Growing In Godliness Blog

Growing In Godliness Blog

Trusting

Mary- A Modern Day Mentor

Friday, June 12, 2020

Mary- A Modern Day Mentor

By Kim Davis

Mary, the mother of Jesus, is worshipped by some religions.  There are churches, statues, and prayers dedicated to her.  While none of this is supported in the Bible, one cannot deny that Mary was a remarkable woman that we can look to as an example for us today.

Luke 1:30 tells us that Mary had favor with God.  Out of all the women living during her time, God handpicked her to be the mother of His perfect, only begotten Son.  This alone says a lot about Mary.  The Lord knew He would need a strong woman who could bear the burdens that came with being the mother of the Lord.  We all like to think our kids are perfect even though we know better.  But Mary truly had a perfect child.  Can you imagine how wonderful that would have been?  No breaking curfew, no backtalk, but complete obedience.  But on the other hand, imagine the heartache she felt watching her son be prepared for the cross, and hanging there in front of her in pain, as sweat and blood dripped down His body as He was being tortured. Sometimes we watch a child face the consequences of his/her actions and even though it hurts to watch, we know that facing those consequences will help build their character and hopefully teach them a lesson.  But Mary’s child was suffering because of our sins.  Have you ever seen a child punished unjustly for something that another child had done?  It makes us angry as parents.  It’s not fair and we want things to be handled justly.  I can’t help but wonder if Mary experienced those same feelings, even though she knew it was God’s plan and she trusted in God.

Luke 1:34 tells us that Mary was a virgin.  We know she was engaged to Joseph but yet she had kept herself pure for her husband.  So let’s be honest here, is it possible to remain a virgin until marriage?  Yes.  Is it easy?  No, it takes a great deal of determination and resolve.  Many Christians have failed here but Mary did not.  Sometimes we forget that people in the first century struggled with the same sins that we deal with today.  All the way back to the Old Testament, the Bible is riddled with infidelity, multiple wives, and concubines.  Controlling ourselves in the midst of physical passion is not harder today than it was for Mary and Joseph.  We don’t always equip our young ladies with the tools and confidence they need to preserve their purity for their husbands.  But Mary stayed strong and preserved herself for her husband and the Lord was pleased with this.

Luke 1:39 tells us that Mary confided in an older woman, Elizabeth.  Imagine Mary’s state of shock after the angel dissipates, perhaps pacing the floor or staring out into space processing this visit she just experienced.  Then, jumping up and looking for her shoes and grabbing her purse, jumping on a donkey and heading toward the hills of Judah.  Her mind was probably going 90 miles an hour as she was trying to process everything the angel had just told her.  Can you imagine the anxiety that she must have felt?  She had been chosen to give birth to the Lord, the Messiah, and the Son of God.  Have you ever received great, unexpected news and the first thing you wanted to do was share it with someone?  She needed to talk to someone, to share in her excitement.  I think it’s fair to say she was excited from reading Luke 1:46-55. She reached out to share the news with her trusted friend and relative, knowing her reputation could be at stake.

Luke 1:38 tells us that Mary trusted in God. We know she was afraid because Luke 1:30 tells us that Gabriel told Mary not to be afraid.  However she didn’t let her fear stop her from trusting in God. She believed what the angel said and she didn’t try to run away like Jonah or convince God otherwise like Moses. How many times do we let our lack of faith get in the way of doing what God tells us to do? Even though Mary’s reputation was at stake and she didn’t understand all the details, she knew enough and trusted in the Lord and her faith got her through the rest. 

The Lord selected two women from the same family to bear the Lord and his forerunner, John the Baptist. There were likely some very special predecessors guiding them in the ways of God as they endured hardships and experiences which cultivated self-discipline, kindness, love, and deep seated faith for God.

Are we preparing our self (and our children) so that God will find favor in us? Are we teaching the importance of purity, the blessing of friendship and the peace that comes with trusting in God? If we are looking for a modern day mentor, Mary is a great example.

Faith of Demons

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Faith of Demons

By David Norfleet

The Bible is full of amazing accounts of people’s faith.  The 11th chapter of Hebrews alone speaks of those who, motivated by their faith in God and His promises, traded wealth for poverty, exchanged the known and comfortable for the unknown and frightening, and sacrificed that which was precious for a greater relationship with God.

But I would like to think about the faith of another group in Scriptures – the demons.  We think about those spiritual beings as our enemies, and rightly so (Ephesians 6:12), but we might not think of them as having belief or faith in God.  But Scripture says in James 2:19 that they believe and even shudder.  But, what do they believe?

Consider Matthew 8:28-34 and the parallel text Mark 5:1-13. In these accounts we find Jesus is casting out the group of demons self-identified as Legion, but what is revealed within these interactions about their faith is fascinating (Even if their tone is derisive it reveals a level of belief beyond what we would normally ascribe to these beings.).

  1. First, I would note how they identify Jesus of Nazareth as Jesus Son of the Most High God (Mark 5:7).  By identifying Jesus as the “Son of…” they are recognizing a fact the gospels make abundantly clear, and that Jesus is God.
  2. But that is not the only revelation concerning their faith in their use of this title, consider that they recognize the Father as “Most High.” In Hebrew that is El Elyon or God the Highest. What that means is even the demons recognize God’s preeminence. 
  3. Furthermore, they recognize there is punishment, they are subject to it, and Jesus has the authority to execute this judgment. Note the question they ask in Matthew 8.29, “…

Have You come here to torment us before the time?” (Matthew 8:29). 

  1. But these demons realize and believe in another aspect of God’s nature and that is that He is merciful.  Note their plea in Mark 5: 10 “And he began to implore Him earnestly not to send them out of the country.”

Let us look yet further into the beliefs of these evil spirits. Not only did they understand who Jesus was, that there was punishment, and God was ultimately merciful, they also understood and were able to recognize that God had a means of salvation.  While traversing the city of Philippi to the place of prayer, a slave-girl with a spirit divination, spoke concerning Paul and his companions, “These men are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation.” (Acts 16:16-18).

This set of beliefs was not merely cold and lifeless to these demons, but resulted in a response whether of their own volition or not. Note the account in Mark 3: 11-12, “Whenever the unclean spirits saw Him, they would fall down before Him and shout, ‘You are the Son of God!’”

Are you astonished to the degree that the demons believed?  Does it startle you to think of their body of belief? And yet, James describes their faith as incomplete, barren, and lifeless (James 2:14-26)

So, what is the point?  There was something lacking in their faith.  James says in James 2:22 that works (actions/obedience) completes, finishes, and brings faith to its intended goal. If we want a faith that is complete, alive, and useful it must go beyond that of demons and include our obedience to be justified before God.

 

Fair Feathered Friends

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Fair Feathered Friends

By Sherry Hennecke

"Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" (Matthew 6:26)

During one cold, snowy Kentucky morning, compassion for my backyard, fair-feathered friends--cardinal couples, cheery chickadees, whooshing woodpeckers, jovial jays, and assorted Aves-- led me to leave the warmth of my comfy afghan and hot cocoa to fill the backyard feeder with their favorite sunflower seeds. All morning long, the birdfeeder was a frenzy of activity, as the birds first cautiously approached to nearby tree branches and then, trusting in safety, came in close to be well-fed and to sustain their lives during the raging storm.

When the snowfall ceased, there was little activity at the feeder even though the same good food was there in abundance, safe and close by, freely available, good life-sustaining seed. Where did all my hungry, fair-feathered friends go? Was there better food in the forest? Were they filled and content? Had they migrated on to another feeder? Were they no longer in need of the nourishing, life sustaining seed? Throughout the afternoon, brief snow squalls would again populate my feeder with brisk activity; periods of calm weather would turn their attention away from my feeder.

These observations cause me to consider if I am sometimes a fair-weather friend to my Jesus.  Why and when do I come to my Savior for the bread of life and living water that he so freely provides for me? Do I only come to my Friend in the “snowy” times of life? Am I too often self-reliant and content? Is my attention focused on other “feeders?” Am I a picky eater or do I feast on His word? His life-sustaining seed is free, bountiful, and always available. All I need do is trust my Lord, come in close, be well fed and sustain my life in Him—every day—stormy or clear.

 

HIS EYE IS ON THE SPARROW

By Civilla Martin

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,

Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home,

When Jesus is my portion? My constant friend is He:

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

“Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear,

And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;

Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,

When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,

I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;

I sing because I’m happy,

I sing because I’m free,

For His eye is on the sparrow,

And I know He watches me.

How Long, O Lord?

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

How Long, O Lord?

By Gary Watson

David was being hunted in the mountains by Saul. Saul's jealousy had prompted him to make a vow to take the life of David. David flees for his life and while in the mountains, he wrote Psalm 13. (http://www.fbbc.com/messages/hyles_psalms.htm).  It might be observed that David was so stressed that he felt alone and deserted.

Psalm 13 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
    and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
    light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
    lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
    my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
    because he has dealt bountifully with me.

According to the Mayo Clinic, stress has many common effects on our bodies:

  • Headache
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Stomach upset
  • Sleep problems

Common effects of stress on your mood

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of motivation or focus
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Irritability or anger
  • Sadness or depression

Common effects of stress on your behavior

  • Overeating or undereating
  • Angry outbursts
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Tobacco use
  • Social withdrawal
  • Exercising less often

Scripture abound in assuring us that God will help us cope with stress.  1 Peter 5 strongly assures us that God will help.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever.

Note the assurances, challenges, and attitudes necessary as the passage describes: we must humble ourselves, submit ourselves to God, be sober-minded, and watchful.  We must resist the doubt and despair Satan causes. We need to be firm in the faith even if we suffer a while.

The words of Isaiah should reassure us:

Isaiah 40:

29 He gives power to the faint,
    and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
    and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint.

Getting Out of God's Way

Sunday, July 31, 2016
Getting Out of God's Way
By Tristan Ganchero
 
Imagine that there is an apartment building on fire. There are people trapped inside, and the fire is getting worse every second. We hear the sirens of a fire truck approaching and we feel a sense of relief as the firemen get out and approach the building. Help has arrived. But before they are able to enter the building, someone stops them, pulls them aside, and tells them that the situation is too dangerous. They might lose their lives. What would the firemen say? “Get out of the way! This is our job. We know the consequences. Every second we waste talking to you is one less second we have to save those who are trapped inside!”
 
We wouldn’t think very highly of anyone who tried to prevent firemen from saving those who were trapped in a burning building. But we often find ourselves hindering the work that needs to be done in our relationship with Jesus.
 
In Matthew 16:21-23, when Jesus began showing His disciples that He must suffer, die, and rise again in order to save them, Peter took Him aside and rebuked Him. Peter was hindering Jesus from getting the job done. So what was Jesus’ response? “Get out of the way, Satan!”
 
Peter had his own selfish plans for Jesus and it blinded him to God’s much bigger, better plan of salvation. We do the same when we choose our own selfish plans for our friendships, dating relationships, marriages, families, careers, education, etc.
 
So how do we get out of God’s way so that He can truly help us and fulfill His much bigger and better will in our lives? We get out of God’s way by...
 
#1 Trusting Him
God’s wisdom and understanding far exceeds our own (Romans 11:33). We need to trust that what He has revealed in His word is for our good, always, even if obedience means suffering physically or emotionally for a time (James 5:11).
 
#2 Following Him
Speaking of suffering, right after Jesus rebukes Peter in Matthew 16:23, he goes on to explain that those who want to follow Him must “deny himself and take up his cross” (Matthew 16:24-28). Picking up a cross doesn’t simply mean “bearing a burden” for a period of time. If someone was carrying a cross back then it meant that they were being executed. Our old self of sin needs to die through baptism (Romans 6).
 
#3 Living for Him
Having been united with Christ we need to remember every day that our lives are not our own. We live with Him, and in Him, and by faith in Him. And He lives in us. (Romans 6:5-11; Galatians 2:20).
 
#4 Thinking like Him
Peter hindered Jesus’ work because he was not “setting [his] mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” Our minds need to be constantly renewed by the power of the Holy Spirit through the word that He has revealed. We need to develop the mind of Christ by practicing humility and serving one another self-sacrificially (Philippians 2:1-11).
 
This mindset, and the path it leads us down, may prove to be difficult and filled with suffering, but we are in good company because that was Jesus’ path to glory. In that, we can rejoice with Paul because we too want to attain to the resurrection from the dead (Philippians 1:29; 3:8-11).
 
So how do we get out of God’s way so that He can rescue us from death and continue the work He began in us (Philippians 1:6)? We need to trust Him, follow Him, live for Him, and think like Him.
 
God bless.
 
 

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