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.

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 20

Can you believe this is post #17 in our 25 part series?! Wow, we have done some major studying! Thank you so much for joining me on this journey of learning what God has buried in the book of Matthew for us. It has been a true treasure!

Chapter 20 does not disappoint. Even more goodness to chew on during this season of busyness and distraction. I tend to think that when I’m busy, I simply do not have time to study or take time for myself. Boy is this so wrong. When I am busy, I need substance the most! Something to ground me.

Main points in this chapter:

  • Longevity is not always worth more reward
  • We can not let power go to our heads
  • Keep pushing towards the truth and you will be rewarded

 

  • Longevity is not always worth more reward

Matthew 20:1-15 (NIV): “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius[a] for the day and sent them into his vineyard. “About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. “He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’ “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered. “He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’ “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’ “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’ 13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’

This seems so unfair. The way we see things, with our human eyes, this is just not fair. Most times, in our secular jobs, the employee who has been at a job the longest gets paid the most OR the person who has the most past experience or certifications get paid more. Immediately, after reading this story I thought about the gift of salvation and the blessings we receive. Think about the believers you know. Chances are you know some that have been Christians their whole lives and you know some who are newly saved. Do either of these people receive a different type or different amount of salvation?? Absolutely not. Do either of these people receive a larger blessing or a larger number of blessings simply due to the amount of time they have “been saved?” No, again. There will definitely be people who envy others for the blessings they have received. That is human nature. Our goal here is to have a grateful heart and try our best to believe that God has our best interest at heart and he DOES have a unique plan for each of us. No matter how long we have known Him.

  • We can not let power go to our heads

Matthew 20:20-28 (NIV): 20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. 21 “What is it you want?” he asked. She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.” 22 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” “We can,” they answered. 23 Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.” 24 When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. 25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

A couple of things I noticed here.

First, we can’t let our obedience get to our heads. We must be in this for the will of God.

I have been struggling lately to find where the line is between ministry and business. Again, being transparent with you. I struggle with this. It’s not necessarily that I am letting it “get to my heard,” but in order to turn this into a business someday (writing books, selling aprons and other fun stuff), I have to watch numbers and learn business techniques etc. On the other hand, this is my passion and I believe that God has a calling on my life to uplift women and mothers who are struggling. I would never want anyone to feel like I took advantage of their feelings or their pocketbooks. All of this said, where is the VERY FINE line drawn between growing a business with a healthy message at the heart of it and making people feel like I am trying to make money off of God?

Second thing I noticed is that Jesus said He was here to SERVE, not BE SERVED. It is our number one goal to serve. If it ever crosses the line into a goal of being served, we have stepped over the line. The same goes for the churches we follow.

  • Keep pushing towards the truth and you will be rewarded

Matthew 20:29-34 (NIV): 29 As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. 30 Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” 31 The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” 32 Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. 33 “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.” 34 Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.

Simple point here is that there are non believers out there that see what we have and are hungry for it! They want their eyes to be open to the light of Jesus! Jesus longs for those people to see and to join on the journey. I think these days, some churches are happy where they are at and are not open to letting the poor, hurting and diseased in. It will not be a popular idea to stray the course and help those people out but don’t forget what Jesus calls us to do!

Another thing I see here is that after the crowd tried to keep them quiet, they shouted even louder! These people are HUNGRY for the truth! In that moment, they are showing more faith than the believers that are supposedly on a mission to gather the lost. I pray that we see this and we stay faithful to our Father and his will, instead of our own conveniences.

 

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 19

Still playing catch up! 🙂 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, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

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

23 “Therefore, 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 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

28 “But 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. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

30 “But 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 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

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 17

Hello lovelies! I had a weird couple of days there. I continued to read the chapters assigned to each particular day, but God was talking to me about some other things. I apologize to any of you who were looking forward to these studies!

Let’s get caught up today!

Main points for this chapter:

  • Do not be afraid of the miraculous ways God will manifest Himself and His plan
  • Look past the way YOU think things should be
  • Having a mustard seed of faith will move mountains
  • We must be examples and participate in society fairly

 

  • Do not be afraid of the miraculous ways God will manifest Himself and His plan

In Matthew 17:1-13 we are told about a visitation made by God, Moses and Elijah. Fear is specifically addressed in Matthew 17:6-8

Matthew 17:6-8 (The Message): “When the disciples heard it, they fell flat on their faces, scared to death. But Jesus came over and touched them. ‘Don’t be afraid.’ When they opened their eyes and looked around all they saw was Jesus, only Jesus.”

It’s obvious to me that Jesus does not want us to fear the miraculous things God will reveal to us but I questioned another piece of these verses. After the disciples were fearful, it appears that the vision disappears. Was that a coincidence? Or did it disappear as a result of their fear? Is the one thing that remains constant, even through fear, Jesus? I’d love your thoughts on this. We all know that as humans, we will experience fear at times. I’m thinking we can turn to this scripture with comfort, knowing that Jesus is with us and tells us not to fear. Another thing is, God is pretty amazing! The simple sound of his voice dropped these disciples to their knees! Let us not forget who we serve! If his voice is that powerful, what is stopping us from believing he can accomplish ANYTHING and everything in our lives? Faith. Faith overcomes fear.

  • Look past the way YOU think things should be

Matthew 17:10-13 (The Message): “The disciples, meanwhile, were asking questions. ‘Why do the religion scholars say that Elijah has to come first?’ Jesus answered, ‘Elijah does come and get everything ready. I’m telling you, Elijah has already come but they didn’t know him when they saw him. They treated him like dirt, the same way they are about to treat the Son of Man.’ That’s when the disciples realized that all along he had been talking about John the Baptizer.”

I think, the disciples had their own thoughts about what Elijah would be like. Maybe they took the prophecy too literally? Maybe they didn’t see what was right in front of them. If we apply this to our daily lives we will see that we may miss what is right in front of us due to our own expectations and ideas of what it should be like. We may be disregarding a huge blessing meant just for us because it doesn’t look like the blessing we were expecting.

What if our mom told us we would be getting “a puppy” tomorrow? When we walk outside the next day and see a kitten on the porch we get upset wondering where the puppy is! It’s right in front of us. In our heads we are expecting a baby dog. What if mom was bringing us a kitten named “a puppy?” It may not make sense, but it doesn’t have to. God has plans for us that are far beyond our imaginations. He has seen the days ahead of us and we should trust his plan.

  • Having a mustard seed of faith will move mountains

Matthew 17:20-21 (NIV): “He replied, ‘Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.'”

We don’t have to go around rearranging the Earth to display our faith. Think of the metaphorical mountains in your life. Think about how our parents and teachers told us we could be anything we wanted when we grew up. The difference between those who became it and the ones who didn’t, was their faith in themselves and God. We really do have astronauts, scientists, teachers, nurses and artists. We weren’t dreaming up things that weren’t achievable. But to some those dreams still remain a dream. I love the quote, “Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.” I haven’t been able to find who originally said it, but I refer back to it regularly!

  • We must be examples and participate in society fairly

Matthew 17:24-26 (NIV): “After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax came to Peter and asked, ‘Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?’ ‘Yes, he does,’ he replied. When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. ‘What do you think , Simon?’ he asked. ‘From whom do the Kings of the earth collect duty and taxes-from their own children or from others?’ ‘From others,’ Peter answered. ‘Then the children are exempt.’ Jesus said to him. ‘But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch, open its mouth and you will find a four drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.'”

This is my interpretation. I see that Jesus points out that the children of the Kings are exempt from paying taxes and that is not fair. Instead of challenging the way things are, fair or not, Jesus says go ahead and pay the tax. After all, who would we be to exempt ourselves from the law? We would be no better than those who were currently twisting the rules. If we want people to see our Father for who he is, we want to act like Jesus and show non believers how honest He is. Our example will speak louder than any sermon ever could.

The second thing I notice here is that Jesus provided the funds as long as Peter was obeying the law. I believe that God will provide for us. We don’t need to spend our time stressing over where we will get the money to pay. We have more time sensitive matters to tend to! Like spreading the truth!