Nothing to Prove

Ever feel like you aren’t doing enough? Doing GOOD enough? I think we all do. I would love if you would join me on this journey as I read through and discuss each chapter in this book!

I have been reading Nothing to Prove by Jennie Allen聽(this is not an affiliate link and I get no compensation for linking this book) for a greater portion of this year. It is one of those books that I can only digest a little at a time, because it is so good! I have also noticed that no matter how long I set it down for- when I pick it back up again, it is always relevant! Please join me as I post about each chapter of the book and how it impacted my life!

Chapter 1: My Quiet Confession

You don’t have to read more than two lines in to find it…..”I am not enough.” I feel like the same goes for our daily lives! We don’t have to get but two hours or even two minutes into the day sometimes before we get hit with that overwhelming thought. The worst part is- we feel alone in thinking those thoughts! Gah! What better way for our enemy to knock us down?

“That line would wait indefinitely in the distant border of my mind, enticing me to reach it. Within me, for most of my life, would live a theory that I assumed was a fact: It was possible to arrive at a destination where I would finally prove myself. I would arrive at the line marking the place where I finally measured up to my family, my peers, my God, and my own expectations. But like the mirage in the desert, every time I thought I finally was closing in, the line backed itself up.” (Page 14)

I love that Jennie compares our idea of reaching “enough” to a mirage in the dessert. No matter how long we chase it, we are never going to find that illusion of water, because it’s just that- an ILLUSION! We have tricked our minds into thinking that if we just walk 2 more feet or maybe if we walk a little faster we will finally reach what we’ve been thirsty for. It’s an illusion.

Jennie talks about many times in her life when she didn’t feel like she was enough and I know we can tell just as many stories. Looking back, though, as much as I’d like to think all of those times I felt that way because somebody else MADE me feel that way….it’s just not true. Sure, there may have been many times where I truly was hurt by somebody else, but when I really think about it…..how many of those times did I FEEL like I was not enough because of what I THOUGHT other people were thinking about me? Our perceptions can become skewed based off of our insecurities and I am constantly reminding myself of that.

Page 21, just left me in awe. It was an “AH HA” moment for me!

” God has a different story line for us, one in which our souls are content and epic stories unfold through our lives here- but not because of us. IN SPITE OF US. Romans is pretty clear about our reality: ‘For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.’ But what if we have everything backward? What if there was a story where the ones who aren’t enough, the ones who recognize they don’t measure up, are the very ones the God of the universe picks to move wildly in and through?”聽馃槼

When we realize we will never be enough, it’s THEN that we realize we need a God who is more than enough. A God who will fill our voids. If we believed we were enough, we may start believing we don’t NEED a God.

So, wait! Our belief that we aren’t enough is actually a GOOD thing?? I believe it can be, if we look to our God as the one who can make us enough. There is such a weight lifted when we realize we don’t HAVE to be enough and we don’t HAVE to earn our way into the “good enough people’s club.”

I love the little tid bit Jennie talks about on page 22, “God started opening doors I wasn’t even knocking on.” Now that we’ve come to the realization that we need a God to fill what we are lacking, we can start putting our trust in Him……trusting that He knows what we need more than we do.

I like to compare this to parents raising their children. Young kids may not know why we make them do chores or why we make them apologize to their sister after hitting her, but later when they look back they will see that we had their best interest at heart. Same goes with us, as God’s children. We may think we’ve got this and we have a plan! In truth, we have no idea what’s best for us. If we can just trust God and let Him do his thing…..then we can step out of the way of the doors He’s been trying to open the whole time! We’ve been in our own way.

Finally, on page 22, Jennie says, “We are finite, sinful beings. And that is okay. In fact, it is the confession that unleashes the freedom we are aching for.”

We spend our days running around complaining about how we will never be enough for anyone and telling God it’s just not fair! How could he possibly expect us to be enough?!

He doesn’t. He never did.

Those are expectations we put on ourselves.

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When the Love You Feel Doesn’t Match the Love You Show

For quite some time now, I have been battling a mystery illness. For years I have had off the wall symptoms and for months we have been looking for the cause as my symptoms continue to get worse. This post is not about my illness or who can guess what’s wrong with me. This post is about my husband, my children and those around me.

I love that I get to be a homemaker. I have an opportunity that a lot of moms don’t have. I get to wake up everyday and make our house a home. I get to daydream about the decorations I will make, the chocolate cake I will make every year for our children’s birthdays, the handwritten notes I will send in their lunch boxes, the clean house and warm dinner I will have ready for my husband when he gets home from working hard all day, the flowers we will plant and watch grow, the pets we will love on, the memories we will make as we have friends over, the forts we will make and the sleepovers we will have. And these dreams make me so happy! My heart just overflows with love and the thought of having a family that is close and has open communication. I love knowing that I have the very important job of making our home a safe haven to express our emotions and decompress in. The trouble with this lately is…. tends to stop at the dream phase.

Last night I went to the coffee shop to do some work for the Usborne Book business I just started (yet another thing I do to cater to my illness….to keep my mind off of it and earn money to pay the unending medical bills) and this morning when I asked our 4 year old how her night was and if she was ready for a great day at school, her answer made my heart shatter into a million pieces. She replied hesitantly, “I kiiinnddaa like dad more than yooouuu…..” I calmly asked her what daddy does that she wished I would do for her and she said, “He be’s nice to me.”

Well, that was hard to hear. I don’t know how I took it so calmly (probably the fatigue I’m fighting), but it made me think. A lot. Like women already do all the time anyway. I started thinking about how being sick has totally taken over my life and it is effecting those around me. My quest to find an answer has come before my family. My mood swings are becoming intolerable for those under my own roof. The safe haven I am supposed to be creating is crumbling before my very eyes.

How is it that I spend at least half of my day daydreaming about all of the wonderful things I want to do for my family to show them I love them and how I can’t wait to give them a big ol hug after school and how they are growing so fast and I’m so sad because of it……but what they see is a mean mom. A mom who doesn’t have time for them, is too tired for them, has to leave them and change their routine so she can go to yet another doctor’s appointment. They see me and they don’t understand because I don’t look sick. I’m not sneezing or coughing or holding my belly due to a belly ache. I have no scratches or needs for a Band-Aid.

Is it up to me to tough through it and stop searching for answers in order to restore peace in our home or is it up to me to tough through it until we find an answer so I can get better for my family? It’s really a toss up. Until I decide, I guess I will work on “be’s-ing nice” to our kids so they don’t hate me.

 

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路ci路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路ci路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路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路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鈥檒l 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鈥檚 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鈥檛 He? And it鈥檚 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 19

Still playing catch up! 馃檪 I have been studying and going over this chapter ALL day. It is a tougher one for me than past ones. The big divorce word comes up and it hits very close to home. I love how God brings us to our biggest walls and the very things that make us squirm in order to teach us the truth! OK, it’s a love/hate type of thing but in the end I always come out thankful!

Main points from today’s chapter:

  • The art of marriage
  • What Jesus says about divorce
  • The true definition of “eternal life” and how we gain access to it

 

  • The art of marriage

Matthew 19:4-6 (The Message): “He answered, ‘Haven’t you read in your Bible that the Creator originally made man and woman for each other, male and female? And because of this, a man leaves father and mother and is firmly bonded to his wife, becoming on flesh – no longer two bodies but one. Because God created this organic union of the two sexes, no one should desecrate his art by cutting them apart.'”

I LOVE that this translation uses the word art to describe what God has created between man and woman. I am so saddened by how marriage is looked at these days. It is made so disposable. Vows seem to be just words people say while they stand in front of the decorations they took out a loan to pay for. I see young people who view marriage as just a thing you do and if it doesn’t work out, you just get rid of that one and upgrade like the newest iPhone. Couples getting together for the reason of simply not being lonely. ART is always unique. It is always handmade and put together with thought. Most times, art is worth a lot of money and people will pay hundreds if not thousands of dollars to get their hands on it. Art is inspired by moods, hardships, life experiences, nature and the beauty of what surrounds the artist. Marriage is similar in the way two people come together with two totally unique views on life. Their marriage is a unique blend of give and take, ups and downs and compromise. No two marriages will go through the exact same string of events nor will they go through the same reactions from both wife and husband. Each marriage is a work of art, gaining more and more value over time.

  • What Jesus says about divorce

Matthew 19:8-9 (The Message): “Jesus said, ‘Moses provided for divorce as a concession to your hardheartedness, but it is not part of God’s original plan. I’m holding you to the original plan, and holding you liable for adultery if you divorce your faithful wife and then marry someone else. I make an exception in cases where the spouse has committed adultery.'”

Matthew 19:8-9 (NIV): “Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.'”

I listed 2 translations of this scripture because it challenged what many believe these days, including what I believed before this. I guess I hadn’t really put a ton of thought into what was acceptable as far as divorce goes. I guess I had my own ideas about acceptable reasons for divorce, however, I am NOT God. I am just a single sinner living here on Earth trying my best to study and follow the Bible. If I am staying true to my beliefs that the Bible is our guide, then I suppose that means I better change the way I think about things according to what is in this guide I refer to!

  • The true definition of “eternal life” and how we gain access to it

Matthew 19:16-24 (NIV): “Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?’ ‘Why do you ask me about what is good?’ Jesus replied. ‘There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.’ ‘Which ones?’ he inquired. Jesus replied, ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’ ‘All these I have kept,’ the young man said. ‘What do I still lack?’ Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’

This scripture threw me off as well! Wait a minute…..I thought all we had to do to earn “eternal life” was to accept Jesus as our Lord. I grew up thinking that we could not earn Jesus’ love but rather that it was given freely. I was at a loss and I certainly did not want to write a study on the matter if I didn’t understand the concept, myself. So I studied it all day and here is what I found! It makes TOTAL sense to me now. It may require some extra reading if you are as interested as I was in the “real” meaning of eternal life. Here is a link to a teaching I read on the matter and it cleared things up once and for all!

Basically, it says that eternal life does not refer to living forever in heaven but rather, the QUALITY of life we are given NOW if we get to actually KNOW our Lord in a close and intimate way. So our salvation is being forgiven for our sins and gaining access to heaven. “Eternal life” takes it one step further and enters us into a relationship right now. I suppose you could compare it to a marriage. You can say your vows and sign a piece of paper saying you are married and that may be good enough for you. But in order to actually experience a close and intimate relationship with your spouse, you must make a daily effort to put into that relationship what you hope to get out of it. It’s a constant work in progress but the reward is immeasurable.

This being said, YES – we do need to follow the commandments in order to EARN eternal life (a close and intimate relationship with our Father).

 

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 18

Catch up post #2! This is post #15 in our 25 part series where we are going over the book of Matthew chapters 4-28. This is our attempt at getting a grasp on some “soul food” during this time of busyness and distraction. So glad you are here!

Main points for today:

  • Using children as our example
  • Eliminate distractions that cause you to stumble in your faith
  • Leave the 99 to help the 1
  • How to deal with the sin of others
  • We have been forgiven, we must forgive others in return

 

  • Using children as our example

Matthew 18:2-5 (NIV): “He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.'”

Let’s talk about the qualities that children naturally posses. Children will of course have their different personalities, but overall they have some things in common (if trauma has not effected them).

  • Faith: they believe anything is possible!
  • Equality: they don’t treat anyone differently because of their skin color, gender or financial status.
  • Creativity: they love to make things and play with their imagination. They believe they can make things if they do not already exist!
  • Curiosity: kids love to explore their surroundings and find the answers to questions they may have.
  • Trust: they trust that their caregivers will take care of them and that they will protect them at all times.
  • Love: they love people and animals and even pretend things. Sense of self: kids are selfish from time to time (haha) and it’s important to have time to ourselves!
  • A mind of their own: this is a tough one for parents. It is very challenging for us to keep them in bounds when they challenge everything. This is actually a good quality. We want children who will challenge the ways of the world when they don’t feel it is right! We want them to challenge friends at school who are getting into the wrong things!

 

  • Leave the 99 to help the 1

Matthew 18:12-14 (NIV): “‘What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.'”

Most of us have heard this, but do we apply it? We know that our Father will go after the 1 lost sheep, but do we do this in our own lives? Do we skip the Christmas party to go after the lost man on the street? Do we leave our group of friends in order to go call and check on the 1 friend who is going through a tough time?

Another thing I just questioned about this scripture is: should we be going out of our way a little more to explore the world, discover answers, and take a chance on our dreams (God gives us dreams!)? It may be a risk to wander off and take a chance, but we know that God will come and find us! Is it better to learn and grow on a different path than to follow the crowd and do the same thing because it’s comfortable??

  • How to deal with the sin of others

Matthew 18:15-17 (The Message): “‘If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him-work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again.If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love.'”

Goodness, this is useful! Here we have an exact formula on what to do when our friends hurt us! There isn’t much more I can add to this, for it speaks for itself. Easier said than done, huh? Confrontation. Raise your hand if you are good at it! (NOT ME!)

  • We have been forgiven, we must forgive others in return

Matthew 18:21-35 (NIV):

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, 鈥淟ord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?鈥

22 Jesus answered, 鈥淚 tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.[a]

23 鈥淭herefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold[b] was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

26 鈥淎t this the servant fell on his knees before him. 鈥楤e patient with me,鈥 he begged, 鈥榓nd I will pay back everything.鈥 27 The servant鈥檚 master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

28 鈥淏ut when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins.[c] He grabbed him and began to choke him. 鈥楶ay back what you owe me!鈥 he demanded.

29 鈥淗is fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 鈥楤e patient with me, and I will pay it back.鈥

30 鈥淏ut he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

32 鈥淭hen the master called the servant in. 鈥榊ou wicked servant,鈥 he said, 鈥業 canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn鈥檛 you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?鈥 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

35 鈥淭his is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.鈥

It may be obvious, as we read this story, what the problem is. It’s always easier to see it when someone else is doing it. Do we forgive others as we are forgiven? Jesus died on the cross to forgive ALL of our sins, but then we turn to our brothers and sisters and tell them they owe us something! Wow. The forgiveness they need from us is for just one thing in the whole grand scheme of things. Jesus chose to forgive each of us EVEN when we DON’T deserve it and we’ve hurt him. We hurt Jesus, sometimes on the daily. How can we justify our own actions then turn to point the finger at others?

 

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 14

Hi guys 馃檪 Welcome to Day 11 of our series I call, “25 Days of December” where we are studying the book of Matthew, chapters 4-28 in hopes you are able to find some “soul food” during this season of busyness and distraction!

During this series I will be mostly referencing The Message and NIV translations, but will occasionally reference biblehub.com where many translations can be found.

In order to respect your time and holiday vacation, I will go ahead and get started!

Main ideas to be discussed today are:

  • King Herod
  • Feeding five thousand
  • Walking on water

 

  • King Herod

Matthew 14:3-12 (The Message) tells the story of why John the Baptist was beheaded: “Herod had arrested John, put him in chains, and sent him to prison to placate Herodias, his brother Phillip’s wife. John had provoked Herod by naming his relationship with Herodias “adultery.” Herod wanted to kill him, but he was afraid because so many people revered John as a prophet of God. But at his birthday celebration, he got his chance. Herodias’s daughter provided the entertainment, dancing for the guests. She swept Herod away. In his drunken enthusiasm, he promised her on oath anything she wanted. Already coached by her mother, she was ready: “give me, served up on a platter, the head of John the Baptizer.: That sobered the king up fast. Unwilling to lose face with his guests, he did it – ordered John’s head cut off and presented to the girl on a platter. She in turn gave it to her mother. Later, John’s disciples got the body, gave it a reverent burial, and reported to Jesus.”

This is deep. So many things going on here! Adultery, fear of being found out, revenge, peer pressure, manipulation, murder, and so many more. We may think this is pretty far fetched, but is it? It may not always end in murder, but adultery is all around us even if we are unaware. People stopping at nothing to make sure their secrets are not found out. Going to great lengths to seek revenge on someone who brought light to the truth at your expense. The unfortunate results of giving into peer pressure. People manipulating people in order to get what they want. What can we take from this? Well…..the person behind this whole scene is the very king, himself. Don’t always believe that because someone holds a “leader” title, they have pure motives! We are all human and we all sin. Do not place people on a pedestal that they don’t deserve to be put on!

 

  • Feeding five thousand

Matthew 14:16-21 (The Message): But Jesus said, ‘There is no need to dismiss them. You give them supper.’ ‘All we have are five loaves of bread and two fish,’ they said. Jesus said, ‘Bring them here.’ Then he had the people sit on the grass. He took the five loaves and two fish, lifted his face to heaven in prayer, blessed, broke and gave the bread to the disciples. The disciples then gave the food to the congregation. They all ate their fill. They fathered twelve baskets of leftovers. About five thousand were fed.”

We have all heard this story of the bread and fish being multiplied. I remember it from Sunday school, but I always thought it was about the miracle behind the food. What I didn’t realize until tonight is that this is a metaphor! If the little food they had is the little bit of service we provide in God’s name, all we must do is pray a blessing over our ministry and it will be multiplied to feed the thousands! Our “ministry” does not have to be a big building with a fancy name! We serve in our ministry each time we share our story or help the homeless person sitting in the cold. We are all called to do different things and if we truly believe that we have a purpose and we walk in that, our efforts will be multiplied and go on to serve more and more people!! I don’t think there is any greater reward than that!

  • Walking on water

Matthew 14:29-31 (NIV):聽“Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.聽But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”聽Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

Two things here:

  1. Peter, through faith, was able to walk on water but when he started to fear he was no longer able. Not only is that pretty awesome to be able to do such a thing as walk on water (see where faith can take us?), but the first hint of fear prevented him from “walking” in that miracle any longer. In the same way that we must learn how powerful faith is, we must also learn how powerful FEAR is!
  2. Another thing, that sometimes gets neglected in this story, is the fact that Jesus didn’t hesitate for one second to save Peter from the waves he threw himself into. Peter, with his lack of faith, started to drown in the waves and Jesus didn’t punish him for it or ask questions first- he saved him from his own mess first, then asked questions. Like parents, letting their children make mistakes then discussing the situation with them in hopes of highlighting the learning moment. Jesus knows we are human and we will not walk in 100% faith all the time. He does encourage us to have faith, but is also there to save us when we have failed to have that faith.