.

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky

P.S. The only announcement today is this: many links in this blog are broken since we moved it from Blogger to WordPress, and it might take a while to repair them. Thanks for your understanding. 🙂