Faithful Obedience by Robin Zarate

Welcome to another post on this series Faithful Obedience. The aim of this series is to encourage you to be faithful to God and His Word and persevere in faithful obedience. For this, I have invited some friends to share with us how they have learned to live in this faithful obedience to God in the “here and in the now” trusting that you will find good words that will exhort you to press on.

We all know that there are gifts that keep on giving. Well, let me tell you that Robin Zarate is a friend, a gift from God to me, that keeps on giving! We have been friends for many years now and she just keeps pouring into my life!  Robin is a woman that has learned how to be live in faithful obedience to God through many hard circumstances (for example, she has been a widow twice -with four sons, now adults, to raise on her own). And through all these hard Providences she has become more lovely, more joyous, and more like Christ each day. She is a remarkable woman and I am honored to have her share part of her testimony of God’s faithfulness with us today.

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The bathroom light pierced the dark, it was time to get out of bed. I wandered down the steps and caught the smell of fresh brewing coffee. Peter sat with his open bible near the fireplace motioning for me to join him for prayer and a few passages before taking our morning run. We were in our thirties and life was busy living in Mexico City, learning a new language, a new culture, growing a business and a family. I cherished the hours before the sun came up, before the responsibilities of life took us in separate directions for the day. I would joke with Peter that I got him “first” before the rest of the world. Seldom were many words spoken in those predawn hours. At that moment, I had no idea this mundane morning routine was soon to become a treasured memory.

The shocking news of Peter’s death came unexpectedly late that evening as I anticipated his arrival, a taxi robbery gone wrong. The headline of the newspapers the next day called it “Rogue Taxi Crime” as gangs would steal taxis in the city and rob unsuspecting passengers. I looked up the word rogue and found a definition that included, Rogue- “sinister in nature, meant cause to harm.” Like a demolition wrecking ball this news threatened to destroy the sturdy and secure looking life I had. I was heartbroken. Disbelief and shock obscured my view as I fought to make sense of my life being turned upside down.

Sleep never came that first night and as odd as it sounds, I could not cry. Oh, I cried out to God in anguish but not with actual tears. Sitting by the fireplace alone I felt the heat of the glowing embers against the numbing news that caused a deep agony in my soul. So many questions swirled in my head. Peter had been my rock, my husband and father of our children. Parenting four sons together was the joy of his life, how would I do it without him?

My mind raced as I thought of how I was going to break the news to our four small boys, asleep upstairs, unaware of the event that would change their world. I was in shock, everything in me was trying to remember. Remember the last time I saw him, his touch, our last words, my mind naturally wanted to recreate these moments, trying to come to terms with the truth of these unwanted set of circumstances.

I remembered the contents of the last sermon we heard together from Luke 1, the birth announcement of Jesus. I opened my bible and was amazed at how the narrative of Mary encouraged me to consider perhaps, just maybe God was up to something, greater and grander and more glorious than my eyes could see. It gave me hope that night and in the years since then.

The angel Gabriel announced the stunning news to Mary that though she was a virgin she would conceive a son. The scriptures state that she was greatly troubled and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. She could never have expected to hear the most incredible news that she would have a son who would be the promised Messiah. Although she could not comprehend how she would conceive the Savior, she responded to God with humble trust and obedience.

God has used this familiar portion of His word to teach and encourage me to learn to respond to life’s challenges with an informed faith that obeys.

Mary was a good Jewish girl, she knew the Holy Scriptures, she knew the prophecy of Isaiah:

“Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will call him Immanuel.”

Although God’s plan for Mary held great honor, it required a costly obedience and would demand great suffering as well. There would be pain in childbirth and pain as mother of the suffering Messiah. Mary embraced God’s word by faith, despite her plans and how she thought her life was going to go. Her response was “Let it be to me as you have said, behold the handmaiden of the Lord”, she humbly put herself at God’s disposal. I pondered her response in a way I never had before.

In Mary’s famous song of Praise, The Magnificat, we see the evidence of her Old Testament knowledge and her wholehearted trust leading her to praise. As I rehearsed memories that led up to this night, it appeared while I went about my daily life, God’s providential plan was unfolding. No surprise to God, yet a big surprise to me. That’s what we find happening here in Mary’s story, and it planted a small seed of hope that God was up to something in the midst of my pain.

The first part of living a life of faithful obedience is knowing where our obedience comes from, how it is produced. Foundationally it comes as a result of God’s grace through faith because of our union with Jesus Christ. God gives the grace needed to strengthen us to live in faithful obedience amidst life’s painful and confusing circumstances. Genuine faith in Christ produces obedient lives that give God glory.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

It has been twenty-one years since Peter’s death. God continues to use Mary’s narrative to comfort and convict me. Her example of knowing God’s word and it’s call to trust, obey and praise God has been a constant theme. I have reared my four boys who are now grown men. That difficult part of what God called me to is behind me and yet, life circumstances continually give me fresh opportunity to trust God and the grace He supplies to bring about the obedience of faith.

There have been times of questions, doubts and deep wondering about how to live life this way, but God has been faithful. Through His word, the fellowship, love and prayers of brothers and sisters in Christ, God continues to expose the ways I still need be changed to the image of Jesus for His glory. By His grace my faith and love for Him has grown. When the circumstances of life threaten to overwhelm me, I especially remember Mary’s response to God’s appointed plan. Her example of simple but complete trust has encouraged me.

I look back after all these years to those difficult hours the night Peter died, and I see it differently through the eyes of faith. God’s loving care for me there in that room is evident in my mind now. He knew what it would take to grow me up and to this day it is a picture of His grace.

In my mind, I remember how the soft rays of sunlight began to illuminate the dark room in the early morning hours on my first day alone. The memories of my morning routine with Peter greeted me as I picked up the Bible sitting near the fireplace where he had left it. I opened where he had bookmarked and began to read these verses and as I did the first tears began to fall.

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in Him. The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.” Lamentations 3:21-25

Robin Zarate

 

The Excellency of Meekness and Quietness of Spirit

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In the first chapter of Matthew Henry’s book, The Quest for Meekness and Quietness of Spirit, he writes about the nature of this trait. (I shared some quotes and thoughts here). Now in this second chapter he moves on to explain the excellency of a meek and quiet spirit.

Here are some wonderful quotes (and some added thoughts):

“It is easier to kill an enemy without, which may be done at a blow, than to chain up and govern an enemy within, which requires a constant, even, steady hand, and a long and regular management.”

Like Owen, Henry understood that the real enemy is within us and the only thing we were supposed to do with it was kill it. Mortification of the flesh and of sins in us were a doctrine that was taught, believed and pursued with much earnest then; and how we need to recover that! Especially now that the world has indoctrinated us  to look outside us to find the fault within us (For example, “It was my dad’s fault that now I am this way.”). We must stop blaming the circumstances around us, and start pursuing a meek and quiet spirit who is prone to fight sin with us. Henry continues encouraging us to remember that, “Meekness is a victory over ourselves and the rebellious lusts in our own bosoms.”  The meek man will indeed fight and win.

Mathew Henry writes that a person who has learned to be meek and quiet in his spirit will be quiet and in control of himself even when the world around them will be busy and noisy. He writes,

“A meek and quiet Christian must needs live very comfortably, for he enjoys himself, he enjoys his friends, he enjoys his God, and he puts it out of reach of his enemies to disturb him in these enjoyments.”

I love that!  I want to learn this lesson well. To not let anything nor anyone to rob me of the gifts that God has given me. What a blessing that would be!

Henry continues (and this might be my favorite quote of this chapter!),

“The greatest provocations that men can give would not hurt us if we did not, by our own inordinate and foolish concern, come too near them, and within the reach of their cannon; we may therefore thank ourselves if we be damaged. He that has learned, with meekness and quietness to forgive injuries, and pass them by, has found the best and surest way of baffling and defeating them…”

Henry writes about the ways in which a meek and a quiet spirit will profit us. He mentions these specific areas:

1. It is profitable because it is the condition to receive the promise: “The meek shall inherit the earth”

2. Meekness directly affects our own interests like our health, our wealth (being much or little), our safety.

Lastly Matthew Henry incites us to consider what a “preparative this meekness and quietness of spirit is for something further.”  As Christians we want to be able to stand strong, unshakable, “well fitted and furnished for every good work, to be made ready, and be a people prepared for the Lord…”

He mentions five ways in which this grace of meekness is “particularly a good preparation for what lies before us in this world:”

1. It makes us fit for any duty. Including our spiritual duties like reading the Word, praying, and keeping the Lord’s Day.

2. It makes us fit for any relation which God and His Providence may call us into.

3. It makes us fit for any condition according as the wise God shall please to dispose of us. And on this he writes,

“Those that through grace are enabled to compose and quiet themselves are fit to live in this world, where we meet with so much every day to discompose and disquiet us. In general, whether the outward condition be prosperous or adverse, whether the world would smile or frown upon us, a meek and quiet spirit is neither lifted up with the one, nor cast down with the other, but still in the same poise…”

 

“Meekness and quietness will fortify the soul on each hand, and suit it to several entertainments which the world gives us; like a skillful pilot who, whatever point of the compass the wind blows from, will shift his sails accordingly, and who knows either how to get forward and weather his point with it, or to lie by without damage. It is the continual happiness of a quiet temper to make the best of that which is.”

4. It makes us fit for a day of persecution.

5. It makes us fit for death and eternity.

So now we only have one more chapter left in this book, and if God permits, I will share some more quotes and thoughts about it next week.

What a blessing it is to have many of the books that Puritans wrote available for us today. I hope you may be encouraged to always have one among the books you are currently reading.

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky Pliego

PC: Jeremy Bishop via Unsplash

Faithful Obedience by Noai Meyer

I am grateful for the gift of having Noai sharing with us in this series on Faithful Obedience. Noai has walked through a very hard road with much joy and unwavering trust in the Lord. Her life is an example of faithful obedience.

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Being Faithful with the Illness God Has Called You To

Psalm 84:11 “For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”

In 2018, shortly after the birth of my second daughter, we had the privilege of having my Multiple Scleroses come back with a scary vengeance. My vision was affected, my gait was affected, my arms and hands, and many other muscles and nerves. I remember one day sitting on the couch and crying because I had trouble even holding my newborn daughter. I did not feel so privileged at the time. But, through much prayer from the saints, and crying out to God, we look back on it now and can honestly say we wouldn’t have it any other way. It is good for me to have MS.

I think the biggest lie that we buy into all the time boils down to “God is not good.” We fear that He will take our child, or we fear that what we eat is killing us slowly, or we fear that we won’t find the right thing to help our bodies heal. Another lie is “I deserve something better”. I found myself thinking, “I just want to be normal!” Or I would think “but I want be a normal mom who can walk, all the other moms can walk!” I deserved to be like everyone else.
I was plenty able to walk; I just was projecting into the future…not a good idea. God’s grace and goodness were supplying my needs now, why should I go to a spot where He wasn’t? If I get there some day, He will be there and it will be good, and He will provide.

We so often forget that we don’t deserve any of this. Not even the opportunity to do dishes! I disliked doing dishes, and when God took that gift away, I realized even work was a gift. Every minute of every day is a gift and yet we brazenly complain when we don’t get the life we want. Many times I have cried out to God that He would heal me, and several times I have felt the answer to be “..for He knew what was in the heart of man” (John 2:25), or “You lust and do not have…that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:2-3). Did I really want God more than healing? Did I put Him as my “chief end” and goal? Or, was I wanting healing so I could go back to my “normal” life and spend it on my desires? Healing is great and God loves to give those kinds of good gifts, but He will always give good gifts, and sometimes that looks like MS. We must stop listening to the lies that health is good without God, or life is good without God.

God will do whatever it takes to draw you to Himself. He gives each of us unique trials that are fit just for us. As His children, He doesn’t withhold any good thing from us. If we have a chronic illness, it is because it is good. If He chooses not to heal us, it is good. It is so comforting to know that all of this is a part of God’s plan. We are under the skillful Surgeon’s knife, as T. S. Elliot put it. It is wonderful that “our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases” (Psalm 115:3). What could be better than God Himself?

“Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will deliver us” (2 Corinthians 9-10). He has “delivered us from so great a death”, what more could we ask for? And, of course he will deliver us!

Don’t ask, “What can I do to get out of this trial?” Instead ask, “How is God using this trial to bring me closer to Him?” Sometimes rampant fear and unbelief in God sneak in when we research how to get better. I often fell into this. I told myself, “I’m just trying to figure things out.” It is easy to find peace in activity instead of in God. The truth was I felt it was up to me to control my life. I couldn’t trust God to do it right. When we think like that, we lose that precious opportunity to throw ourselves on God and humble ourselves before Him “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (I Peter 5:6-7). There is nothing wrong with researching how to get better, just be aware that fear easily creeps in the back door at the same time. Stress and anxiety are good indicators of when you are putting your trust in the wrong things.

Trials tend to be great purging grounds for the dross of God’s people. They kick all your props out from under you, revealing what foundation you are really on. We are so easily distracted and subtly tempted from our first love. But God is merciful to teach us and lead us in just the way we need so that we might gain Him. Once those props have been knocked out, and your lack of faith revealed, start shifting your weight to the foundation of God’s promises.

So how can we be faithful with the time of illness God has given us? First, I think we need to recognize those lies that creep in easily when we are sick. Then we must run to Scripture and begin steeping ourselves and saturating ourselves with God’s promises. My husband counseled me not just to do this when the hard times hit, but especially when things are going well, because we all receive trials at some point if we are God’s children. Clothed in His armor we will be able to stand. “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6: 13).

I love promises about His promises: “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor the son of man that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19). This was just after Balak tried getting Balaam to curse God’s people and he couldn’t. There is nothing that can touch us that hasn’t been permitted by God. Another promise on promises is: “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us” (2 Corinthians 1:20). You can and must put your trust in His promises.

Another good tactic for battling the fears is to get counsel or read books by Christians who have gone before us and conquered in these things. Some of the books that really blessed me during the hardest times were, “The Clouds Ye So Much Dread” by Hannah Grieser; “God is the Gospel” by John Piper, and “The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment” by Jeremiah Burroughs.

In the end, what do we really want? Do we want to see Jesus? “And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:3). And, can we say with David, “One thing I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple” (Psalm 27:4). Because this is his desire, David can say at the beginning of the psalm, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1).

If God is good, and He is, what do we have to fear? “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:18-19). God’s loving hands are the ones that perfectly crafted your illness for you. He will complete His work in you (Philippians 1:6) and use whatever is necessary to give you what is truly good. Lean into the flame that consumes the dross.

Noai Meyer

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The Quest for Meekness and Quietness of Spirit -Ch. 1-

N0Y8fkAXQGWq5hpoX4tgNwWith a desire to expose my dear daughter to the writings of the Puritans, I decided to pull out Matthew Henry’s book, The Quest for Meekness and Quietness of Spirit. I remembered I loved this book, but I had forgotten how much I loved it. I am so glad my daughter and I are reading it together this time, because I can tell she is loving it too. (And who doesn’t want their children to love the Puritans?)

In the next weeks, God willing,  I will be sharing with you some quotes from this book, along with some comments. I am sure that you will find them encouraging , but honestly, I do hope that I can get you to buy yourself a copy and start reading it. There is so much goodness in it! And maybe, who knows, at the end of these series of posts we will be reading it together.

In the first chapter of his book Mathew Henry writes about the nature of meekness towards God and towards men, and the nature of quietness of spirit.

In relation to our meekness toward God, he says that keeping a meek and quiet spirit helps us to submit (come under) to the will of God and to His Providence. Henry helps us see how many times, when the “events  of Providence are grievous and afflictive, displeasing to sense,”  or  “dark and intricate and we are quite at loss what God is about to do with us..” we can learn to quiet our soul under these hard Providences remembering “the law of meekness that whatsoever pleases God must not displease us.” And so we embrace His perfect will for us and do not fret about what is now disclosed to us.

Mathew Henry writes,

“Meekness is the silent submission of the soul to the Word of God: the understanding bowed to every divine truth, and the will to every divine precept; and both without murmuring or disputing.”

This is important to consider because the only way to be able to submit ourselves to the Word of God is to be in the Word of God. If we never open our Bibles, if we never read them, and never meditate on the whole counsel of God, how are we to know what are precepts, His promises? How will we ever know God’s thoughts for us? Only when we know God’s character -as revealed in Holy Word- can we learn to come under His Providence without murmuring or disputing.

When Mathew Henry writes about meekness toward our brothers and sisters, he says that having this frame of mind is of great help to fight anger within us. The author helps us see, through the use of biblical arguments, that the Holy Spirit uses meekness to help us learn to “prudently govern our own anger.”

How is this? Well, he argues that the work of meekness does four things in reference to our anger:

1. It helps us “to consider the circumstances of that which we apprehend to be a provocation, so as at no time to express our displeasure, but upon due and mature deliberation.”  He continues, “The office of meekness is to keep reason upon the throne in the soul as it ought to be, to preserve the understanding clear and unclouded, the judgement untainted and unbiased in the midst of great provocations..”

Henry encourages us to cultivate a meek heart so that we may be able to keep silence before God when the tumult of our passions may want to drown His voice. He writes, “Hear reason, keep passion silent, and then you will find it difficult to bear provocation.”

How wonderful is this? To remain calm and unshaken when provoked, because meekness is our backbone.

2. “The work of meekness is to calm the spirit so that the inward peace may not be disturbed by any outward provocation.”

The author reminds us that as much as we need “patience in case of sorrow, so we need meekness in case of anger..” because “meekness keeps possession of the soul…” To not be at loss because of our ill tempter!

Another great quote:

“Meekness preserves the mind from being ruffled and discomposed, and the spirit from being unhinged by the vanities and vexations of this lower world. It stills the noise of sea, the noise of her waves, and the tumult of the soul; it permits not the passions to crowd out in a disorderly manner, like a confused, ungoverned rabble, but draws them out like a the train bands, rank and file, every one in his own order, ready to march, to charge, to fire, to retreat, as wisdom and grace give word of command.”

3. Meekness will also help us, Henry writes,  to keep our mouth bridled, especially “when the heart is hot.” Matthew Henry continues, “meekness will ‘lay the hand upon the mouth’ (as the wise man’s advice is Prov. 30:32), to keep that evil thought from venting itself in any  evil word, reflecting upon God or our brother.”

4. “Meekness will cool the heat of passion quickly, and not suffer it to continue. As it keeps us from being soon angry, so it teaches us, when we are angry, to be soon pacified, The anger of a meek man is like fire struck out of steel, hard to be got out, but when it is out, soon gone.”

And what are we to do when provoked? We all would agree with Mathew Henry when he says that “angry thoughts, as other vain thoughts, may crowd into the heart upon a sudden surprise,” but he doesn’t excuse an angry response from us just because of the sudden appearance of these in our hearts and mind. He continues saying, “but meekness will not suffer them to lodge there, nor let the sun go down upon the wrath, for if it do, there is danger lest it rise bloody the next morning.” How we need to consider this. We should never lodge in our heart anger -it never comes alone (we know!) but always  brings along bitterness and malice, and evil thoughts.

But that is not all, there are more good news. Meekness does not only helps us learn how to deal with our own passions and anger, but it also teaches us and enables us to “patiently bear the anger of others.”

Look at these quotes under this same point:

“A needful truth, spoken in a heat, amy do more hurt than good, and offend rather than satisfy.”

“It is indeed a great piece of self-denial to be silent when we have enough to say, and provocation to say it; but if we do thus control our tongues, out of a pure regard for peace and love, it will turn to a good account and will be an evidence for us that we are Christ’s disciples, having learned to deny ourselves.”

Another advice that is gold:

“When any speak angrily to us, we must pause a while, and study an answer, which both, for the matter and manner of it, may be mild and gentle.”

And meekness will help us to not only to refrain our anger, to be patient when others are angry at us, but also to move toward repentance when necessary. Henry writes, “Meekness teaches us, as often as we trespass against our brother, to turn again and say, “I repent” (Luke 17:4)”

In my next post I will be sharing what Mathew Henry has to say about the nature of a quiet spirit, which is his second main point in chapter 1.

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky Pliego

Faithful Obedience – By Norma Tochijara

Today I am happy to welcome my sister Norma Tochijara to this series on Faithful Obedience. I can attest that she is a woman who has striven in all things and through all things to be a faithful and obedient child of God.

Screen Shot 2019-04-02 at 7.04.55 PM“Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.” Psalm 115:1

There have been many situations in my life where my faith has been tested as well as my obedience. I can think of the big events like the death of my baby girl at birth, certain difficulties in my marriage, and the daily prayers of supplication for my loved ones. Many times I have felt that the wait is too long and the temptation to lose hope, to be discouraged, and to look at the immediate circumstances instead of looking to Him resting on Him has been real.

How does practical obedience looks like in the midst of all these? How do we respond in faithful obedience when we are going through difficult situations and our thoughts overwhelm us?

We look to Christ!

That is our hope. We look to Christ and not to ourselves!

I have failed to pray when I have been at my lowest points, but others were praying for me -that I would look up to Christ. Many times I lost my temper trying to ‘drill sense’ into my loved ones, and yet it was Christ who brought me to repentance.  I have been slow to learn, yet Christ has not been slow to teach me. I have been unfaithful, but He has always been faithful.

It is all Christ, dear reader!

It is all HIM! Look at Him!

I often think of the day when I will hear the words: “My good and faithful servant, come into your rest,” and I know it is because of Christ’s finished work that I will be called faithful, that I will be able to stand looking at Him.

Oh, what a blessed promise that is!

Do you see it?

Do you believe it?

If you look up to Christ, your troubles and hurts will bring you down at the feet of the cross. A life of supplication for mercy, a praying life soaked with many tears, asking the Lord to haste his answer and to increase your faith will be yours. Maybe you feel like a weary traveler, like one who seeks for a place of rest from her troubles. Friend, let me tell you, the rest is coming! Keep on walking. Keep persevering. Keep looking up to Christ! Believe Him! Believe His Word! We will enter into His rest, because rest has been promised to those who wait on Him. Do not lose sight of Jesus Christ. Keep looking up to Him!

I read in His Holy Word how all that came to Jesus were healed. He said: “Live!” And the dead rose from the dead, the lepers were healed, the blind saw. And so I pray, “Lord, please say the word, just say the word, and my loved one will live!” And then, in faithful obedience, I keep looking up and patiently wait.

We wait and we keep praying, crying, not as those without hope, but as those who look up to Christ, the author and finisher of our faith, the anchor of our hope.

We also manifest our faithful obedience to God by learning contentment with His will for us. Because we know that He does that which is best for us in every situation we are in, we can persevere knowing that in all circumstances we are being sanctified, made more like Christ. And isn’t that our goal? To be more like Christ? So let’s look up to Christ more and more.

By looking up to Christ and clinging to Him, we imitate Job, who he did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing even in the hardest trials (Job 1:22). God’s response to Job’s sufferings was not an explanation or a cheering voice in the background. It was God saying, “That you may know ME”.

Our faithful obedience to God, then, is not based on how much we understand or not about our trials or our sufferings, but on the character of God. When we look up to Christ we can see how God is all powerful, all sovereign, and all good. And so our absolute submission to His holy will, in faithful obedience, becomes the proper response of our hearts to Him.

So pray and look up to Christ, dear Reader. Pray and look up to Christ when you do not feel like it. Pray and look up to Christ like the man who insistently asks for bread until the owner of the house gets tired of him and gives him what he wants. Pray and look up to Christ even when it feels that you are alone in the room. Pray and look up to Christ in private. Pray and look up to Christ without ceasing (and if you fall, just start again and again as many times as are necessary). He hears our prayers!

‘As a Father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him” Ps.103:13

He will have compassion on us! What a promise!

Let us look up to Christ!

Norma

 

 

 

 

 

Faithful Obedience -A New Series-

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One of the reasons why we love to read the biographies of Christian women -and the stories of faithful women in the Bible- is that we can see how they endured many difficult circumstances not with a bitter attitude or a complaining spirit, but always focused on doing the next thing in front of them by grace through faith. In prisons, in the jungle, in their sickbed, in their kitchen, in a marriage with unfaithful husbands or  unbelieving children, these women set an example to us of joyful and faithful obedience to God in all sort of situations.

I love the story of Rahab (found in Joshua 2). She was the kind of woman that we would encourage our sons to run away from and yet, one day, she believed that salvation comes from God alone. She had a change of her heart, which was evident in her change of loyalties.  Rahab hid the spies that Joshua had sent to Jericho and helped them escape through the window of her house. Faithful obedience was the first fruit of her conversion. Rahab didn’t submit to the king of Jericho, but to her new King, the God of Israel and God blessed her for that. Rahab’s story doesn’t end there, the fruit of her faithful obedience is evidenced in that she became part of the linage of Jesus Christ (see Matthew 1).

Ruth’s faithful obedience was hard too. She was a widow with empty hands in a foreign land. The possibilities that her life would change for the better were few, but she chose faithful obedience instead of the despair of an unbelieving heart. Ruth came under the Covenant of the God of Israel leaving behind her false gods, and in doing so, she started doing the next thing  that God put in front of her. Event after event, all lined up as in a most natural sequence, God led her in His Providence to a path of obedience. And because she walked faithfully there, God brought her under the wing of a redeemer that  transformed all her circumstances and the history of the world -she became the grandmother of King David, and we know that from that line, Jesus Christ, the Messiah, would come.

Mary the Mother of Jesus is another example of faithful obedience in the Bible. She was chosen to carry in her womb the promised Messiah that would save the world. Faithful obedience could have cost her her own life, but she put aside her fears -which were real!- held fast to the Word of God (compare her song with the song of Hannah in 1 Samuel 1) and did the next thing: she answered to the announcement of the Angel, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Her faithful obedience brought her to a place of true blessedness.

There are many more women in the Bible whom God used because of their faithful obedience. In the book of Acts, for example,  we read how women of great influence were key to the growth of the early church. Faithful obedience for them meant that they had to use their preeminence to support the apostles and the church. Persecution was always a danger, but they persevered faithfully where God had them and faithfully did the next thing.

And we can go on and on, telling the stories of many women in the early church whose faithful obedience led them to places in which blessedness looked differently than what the hashtag #blessed would mean today. The mouth of the lions, the stake, dark dungeons witnessed the day when they laid down their lives in faithful obedience to God. They loved Jesus more than life itself. They died as martyrs so that we could be encouraged to face opposition by the grace of God.

Monica’s faithful  obedience drove her to her knees day after day to pray for the conversion of her son Augustine. And after 17 years of faithful obedience -that in her case meant praying without ceasing for her son, the Lord answered her cries for mercy and she saw her son coming to the Lord. Augustine later became one of the most strongest pillars in the Christian faith.

Women in the Reformation were ready to offer their faithful obedience to contribute to the revival God was bringing to the world. They opened their homes, hosted meetings, sang hymns, wrote books, married and had children. They were faithful in the face of all opposition and set an example for us, so that we may too be encouraged to follow their steps.

Centuries later Corry Ten Boom and her family risked their lives hiding Jews during WWII . Why? Because they knew that obeying God rather men was where true joy was found. She and her family were taken prisoners into the Nazi camps and even there their faithful obedience to God was always present, always transforming the most horrible moments into opportunities that let them see God’s grace at work.

Darlene Deibler Rose tells her gripping story in her book, Evidence Not  Seen, A Women’s Miraculous Faith in the Jungles of World War II. And as we turn pages, we see a woman who loved God and His Word so much that had a life in which faithful obedience was a mark of her Christianity. And her faithful obedience in extremely painful situations should make us want to persevere in faithful obedience where we are at today.

Elizabeth Elliot is another woman whose life was characterized by faithful obedience. She put aside over and over again her own feelings to do the next thing she knew God asked from her. She was never a slave to her emotions but at all times she submitted her emotions to the Word of God. Her faithful obedience is worth imitating.

The examples abound and they are not far from us or hidden from us. Even today, I can confidently -and very gratefully- say that we are surrounded by women whose lives are an example to us of faithful obedience to the Lord. They live faithfully in their own “here and now.” These women keep doing the next thing in front of them, and in their obedience they find their joy in the Lord increased and His peace in their hearts.

This is the heart behind this new series: How does faithful obedience looks like today in the life of ordinary Christian women? Some friends of mine will be sharing with us some of the stories in which they have experienced how choosing faithful obedience to Christ and His Word is better than anything else. I trust that the Lord will use these stories to encourage you to will and to work towards a life of faithful obedience.

As you read this series (every upcoming Wednesday)  you will notice one thing, faithful obedience to Christ is not possible because of the determination and forbearance of hard-core women. Faithful obedience is only possible when we are in Christ (read Ephesians). And it is only because of Him that learning contentment through the hardest circumstances is possible. It is only through Christ that we can do all things that He calls us to do. It is only by His grace that these women can say, “Faithful obedience to Christ and His Word is possible even in the midst of this.”

Let me close now with these words from Elisabeth Elliot,

“Does it make sense to pray for guidance about the future if we are not obeying in the thing that lies before us today? How many momentous events in Scripture depended on one person’s seemingly small act of obedience! Rest assured: Do what God tells you to do now, and, depend upon it, you will be shown what to do next.”

May we have a heart willing to obey God in the here and in the now.

Under His Sun and by His grace,

Becky Pliego

 

 

 

 

 

 

PC by Dayne Topkin on Unsplash