2015: Live Looking Up!

©Blue by Annie Pliego

2015 is here and I am ready to live fully under God’s sun and by His grace.

This year is, for me, a year to focus in living with my eyes fixed on Jesus. This meditation by J.R. Miller sums my sentiments perfectly well:

Look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near!” Luke 21:28

We are entering upon a new year, we shall have . . .
new toils,
new trials,
new temptations,
new troubles.

 

 

In whatever state, in whatever place, into whatever condition we may be brought this year — let us seek grace to follow our Lord’s loving advice, and “look up!
Do not look back — as Lot’s wife did.
Do not look within — as too many do.
Do not look around — as David did.
But “look up!” Look up to God — He is your Father, your Friend, your Savior. He can help you. He will help you. He says, “Look unto Me, and be delivered — for I am God!”
Look up for light to guide you — and He will direct your path.
Look up for grace to sanctify you — and the grace of Jesus will be found sufficient for you.
Look up for strength to enable you to do and suffer God’s will — and His strength will be made perfect in your weakness.
Look up for comfort to cheer you — and as one whom his mother comforts, so will the Lord comfort you.
Look up for courage to embolden you — and the Lord will give courage to the faint; and to those who have no might — He will increase strength.
Look up for endurance to keep you — and the God who preserves you will enable you quietly to bear the heaviest burden, and silently to endure the most painful affliction.
Look up for providence to supply you — and the jar of flour will not be used up, and the jug of oil will not run dry; but God shall supply all your needs, according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
Look up in faith — exercising confidence in the Word of a faithful God.
Look up in prayer — asking for what God has graciously promised.
Look up in hope — expecting what you ask in the name of Jesus.
Look up with adoration — and adore the sovereignty, righteousness, and wisdom of God.
Look up constantly — let nothing daunt or discourage you! Rather say, “Our eyes are on the Lord our God — until He shows us mercy.”
Look up — for this will keep . . .
the head from swimming,
the heart from sinking,
the knees from trembling,
the feet from slipping, and
the hands from hanging down!

It is impossible to say what will happen to us, or what will be required of us this year — but “Look up!” This direction, if properly attended to, will . . .
procure for us all that we need,
secure us against all that we dread, and
make us more than a match for all our foes and fears!

Fellow-Christian, are you fearful? “Look up” and hear Jesus saying to you, “Do not be afraid — I Myself will help you!”

Are you discouraged? “Look up” — and your youth shall be renewed like the eagle’s, and fresh light, comfort, and courage shall be given to you!

Are you desponding? “Look up” for Jesus never breaks the bruised reed, nor quenches the smoking flax.

Do not look too much at your sin — but look at the infinitely meritorious blood of God’s dear Son!Do not look too much at self — but look at Jesus, who ever lives to make intercession for you in Heaven.

Are you stripped of your comforts, your props, and your goods? Then look up! He who stripped you — loves you! He will be more than all these to you! He will . . .
  bind up your broken heart,
  calm your perturbed spirit,
  cheer your drooping mind, and
  fill you with His own peace and happiness.

Look up . . .
  for all that you need;
  from all that you fear;
  through all that would obstruct your way.

Look up every day, saying with David, “In the morning, O Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You — and will look up!” Psalm 5:3

Look up in every trial, saying “I will lift up my eyes unto the hills, from whence comes my help: my help comes from the Lord, who made Heaven and earth!”

Do not look at your sin — it will discourage you!

Do not look at your self — it will distress you!

Do not look at Satan — he will bewilder you!

Do not look to men — they will deceive, or disappoint you!

Do not look at your trials — they will deject you!

“Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us — looking unto Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith!” Hebrews 12:1-2

Look only, look always, look intently — to Jesus!

Run looking, work looking, fight looking, suffer looking, live looking, and die looking — to Jesus, who is at God’s right hand in glory.

Oh, look, look, look to Jesus!



Becky

Teachers, Do Some Soul-prepping Before the School Starts.

Course prepping and soul prepping; both are equally necessary before the school starts.  I have found this book perfect to tune my heart and get me ready to do what I love: teach.

Canon Press

“Love is not a sentiment. Love acts. Love studies. Loves gets into it. Love asks for details. Love works through difficulties, and answers tough questions. An effective teacher is not someone who skims over the surface od things. He wants to know more about all of this. He wants to know theology because he loves God. He wants to know life, because the school he teaches is located in the middle of that life. He wants to know his students’ middle names, and where they want to go to college, because he regards them as people -and not as carbon-based-receptacles for his upcoming data dump. And he knows his subject because every time he teaches this lesson, he learns something new.” Douglas Wilson, The Seven Disciplines of Highly Effective Teachers

Happy planning and prepping!

Becky

A Poem by Jean Fleming

“At ninety-seven, will I be able to write a poem capturing the scaffold of my life? How would I want it to read?”

 

Vermeer, The Kitchenmaid Commons

 

Old woman, keeper of a house,
Keeper of her heart,
Lover of one man.
Her life a scaffold of discipline and creativity:
Morning after morning: Jesus.
Her heart Bible-bent.
Prayers rise.
Every day an offering of various-sameness:
One hour of exercise (Oh, I wish!),
Dishes washed, laundry hung,
Generations welcomed,
Fed.
A good book, read.
Art made life,
Life made art.
Preparation made forever.

Praying that we will live well the week ahead of us,

Blessings,

Becky

Throw Yourself Under the Wings of Your Redeemer and Into His Promises

Ruth is a woman who came boldly, and importunate before her redeemer, and she was not rejected but welcomed with steadfast love by him. Ruth is a woman who found safety under the wings of Boaz, because she knew he was a merciful and kind redeemer. There is so much we can learn from her, throwing ourselves under the wings of our Redeemer is one of the most important ones.

This is an excerpt from pastor Ben Merkle’s series on Ruth*. I pray you will find in these words encouragement and that you will fear not come under God’s wings and aim to be, by God’s grace a woman of faith, a Proverbs 31 woman.

“Ruth shows us what it looks like to embody the attributes that are in Proverbs 31. What is the most striking thing about Ruth?

Ruth’s loving-kindness, her faithfulness, her steadfast deep devotion and commitment to the promises of God. She throws herself with complete faith, headlong into the promises of God and in particular, she throws herself into the promises of God with respect to the relationships and trials that God has put her in. So she has this deep confidence in Yahweh. And it is so funny because why would this woman from Moab have this confidence? Why would she have that?

But God gives her this deep faith that she is able to take God’s promises and utterly commit herself to them and live out that commitment through her relationships, through her marriage, through her relationships as a wife, as a daughter in law, ultimately as a mother as well as she has children. She is somebody who looks at her relationships and her covenant commitments around her and sees what faith will look like in those relationships, and she does it after trial after trial gets thrown at her. She does it in the context of those sorts of trials that will make every one around you say, “Why are you still here? Why are you still committed to this? Clearly this is a dead end, just quit and go home. Or as Job’s friend would say “Just curse God and die because this is ridiculous.”  And yet Ruth will continue to throw herself at that.

And if you think about that all of the descriptions in Proverbs 31 start to make sense. This is a woman who is devoted to her husband, to her family, to everybody who is around her and she is spending herself on their behalf because of her deep faith. Ruth shows us what that would look like. Ruth shows you how to do this even when heavy trials come on you and every one is saying quit… Ruth hangs on because of her deep hessed, this loving-kindness that just keeps getting better and better the more the trials come at her. That is the virtuous woman. That is the one who that is described in Proverbs 31. That is a woman of valor who is a fitting wife for a man like Boaz, for this mighty warrior. And then when you see that, when you start seeing it that way, you start seeing that the virtues of the virtuous woman are all the natural implications, the natural result of being a woman of faith. If you are a woman of faith, if you have a deep commitment of God then these are the works that are going to flow from that. Faith without works is dead; if you have a living faith you have living works.”

Maybe today would be a perfect day for us to read Proverbs 31 and the book of Ruth all in one sitting.

Let’s pray that we will learn to throw ourselves under God’s wings, into His promises with deep faith. A faith that will be manifested in living works toward those around us even in the midst of trials.

Blessings,

Becky

*You can listen to the whole series on Ruth entitled, The Lovingkindness of God, by Pastor Merkle here. This particular excerpt comes from part three which you can listen here.

 

Welcoming Friends who Disagree with Us

Canon Press

Steve Wilkins in his excellent book, Face to Face: Meditations on Friendship and Hospitality says about having friends with whom we may not always agree with theologically:

“If a believer were to surround himself only with those who agreed with on every particular of the faith, he would never grow in understanding. He would be “right” about everything, never knowing whether or not he held certain wrong or indefensible positions. Holy differences are means by which we grow in our understanding and discernment, clarifying and solidifying the understanding of our faith…Forbearance in these matters is essential. When this is lacking, it is impossible for biblical friendships to prosper. If you only want friends who will always agree with you, you will never have any true friends…We desire to learn the truth, and it is not helpful to avoid these differences. We must learn to see the good side of our differences.” (p.85)

Have a blessed week, dear Friends,

Becky

An Advent Lesson on Gratitude

Some words from John Calvin to meditate on this season, which for us should be a season marked primarily with thanksgiving:

“For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.” Luke 1:49-50

“If our hearts and minds were truly stirred by the thought of God’s particular gifts and mercies to us, we would most certainly be led further, to the point where we would praise him overall for his power and goodness.” “When, however, we are dealing with God, thee is nothing about Him which does not humble us in the presence of his transcendent majesty, and which does not testify in some way to his glory. His power, wisdom, infinite kindness, and righteousness are brilliantly displayed both in heaven and on earth. God’s name will always be holy. Only our ingratitude stops us giving the honour he deserves, and our ingratitude will not go unpunished.”

“All of us, I repeat, must not only praise God for the good things he has given us and for the blessings he has poured out on us; we must also take a longer view, and observe the evidence of his kindness on every hand, so that our mouth may always be open to glorify him. This should also be the mark of our common unity. We prove that we are true members of the church when we rejoice in our neighbor’s prosperity, just as we ought to show sympathy when they suffer trouble. For whoever rejoices in another’s prosperity is at the same time led to glorify God. This is the proper way to apply Paul’s injunction in the first chapter of 2 Corinthians: ‘Let thanks from many lips be given to God when good is done to any of his servants.’ “

 

“We can thus be sure that God’s goodness is always open to us, and that He will not cease to guide us both in life and death, until he has accomplished our salvation. This is because God cannot be defeated. his purpose is constant: always he continues to do good for us, for his generosity knows no bounds, and his gifts and graces are without repentance, as Paul assures us in the eleventh chapter of Romans.

In order to share in God’s gifts, we must first begin with the promise he holds out to us. We must lay hold of it by faith, and allow it to take firm root within us. For only through faith can we remain obedient to God and walk in his fear… The fear of God which Mary speaks about here is the fear that keeps covenant with God.”

 

“The fact that God takes and chooses instruments at will does not undermine our claim that it is he who does all things. We humans, however, are so wicked, that whenever we see lesser means operating we assume that God is idle in heaven! And we are so mindless that when our hunger is fully satisfied by the bread that comes from the earth, we do not have the wit or wisdom to look up and give God thanks!”

May we be drawn to walk this Advent season with wide-open eyes and grateful hearts. This is the only response for all of those who have seen Him, the Son of God, in the Garden of Eden, in the Wilderness, in Bethlehem, on the Cross and in our daily lives reigning with glory.

Peace, 

Becky