25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 26

Let’s keep going! On to chapter 26!

If this is your first time reading in this series, please feel free to find the “25 Days of December” category in the sidebar and read through the study we’ve done here on the book of Matthew! Lots of good stuff in here. This chapter can hardly be properly summarized in bullet points for every line is full of love, sacrifice, and grace. This is the chapter that prepares us for the cross. There is no summarizing that! I just wanted to point out a few things that may be missed in all of the excitement.

Main points for this chapter:

  • Blessing Jesus will not always be popular
  • Some of the most dedicated followers will become traitors
  • Keep praying, even during the still moments
  • Don’t be pressured into denying your faith

 

  • Blessing Jesus will not always be popular

Matthew 26:6-13 (The Message): “When Jesus was at Bethany, a guest of Simon the Leper, a woman came up to him as he was eating dinner and anointed him with a bottle of very expensive perfume. When the disciples saw what was happening, they were furious. ‘That’s criminal! This could have been sold for a lot and the money handed out to the poor.’ When Jesus realized what was going on, he intervened. ‘Why are you giving this woman a hard time? She has just done something wonderfully significant for me. You will have the poor with you every day for the rest of your lives, but not me. When she poured this perfume on my body, what she really did was anoint me for burial, what she has just done is going to be remembered and admired.’

 

To the world, we WILL look crazy sometimes. What would you think  if instead of giving to the food pantry one month, a family decided to go out on a limb and offer to buy $300 worth of groceries for someone in their bible study who appears to be doing just fine? Would it raise questions? Is there a possibility it could offend the recipient? Maybe so, but you will never know until you try. That family who seems to be doing very well for themselves could have lost their job that day and no one even knew. If you hear a whisper from God, listen! No matter the risks. People WILL judge your actions. They WILL wonder why you choose to help the people you do. When you listen to the whispers, you are blessing God instead of the world. There will always be people who are less fortunate. There will also always be a gazillion other people on the planet who have the option to help, as well. This woman had one chance to anoint Jesus for burial. One chance. She was obedient and Jesus recognized her for it.

  • Some of the most dedicated followers will become traitors

Matthew 26:23 (The Message): “‘The one who hands me over is someone I eat with daily, one who passes me food at the table.'”

Did you grow up with a family who was dedicated to the church, never missing a Sunday or a church gathering? Do you follow a credible evangelist on the television who has helped guide you for years? Do you have someone you go to with every personal battle or question?

Please, don’t put them on a pedestal they don’t belong on. For we are ALL human and it only takes a kick to knock that pedestal right out from under them. They have flaws and they sin and Jesus says in this verse that the one who hands Him over is someone very close to him. Those who appear to be the most faithful Christians on the planet may very well be the first to crack under pressure. Make sure that you are always digging into the Word and finding answers through prayer, for those who guide you may not always be there.

  • Keep praying, even during the still moments

Matthew 26:41 (NIV): “‘Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.'”

Matthew 26:41 (The Message): “‘Stay alert; be in prayer so you don’t wander into temptation without even knowing you’re in danger…..'”

Even in the moments of waiting or the times where life is going pretty good for us, we must always remain in prayer. This world is harsh and we are human. It takes only one single action or word to drag us into temptation. Prayer is our lifeline, always feeding us the truth. Don’t wait until you have given into the world and are sinking in quicksand to call out to our Father.

  • Don’t be pressured into denying your faith

Matthew 26:74-75 (The Message): “Then he got really nervous and swore. ‘I don’t know the man!’ Just then a rooster crowed. Peter remembered what Jesus has said: ‘Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.’ He went out and cried and cried and cried.”

By nature, we tend to follow the crowd and do what makes us fit in. These are natural instincts. We tend to go into survival mode, for if you fit in with the crowd you can travel with them and share food/shelter with them (in a survival situation). That is what the world tells us.

God has promised that he will provide for us and we do not need to turn to the world for acceptance. We must never deny our faith under pressure in order to “fit in.” He will see our loyalty and reward it.

 

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 25

Good Morning! We are almost finished with the book of Matthew! What has been the biggest lesson you have learned in this chapter so far? -I hope to write a post that will wrap up the book and mention the biggest lessons I learned too. :)-

Let’s dive in!

Main points for this chapter:

  • You can take the light, but don’t forget the fuel
  • It’s criminal to live too cautiously
  • The needy are more than just people 

 

  • You can take the light, but don’t forget the fuel

Matthew 25:1-12 (NKJV)

“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.

“And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming;[a] go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.

11 “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ 12 But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’”

We can go out with intentions of spreading the good news, but if we are not prepared with THE WORD, we will be left behind. The Word is what fuels the message. It is impossible to stand our ground without knowledge of the Word. That’s why studies such as this one are important! For student AND TEACHER!

  • It’s criminal to live too cautiously

Matthew 25:14-30 (NIV)

14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag,[a] each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.Come and share your master’s happiness!’

22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.Come and share your master’s happiness!’

24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

The Message translation have a verse that drove it home for me:

Matthew 25:26 (The Message): “‘That master was furious. ‘That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least?'”

We are not to hoard our material possessions, our money or our faith. How on Earth can we “hoard our faith?” By not sharing it! By not spreading the good news to others!

God is whispering to us all the time. If we decide to stay comfortable right where we are at, never taking a chance – we WILL miss out on what God has for us. The more we ignore those “gut feelings” or whispers from God, the more we will start to notice those whispers disappearing. The more we act on those whispers, the more whispers we will hear.

We can not be afraid to “invest” in what God has given us to work with. We can not hoard what we do have and sit on it. We can not (out of fear) hold our fists so tight onto what God has given us that we never open our fist back up to receive. If our fist is never open to give, it will never be open to receive either! God will see a closed fist and move on.

Does that make sense?

  • The needy are more than just people

Matthew 25:34-40 (The Message): “‘Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:

I was hungry and you fed me,

I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,

I was shivering and you gave me clothes,

I was sick and you stopped to visit,

I was in prison and you came to me.

Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and five you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you? Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me – you did it to me.'”

So, there it is folks. The things we do (or don’t do) unto others….are things we are (or aren’t) doing to our King! If the Lord calls you to help the homeless, orphans, enslaved etc then definitely do that! If you don’t feel led to do that, please don’t feel like you don’t have a mission. I guarantee you we have hurting people as neighbors, coworkers, friends and acquaintances.

 

 

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 24

I’m here! Didn’t fall off the face of the planet lol I have a good report though! In an effort to jump start my New Years Resolution of “balance” I have put more focus on my homemaking and this week has been fabulous because of it! So much relief, having the budget done, meal planning done, laundry caught up every single day, no waking up to dishes and the kids and hubby seem to be enjoying the results too. SO….I’m sorry about missing a few studies. I am still really enjoying them! I hope you are too. 🙂 So in terms of soul food, let’s EAT!

Main points for today are:

  • Don’t praise material things, for they will not last forever
  • Stay focused, do not fear and do not be deceived  
  • The message will reach the entire world
  • The metaphor of the Vulture
  • Be prepared

 

  • Don’t praise material things, for they will not last forever

Matthew 24:2 (NIV): “‘Do you see all these things?’ he asked. ‘Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.'”

We have been told not to put our focus on material things but when we read it like this….we can see. Nothing we currently have will exist forever (aside from our soul). If you ever watch end of the world movies, it’s easy to visualize what this may look like. If you haven’t seen movies such as these, it looks a little bit like this: ghost towns, people traveling to look for food and supplies, families separated, and people changing from what we knew them as before.

If you know me personally, you probably think of me as a pretty optimistic person. I believe I am most times. So reading a chapter like this leaves me sitting here staring at my bible with my eyes wide open wondering how in the world I will get through something like this. Thing is….it’s part of the bible I believe in and if I truly believe it, I can’t go changing the parts I don’t like! This brings me to the next point.

  • Stay focused, do not fear and do not be deceived  

Matthew 24:4-13 (The Message): “Jesus said, ‘Watch out for doomsday deceivers. Many leaders are going to show up with forged identities, claiming, ‘I am Christ, The Messiah.’ They will deceive a lot of people. When reports come in of wars and rumored wars, keep your head and don’t panic. This is routine history; this is no sign of the end. Nation will fight nation and ruler fight ruler, over and over. Famines and earthquakes will occur in various places. This is nothing compared to what is coming. They are going to throw you to the wolves and kill you, everyone hating you because you carry my name. And then, going from bad to worse, it will be dog-eat-dog, everyone at each other’s throat, everyone hating each other. In the confusion, lying preachers will come forward and deceive a lot of people. For may others, the overwhelming spread of evil will do them in – nothing left of their love but a mound of ashes. Staying with it – that’s what God requires. Stay with it to the end. You won’t be sorry, and you’ll be saved. ‘”

*Eyes wide open in amazement* again…. This all seems so harsh as we read it, but look around. Is it really much different than what we already see happening all over the world right now? Most of us are very fortunate to not have to be experiencing any of these things, so maybe we don’t see it. We are truly surrounded by it. War, suicides, bombings, shootings, terrorist attacks, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc. How are these different than what scripture describes? We already hate each other for political views, sexual preferences, race, religious backgrounds or whatever else may make us different. We are at each other’s throats all the time, even with those closest to us.

We have to stay focused. We have to stay in the Word. We have to apply the Word. We have to keep our faith in the fact that Jesus said, if we stick it out til the end he will save us. We have to cling to His promises. We can’t be deceived or led astray by any of the enemy’s sneaky ways. Thing is…..if we aren’t studying the Word, we WON’T KNOW when we are being deceived.

  • The message will reach the entire world

Matthew 24:14 (The Message): “‘All during this time, the good news – the Message of the kingdom – will be preached all over the world, a witness staked out in every country. And then the end will come.'”

Well that makes me feel better. My husband and I were just having a conversation the other night about people getting saved and if everyone on the planet will have a chance to be saved. My husband has a good heart and he said to me, “I just have a hard time believing that people of different religions, children, people who are living in secluded areas of the world…..that they would go to hell. What if they didn’t get a chance to hear about Jesus and make their choice?” When he asked me that, I teared up. Then I had a sudden feeling of almost guilt…or a mission I needed to start right that second. Slip my boots on over my pajamas, because I needed to go out and reach people so this didn’t happen! But then we continued to talk and study and now coming across this verse, we can rest knowing that everyone will hear the Word. HOWEVER, that doesn’t give us a free pass to sit back, say we are saved and leave everyone else to fend for themselves. We DO have a mission! Each of ours may look a little different, but they all have the same common goal! To reach the world with the good news!

  • The metaphor of the Vulture

Matthew 24:26-28 (The Message): “‘So if they say, ‘Run to the country and see him arrive!’ or, ‘Quick, get downtown, see him come!’ don’t give them the time of day. The Arrival of the Son of Man isn’t something you go to see. He comes like swift lightning to you! Whenever you see crowds gathering, think of carrion vultures circling, moving in, hovering over a rotting carcass. You can be quite sure that it’s not the living Son of Man pulling in those crowds.'”

The way this translation describes this metaphor helped me to really understand! A vulture circles a rotting carcass and feasts on it the same way the crowds will circle around the deceivers and feast on their lies. WOW! So the old idea of not following the crowd, really holds true here. Follow what you know to be true, not what others tell you is true.

  • Be prepared

Matthew 24:39-51 warns us to be prepared for the Son’s Return and to always do what we know to be right, for we never know when the time will come. He may catch us in the middle of serving ourselves or the world instead of serving the kingdom.

The “Definition” of Parenting

What does being a parent really mean? Why is being a parent so hard?

We’ve heard it a million times. Our children are not born with an instruction manual. Only they are. The bible. If you don’t consider yourself a Christian, hang in here with me. I will mostly be referencing the dictionary believe it or not. Common definitions of words you use everyday.Ready, this is going to be a doozy (definition: something outstanding or unique of it’s kind).

Definitions to be included are:

  • Discipline
  • Disciple
  • Guide
  • Practice
  • Training
  • Punishment

I’ll start with discipline. Discipline is one of the many hats a parent wears daily. One of those things we don’t really know how to do, but we are constantly doing. There are Facebook arguments, news stories, articles and many coffee chats about how to discipline your child and how -so and so- isn’t doing it right. Right?

dis·ci·pline
noun
1.
the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience

So, how do we “train” or “correct” our kids? What “rules” do they need to follow? What is the correct form of “punishment?”

I can’t directly answer that for you. I can’t tell you if your child is allowed to have a Snickers bar for breakfast or if they are allowed to sit on the counter and eat in the living room. We get SO frustrated because we don’t know how to pick the “rules” that will mold a child into a responsible, productive member of society. Then when we finally feel good about our rules, we struggle with how to stay consistent with them! That’s way too much to put on a human who makes mistakes! Are you guys with me? *stress*

Let’s look at a word that is hidden, but not very well…..in the word DISCPILine. Yes I typed it funky like that on purpose. DISCIPLE is in the word DISCIPLINE! Wowza! The things we miss…..

dis·ci·ple
noun
a personal follower of Jesus during his life, especially one of the twelve Apostles.

a follower or student of a teacher, leader, or philosopher.

We all think of  Jesus’ 12 disciples.

What did they do?

They followed Jesus, they made mistakes, they lacked faith and they even denied Jesus. Sound a little bit like us? Sound a little bit like our children?

As parents we are to be disciples and we are to guide our mini disciples. We are constantly learning from Jesus through our mistakes and our children are constantly learning from us through their mistakes (and ours, unfortunately). But our ultimate goal everyday should be to follow Jesus first and apply his lessons to our parenting. We should be raising these children to have minds of their own, not to follow rules even if they don’t understand them. One day they may not have us as a physical guide but they will remember the lessons we taught them. If they only remember one lesson, I hope it is that God is our guide and he sent Jesus to not only forgive our sins but to guide us in our daily living. He physically walked this Earth and he was a daily representation of how we should act and react.

guide
noun
1.
a person who advises or shows the way to others.
“this lady is going to act as our guide for the rest of the tour”
synonyms: escort, attendant, tour guide, docent, cicerone;

Notice that a guide is someone who advises or shows the way (leaving the student open to CHOOSE), not forces the way. Just saying.

Side Note: If we ever question what the right thing is…..we can look in the Word and find our answer. Always.

If you have never opened the bible (or even if you have but got overwhelmed), I encourage you to start with the 10 commandments:

ten-commandments-kids-wall-quote-4

         http://www.enchantingquotes.com/tencoki1.html

Now- how should our kids be “punished” if they do not obey?

Punishment
1
: the act of punishing
2
a : suffering, pain, or loss that serves as retribution
b : a penalty inflicted on an offender through judicial procedure
3
: severe, rough, or disastrous treatment

THIS IS WHERE IT GETS STICKY. This is where moms stop becoming friends because they don’t agree on how to punish their children. This is where news stories start because a mom did or didn’t punish their children correctly. Oh boy.

Ok, this is just from personal opinion. Take it or leave it. But I find that this world can be punishment enough sometimes. (I am NOT saying never punish your children!!) We live in a harsh world and it has a way of reminding us of that often.

This is my take on it. I consider a home to be a safe landing. I believe it should be a place to come to when we are feeling emotion of any kind. If we are sad, we can come home. If we are happy, we can come home. If we are feeling lost, we can come home. If we want our home to truly be this place for our children, we need to serve as their GUIDE instead of the DICTATOR. The world will punish them enough. If they steal, they will be punished in one way or another. If they commit adultery, this world will find a way to punish them. Have we all not experienced trials? Have a lot of them been a result of our misguided actions? If not, were we hurt by someone who was misguided? Did that person’s parent try their best to guide them according to the bible and commandments?

prac·tice

1.
the actual application or use of an idea, belief, or method as opposed to theories about such application or use.
“the principles and practice of teaching”
synonyms: application, exercise, use, operation, implementation, execution More
2.
repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintain proficiency in it.
“it must have taken a lot of practice to become so fluent”
synonyms: training, rehearsal, repetition, preparation; More
verb
1.
perform (an activity) or exercise (a skill) repeatedly or regularly in order to improve or maintain one’s proficiency

No matter which definition you look at they all carry the same message: the repeated application of an idea with the goal of improving or maintaining our proficiency. Parenting takes practice. Heck, being a human takes practice. It will til our last day. We need to make peace with that and accept the fact that we are always practicing at life and at parenting.

train·ing

the action of teaching a person or animal a particular skill or type of behavior.

synonyms: instruction, teaching, coaching, tuition, tutoring, guidance, schooling, education, orientation

I love that synonyms like coaching, tutoring and guidance are listed! I can’t recall many times that a math tutor showed up and started barking orders at the student! Tutors usually sit next to the student and guide them in figuring out math problems. This is often done in a library – quietly. It is much more effective to whisper a lesson than to yell it over and over again. Ever notice how kids don’t want to pay attention to you until you are sitting down quietly, ready to relax?! It is hard to avoid stress when dealing with children on a daily basis…..be kind to yourself as well. Remember the previous definition was PRACTICE! This takes practice.

That being said, sometimes we do have to “guide” our children with a little more force than we would like to.

Correction and Protection (link here)

A shepherd carries a rod and a staff, which he uses in different ways for different reasons. The rod is just a big, long stick with a little knob or bud at the top of it. A staff has more of a hook at the end of it.
The shepherd will practice endlessly so that he’ll be able to accurately chuck that rod at a predator or even at an unruly sheep to keep it in line. Sometimes an animal will wander off too far from the others. The staff is used to hook a wayward sheep and lead it back into the fold. At other times, it’s used as an examining tool to check the animals for parasites or other ailments.

The Holy Spirit sometimes has to use a rod of correction on us, doesn’t He? And it’s good to know that whenever we lose our way, He will use His staff to lovingly and gently guide us back onto the right path. -Joyce Meyer

 

 

 

 

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 23

Good Morning lovelies! I hope your day is off to a great start! If not, join the club haha. My day today is actually going well, but I have my share of bad days! When I get a chance, I take advantage of those days and use any spare time I may have to study, read a good book, look at inspirational quotes or get outside! These are all things that lift me up, I hope you have discovered things you can turn to as well!

Let’s get started on our study today! (Yes, Jeannie, I am behind by one chapter! Whoops! God sees my intentions right, lol) I can’t believe how much goodness is in the Word!

Main points for today are:

  • Don’t be a hypocrite!
  • Be humble
  • A promise is a promise
  • Look at the big picture
  • The outside is no representation of the inside
  • Stop blaming the generations before you

 

  • Don’t be a hypocrite!

Matthew 23:1-4 (The Message): “Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: ‘The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.'”

This hit me hard. The way this scripture compares being a hypocrite to putting a heavy load on someone else’s shoulders but not volunteering to help with the load, was big! I think to the lessons I try to teach our children daily. They are good lessons, and sure they should try their best to follow them……but do I try my best to do the same things I am asking of them? Or do I put great expectations on them and expect them to figure it out themselves? Do you see the word “disciple” in “discipline?” Guilty! I pray that I am constantly reminded of my job as a mother, to first and foremost be a disciple to our children.

  • Be humble

Matthew 23: 8-12 (The Message): “‘Don’t let people do that to you, put you on a pedestal like that. You all have a single Teacher, and you are all classmates. Don’t set people up as experts over your life, letting them tell you what to do. Save that authority for God; let Him tell you what to do. No one else should carry the title of ‘Father’; you have only one Father, and he’s in heaven. And don’t let people maneuver you into taking charge of them. There is only one Life-Leader for you and them- Christ. Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.'”

I LOVE the very first line. “Don’t let people do that to you, put you on a pedestal like that.” We are ALL following the same Teacher here. There may be students in class who are better at giving reports or some that are better at running the camera, but we all have the SAME TEACHER. In the end, we are all held accountable for the same assignment and have the same expectations regardless of our natural talents. Some people thought math was a breeze, others really struggled. The ones who were naturals could become tutors if they wanted to help the others, but they did not become the teacher just because they were quick learners.

I also, love the part that says, “Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant………But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.” I have become so passionate about the power behind just being yourself and being unashamed about being human. The people you are afraid of, have simply just learned how to put on a bigger show. They are just as broken as you are.

  • A promise is a promise

Matthew 23:16-22 (The Message): “‘You’re hopeless! What arrogant stupidity! You say, ‘If someone makes a promise with his fingers crossed, that’s nothing; but if he swears with his hand on the Bible, that’s serious.’ What ignorance! Does the leather on the Bible carry more weight than the skin on your hands? And what about this piece of trivia: ‘If you shake hands on a promise, that’s nothing; but if you raise your hand that God is your witness, that’s serious? What ridiculous hairsplitting! What difference does it make whether you shake hands or raise hands? A promise is a promise. What difference does it make if you make your promise inside or outside a house of worship? A promise is a promise. God is present, watching and holding you to account regardless.”‘

Good point. God is watching no matter where we are or what we are doing when we make a promise. We are held accountable after that. No excuses as to why that promise didn’t count.

  • Look at the big picture

Matthew 23:23-24 (NIV): “‘Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices – mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.'”

A lot of people make a big deal out of tithing, and it is important. There is so much more to giving tithe though. Do you think God gives us a pat on the back if we give our weekly tithe at church but then leave and do not follow the teachings? We get so distracted, arguing about the right way to tithe that we no longer have the time to concentrate on what really matters.

  • The outside is no representation of the inside

Matthew 23:27-28 (NIV) paints the perfect picture: “‘Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.'”

Not only should we work on the inside of us instead of worrying about the outside, but we need to apply this to other people, as well. OK, we know that things aren’t always as they appear. Instead of saying “don’t judge,” let’s instead make it a point to get to know the very people we are (because we are human) judging. After all, the only way to see past the outside appearances is to really dig in deep and look at the inside. If the inside isn’t looking too pretty we have a few choices…..among them: pray for them, provide a listening ear, show them you are not judging, relate to them, break down the walls, simply be there for them, show them you aren’t leaving like other people have, or (if you must) set boundaries and remove yourself from the relationship if God lays that on your heart. I don’t see the last option being God’s first option. If we look at how Jesus behaved during his time on Earth, it was most often from grace and compassion, not hate, bitterness and envy.

  • Stop blaming the generations before you

Matthew 23:33-34 (The Message): “‘Snakes! Reptilian sneaks! Do you think you can worm your way out of this? Never have to pay the piper? It’s on account of people like you that I send prophets and wise guides and scholars, generation after generation – and generation after generation you treat them like dirt, greeting them with lynch mobs, hounding them with abuse.'”

I applied this to parents and grandparents. We try to worm our way out of things we’ve done by blaming our parents. Sometimes, taking it even further and holding grudges or resentment. There is no doubt that our childhood and past play a big part in how we were molded into the person we are today. The thing we get wrong, I think, is that we are just as mold-able today! For some reason we think that we were molded and then fired in the kiln, never to be reshaped again. Only broken if we are mistreated.

If we allow our experiences, the people who surround us, The Word and most of all -God- to mold us until our last day, that is where freedom shows up. Why do we get ourselves stuck in the past. Why do we allow our past trials to chain us up? Why do we feel better if we blame it on the way we were raised or not raised? The truth is, we are humans raising humans here and that is kind of scary! lol Our parents made mistakes and we will make mistakes. That’s just human nature. God is all about forgiveness and freedom! Take the very hard step of forgiving your parents or grandparents. First tell God you forgive them and ask for His forgiveness for your grudge, then forgive yourself, then let them know you forgive them (if appropriate or possible). I think this is important even for those who are deceased (someone deceased, whom you hold unforgiveness towards). It will change your entire world, I promise.

 

 

 

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 22

Merry -Day After- Christmas! I hope you all enjoyed your break! I know mine was full of new traditions, quality time, missing people and new ways of thinking. I don’t know about you, but I am starting to learn about the things that really matter to me.

I had a nice walk with God this morning and asked for clarity and direction. I am so glad the new year comes right after such a busy time of the year. Getting all of the busyness out of the way and now it’s time to focus on the new year! I’m feeling less like the new year is bringing on a ton of new expectations and more like it is a chance to clean the slate, slow down and focus on the day to day in a different light. I just keep visualizing taking tiny bites each day in order to get to a day where I have eaten the entire thing. My focus this year will be balance and this series is a perfect example of that! You guys are helping me read the bible, one chapter at a time!

On that note, let’s move on to the next chapter!

Main points:

  • All are invited, few are chosen
  • Giving back
  • God of the living, not dead
  • Love God first, but also love your neighbors as yourself

 

 

  • All are invited, few are chosen

Matthew 22:14 (NIV): “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

This story of the wedding banquet and all of those who were invited, spoke to me in many ways. At first, I thought how rude to kick someone out who couldn’t afford nice clothing! I see now, that the old clothes represents our old ways and showing up to the celebration covered in our old ways. God has provided an incredible celebration for us and he invites us all. However, just being invited does not mean you will be allowed to stay for the celebration. You can not show up but refuse to participate and expect a piece of the reward. You can not simply show up to church but refuse to apply the concepts in your everyday life. You can not simply boast about your salvation but refuse to put it to good use by helping others. Well, you can, but you may not end up where you were hoping. In the dark.

  • Giving back

Matthew 22:19-21 (NIV): “‘Show me the coin used for paying the tax.’ They brought Him a denarius, and he asked them, ‘Whose image is this? And whose inscription?’ ‘Caesar’s,’ they replied. Then he said to them, ‘So give back to Caesar’s what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.'”

First I apply this to money, when I read it in a literal sense. Return debt back to the world who gave it to you. Return your tithe to God and His works, for He gave it to you. I also see how this could apply to our actions. Give forgiveness back to those who have given it to you. Give the cold shoulder back to those who give it to you. Now careful how you take this. I don’t mean to react out of anger as they have to you. I mean give it back. Don’t accept the anger, but simply give it back. He said to give the denarius back to Caesar, not hit him over the head with it! If someone is constantly giving you anger, gently give it back and refuse to hold onto the anger. There is no use in starting a collection of anger. Before you know it, you will cross the line between collecting and hoarding. We have all seen the devastating effects of hoarding. Just watch the television show!

  • God of the living, not dead

Matthew 22:31-32 (NIV): “‘But about the resurrection of the dead – have you not read what God said to you, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead but the living.'”

God does not watch the show, attend your funeral, scoop you up and take you to heaven. He is not a spectator. He is living and with us during every moment of our days. When I visualize faith and God’s will, I see movement. Like the wind. You can’t necessarily see the wind, but you can see how it effects everything it touches.

  • Love God first, but also love your neighbors as yourself

Matthew 22: 37-40 (The Message): “Jesus said, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence. ‘ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.'”

We all know these two commandments and try our best to follow them. One point I wanted to bring up was on the love others as you love yourself commandment. Have you ever looked at this and wondered….what about the people who have a hard time loving themselves? This is a deep rooted issue and each person has their different reasons for losing their self esteem. Do you find it hard to love on others when you are going through a season of not loving yourself? Do you notice that when you are angry at yourself, you tend to snap at others? Another thing I wondered about was: if we make a concentrated effort to love others, will we eventually start to love ourselves because of it? It’s kind of a catch 22, huh? I think it is important to find BALANCE (my new years resolution!). If we make a small effort each day to both love ourselves and others, I think we will start to see relief!! Loving God first is most important. If we model our actions after those of Jesus while he was on Earth, I think we will start to see life making a little more sense.

 

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 21

It’s Christmas Eve! It seems I should not be on the computer, but I don’t feel that way at all! Our family has said good morning to Elf on the Shelf and all of the treats she brought, made chocolate chip cookies for Santa, played board games together, stayed in our pajamas and now we have Christmas Vacation playing in the background while I write this post from the couch. Ahh….sounds pretty glorious to me. Besides, it is important to me to get the word out there for others as well as show my children that God never takes the backseat. After all, Jesus is the reason for the season!

Let’s dive in and see what this chapter has for us today!

Main points:

  • Give what you have when giving praise
  • The temple: a sacred place
  • The believer who has leaves but no fruit will wither
  • There is a difference between what you say and do
  • The workers who attack others will be punished

 

  • Give what you have when giving praise

Matthew 21:6-9 (The Message): “The disciples went and did exactly what Jesus told them to do. They led the donkey and colt out, laid some of their clothes on them, and Jesus mounted. Nearly all the people in the crowd threw their garments down on the road, giving him a royal welcome. Others cut branches from the trees and threw them down as a welcome mat. Crowds went ahead and crowds followed, all of them calling out, ‘Hosanna to David’s son!’ ‘Blessed is he who comes in God’s name!’ ‘Hosanna in highest heaven!’

This portion of the chapter is a prophecy coming true. The thing that stood out to me though, is that the crowd was laying their clothes out on the road and cutting branches to lay out. They were trying to give Jesus a royal welcome and give Him praise. How can we apply this to our lives? We can offer Him what we currently have. He doesn’t ask for more than that. We don’t have to attend a fancy church, wear fancy clothes, make a lot of money or bring fancy gifts. All Jesus wants is our heart. Whatever we currently have is enough, if we are willing to give it. Key words here being IF WE ARE WILLING TO GIVE IT. We can not be greedy with what we do have while asking God for more.

  • The temple: a sacred place

Matthew 21:12-14 (The Message): “Jesus went straight to the Temple and threw out everyone who had set up shop, buying and selling. He kicked over the tables of loan sharks and the stalls of dove merchants. He quoted this text: ‘My house was designated a house of prayer; You have made it a hangout for thieves.’ Now there was room for the blind and crippled to get in. They came to Jesus and he healed them.”

On my morning walk, I walk past a little tiny church that is now setup as a historical landmark and I look at it in amazement. I imagine what it was like in the 1800’s when only 15 or 20 people attended that little church. They didn’t have anything fancy. They were just there to receive a good word and be with the Lord. It seems much more familiar these days to see churches that hold hundreds if not thousands of people, kids churches that rival the nearest amusement park and the fanciest lights and music to attract the bigger crowd. How did these churches grow so rapidly? I pray it is because they have a quality message and not because they use the newest technology. The church is supposed to be a place where people get HEALED! not BROKEN! This brings me to the next point.

  • The believer who has leaves but no fruit will wither

In Matthew 21:18-20 (NIV): “18 Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry. 19 And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, ‘Let no fruit grow on you ever again.’ Immediately the fig tree withered away. 20 And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither away so soon?”

The fig tree represents the church and/or believers. Jesus representing the hungry who have come to feast on the word. Jesus is disappointed to find that the fig tree had no figs, only leaves. The tree appeared to be green and likely to have fruit but its appearances were deceiving. The same way a church may appear to be doing good deeds and thinking about it’s members when really it has selfish motives. Or a believer appears to be doing good deeds in the name of Jesus but is really just using it for their own selfish gain. The end of this story doesn’t end well for the tree.

  • There is a difference between what you say and do

Matthew 21:28-32 (The Message): “28 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ 29 “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. 30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. 31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.”

It is better to change your mind and do what is right after making a mistake than to promise something and not deliver.

  • The workers who attack others will be punished

Matthew 21:33-44 (NIV): 33 “Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. 34 When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit. 35 “The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. 36 Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. 37 Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said. 38 “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ 39 So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. 40 “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” 41 “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.” 42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? 43 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. 44 Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”

Just as the farmer sent his servants and then his son to collect the profits, God has sent his prophets and then His Son to spread His word and collect the followers to bring into his Kingdom. In both cases the servants and sons were treated extremely poorly and killed. When the farmer (God) returns he will get rid of the farmhands and find people who are not greedy and willing to work and return the profits when it is time.