About Becky Pliego

I am grateful because God, in His grace, called me out of darkness and into his admirable light. When I did not look for Him, He found me. When I was in a pit of sin, He rescued me. I am not walking this road alone, my family is always with me, and we love Him, because He loved us first.

Faithful Obedience by Meredith Wilson

Every time I cross paths with my friend Meredith she is always smiling and always ready to say a word of encouragement to those around her. You will always find her whenever help was needed and always saying the words a trusted friend will always say, “I will be praying.”

I am grateful to have Meredith Wilson share with us today a word of encouragement on how Faithful Obedience looks like in the empty nester years.

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Faithful Obedience in the Empty Nester years
by Meredith Wilson

I came to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ at the age of nineteen. While the early years were rocky, the Lord is faithful and he has placed me on solid ground. I am grandmother now, with four grown children. Three of them are married, and in September my eighth grandchild will arrive.

It has been delightful to watch my children grow up, and a blessing to have them as friends and best company now. My single daughter is such a friend and I love to hang out with her. Her life is busy and I try to keep up with all that is going on. I try to be a faithful friend to her and to my other children, praying for them in their new roles as husbands, wives, mothers, and fathers and praying for their spouses as well.

When my eldest daughter was married, they lived nearby for a year. Then she and her husband and my first grandchild moved to Britain. Flying to the United Kingdom was not in our budget, so I immediately began work cleaning houses and later worked for a small book company. This has allowed me to travel to see them. I have actually been to England sixteen times in the last ten years. I’ve been able to help with the births of each of my grandchildren. What a blessing. My second daughter has lived in Canada for the last five years. I have been there for the births of her children too.

While I would choose being closer to my daughters, this is the Lord’s will for them and I must align my will with his. I need to be content and not grumble. And the Lord has truly blessed this. I love being a grandmother. I feel very close to all the grandkids. We FaceTime or talk all the time. I try to be involved in my daughters lives so that it is as if they have never left town.

There was a period of time where it looked like my daughter’s family in Britain would be coming to live in Idaho. I was so excited, could this be possible? While I prayed it would happen, and in my heart was hoping to never have to fly again to England, I also knew it was an opportunity to trust God and praise him even if the answer was no. I remember telling my daughter that no matter the outcome, we needed to be content and thankful. We will have all eternity with our children and grandchildren. What a mercy! It’s important to have this long view of God’s story.

I think it’s also important to pray for my grandchildren as they grow up. I have several verses in my bible that I pray for each of them. Our heavenly father loves our grandchildren more than we do, and it is a privilege to lift them up to his throne.

One of the blessings of the empty nester years is the opportunity to re-evaluate your relationship with your husband. Am I still thinking about how to please him in our home? Am I cooking his favorite meals? What does he like to do on his days off? Am I joining him? Is he still my best friend? I have always appreciated my husband’s friendship. Make the most of this time.

Now that I am no longer working, I have spent time in prayer asking the Lord how he wants to use me. It has made me realize that there are certain things I wish I’d cultivated when I was younger. But I can’t go back, so I have been asking God how I can serve him. I love to be busy but I want to be fruitful. I am reminded of Psalm 90:17, “Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us and establish the work of our hands upon us, yes, the work of our hands establish thou it.”

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Find the introduction and the index to this series here.

Faithful Obedience by Lindsey Tollefson

When a woman loves to pray, sing, and mediate the Psalms -and then encourages others to do the same, you know you want to become her friend. Thank you, Lindsey, for being a woman of the Word, what a gift it is for the church to have women like you!

And thank you for writing today for our continued series on Faithful Obedience.

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Faithful Obedience: Fear and Gratitude
By Lindsey Tollefson

Obedience requires a command. We cannot obey unless there is something to be obeyed. I often give me children a list of what I want them to do with their time. Giving them something to obey is a kind way of helping them stay out of trouble. We have a kind Father in Heaven who has given us clear instructions about how we should be spending our time, how we should be thinking, and how we should be living. One of the most frequent commands in Scripture is “Do not be afraid.” The phrase “Fear not” is found 365 times in the Bible. Our faithful obedience to God means that we do not give in to fear. We do not fear the future, we are not afraid of how the past has affected us, we are not afraid of what God is asking us to do in the present.

It sounds so simple, but I think we all know that eradicating fear is not as simple as telling ourselves not to be afraid. In Psalm 118:6, the author writes “The Lord is for me, I will not fear. What can man do to me?” He goes on to remember all the ways that God has rescued him. In verse 21 he says, “I shall give thanks to you, for you have answered me, and You have become my salvation.” He is not afraid because he rests in the protection of God, and He rests because he is thankful. Gratitude is the great antidote to fear. In order to obey the command to “fear not” we must offer gratitude for everything.

A couple of months ago I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. This did not come as a surprise to me, as I’d been feeling half alive for a few years. But having the diagnoses brought about a new opportunity for fear, and therefore a new opportunity for me to faithfully obey. I found myself being tempted to fear my future. Would I be able to be the kind of mother that I want to be? Would I be able to be a helpful wife who brings blessing to my husband? Would I be able to serve my church and show hospitality? Would any of the treatment plans we put into place be effective or would I continue to get worse? In the midst of my uncertainty, I knew one command that I needed to obey: “do not be afraid.” If I was going to obey without fear, I needed to give thanks for the disease every single day. On the days when God pours out a gracious amount of energy, I give thanks. On the days when I am struggling to walk up the stairs, I give thanks. On the days that I am frustrated with how little I am able to accomplish, I give thanks. I give thanks for my illness.

Whatever circumstance you are in, faithful obedience to God means that you resist fear. It means that you use thanksgiving to crowd out your fears. If you are home with a bunch of small, needy children, do not be afraid that you won’t have enough energy. Do not be afraid that you are missing out on things the culture tells us are more important than children. Give thanks for the children and the fatigue. If you are praying that God would give you children, do not be afraid of the possible future without them. Give thanks for the barrenness. If you are working at a job you don’t love and earning a paycheck that barely sustains you, do not be afraid that you are wasting your time. Give thanks for the job. If you are struggling with relationships in your life, do not be afraid of what the future holds. Give thanks for those people.

God always takes our obedience and turns it into blessing for us. As soon as I started giving thanks for my sickness, I began to see all the ways that God was transforming our life through it. I began to see that there were weeds that could not have been uprooted any other way. I began to see that my health struggles are the goodness and mercy of God chasing me down wherever I go. When you take off the glasses of fear and put on the glasses of gratitude, everything comes into clear perspective. This is faithful obedience. Switch glasses and start seeing how your troubles are bringing glory.

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You can find the introduction and index to this series here.

Faithful Obedience by Nancy Wilson

Nancy has been a faithful friend to me. She continually points me to Christ, to His Word, and always away from myself! Isn’t it true that we need more friends like that? Thank you, dear sister for your prayers, your friendship, and all the many cups of tea you have served me! 

I trust that you will be blessed by her encouragement today in our series on Faithful Obedience.

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Faithful Obedience
by Nancy Wilson

“Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14)

From my experience, and I imagine from yours as well, God seems to like His people to wait. We wait for deliverance from all kinds of afflictions: healing from sickness and disease, financial provision for our bills, or direction and guidance when we are confused or lost. A single woman waits for a husband. A married woman waits to get pregnant. An expectant mother waits for delivery. Those who grieve wait for comfort. The soldier waits for his homecoming. We wait for so many things: the outcome of a job application, an offer on a house, a letter in the mail, a deal to come through, the plants to grow, the child to speak, the weather to change, the surgery to end, the repair to be finished, the team to score, the house to be built, our apology to be accepted, the line to move, the light to change, the test to be over, the dinner to be served, the ride to arrive, the waiting to be over. Much of our lives are characterized by this waiting. We even have a name for it: the waiting game. And we have places for it: waiting rooms. Waiting is a universal human condition, so it seems we should learn to be good at this. But it is hard to wait, and we are not good at it.

God’s kind of waiting is not like the worldly variety of impatient waiting during an inconvenient delay (think airports). It’s not a game, but a difficult, character-building, spiritual exercise. If we are truly waiting on the Lord, we are are not looking at the clock or the calendar, and we are not tapping our foot. We are looking to Him (perhaps desperately) to supply us with the patience, courage, and strength we need to endure the waiting. We pray for the outcome that we desire, but we also pray (just as fervently) for strength to wait on the Lord with patience.

Notice the repetition in the psalm quoted above. “Wait, I say, on the Lord.” It bears repeating. We are to wait on the Lord and for the Lord. We are to wait and watch with readiness, alert and hopeful that God will soon act. But we cannot do this at all unless our waiting is with our eyes on the Lord. We cannot look at the circumstances without growing hopeless. We cannot look at the calendar without getting distracted. We cannot run out all the scenarios in our minds without getting worried. The right kind of fruitful waiting comes only when we look to the Lord with faith, counting on Him to supply patience, courage, and strength while we wait. We are waiting on the Lord, not just on the outcome or the verdict. That is an important difference. But how do we get there? How do we wait on the Lord?

First, when you are in a season of waiting, remind yourself (often) that God has perfectly ordained the timing. He has given this situation to you (on purpose) so you can steward it as an opportunity to look to Him with expectation. Rather than focusing on the possible outcomes, we are to focus on our Father in heaven and wait patiently for Him to act. We are to draw near to Him, we are to be content in Him, and we are to wait some more.
While we wait, we are to stick to our duties. We do the next thing, and we do it with joy. We work hard to keep our mind full of gratitude and thanksgiving, and that means singing with joy in our hearts to the Lord. This is what it means to abide in Him, and this is how we continue to watch and pray with courage.

This kind of waiting is obviously not a natural human ability, but God is able to provide all the strength we need to do this. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). The context of this verse is about contentment. Waiting patiently is certainly an example of practicing contentment. Contentment says, “I am satisfied with His time table. I am pleased with how He is writing my story. I am content to wait on the Lord. He does all things well.”

“They that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:31). If we wait with our own feeble strength, we will soon collapse. But if we wait on the Lord, He gives us fresh supplies of strength, and this gives us hope, encouragement, and endurance. Wait on the Lord. This kind of waiting is faithful obedience.

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You can find the introduction and index to this series here.

Nancy Wilson has written some wonderful books that I highly recommend. You can find them here. Mu favorite ones might be Learning Contentment and The Fruit of Her Hands.

An Important Distinction

Screen Shot 2019-06-03 at 12.43.19 PM Here is a very simple, but important distinction that might change your life.

Thinking about something without ceasing is NOT the same thing as praying about something without ceasing.

Thinking about *it* will make you anxious, but praying about *it* is what God wants us to do and will lead us to a place of peace and hope.

In 1 Peter we read,

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”

When we worry about something and think about it all day we are not humbling ourselves before God. Humbling ourselves before the mighty hand of God involves casting all our anxieties before Him knowing and trusting that He cares for us.  And this is humbling because it means that we must recognize that we can’t do anything about that thing that is causing us all this worry; and so we cast our fears, anxieties, worries before our God who is indeed able to do far more abundantly than we can imagine or think (Eph. 3:20-21).

We can pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17) by turning every anxious thought, every worry into a prayer to God.

Let’s learn to turn our worries into prayers, remembering that our Heavenly Father loves to hear the prayers of His children.

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky Pliego

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PC Priscilla Du Preez

Faithful Obedience by Hannah Grieser

Hannah is a precious friend of mine, and having her share with us in this series of Faithful Obedience is a gift. I enjoy her conversations because they are always rich, thoughtful, and fun -always infused with the Scripture and the sure hope we share in Christ. Hannah has walked through some deep valleys and in all of them she has seen how in the hardest times , when the clouds we most dread  are heavy on us, we can always see God’s kindness leading us all the way through.

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Coveting Cancer and Taking Pride in Pain
by Hannah Grieser

When my oldest son, Jonah, was diagnosed with cancer at age 10, the blow to our family’s predictable way of life was sudden and severe. We ended up having to divide our family between two different cities for months, trying to figure out what to do about school, about money, about transportation, about housing, and about our sanity. With one forceful gust, our tidy little map for the road ahead blew out the window and sent us speeding toward the Great Unknown through back roads and precarious switchbacks, sometimes plunging us up to our axels in despond.

But as hard as those new struggles hit us, new blessings came at us just as hard. Overnight, we went from living an utterly unremarkable existence to standing at the center of a swirl of attention from concerned family members, kind friends, and generous strangers. People I’d never met started following our story on social media. My blog traffic spiked. Boxes of gifts arrived from churches on the other side of the country. Opportunities arose for us to meet famous people and travel to exotic places. And everywhere I went, acquaintances would stop to find out how we were doing, ask how they could pray for us, and tell me what an encouragement we were to them as we were walking through this trial in faith.

And this second list is where some truly unexpected temptations arose.

Obvious and not-so-obvious temptations

The trial was very real, it’s true, and all the goodness and grace we experienced throughout that time were very, very real, too. But the temptations that accompanied both experiences were real as well, and some of the temptations were not the most self-evident.

In a sudden crisis with an uncertain outcome, fear and worry are all-too-natural temptations. They certainly were for me, and I—and many others—have spent a great deal of time and ink on the topic, urging people to lay aside their fears and to find their joy and rest in God as they endure various trials. The Bible is full of such admonitions, and so these are things that need to be both said and read. But as yet, I have said and read much less about the more subtle temptations that can sneak in during times like these—the temptations to envy and pride. The Bible has more than a few words to say about these sins, too, so we must not forget them just because we have entered a period of suffering.

I’m sure the temptation to envy does make some sense because enduring a trial clearly means not enjoying the easy, painless lives that our friends seem to be living. Suffering can mean comparing our plight with others and resenting the chapter we are in. Why me? Why not the other guy? What did they do that I didn’t? And envy can gradually take hold when we turn our focus on those who appear to have a better lot in life. Envy is always an ugly and destructive sin, but these are not the objects of envy I’m most concerned with here.

Trial Envy

The envy I want to highlight is the envy directed not at those who are better off but at those whose stories appear to be worse than our own. Yes. You read that right.

On the face of it, this may sound crazy. (And it is. Sin is always a kind of madness.) But here’s the thing: if you’ve suddenly gained a kind of small-time notoriety, a freshly minted identity, and a heroic new status as She Who Has Suffered Well, then oh, how it can sting when somebody else suddenly comes along who threatens to topple that hard-earned title.

Here she comes (How dare she?)—with her bigger, newer, sexier trial and (Oh-ho! Well, lah-dee-dah!) a godlier, wiser, more long-suffering response to it all. When we’ve gotten comfortable with the attention, the pity, the respect, and the perks that can come from a period of suffering, we really do need to take care that we don’t start to find our identity and sense of worth in those experiences, or things may get ugly the minute something or somebody threatens to take them away.

There are women (and I’m afraid it very often is the women) the world over who must constantly and forever imagine themselves in the role of the martyr. They cannot bear to allow that anyone else has suffered more or could deserve more pity. In The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis paints an awful picture of self-centered and destructive grief when he introduces a bereaved mother who has turned a family tragedy into a form of tyranny to which all others must submit. She has destroyed lives by forming her entire identity around the pain of her loss. And in The Four Loves, Lewis also gives us Mrs. Fidget who makes sure that everyone sees how she suffers, working “her fingers to the bone” for her family—and thus drives them all away.

But suffering should not grant a free pass for selfishness, and grief should never be a weapon to hijack the joy of those around us. God has told us to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Th 5:18). God has told us to look to Him for our peace and to supply all our needs (Mat 6:25-33). And the risen Christ told Peter, even as He prophesied Peter’s martyrdom, not to concern himself with how the other disciple was to suffer or not: “What is that to you? You follow me” (John 21:22). This is a good admonition to all of us as we face the prospect of suffering: follow Christ. Fix your eyes on Him.

So when the next person comes along with her own trials, believe that the grace of God is big enough to fill both your needs. Do not take her story as an invitation to complain more and worry louder, lest the world forget you. God does not require our melodrama or Mrs. Bennett pity parties (“Nobody can tell what I suffer!”) in order to remember our needs. The one time that God tells us to outdo one another, it is in showing honor (Rom 12:10)—not in griping about our troubles and trying to steal the honor of others away.

One-upmanship as old as dirt

Unfortunately, this is often easier said than done. We humans have a tendency as old as Cain to want to out-do the other guy, to turn the spotlights that shine on others back onto our own sorry selves—and in ever escalating ways: “If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold, then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold” (Gen 4:24). All of us are born with glory hunger, but in our fallen state, we would rather not pursue it the way that Christ commands: through humility and service and a cross (Mk 9:35). Instead, we settle for cheap substitute glories or attempt to steal the real thing from others. And, in the grip of envy, when we cannot steal glory, we attempt to destroy it—sometimes very subtly.

Some of my friends living down south have joked that they can never mention cold weather without some northerner suddenly appearing to inform them that “until you’ve spent January on the windward side of the Canadian Rockies, you don’t know the first thing about cold!” It reminds me of that old comedy bit about grandparents boasting, to their whining grandkids, that when they were young, they had to walk to school—barefoot!—through the snow!—uphill!—both ways!

“Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen. Nobody knows my sorrow.” Sounds about right. As egocentric sinners, we really do hate it when our Story of Great Suffering—our conversational trump card—gets beat by the other guy’s Tale of Unparalleled Woe. We hates it, we does.

And we hate it because it strikes us where it most hurts—our pride. It’s amazing how the human heart can turn just about anything into a reason to puff ourselves up and to feed our arrogance, all the while deceiving even ourselves about what we’re doing. Am I really “just asking for prayer”? Or am I using my “prayer request” as an excuse to publicly complain about my situation and to draw everyone’s attention and pity back on me, basking in the accolades for what a suffering saint I’ve been?

I’ll tell you what. I’ve asked for prayer from both motivations, and both can look very much the same from the outside. God didn’t give me X-ray vision to see into the hearts of others, so this is not a call to presume the worst the next time your suffering friend shares a prayer request. Not at all. This is a call for those of us who are facing trials to examine our own motives. Consider the possibility that you’re deceiving even yourself about what you’re doing when you “ask for prayer.”

Pop quiz

A good self-test is this: Does it annoy you—even just a little bit—when somebody else announces that they are now facing a trial that very much resembles your own? Or one that is more socially acceptable than your own? Or more acute and attention-grabbing than, say, your own slow, chronic struggle? Are you bitter because the people with cancer get all the perks, while people dealing with Lyme disease or slander or abandonment are forgotten? Are you upset by women who talk openly about and receive pity for their miscarriages while nobody knows how you’ve quietly endured your own? Does all the fuss over that crippling car accident really bug you because nobody seems to care about the years and years of steady decline that are crippling you?

Does the outpouring of attention and care toward other people’s suffering and not your own bother you? Anger you? Frustrate you? Keep you awake at night? Then very likely, the word for what you’re dealing with is envy. Envy, impure and simple.

Custom-made trials

But here’s the truth of the matter: God has tailor-made your suffering just for you. Your devastating diagnosis that everybody on the internet knows about was made for you. Your silent struggle is the test that God hand-wrote just for you. Your lonely hours in bed with that chronic affliction are a trial that God put into your story for His own glory and your good. Death of loved ones, false accusations, debilitating illness, quiet grief, and public pain are given to each of us in turn because God knows each of us by name. He knows what we need. He knows how to refine us and prune us, even if we may not always understand what good will come from it as we feel ourselves melting or as we watch precious branches fall to the ground.

Sisters, some of us need stitches, and some of us need open heart surgery. But whichever lot is ours, it is ours because the Great Physician knows our exact diagnosis, body and soul, and intends, in the end, to make us whole—to make us perfect, just as He is perfect.

He has promised to be with us in our suffering—not in the suffering of that guy over there. He has promised to equip us to bear up under our trials—not under the trials we wish we had or under the trials we worry we might one day have. We are to concern ourselves with being faithful where God has placed us, not imagining how we would be faithful if only we were where He has placed somebody else.

Even we may not understand our own hearts in these things, but God does see the heart, so ask Him to root out any self-deception, pride, or envy that may have crept in during your season of affliction—however long and however severe it’s been. If we have been called by God, then all things—even my trials and your trials and the trials of the believers around us—truly are working together for good. Let us live as though we believe it. And when we’re tempted to both envy and downplay the trials of others, let us turn again to Jesus and remember His words: “What is that to you? You follow me.”

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You can find the index to the series here.

Wear the Habit: Eat the Word

In September 2017 I had the privilege to give a talk to launch the first round of the Bible Reading Challenge with the ladies from our church. Today I went back to it and I am so grateful to see how far the Lord has brought us. All is grace! And He is good! My dear friend, Rachel Jankovic had this idea of changing the methods to do women’s ministry and suggested that we should encouraging one another to “just be on the Word.” She  said, “What could go wrong if we make this big and invite more and more women to join us?” We know the answer. Nothing can go wrong when God’s people get into the Word, read it daily, love it, and pursue to obey it. Surely the Lord loved this idea too and now thousands of Christians around the world have joined us too, the feast is huge and infinite, and all are welcome to come! Join us here. This summer we will be reading all the New Testament starting on June 3. 

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Here are my notes from that talk I gave, and here you can find the recording -in case you are curious about my Mexican accent.

Father in Heaven, our Maker and Redeemer, we come to you in the name of Jesus asking you to please bless our time together this morning. We need your blessing, Lord, because without your blessing nothing we do can prosper or be a blessing to others. 

Our God, you have revealed yourself in your Word, please, please Oh Lord, draw us to your Word and bless us with the gift of eyes that see, ears that hear and feet and hands that are prone to obey you. Let your Words be our light and our salvation, our joy and our song, our very life. 

In the name of Jesus, Immanuel with us, we pray today. Amen.

I am going to ask you to imagine a woman with access to the best food in the whole world but starving -and thinking deceiving herself, at the same time, that she is well fed and strong. That was me for years. Since I was 11 years old I had access to a Bible. I grew up in church, I went to all the Bible studies I could, and even went to Bible college! But I was starving and the saddest part is that I didn’t know it. Weird right? I read the Bible with some regularity but only through my own lenses, my own experiences, my own interpretation of it; so even though I wanted to change (teenage years were a mess) and be a better Christian by trying harder, I could not because I was not letting the Word do the work the Word does. “I” the 1st person singular pronoun in my own conjugation was always on the way. 

But God had mercy on me and one day, around 15 years ago, the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to see my own weary soul and God’s amazing grace. The random and isolated (and out of context) verses I knew were all floating around my mind and they could not sustain me or hold me or give me peace -or life, and I had littles that needed a mom in the Word, especially if I wanted them to be children of the Word. These isolated verses were not sustaining many of the friends I had from my youth either and they started leaving the faith because, in their own words, “it didn’t have a backbone. It didn’t have answers to the hard questions of life.” We were all dying, starving with the Bread of Life in our hands -or on our shelves.

We are God’s daughters and yet how many times we see some of our sisters eating crumbs and facing the trials of life and sins in their own lives with no true strength whatsoever. Many women in this room have been feeding themselves for years now with the “Verse of the day” on their phone app or that Pinterest quote, or the verses that show up on their FB or Twitter feed. Having access to the Word of Life many choose to eat crumbs. Sisters, let us not forget that ALL Scripture is breathed out by God and All is good for us to eat. All of it! (2Tim 3:16)

And I don’t want you to take me wrong here. Choosing to eat crumbs each day for years instead of choosing not to pursue time in the Word is the problem. If you are very sick, or if you have your husband in the hospital and your fourth child is only 7 months old, or if you have your lost a dear one recently, please, know that reading, and I mean, you deliberately opening the Word, to eat and meditate a verse or two from your Bible a day is indeed a great mercy. God will multiply your strength through it. Be encouraged and Eat with faith.

And here, with hungry hearts at the starting line of this challenge that God willing, will not end in May. And the challenge is real and the fear to fail- again- is real too. But here we are, ready. With the Bible in our hands and the Grace of God leading the way. 

The first obstacle that we face is not physical, is not lack of time, is not even a lack of desire but one word we dread: HABIT.

When we talk about reading the Bible the word “habit” invariably shows up, so I want you to learn to love that word by pointing out something super interesting about this word. Habit also means the garment which a priest or nun or monk use to tell the rest of us who they are. They wear that habit daily and they don’t think about it. A huge part of who they are and what they do is tied up to that habit. I love this because it helps us see what we really want to pursue when we talk about the necessity of having the habit of reading the Word of God and praying. We want to wear that habit daily, without even thinking about it (like your underwear!), we want to own it, to have it (can you see how to have and habit share the same Latin root -from the verb habere? Don’t you love it?) So every time I use the word habit today, I want you to picture in your mind a garment that we own, that we have, that we wear daily.

A habit then, is not only something we do daily, but something we own daily, something we have and embrace and put on every day -and people see when we are wearing it well (especially our family). 

Now that we have this understanding, and feel comfortable using the word habit, we might still feel paralyzed.

Where do we start? Not on which book or chapter, but where in our heart?

Friends, the life of every Christian starts with grace meeting us in our sinfulness, in our not-wanting-to-know, not-wanting-to-obey, not wanting to change, in our sins.

 So yes, All is a gift. Passing from dead to life is a gift. All grace. And in grace, in this depending on God’s grace, we must grow every day. So for us to read the Word and understand it and believe it and trust it, and to live according to it, we need to receive God’s gift of opening our eyes. Yes, just like we received eternal life as a gift, we all desperately need -every day- the gift of seeing and the gift of savoring.

I want us to see something in this prayer that Paul made for the Ephesians (1:16-23): 

I do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 having the eyes of your understanding[a] being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling [think about this, fully knowing what is the hope of His calling] , knowing what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints [WOW! ], 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe [to fully know this treasure that belongs to us!] , according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.

This is a prayer Paul made for the Saints, not for the unbelievers. Many times we pray that God would open the eyes of those who are yet not walking in the Lord, and that is what we ought to do, but we must also be praying this prayer for us, for our children, for our weaker brothers and sisters, as well as for our Pastor and the elders and deacons in our church.

Our sanctification involves having more light to see, to understand more and know Him more. And this can only happen when we take The Book and open it and start reading it trusting that God, because of His great mercy toward His children, will give us eyes to see. 

Friends, we cannot grow apart from God’s Word. That is just impossible. 

When we turn -by grace!- to the Lord, He opens our minds to understand how the Word of God, All of it is the Gospel that saves us and that we preach. This happened to the disciples after Jesus’ resurrection (and you can read it in Luke 24:44-49) “…Then He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures”

When He opens our minds and give us eyes to see, the veil is removed and we can start beholding the glory of the Lord on the words we read (2 Cor 3:14-4:1 and 4:6). (I am going to read these verses but, later, I recommend you read the whole chapters 3 and 4)
3:14- 4:1

14 But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ.

But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless —listen to this: when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.  But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.Therefore, since we have this ministry , as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart for it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

”

And what is His glory but all that He is, all His attributes, all that is encompassed in His Name being revealed and magnified as with a telescope, so that we may be amazed about the Awesome God we have! By reading the Word and seeing we are being transformed (2Cor 3:14-15 ). And because of this promise, because of this gift, we do not lose heart.

Sisters. Did you hear me saying that? We don’t lose heart when we see all the areas that still need to be changed in our lives because we read in the Bible that we have been given all that we need for our sanctification in Christ. We do not lose heart in our pursuing of Christ either because He has pursued us first with His great mercy.

So we keep coming and we keep knocking, and He keeps welcoming us and opening the door for us. Oh, come and see, and taste and savour these truths. Open your hands and receive Him and His wonderful gifts. Our God and all He does is awesome indeed (Psalm 66:3)!

Once we understand that seeing Jesus in the Scriptures is a gift that gives us life, we are ready to wear our habit of reading the Bible daily and in such a way that we will not be putting the pronoun “I” in the first place. We will no longer be looking for isolated verses to accommodate to our own personal views, and we won’t be trying to ground our faith on random verses disconnected from the whole counsel of God. We will open the Word and read every day with a profound desire to see Jesus, the one who has given us eternal life and eyes to see! We will read one page after another, and one chapter after another, and one word after another, because we want to know Him and the Father who sent Him. We will read the Bible every day trusting that the Spirit will breath in these words into our hearts and transform us into the image of Jesus. And He will do it.

If we talk about the necessity of having the habit of eating the Word of God, we might ask ourselves, Now what about the gift of “savouring”? What about our feelings and emotions? Piper rightly says, “We should aim in all our seeing to savour his excellence above all things… we read, he says, in order to see in order to savour. We seek insight in order to enjoy. We seek knowledge in order to love. We seek doctrine for the sake of delight. The eyes of the heart serve the affections of the heart.” 

Remember all is a gift. All is grace. And in grace, not in our own will power, we persevere in our pursuing of knowing Him more in the Scriptures, in order that we may love Him more and worship Him more.

We will be reading our Bibles daily, and some days we will savour Christ more than others. Seeing Him will be easy when we read words of comfort; other times, however, our spirit will feel heavy, our bodies will be aching and our minds will be exhausted, but even in those days we can still take a verse or two from our reading, meditate on them, and pray over them through the day and savour Christ.

As we read and think about what we read, we´ll find out that not all the passages will be sweet to our mouth. No, Sisters. And it is better for us to understand that. We should be expecting passages that will make us uncomfortable, passages that will expose our sinful desires, thoughts, motives, and actions. Words that will demand we respond with repentance. Words that will demand we respond with obedience in hard ways. Words that will demand we respond with actions that many times other will take wrongly. We will see many examples of these as we open the Bible and read it. There are Words in this book that will be hard to swallow, like the medicine we give to our kids, like the chemo many of our friends have agreed to administer to their sons. The taste is bitter, the prescription is painful, but once it is administered, the fruit it bears in our own lives and in the life of our church is sweet, so incredibly full of life. David knew this and that is why we have Psalm 51.

To be able to persevere wearing this habit, we also need something that many times, when we talk about our time reading the Bible, we put aside, as if it were a totally different thing, and that is prayer.

Yes, prayer should be connected to our Bible reading as much as all our veins and arteries are connected to our heart. Praying the Word is one of the sweetest, surest, and most comforting things I have learned to do -to wear as my daily habit- through the years. Friends, let’s start every day of this his challenge called life praying to the Father. Pray and ask Him to give you a desire to open His Word, ask Him to make it sweet to you, ask Him to incline your heart to it. Ask your Heavenly Father to forgive you for not loving His Word, for not treasuring it and ask Him to make it your delight. This is the kind of prayer that He loves to answer and we never pray! He will not turn His face from us when we pray asking Him to bless our opening of the Word in His presence! He will not give us stones or serpents. He knows, He hears us, and He delights in answering us when we ask these things.

We read and we pray. And we pray and we read. And our love for the Lord increases and His grace in us increases too. And you know what? We will be saying our “Amens” with more vigour, because we will know that we are praying according to God’s will and for His glory -as Paul says in 2 Cor. 3451:20-21 

In our Webinars we will talk more about this and learn how to pray the Scriptures.

Many of us are excited about this project because often times we find it hard to be motivated to read the Scriptures or to persevere in our wearing of this habit. The good news is that God designed for our sanctification to be a community project lived within the context of the church (so don’t feel bad because you still “need someone to help you at this point with your Bible reading”). It is important for us to see the true need there is to encourage one another and to build one another up in the Lord (I Thess 5:11), we truly need to exhort one another with the Word to actually be in the Word every day, even today! that none of us may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (Heb 3:12-13). Let us consider, Sisters, how to stir up one another to love and good works which flow from our relationship with the Father (Heb 10:24). “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works…” (Hebrews 10:23-24) We are in this together!

So yes, we need the body of Christ to help us persevere walking in the light, so let’s be obedient here. I have always said that a true Christian friend will always ask you (for real!), “What are you reading in your Bible?” “What has God been teaching you in His Word?” So, take advantage of this opportunity, don’t let the momentum go by. Start talking with your friends, your family, on your coffee dates about the Word!

Sisters, even though this project is not equal to a Bible study – An in depth-Bible study (Bible studies are super important -I love, love, love to study the Word!- and they have its place in the life of a Believer, but this project is not a bible study), we will learn to read attentively, to see the connections that are plainly there for us to see. We will become students of the Word just by applying ourselves to it. 

John Calvin said, “Scripture is the school of the Holy Spirit” And Surgeon said, “Prayer is your best means of study.”

So, if we have a Bible, the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, and a heart willing to pray we are ready to enroll in this school, in this challenge.

My aim in every webinar, then, will not be to exhaustively teach or explain every passage we read (we give thanks to God for our Pastors who faithfully do that every Sunday), but to help you see that there is one storyline in the Bible, and One main character, which I guess you already know is not you nor I, but Christ. We will not be reading only (and I am emphasising the word “only”) to get moral lessons for us, as some do. Remember first Christ. Always. And then us. 

The moral lessons do not come first, just like God’s moral law didn’t come first. First we know God as our Redeemer. We see Jesus, the Promised One on the pages of His Book, and we see the Triune God gathering a people for Himself and setting them free, and then we see what He requires from us, what moral expectations are imposed on us. When did God give the Ten Commandments? Before of after He delivered the Israelites from Egypt? Yes, after. We see this in Ephesians also, three chapters of indicatives, what God has already done, what is our status in Christ before the Father and then three chapters of imperatives, on how to live in the light of what God our Redeemer has already done. Moral conduct in the life of the believers always flows as a response to a Savior who redeems His people because of His great mercy and not because of something inherently “good” in them. 

First Jesus. Always.

We will in the next months, by God’s grace, learn how to live our life in constant dependency of God through coming to Him in the Scriptures and in prayer. We will learn to love our habit. And by the grace of God we will walk together through this trail helping each other arrive at the destination and be awed at the amazing view: The whole counsel of God laid opened in front of us! What a sight! To see the Redemptive plan of the Triune God unveiled before us! What a gift! Come! Come! How can we not come? Let’s wear our habits with joy and start going! This is a good day to start!

So, in the name of our Lord, by the grace of God the Father, and the help of the Holy Spirit, let’s set our hearts, Sisters, to read All the Word of God, to believe it all, and to obey it all. God is the one who has started this good work in us, and He is the one who will perform it (Phil 1:6). The good news is that He is at work in us to will and to work for His good pleasure. (Phil.2:13) In the name of our good and faithful God we will take His Book and read it. Amen!

Becky Pliego