Let Us Press On to Know God

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“Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord;
    his going out is sure as the dawn;
he will come to us as the showers,
    as the spring rains that water the earth.” Hosea 6:3

It is that time of the year again when we like to consider where we are in our relationship with God and where we wish we’d be. For many Christians, there is a sense of guilt when they ask themselves this kind of questions. “Again a year has gone by and again I didn’t read my Bible consistently… and prayer? Honestly I only prayed when things were going super bad.”

The thing is that God has not moved from where we can find Him. He has not chosen a new way for us to approach Him, or a “fresher” way to know Him. God has revealed Himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ and in the Holy Scriptures. And it is in the Bible that He has told us who He is, how we can approach Him, how does our relationship with Him should look like, and how He expects us to live and relate with others and this world. There is no other way to know God but through the Holy Scriptures. There is no other way to come to God apart from Christ. And there is no other way to understand and believe all this apart from the work of the Holy Spirit in us.

In His kindness, God has not left us at the end of a dark maze filled with trials and dragons to see if we can -by our own merits or strength- find our way out to an everlasting life by the end of the year. No, our Heavenly Father has given us the key that opens heavy doors through the maze and a lamp that lightens up our way. God has given us the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit so that we may not remain lost in our sins, but live with assurance of eternal life. In the Word of God and in Christ we have all we need to live godly and victorious lives.

If you are a child of God, if you have repented of your sins and believed in the name of Jesus Christ, you have been called to know God. And this means that you have been saved  to have a relationship with Him (not only to get a “pass to Heaven”). Jesus came to seek and save sinners who were lost like you and me. He came so that we may be able to come to the Father in His name. Jesus, the Incarnate Son of God, came to make His dwelling among us so that we may abide in Him. What a wonderful news the gospel is!

I want to encourage you, Sister, to come to the Scriptures, to read them each day, to study them, to meditate on them, to believe everything that is written, to pray over what you read, to live by all that is written in the Holy Book. And this is not about about having more willpower to be in the Word and in prayer each day, but about having a huge desire to know God more deeper, so that we may love Him and worship Him more fully.

It is not legalism to set a time each day to be in the Word, to build the discipline. (Don’t let anyone tell you that!)  When we have a deep desire to be in communion with God, we will come every day and press on to know Him. And in our pressing on, we will find our  joy increase as we get to know deeper the One who knew us first and called us by name. Obedience and perseverance that flow from a heart that loves God are never legalism.

As you consider all this, it is important also to recognize the difference between guilt and the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

Satan and our flesh will always try to make us feel guilty about our lack of discipline, and the way we will try to get rid of the accusations they bring on us is by reading “at least a verse or a psalm each day.”  We will read and pray not because we want to know God and worship Him and obey Him more, but because we want to feel at ease with ourselves. After all, we are Christians, right? On the other hand, when the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sins -our messed up priorities, our negligence, the lies we tell ourselves for not being in the Word, etc.. He will always lead us, in His kindness, to repentance which means that true change will happen in our lives.

So as we approach the end of this year, ask yourself the right questions. If the Holy Spirit is convicting you of a sin of omission, confess it to God and embrace His forgiveness. Start praying that the Holy Spirit will draw you more to the Father and by grace through faith come to the Word (read and preached) and to the Father in prayer.

The good news is that you can start today. No need to wait until January 1st, when the race of New Year’s resolutions starts. Today is the perfect day to begin.  By faith take the Book of God and read it, He will meet you there. He will come, his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.”

It is written and so we believe it is true.

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky

P.S. Don’t know where to start? Join us on today’s reading here.

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Bible Reading Challenge

Pray Expecting Answers

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

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

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

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

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

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

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky

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

Declaring War on Anxiety -A Meditation on Job-

Canon Press

Continuing with more wise words from Toby J. Sumpter’s book, A Son for Glory (the context is Job 2-3):

 

 “Paul himself disagrees with a stoic passivity to every event in our lives, and he does not contradict himself. He says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7). Paul does not say that we should not be anxious because God is in control and does whatever he pleases (though there is a sense in which that is true). Paul says that we should not be anxious because we are constantly pouring out our anxieties to God. Paul instructs the Philippians about how to fight anxiety through prayer. This is the same exhortation that Peter gives his readers. They ought to cast all their anxieties on God, because He cares for them (1 Peter 5:7). Paul is making the same point. There is to be thanksgiving, but faithful prayer does not ignore anxieties and pain. Faithful people will let their requests be made known to God; they will cast their anxieties upon Him. Also notice the goal of voicing these fears and pains and anxieties to God: the peace of God… Crying out to in anguish and fear to the God of heaven is not giving in to anxiety; it is declaring war on that anxiety. It is refusing to give up the fight.

Job is going to go on fighting for the rest of the book. Job is a warrior… Faith looks to God in hope, but faith is not blind, and faith is not lifeless. Faith doesn’t pretend it doesn’t hurt, and faith isn’t apathetic about the gifts -friends, family, health- that God has given us. Faith loves those gifts of God, and when they are threatened or taken away, faith cries out to God, “Why are you doing this?” Faith is hungry for goodness and justice and mercy. Faith is the woman who won’t stop bringing her requests to the master, because he is the master and because he is the Lord.”

Praying without ceasing and giving thanks…

Becky

Job Consecrated His Children Daily to God- A Meditation-

“His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually.” Job 1: 4-5


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Toby J.Sumpter in his book, Job through New Eyes: A Son for Glory says,

” [S]in is also a directional thing, a geographical reality, a sort of teleology. Literally, the verb in the Hebrew means “to sin” means “to miss the mark”; it means you’ve veered off the path. To sin is to be going in the wrong direction, to be in the wrong place.


So what does Job do? Job is saying, God, I’m not sure what my sons have been doing, but want to reorient them to you again. I’m not sure where they’ve been , I’m not sure what they’ve said. I’m not sure what’s going on their hearts, so I’m offering them back to you again. This one for my firstborn son, this one for my secondborn son, this one for my thirdborn, and I am offering them up to you. I remind you of them. Consider my sons, and draw them into your presence…Job did this regularly.”


And so do I.


Amen.

Becky

Sola Scriptura and Prayer

Shiloh Photography



Sola Scriptura is one of the 5 pillars of the Reformed Faith, and it means that the Scriptures, God’s infallible Word, are the uttermost authority in our lives, in the Church. It means there is nothing above them, that the Scriptures are sufficient. The Scriptures were breathed by God, and therefore are the very speaking of God.

Now, we also know how important prayer is in the life of the believer. Prayer and a desire to learn the Scriptures are the natural responses from those who have been born again. Both draw us to the Throne of Grace.

Have you consider how Sola Scriptura applies in the life of prayer? Many times, we simply don’t know how to pray, we are short-sighted. We say we want God’s will to be done, but as we pray we pray hoping that ours may be done. We sometimes pray as if we were trying to persuade God to do what we think is the best for us, for our children, for our husband, or for our friend.

Bringing our theology to our mundane life is what we ought to do; we need it when trials come, we need it when life is good, we need it when we do dishes and bake a cake, and when serve our family and the needy among us. But we also need it in our prayer closet.

When we pray, let us pray the Scriptures. Let the Word of God guide us to the Throne of Grace. Let the Word of God be our most wonderful prayer companion. When we don’t know how to pray (and also when we think we know how to pray) let us turn to the Word of God, and let us make it our utmost prayer book.

M. Horton has said it well, “There can be no communication with God apart from the written and living Word. Everything in the Christian faith depends on the spoken and written Word delivered by God to us through the prophets and apostles.”

This is another reason why we (my friends from Doctrines in the Kitchen, Out of The Ordinary, and Desiring Virtue) are always trying to encourage women to love the Word, to study it, to memorize it, to make it our supreme rule of life. Sisters, if we want to be women of prayer, we need to be women of the Word; if we want to become “warriors” in the prayer closet, let us learn how to use The Sword. There are no shortcuts.

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky

A Prayer- That We May Be an Example to All-

This is a prayer taken from William Barclay’s Prayer Book,

Help us, O God, to rid ourselves of all the things which
keep us from being good examples of the faith which we profess.

Help us
        Never to demand standards from others which we
            never attempt to live up to ourselves;
        Never to contradict with our lives that which we say
            with our lips;
        Never to be one thing to people’s face and another
            behind their back.

Help us
        Never to make a promise and then to break it
            because it is difficult to keep;
        Never to do anything dishonorable, either to avoid
            trouble or to make a gain;
        Never to be disloyal to a friend
            or untrue to a loved one.

Help us
       Never to teach or persuade anyone to do
           a wrong thing;
       Never to give an example which will make it easier
           for someone else to go wrong;
       Never to laugh at anyone else’s beliefs,
           and never to hide our own.

Help us to live that we shall never bring disgrace to ourselves,
                                                      heartbreak to others,
                                                      or grief to you.

Amen

This is my earnest prayer today…