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

Refusing the Temptation of Take Matters into Our Own Hands

This is not the first time that I buy a book on Kindle, start reading it and end up buying a “real” copy to be able to underline it and write my notes -with real pens-, and truly make it my own. The book I am now talking about is by A.W. Pink and it is entitled Gleanings from Paul: The Prayers of the Apostle.

I plan to share some portions of it with you as I read through.

In Romans 1:8-12 we read one of the prayers of Paul, and among other things he asks the Lord to make it possible for him to visit the Christians in Rome  (v.10). Pink comments on this passage,

Let it be duly noted that he refused to take matters into his own hands and act upon an inward urge. Instead, he subordinated his own longings and impulses to the will of Him whom he served. This is very striking and blessed. Paul did not consider what many would regard as ‘the Spirit’s prompting’ a sufficient warrant. He must first be assured, by His providences, that this journey was ordered by His Master. Accordingly he spread his case before God, committing the matter to His decision and pleasure.”  (emphasis mine)

I don’t know about you, but for me the temptation to take matters into my own hands is real, which means that reading these words was convicting.

However, as with all temptations, there is way out; and we the effectual remedy against the temptation of taking things into our own hands is Prayer.

I read once that dependency is the heartbeat of prayer; and now think about this, when we decide to take things into our own hands -instead of praying and trusting in God and in His Providence- we are in a sense saying, “God, I don’t think you can handle this. I know which things need to be  done and I will start doing those few things that must be done right now -before it is too late-.” Sisters, as we start acting in urgency, responding to our own longings, impulses, and feelings we are in reality denying our dependency on God.  And that, we all know, is a sin from which we need to repent.

 

Really, Sisters, if we keep insisting into taking all the difficult circumstances into our hands instead of bringing them in prayer to God we will only going to make up messes. A.W. Pink reminds us, “Unless we ‘rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him’ (Psa. 37:7) only confusion and trouble will ensue.”

Prayer is the only way to resist and overcome the temptation of taking things into our own matters because in prayer we say, “God, I cannot handle this on my own. I need you. Give me patience to wait in you, in your Providence; draw me to your Word, Oh Lord. Grant me a humble heart to seek advice, and a quiet heart to trust in your timing. I am wholly dependent on you, my sovereign Lord.

Praying with you as we learn to be wholly dependent on Him at all times,

Becky

Well Worn Paths

Habits, says J.R. Miller, are well worn paths.

It doesn’t matter if at the beginning of this new year you decided or not to set new goals, or to try new habits. You will, by the end of 2014, have made well worn paths. We make habits and they make us. We better be intentional about them.

One day you open your email on your iPhone first thing in the morning, and three months later you keep doing it. You skimmed through “only one chapter” of an assigned book for school,  and when the semester is over you realize you didn’t actually read one whole book. One day you eat more than you should have (hey, it’s only “once a month”), and at the end of the year you are eating in the dark, when no one else is watching. You answer with a harsh word to your husband after dinner, and four months later, you don’t know other way to answer. You are too busy to look on your children’s face when you are at the computer, and a year later they don’t remember your eyes. Habits. And not one of them was planned. Well worn paths that lead to sin, to isolation.

May I encourage you -as I preach this to myself as well-to choose carefully which path you will walk day after day this year?

Print these articles and study them. Read them over and over until you have mastered them, until they become yours:

The Habit of Prayer.

“We should form the habit of praying at every step, as we go along through the day. That was part of Paul’s meaning when he said, “Whatever you do, in word or in deed—do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.” He would have us include every word we speak—as well as every deed we do. Think what it would mean to have every word that passes our lips winged and blessed with prayer—always to breathe a little prayer before we speak, and as we speak. This would put heavenly sweetness into all our speech! It would make all our words kindly, loving, inspiring words—words that would edify and minister grace to those who hear. We can scarcely think of one using bitter words, backbiting words, unholy words—if his heart is always full of prayer; if he has trained himself to always pray before he speaks.”

The Habit of Thanksgiving.

“The only way to get thanksgiving into its true place in our lives—is to have it grow into a habit. A habit is a well worn path. There was a first step over the course, breaking the way. Then a second person, finding the prints of feet, walked in them. A third followed, then a fourth, until at length there was a beaten path, and now thousands go upon it.”

The Habit of Happiness.

“The secret of Christian joy—is the peace of Christ in the heart. Then one is not dependent on circumstances or conditions. Paul said he had learned in whatever state he was, therein to be content. That is, he had formed the habit of happiness and had mastered the lesson so well, that in no state or condition, whatever its discomforts were, was he discontented.”

John Angell Adams delivered on January 4th, 1856, an address to young men in England about the force an importance of a habit.This is an excellent read for the family table (especially when there are young adult children).

“Man is a bundle of habits.”

“It is of importance to remember, that though we are made up of habits, they grow out of single actions. And consequently, while we should be careful and solicitous about the habits we form, we must be no less so about the single acts out of which they grow.”

The Habit of Diligence.

James Alexander wrote a series of letters for his younger brother, and in one of them he tells him about the importance of the habit of diligence.

“Even small things are important, when they become habitual. Plato, the Grecian philosopher, once rebuked a young man very severely for playing with dice. “Why do you rebuke me so severely,” said the youth, “for so small a matter?” Plato replied, “It is no small matter to form a habit!”

While you have your books before you—try to think of nothing else. If you find yourself beginning to be weary, rouse your mind by thinking of the value of time, the use of learning, and especially your duty to your God.”

 

“Habit will make those things easy—which at first seem very hard. By constant practice, men become able to do astonishing works”

On the Formation of Habits, from another letter of James Alexander to his younger brother.

“Every habit you form is one stone laid in your character.”

“You are young, and cannot choose for yourself what is best. But your teachers select those studies which will tend to give your mind proper habits. Pay all possible attention to these studies. Be perfect in them. Every hour now is worth more to you than a day is to me. Every day is confirming you in some habit, either good or bad. And if you are not careful to aim at those which are good, you will most assuredly fall into such as are bad. You cannot be too much in earnest then; attend to everything which your teacher advises.”

Praying that I will be faithful in making good habits this coming year.

Becky