Plundering the Egyptians?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky

 

 

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

Hands and Feet – and Knees-

This place has been quiet, but not my heart, and not my mind.

Lately I have been thinking about how owning a sound, historical, and biblical theology matters -and it matters a lot!- but also, how we flesh out that theology, that set of beliefs that drive our motives and actions, our responses to the good things and hard things that come our way matters a big deal too.

Studying big books about the Bible like commentaries, systematic theology, and other very important titles like The Institutes of Calvin, etc. is absolutely important; but we should never forget that the ultimate goal of knowing more is to love more. Love God more, love our neighbor more, love our family more, love the Word more, love to meditate on the Word more.

The more we know, the more responsibility we have to apply that knowledge in the life God has given us with the people God has given us. We need hands and feet to flesh out what we have studied in the Word -and in the big books we love to read. If we don’t do that, if the people around us cannot see that the more we study the more compassionate and understanding, and loving and helpful we are, then we are not truly growing in the Lord. We are just deceiving ourselves. People around us will know us because of the fruits we bear, not because of the many books we read- if you know what I mean. Fruits cannot be faked.

And this same principle applies to prayer. If we read a lot of big books, and know every point of our theology and can argue for this or that side of the debate, but we are not praying more, then something is terribly missing. Our study of the big Theology books can never substitute our time with God in prayer. Never.

Becoming women of the Word is not only about reading more and studying more, but about becoming more like Christ and longing to be with Him more.

I want to be known not by what I say I believe, but by what I do with what I say I believe.

Sound theology needs hands and feet and knees to be fleshed out.

Under His Sun and by His grace,

Becky

Words, Words, Words

Shiloh Photography©

Words, words, words. We either use them like healing drops or killing poison. We all try hard to say less words, to keep our mouths shut, to use our words wisely, but we need to realize that we won’t succeed unless we abide in the Word of God.

The prudent woman not only speaks fewer words than the fool, but she knows when to speak wise words that bring healing and joy (Prov.12:18; 15:23). This kind of words, words that edify, words that bring healing and joy, words that tell the truth, can only come out -naturally- from our heart through our mouths, when the Word of the Builder, the Word of the God who heals and brings life, the Word of the God of all joy and perfect peace, the God of all Truth is dwelling in us. Remember that Jesus said that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45) and that His Word must abide in us (Jn.15:7), do you see the connection there?

Reading the Word, memorizing it, meditating on it, listening to it, is really the only way for us to fill our hearts and minds with the kind of words that will build up and encourage others. Only when we make it a habit to have the Word dwelling richly in us, is that we will start winning our fight against the problem of having a loose tongue and foolish talk.

The Word of God dwelling richly in us will sanctify us (Jn.17:17) -including the way we use our words! The Holy Spirit through the Word of God dwelling in us, will remind us when we should keep our mouths shut, when we ought to speak, and what words to say and not to say. The Lord alone can put a guard over our mouths (Ps.141:3), and it is through His Word and the work of the Holy Spirit that He does that.

“Let the Word of God dwell richly in you.” Col.3:16

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky

Starve Your Idols to Death

When we have friends visiting us in Mexico, we like to take them to many places including the National Cathedral in downtown. Entering in there, as a Protestant, is shocking, especially for those who have never been in a Roman Catholic church before. All the idolatry, the icons, the saints, the superstition, the candles, the smoke, the smells, all quench your spirit at once. But, you know what? Every time I enter in the Cathedral, I remind myself that the hidden idols of the heart are as deceiving, obstinate, and as sinful as the ones in there.

Idolatry destroys us and leads us to despair, to turmoil, to death, the Bible clearly tells us this. So it is a good thing to be on guard against any idol that tries to rise silently in our own hearts. If we don’t pay attention and neglect being watchful, we may start building a shrine for it without even noticing it.

How do we find and face those idols? Some are easier to see, to discern. Maybe you are eating more -or less- when you are anxious. Maybe the only thing that makes you rise from the bed every morning is the gym, not the desire to spend time with God. Maybe it is social media, clicking one more time, just once more time, a quick look and that will be it, and at the end of the day your seconds, your minutes, your hours, your days are all slained and offered up before the idol of Staying-Connected. Maybe your idols are (and I have seen this trend growing more among young American Christians) the same icons that I have seen destroying my nation, used as decorations in your homes, in your bracelets, in your shirts. Or maybe it is wine, the need for it at the end of a long day is becoming more and more a need, a demanding need. Maybe your idols are your friends, your job, your dreams, your family, your job, your “freedom in Christ.

God is gracious and He shines His light through the dark corners of our heart and provides a way for us to see, to repent, and to destroy the idols in us. But, remember, the tearing down of idols, the mortification of sin is always painful.

Sister, maybe you know that the Lord has been trying to convict you of that particular idol (sin) with His Word or through the exhortation of other saints, but with your mind you keep trying to persuade yourself that no, that *that* particular issue is not an idol, that what your friend or your husband, or your daughter or your pastor, or your mom or your teacher, have told you is just an exaggeration, it is just how they perceive things, but, hey, they really don’t know what’s in your heart, then, Sister, put it to test. Starve it and see if it doesn’t go wild in your heart demanding your attention, your all in all.

If you don’t think social media is an an issue, put it to test. Don’t login at all during a week (or a month?). See what happens.

If you suspect that perfectionism may be an idol in your life, put it to test. Don’t wash the dishes right after dinner. Stay, instead, longer around the table enjoying the conversation. Clean the kitchen next morning, and go to bed at the same time than your husband.

Maybe it is the gym. No, you say. Well, put it to test. Miss going a week to your trainings, and stay in bed reading your Bible and praying, or playing a board game with your children.  Check what happens in your heart.

Or maybe it is food. Next time you go shopping, buy non-organic, non-local, non-free-range chicken, make something yummy and enjoy it. Or don’t stop at Starbucks for a couple of weeks.  Or eat a whole slice of pie with your friends at a coffee shop and be at peace with it. Or maybe, for you, eating a salad, a smaller portion will be the the way to check what is in your heart.

Maybe it is the fear of not having enough money. Give more this week, then. Take your children to get their favorite ice-cream -with three toppings, and do it in faith. The Lord will provide.

For others,  the way to test if there is an idol of the things they can easily get would look differently, maybe it would be not shopping at the first impulse, not books -not even good, theological books-, not clothes nor accessories. Be at peace with what you have now and look for ways to bless others. Put others first.

Or what about that dress that some “legalistic people” at church dare to call immodest. Put it aside (along with the leggings and the low cleavage), and pay attention and see what happens in your heart.

The only way to put to death the idols in our heart is through faith and in the power of the Holy Spirit. In Christ, Sisters, we are more than conquerors, we can starve to death those merciless idols. We can live victoriously when our soul is satisfied with the One and True God that gives life abundantly.

“Satan offers you things, and then accuses you for taking them. Christ offers you Himself, and blesses you in the reception.” D. Wilson

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky

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

Importunate Prayers

Sometimes we are importunate with our words because we speak (or write) too fast. Without giving our thoughts, our words a second thought. With God, in prayer, we will never be importunate. What if instead of letting the words come out of our mouth (or fingertips) unedited before our friends (or in social media), we first pray about that particular worry, situation or person?

Let’s remember that there is never an importunate time to meet with God with our needs, concerns, with our petitions.

“Importunity is made up of the ability to hold on, to press on, to wait with unrelaxed and unrelaxable grasp, restless desire and restful patience. Importunate prayer is not an incident, but the main thing, not a performance  but a passion, not a need but a necessity… Few things give such quickened and permanent vigour to the soul as a long exhaustive season of importunate prayer.

Our seasons of importunate prayer cut themselves, like the print of a diamond, into our hardest places, and mark with inefaceable traces of our characters. They are the salient periods of our lives, the memorial stones which endure and to which we turn.”

E.M. Bounds

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky