Pester & Taunt

by Mary Beth on March 31, 2021

Pester: to annoy, badger, demand.

Taunt: to scoff, ridicule, deride.

 Lent is a season of mercy, often blowing into our lives like the forceful winds and cold rain storms of March and April.

Lent season like Springtime, offers an opportunity for spiritual renewal to engage with geniune faith and repentance. A season for listening. A season for biblical understanding and wisdom. A season to remember Jesus, to savor His presence.

Yet we often face subtle opposition without and acute struggles within, as we press on to know the Lord.

From Scripture we know

Nehemiah had circumstances filled with ridicule,

constant scoffing, and he was badgered by enemies

in his calling and work for the Lord.

He remained loyal in prayer and wise

in his astute leadership to the Judeans.

The Judeans had returned from exile

to reestablish their community.

Within his leadership,

Nehemiah held a commitment of steadfast prayer,

and strategic leadership skills to remain faithful.

 Jesus faced evil taunts, pestering and mockery from Satan,

despite ongoing opposition he faithfully

surrendered to the call of God.

As Christians, we too will face similar opposition

of being mocked, taunted and pestered

especially as we follow God’s call to make disciples of all nations.

Likewise, we are not unfamiliar with opposition,

be it subtle or blatant.

In our devotion to Jesus Christ,

walking with other believers or encouraging

our family and friends,

 we will and do face opposition in the world,

against ourselves and with others.

As Nehemiah was confronted with mockery, taunting and ridicule,

he continued to be faithful to his calling

trusting the providential hand of God

in constant prayer and practical wisdom.

Satan aims to tempt us towards

compromise and complacency

in our obedience to God’s will, His timing and ways.

Our minds, souls and hearts are tempted to short-circuit,

to live our lives for pure pleasure and self-gratification.

All to aim and separate us from our heavenly Father,

by disloyalty, distrust, disobedience, etc.

 Until the Lord sheds light into our darkness,

we often don’t see opposition with spiritual eyes.

In the moments of vulnerability,

we need to stand firm against the ongoing whispers

and resist the temptation to compromise with darkness.

Light reveals darkness in its aim to taunt, pester or to mock.

*

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,

but against the rulers,

against the authorities,

against the powers of this dark world

and against the spiritual forces of evil

in the heavenly realms.”  Ephesians 6:12

{ 83 comments }

Confession and Repentance: Out of Darkness

by Mary Beth on March 31, 2021

IMG_3181

 “In our human nature, we’re masters of self-deceit.” R. C. Sproul

It is not natural for us as human beings to be open with our struggles and sufferings.
We have an innate propensity to hide.

A healthy and mature gospel community,

walks in open, godly confession and repentance.

Such attitudes and acts continue throughout our lives as Christians.

We have the charge and honor to bear each other’s burdens in the darkest of times.

~Confession and repentance are never out of season.

In struggling with sin,

an invisible veil of confusion can cover our hearts and minds.

But through faith and persistence,

our hearts can break through barriers of shame to the beginning stages

of confession and repentance, towards healing and restoration.

We are all in need of the Spirit’s provision to renounce individual sin.

~Confession is a grace aided by guidance.

Genuine repentance involves a godly sorrow for specific and general sins.

In Rosaria Butterfield’s successful book, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert,

she communicates a powerful and bold witness to the Spirit’s fruit from her unbelieving heart and lifestyle of sexual sin.

From a prominent professor teaching a secular worldview-

to a believer growing in Christ, Butterfield articulates the process of the

“hard edges and dark valleys” in her painful confessions and changed lifestyle.

The process of freedom she “experienced in coming face-to-face with the living God”

led her to say, “How our lives bear the fruit of Christ’s spilled blood is important.” 

Wow, I absolutely love this statement!

Rosaria’s honesty and vulnerability in this area will challenge all Christ followers to such ruthless trust in God.

In a self-centered society of worldly priorities and shallow success,

it is refreshing to see a sincere confession accompanied by godly sorrow and genuine repentance.

~Repentance, like faith, is beyond an intellectual understanding.

We need the holy Scriptures to show us sin is wrong,

as well our need to God’s direction and guidance.

 
“For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two edged sword,
piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow,
and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. ~Hebrews 4

We turn to Christ for salvation from our sin, yet we also turn from our sin.

The gospel of grace helps us do this.

In our repenting, we must ask ourselves if we are making a genuine commitment to forsake sin.

To be open with our struggles and suffering, is a call to come out of the darkness.
Out of hiding and into the light.
“…God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.  If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with ne another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.  If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”   1 John 1:5-9 & John 1:9-11 

{ 0 comments }

What Would Become of Us?

by Mary Beth on December 24, 2020

All alone, Mary believed the angel Gabriel. She responded, “May it happen to me according to your word.” Such courage to believe. To act in faith, trust, and surrender. Understanding came later as a reward.

Do we fear or do we trust? Patty Callahan Henry, the New York Times best-selling author, probes this question in reflection of Mary’s courage and choice to surrender in faith, or to take on fear after her encounter with the angel. Mary’s spiritual posture and reply was simple, humble, and yet profound in a trusting statement of surrender. How encouraging for our walk of faith. To simply exercise trust during our unexpected and challenging times, especially extended delays experienced in our lives.

Truly open hearts move against fear, with a willingness to speak into the here and now. Daily we have opportunities that arise in our ordinary lives to respond in faith against fear, When appropriate to speak into the eternal now.

Joy Davidman Lewis’ quote, “If we should ever grow brave, what on earth would become of us?” I’m drawn to the passion, challenge, and adventure in this question to “grow brave” and its implications of what would become of us. It implies God has more for us!

Mary’s example of imperfect but pure-hearted faith, her steps of trust, surrender, and humble action welcomed God’s powerful purposes. It also welcomed His faithful promises and guiding presence. What mercy from our gracious heavenly Father to give so profoundly! Are we giving too little to God?

Do we fear or do we trust? What does this look like? Obviously a devotion to God and His ways, which are costly and weighty in practice for each follower of Christ. Scripture reveals from the life of Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, and even the Shepherds in the field, there is a quiet adventure and passion for all of us. We’re invited into His goodness through trust and often quiet action over fear.

Many times our actions play out in quieter environments, not necessarily in front of a lot of people or on a stage. Maybe the question is, Will our faith and trust be significant enough for us to be brave? Lord, help our unbelief. Help us to allow for space to grow. Walking with God is a daily practice of enjoying His presence, goodness and rich blessings. It’s so worth it. “Mary has the presence of God with her and she has the blessing of God upon her,” states Matthew Henry. This is the case for every believer.

Our God is on the move. Adventures in faith and great inspiration often surprise our timeline and press on fears of inadequacies, doubt, opposition and long seasons of waiting. How long? This is also our challenging cry along with Jeremiah, David, and Hannah. Let us recall, goodness greets us every morning, great is His faithfulness. Let us continue to surrender in faith and grow to be brave. God’s grace surrounds us, therefore, we have hope and joy as He changes us to be brave from glory to glory.

{ 0 comments }