What Are You Reading in the Bible?

Summer-18-Bible-Challenge-FB-Invite

When I am far gone and people who knew me talk about me, I want them to remember me as a woman who always encouraged others to read all the Word of God, to love it, to pray it, to believe it all, to live by it every day.

And I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities that God has provided for me to do what I have always done , but with a much bigger microphone this past year. God is good!

This week about a thousand women all over the world concluded the first Bible Reading Challenge put together by Christ Church: We read the whole Bible in 8 months following a plan that I put together trying to make it easy to follow because of its structure. Starting with the fact that the New Testament is the inspired commentary of the Old Testament and understanding that the Bible has one main story line: A Redemption Story, then I tried to pair the readings in a way that people would read the selections of the day and then say, “Aha! I now see this super clear connection that I never saw before!” So we read, for example, the book of Hebrews at the same time that we read the book of Leviticus. I tried to place most Psalms where they belonged in the timeline. We read specific Psalms at the same time that we read in the book of Samuel  the circumstances David was going through when he composed that specific Psalm.  The plan was also unique because we started and finished with Psalm 119 and the very last day we closed with Romans 8. So powerful!

Now many more women (over 2,000 as I am typing this and hundreds of men) are ready to start the Summer Bible Reading Challenge this coming Monday, June 4. These next three months we will be reading the New Testament, and if you choose to do the extended version, you will read the NT once plus many epistles three times all together. I planned it in such a way that we would read some epistles back to back and some other books by author to get the most of them, to be immersed in them. For example, we will start with John, his letters, and the book of Revelation, and those doing the extended plan will also read in a week two times the epistle of Paul to the Galatians. I really encourage you to join us, Friend. Find all the information for men and women (and in 6 other languages too!) here.

So, Friend, what have you  been reading in your Bible lately? What will you read next? Would you consider joining us?

Read the Word, read it all, believe it all, pray it all, live by it.

Under His Sun and by His grace,

Becky Pliego

 

 

To Lent or Not to Lent

pexels-photo-792953.jpegIn our family we don’t observe Lent for the same reasons our Pastor explains in this interview. However, because we still want to keep the Christian calendar, what we have done for years is that after dinner we stop reading the book or devotional we have chosen for  the year and start reading about the Cross and the Resurrection of Christ. Just like in Christmas we gather all the books that tell of the Incarnation of our Lord, in this season we too look for good the books that talk about the Cross and the Resurrection of our Lord and mediate on their significance in our lives.

Super simple and yet it has proven a great blessing to us.

A few books I would like to  suggest you are these:

Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross editor Nancy Guthrie

“This collection of readings, drawn from the writings and sermons of 25 classic and contemporary theologians and Bible teachers, focuses on the wonder of Christ’s sacrifice.”

Love to the Uttermost, by John Piper

Love to the Uttermost: Devotional Readings for Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday, ends on Easter Sunday, and aims to focus our attention on Jesus as he displays his love to the uttermost (John 13:1). These meditations on the self-giving love of Christ are all excerpted from the preaching and writing ministry of John Piper.”

Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die by John Piper.

“The most important questions anyone can ask are: Why was Jesus Christ crucified? Why did he suffer so much? What has this to do with me? Finally, who sent him to his death? The answer to the last question is that God did. Jesus was God’s Son. The suffering was unsurpassed, but the whole message of the Bible leads to this answer.”

Spurgeon’s Sermons on the Cross of Christ

You can also read books about the work of Christ, about how Sanctification works, about the mortification of sin, etc.

May the Lord open our eyes to see what a great Salvation we have in Christ!

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky

Three (Four) Goals as I Pursue the Intentional Life

This is my first reply to a series of letters that my friends Trisha, Melissa, and I will be sharing as we reflect on the beauty, as well as on the challenges of pursuing the intentional life in this season of our lives. To read the introduction and the first letter go here.

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Dear Trisha and Melissa,

What a gift to the women of faith Jean Fleming has given in her book Pursuing the Intentional Life. The message she shares and the way she does it is encouraging and beautifully done. Thanks for the recommendation, Trisha.

In your first letter you asked us these two good questions: What are three of your goals as you pursue the intentional life? How has Fleming’s book encouraged you in these areas? So here is my answer…

You may continue reading here.

Becky

>The Rest by James Smith

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 “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.”
Hebrews 4:9
These was a rest for Adam in Paradise — which he lost by sin.
There was a rest for Israel in Canaan — which many forfeited by unbelief.
There is a rest for the Christian in Christ — which can only be enjoyed by faith.
And there is a rest for all the saints in Heaven — to which we can only be admitted at death.
To one of the two last, the Apostle refers; some think to the former, and some to the latter. We shall consider the words as referring to Heaven:
our Father’s house,
our Savior’s home, and
our eternal dwelling-place!
To the weary and way-worn — there is something delightful in the thought of REST, and they love to think of Heaven as the place where they shall “rest from their labors.”
REST gives us the idea of . . .
repose — the calm, quiet repose of the soul;
refreshment — the refreshment of the exhausted spirit after conflict, sickness, or toil;
restoration to vigor — after debility, lassitude, and fainting.
Heaven will be a rest . . .
from sin — which will no more grieve us;
from sorrow — which will no more trouble and distress us;
from fears — which will no more harass and perplex us; and
from conflicts — which will no more agitate and suppress us.
It will be a rest . . .
with God in his glory,
with Jesus in his immediate presence,
with saints and holy angels in full perfection and blessedness.
This rest is FUTURE — it remains for the people of God.
This rest is the object of our hope and DESIRE. We look forward to it, with holy longing and cheering anticipations.
This rest is PERFECT — free from all mixture of anything that will agitate, give pain, or cause grief.
This rest is UNINTERRUPTED — nothing will ever occur to disturb, distress, or agitate us more.
This rest is GLORIOUS — as bright as the meridian sun, as balmy as the most pleasant morning, as glowing with holiness, splendor, and majesty.
This rest is ETERNAL — and this is best of all. The possibility of a change, of a return to former scenes — would spoil all. But that rest will be enduring — as changeless as the Divine nature, and as glorious as the Divine perfections.
Blessed be God for such a rest for the weary, suffering, and downcast believer in Jesus! Oh, to keep the eye fixed upon it, and the heart expecting it — amidst all the troubles and trials of time!
This rest is FOR the redeemed people of God. Not for the Jews as such, nor for the Gentiles as such — but for the Lord’s people. The people He has chosen for himself, as says the Apostle, “God has chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” The people He claims as his own, being set apart for himself in his eternal purpose, redeemed to God by the blood of his Son, out of every nation, country, people, and tongue. He claims them by his Holy Spirit in the day of his power. The people whom He himself teaches, as Jesus said, “It is written in the prophets — they shall be all taught of God, everyone therefore that has heard and learned of the Father, comes unto Me.” Divine teaching is educating for eternity, and God thus educates all his own people. The people He prepares — for Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people. Jesus is gone to prepare the place for the people — and the Holy Spirit comes to prepare the people for the place. To this end, He creates them anew in Christ Jesus, and makes them fit to he partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.
They are now a poor, tried, tempted, and restless people; strangers and pilgrims upon the earth, as all their fathers were.
Satan tempts them,
sinners try them,
fears harass them,
Providence perplexes them,
and they often cry out, “O that I had wings like a dove, then would I fly away and be at rest!”
Believer, let the prospect of this eternal glorious rest, cheer you in toil and trouble! Your work will soon be finished, your trouble will soon come to an end, and then the rest — the glorious rest, remains for you! Let it encourage you to labor and suffer: labor for Jesus, who is preparing the rest for you; suffer in the cause of Jesus, acquiescing in his will who once suffered for you, and now rests as you will soon.
Think of the Hebrew believers — what they suffered, and how they suffered; they “joyfully accepted the confiscation of their property, because they knew that they had better and lasting possessions.”
Let your Heavenly rest, quicken your pace homewards! You are going to a rest — a perfect, uninterrupted, and eternal rest; a rest in Heaven, a rest with Jesus, a rest in the presence of your God forever; therefore gird up the loins of your mind, and press on towards the mark, cheered by the prospect at the end of the race.
Remember, Christian, this rest is SECURE, for Jesus has taken possession of it for you. “I am going,” said He, “to prepare a place for you.” “Where,” said the Apostle, alluding to Heaven, “Where the forerunner has for us entered, even Jesus.” Yes, Jesus is gone there for you, He has taken possession in your name, He is preparing your place, and will soon come and receive you to himself!
Remember too, that it is NEAR — very near. Perhaps much nearer than you may think.
You may be sighing, sorrowing, striving, wrestling, doubting, fearing, and cast down today — and tomorrow you may be in your Heavenly rest!
Today, you may be lying like Lazarus, at the rich man’s gate, full of sores; tomorrow, you may be in Heaven!
Today, you may be dwelling in Mesech, or in the tents of Kedar; tomorrow, you may be basking in the beams of Immanuel’s glory!
Today, you may be on the bed of sickness, suffering, and pain; tomorrow, you may be in the presence of Jesus, where there is no more pain, neither sorrow nor crying!
Who can tell how near we all are to our Heavenly and everlasting rest?
Remember also, that your very trials, toils, and sufferings here on earth, may SWEETEN your rest to you! And that soon, very soon — you may be rejoicing over your present sorrows, and praising God for what now fills you with grief and sadness. Things will look very different there — from what they do here. Never, never forget, then, in your darkest nights, in your most trying days, in the midst of every storm and tempest, when passing over burning sands and under a scorching sky — that there remains a rest for the people of God, and a rest for you!
“Arise and depart; for this is not your resting place, because it is defiled, it is ruined, beyond all remedy!”
“There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary are at rest!”
But, “there is NO REST, says my God, to the WICKED!” His soul is restless now, and, dying as he is — he will be restless forever. “And the smoke of their torment rises forever and ever. There is no rest day or night!” O think of an eternity of unrest! Think of an eternity of toil, agony, and woe! Think, and so think as to accept and act upon the invitation of Jesus, who is now at this moment saying unto you, “Come unto me, and I will give you rest; take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and humble of heart, and you shall find rest unto your souls!”
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May we find today, dear friends, rest in His presence.
Have a most blessed Lord’s Day!
Becky

>Celebrating the Incarnation of our Lord -part IV-

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“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. ” Luke 2: 1- 7 (ESV)

Mary is ready; her womb is heavy, her heart pounds hard, she knows the days are getting closer. She can’t no longer sleep well, and her lower back hurts. But she follows her husband; they travel to Bethlehem to fulfill an order of a man who did not know that his order was only the result of a Sovereign decree.

They journey under His sun to meet the greatest miracle of all, to see God’s promise fulfilled, to meet the Saviour of the world face to face. They walk a long walk with the Word of God ahead of them; leading them; Do they realize that the Word of God is in Mary’s womb?

They walk one more day, they knock one more door; they hope for one place to rest,  a place to lay the soon-to-be-born Baby’s head; but they found none.

The waiting is almost over for them, the Advent is almost over for us; we have meditated, we have read, we have pondered; we have studied what this magnificent word Incarnation means. We want to see Him; O how we long for His presence!

Today, I feel like Mary, full of Him, full of awe. I don’t have the Son of God in my womb; I have Him in my heart; the Holy Spirit came to Mary once, but He dwells within me daily. The Word has been growing deep in me, changing me; I, too, walk under His sun expecting the day I will see Him face to face. Mary and Joseph were always led by God, day after day, they were led by the Spirit to meet their Saviour; so we are.

We, Christians, are like Mary, chosen by God to see Him one day face to face; to embrace His Grace, to behold His glory.

This Christmas, I am reminded that I am only on a daily journey; no matter how heavy the burden might be, how rough the road might be, no matter how many doors I knock and how many of them remain closed; His Word leads me, His holy Spirit dwells within me; Christ is being formed in me; I walk daily to the day I will see Him face to face.

Calvin’s words come to my heart and meet me this Advent season; he says of Mary,

“She should be to us a mirror of God’s mercy. For in mercy God chose us for Himself, sinners though we were, rescued us from the abyss of death and had compassion on us. Mary is thus set before us as an example to imitate. with her we acknowledge that we are nothing, that we count for nothing, and are utterly reliant on God’s goodness. That is how we can be Mary’s pupils, proving by our aptness that we have been attentive to her teaching” (1)

I pray that God will give us grace to magnify God our Saviour daily as we journey under His sun, led by His Holy Spirit; fed with His Word. O, that Christ may be formed in us!

How I long to walk full of Him until the day I see Him face to face in all His glory!

Merry Christmas, to you, my Christian friend!

(1) John Calvin, Songs of the Nativity; Selected Sermons on Luke 1& 2

>Celebrating the Incarnation of our Lord III – for little souls-

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Today I am writing for the little souls in your home; this post is for them.

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This story my little one, is true, so pay attention to what I have to say.

Remember the garden your mom has told you about, the most glorious garden that has ever existed? Yes, the Garden of Eden, the beautiful garden where God used to walked with Adam and Eve. It all started in that beautiful place. The serpent came, with lies that Eve believed and they, Adam and Eve, disobeyed God by eating from the only tree God had forbidden them to eat. You know what was the big lie they believed? The serpent told them that they were going to be like God if they took a bite of that forbidden fruit which, of course, looked delicious and pleasant to the eyes. Maybe you say that if you were there you would have never done that; but that is not possible. We all like to believe that same lie; we all like to be our own god. We want to do things our own way, we don’t like to hear precepts and commands, and we don’t like to obey dad or mom. We love our sin; we don’t want God to rule our lives.

Do you know what happened next? Adam and Eve died. First they died spiritually, they were not longer happy in God’s presence; instead, they wanted to run away from Him; they became fugitives. They did not want to seek God. They were, instead, always looking for darker places to hide from Him. Years later they also died physically. And so it is today, sinners are running away from God they are dead, even when we see them walking and shopping. They are fugitives; they do not look for God, they are hiding from Him. All sinners from Adam to the last baby who was born this past second deserve the penalty of death; we all deserve to live far from God, in darkness, in our sin. We all are fugitives.

But God had a plan. He had a plan even before He created Adam and Eve. He had a plan to rescue men and women whose names He had already written even before they were created in a beautiful book which is in Heaven called the Book of Life. The plan was amazing, listen to this:  God, the Son, would become flesh to pay the penalty of those whose names were written in the Book of Life. Who could have imagined such a thing? Yes! He, God-the Son would have to come to this ugly world full of sinful people, in the form of a man; He was going to come, not as a king or an important person, but as a servant. He was going to come to the world He had created; and walked under the sun He had created and eat the fish He had created. He had to come and no one would recognize Him. Isn’t that incredible? Yes, it amazes me too, to think that He left all His glory in Heaven to come as a man so every one who saw Him did not recognize Him as God, as the Creator of all.

This is what Christmas is all about, my little one; it is about the coming of God to this world as a Baby in a manger, who was born with no sin and who never sinned. It is about God taking the form of a man and laying His perfect life on the cross to pay the penalty of death which we deserved and could not pay with our own lives. It is about Jesus’ coming to defeat death; It is about Jesus, the Light of The World who shines with such a splendor that darkness flees from Him. It is about Jesus, the Author of Life conquering death; defeating it when He rose from the death.

This story is about you and I, too. It is the story of our redemption. Now we can walk again with God, not fleeing from Him; we are no longer fugitives, trying to hide in the darkest place, not to be found by God. He came to rescue us. We didn’t do anything! We did not choose to be rescued; we did not write the plan; we were death in our sins; we wanted to be our own gods. But He had a plan, He made a promise and He fulfilled His promise.

He came to us, now we can come to Him.

Peace and Joy be to you, little one.

Related posts in this series:

Celebrating the Incarnation of our Lord -This is what Christmas is all about-
Celebrating the Incarnation of our Lord – Gifts we Bring, by Elizabeth DeBarros-
Celebrating the Incarnation of our Lord – A read aloud for little souls-

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