Heavy Hearts With Big Prayers

This year I am more ready for Advent than any other year. I actually started a couple of weeks ago to dig in through the Gospel of Luke and I really hope to finish sometime around the end of the 12 Days of Christmas.

As I was reading through Luke 1 when the birth of Jesus was foretold by the angel Gabriel to Mary (vv.26-38), I had to stay there a bit longer -a day longer actually- to really take in something that I had not seen before.

When the angel told Mary that she had already found favor in God’s eyes and was going to have a child who would be the Savior of the world, Mary’s heart sank because of the bigness of the promise. “How will it be, since I am a virgin?” She asked, and the angel responded saying that she had to do nothing else than to believe the promise and carry it within her. God, the Holy Spirit, would come upon her and overshadow her with the power of the Most High, and therefore the promise would be fulfilled and have a name (I love that *therefore* on verse 35). Do you see it? How we need to dare to hear and to ask “How will it be?” and then, after you ask, trustfully rest and wait on the God who keeps His promises.

The promise was too big to bear for Mary, -and honestly, too big to be believed, but at the same time she didn’t have to do anything else other than believe and carry the promise within her until the fullness of time (oh, Waiting, how sanctifying you are!). Because God had decided to look on Mary with favor, because He had promised the Promise, because God’s Holy Spirit was overshadowing her and giving her the gift of faith to believe, because it was His doing, *therefore* she was able to believe, to carry the weight of the promise, to wait and see the fulfillment all the way through. She not only saw and felt the baby growing in her womb, she delivered the baby and laid Him on the manger, she saw Jesus grow and saw Him being betrayed and hanging on the Cross. But she was there also to see Him conquer Death. She was given the gift to believe God’s Promise, the big promise, the heavy promise. Calvin said that we, Christians,  have one thing in common with Mary, and that is Grace. Grace! What else do we need in the longing, in the waiting, in the meantime?

This Advent I want to pray that God will grant me the same gift of faith that Mary had. My heart, like that of Mary’s sometimes asks when I am facing a promise too good and too big to believe, “How will this be…?” But at the same time, I want to join Mary and hang onto the Promise and carry it within me until the time of its fulfillment comes. And I know that I can do that because God’s Holy Spirit has been given to me to believe. He helps my unbelief.

Think of this, which is harder to believe, that God’s Holy Spirit will overshadow a virgin woman and have her conceive the Savior of the world, or God saving your own child, or giving you that child you long for, or that job, or that husband, or that friend, or that reconciliation you have been praying about? Nothing is impossible with God. Nothing. The angel of the Lord said before departing from Mary, “For nothing will be impossible with God.” His promises are true and firm and never change because He is both, the Promise Giver and the Promise Keeper.

Someone said, “God’s promises claim us, we don’t claim them” and, Oh, how I agree with that! If we are His children, we have already found favor in His eyes. We have been given Jesus, the Promised One,  and with Him we have received faith to believe all of His promises which are true, all of them are yes and amen. Just say “yes” to his promises, He will bring them to pass.

This Advent I want to pray big and believe big. I don’t want to be doubtful and not dare to believe that God wants to save many, to reconcile many, to give husbands and wives, and children to his people, and healing, and good jobs, and endurance, and joy, and forgiveness of sins,  and more faith, and more perseverance and patience. I want to embrace the promises as much as they are embracing me and wait expectantly to see their fulfillment.

I pray that as you read this, you won’t think that I am foolishly embracing the “claim-it, get-it” unbiblical approach to God’s promises (the so called Prosperity Gospel). No. Not all. But at the same time, I think that we, hardcore Calvinists, Sound-Doctrine-Lovers, need to wake up and see the Promise-Giver with open hands and stop trying to see if that promise “fits” in our perfect-by-the-book-theology, we need to learn how to receive His promises and believe in His goodness as much as we believe in His Sovereignty. How we need to embrace His promises by faith and believe His Word, and pray over it and wait to see how God will fulfill each one of His promises. We don’t dare to pray eagerly for the lost, for example, trusting that God can and wills to save them because of the “what if they are not elect” that is always present in our minds. How often do we dare to pray for the big things in concrete big ways?  Oh, how easily we forget that God is big and His promises are big and His grace is big! I will pray big prayers and trust that God can bring big promises to pass.

May our hearts this Advent be heavy with many big prayers and big promises. May the Holy Spirit come upon us and overshadow us so that we may believe and wait.

Under His sun and by His grace,

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

Let Your Amen be Heartfelt

This week I considered studying the little word Amen; and I came across four great articles that you might want to print and study before the Lord’s Day. I promise you, after considering this you will never say this word lightly again.

Here is a taste of each one of these articles:

“The saying of the corporate amen is a great covenant privilege, and has the force of a binding oath. We never want to take it lightly, or invoke it to no purpose, or, worst of all, to mumble it.” Douglas Wilson

Read Douglas Wilson’s article here.

“I think he would say that God is calling us out of our cocoons of emotional isolation and invisible, inaudible, unshared responsiveness. I think he would say, it’s God’s will that we echo the excellence of God in preaching and prayer – that we express our affirmation of the truth of God in the Word, and that we resonate verbally with Godward longings and yearnings in prayer.” John Piper

Read Piper’s article here.

“It doesn’t mean primarily, “YES, I have said all this prayer.” It means primarily, “YES, God has made all these promises.” AMEN means, YES, Lord, you can do it. It means, YES, Lord, you are powerful. YES, Lord, you are wise. YES, Lord, you are merciful. AMEN is like an exclamation point of faith in a prayer for help. Or an exclamation point of strong affirmation after a statement of God’s greatness.

As you come to the end of every prayer there are two AMEN’s, two YES’s. When you say, “In Jesus’ name,” that is God’s AMEN. All his promises are YES and AMEN in Jesus: Jesus Christ is God’s YES and AMEN at the end of your prayer. Then when you say, “AMEN,” this is your YES and AMEN back to God for his. AMEN is our YES to God for his YES to us in Jesus Christ.” John Piper

Read this article here.

“Worship in biblical terms is a corporate matter. The corporate body is made up of individuals, and when an individual sounds the “amen,” the individual is connecting to the corporate expression of worship and praise. However, we are told in the Scriptures that the truths of God are “yea” and “amen” (2 Cor. 1:20), which simply means that the Word of God is valid, it is certain, and it is binding. Therefore, the expression “amen” is not simply an acknowledgment of personal agreement with what has been stated; it is an expression of willingness to submit to the implications of that word, to indeed be bound by it, as if the Word of God would put ropes around us not to strangle or retard us but to hold us firmly in place.” R.C. Sproul

Read Sproul’s article here.

By His Grace, under His sun,

Becky

Lessons Learned in the Quiet

The morning has come, and with it the first frost on our yard. The pretty, gay green will soon perish. Seasons come and go,  and the only thing than can sustain us through all these inevitable changes is the Word of God.

Shiloh Photography @ Used with permission

I am still meditating on Psalm 4, the Psalm I prayed this past Lord’s Day, but specially on verses 3-5:

“But know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself;
the LORD hears when I call to him.

Be angry, and do not sin;
ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent.
Selah

Offer right sacrifices,
and put your trust in the LORD.”

It seems to me that sometimes, the hardest lessons to learn are the ones God teaches us when we are lying on our beds at night, pondering in our hearts in silence; when the Spirit speaks to us by string our consciences, and bringing back to our hearts His Word that pierces deep into our soul.

Becky

>Saturday, We Have a Winner!

>Welcome, to a wonderful Saturday!

This morning I have some delicious cranberry-apple muffins in the oven and coffee ready (Starbucks Christmas Blend is here!). Yummy!

I want to announce our winner for  this week‘s giveaway:

How did I do this? Following the old-time way of doing fun things. I wrote down numbers 1-10 on 10 little pieces of paper, then I  put them in one of my bowls and picked one: Comment number nine!

Congratulations, Emily! Please drop me an email or a message on fb with your mail address, so I can send you your gift.

Now, talking again about the muffins in the oven…

Don’t think that I have always done this, waking up early on Saturday mornings to bake for my family. It has been something I have learned to do this past year. I always wanted to be “that kind of mom” but I always wished for that to happen, until one day, in prayer, I asked the Lord to help me serve my family in better and practical ways.

The next thing: I woke up earlier and started doing it!

Today I am grateful that I can serve my family in simple ways such as baking for them.

P.S I am enjoying our Philippians Study a lot! (We are already on week six, what a joy it has been!)

Yes, I will Open the Box

My young lady and my little girl, both come to me; we are chatting on my bed. It is 9:30 PM. I am already in my pj’s, but they insist (I have found lots of excuses not do it for about a year…the box is not easy to reach); they want me to open the box where I keep my wedding dress.

And I recall deep in my heart what I have learned (and I am still learning) about saying yes, and I stand, my husband smiles; I say “yes”,  and open the box.

Why is it so hard to say “yes” to so many simple things that will turn a moment  into something magical?

We laugh as they try my dress, (the one I used in the civil ceremony before our Religious wedding), and one that Grandma wore when she was a teenager. We tried the shoes, we laughed.

And then, I had to say “yes” once more. This time it was easier. I realized that saying “Yes”, has “magical” effects. It brings laughs, and creates memories. They asked me to try on my wedding dress! I knew I would not fit in it, and my Beloved was there! But I said “Yes”, and we laughed, and I loved it!

 
A third “yes” awaited; she loves photography and has never taken pictures of newly wed. This was her chance. She asked for the kiss… and we said “yes”.

600. Thank you for the power of “yes”.

601. Thank you, Lord, because I don’t fit in that dress, I have been Mom four times, and that is a gift.

602. Lasting covenants.

603. Marriage vows.

604. Two girls dreaming.

605.  Holding hands in the night.

606. Learning to pray.

607. Friends from afar, and long distance calls, and messages in FB.

608. Telly.

609. Cheesecake for him.

610. Swings.

611. Beautiful moments to build a relationship stronger.

612. The book that challenges Mom- Daughter conversations.

613. Memories built in the kitchen.

614. Trials that build our faith.

“Remember, O My Soul,
  It is thy duty and privilege to rejoice in God:
  He requires it of thee for all his favours of grace.
  Rejoice then in the giver and His goodness,
  Be happy in Him, O my heart, and in nothing but God,
           for whatever a man trusts in, 
          from that he expects happiness”


                          From the Valley of Vision

From the archives:
On Being a Wife
One + One = One
His Music and My Song