25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 16

We are studying the book of Matthew, chapters 4-28 and we are on chapter 16. How are you all feeling? I feel like I have gained some major insight from reading through these stories. If I am being 100% transparent with you then I will tell you that until the start of this series, I may have opened my bible a total of 10 times with the intention of studying on my own. I never did have this huge interest in reading the bible. If I ever did open it, it was in church or I was led to it from a book study I was doing. My least favorite subject in school was history and I always thought that’s what the bible was…..a huge book of history lessons. I see differently now! Every single chapter we have gone over has had some very valuable hidden treasures buried within it, and I actually find it quite fascinating trying to apply these parables, metaphors and lessons to my own life and sharing it with others!

Let’s dig into chapter 16 and see what the word has for us today. 🙂

Main points:

  • Proof that Jesus is Lord, is in the “sign of Jonah”
  • Watch for the “yeast” of the Pharisees and Sadducees
  • Peter declares Jesus is the Messiah and is blessed
  • Jesus is in the driver’s seat, not us

 

  • Proof that Jesus is Lord, is in the “sign of Jonah”

Matthew 16:4 (NIV): “A wicked and adulterous generation lookds for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.’ Jesus then left them and went away.”

Wondering what the “sign of Jonah” is?

This link describes it well:

Question: “What is the sign of Jonah?”


Answer: The phrase “sign of Jonah” was used by Jesus as a typological metaphor for His future crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. Jesus answered with this expression when asked by the Pharisees for miraculous proof the He was indeed the Messiah. The Pharisees remained unconvinced of Jesus’ claims about Himself, despite His having just cured a demon-possessed man who was both blind and mute. Shortly after the Pharisees accused Jesus of driving out demons by the power of Satan, they said to Him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here” (Matthew 12:38–41).

We are human and because of that we will naturally have questions. Even growing up as a Christian my whole life, I would be lying if said I hadn’t questioned some part of my beliefs or considered be open to other people’s thinking. You could probably blame this on the rebellious tendencies I have on occasion! ha! Somehow, in all of my questioning though, I am brought back by scripture or by the things I have experienced. The verses above, mentioning the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus (and his prediction of it!) are proof enough for me! Don’t feel bad for having questions, this just means you are a deep thinker and won’t accept ideas simply because you are told to. You can, however, rest on the fact that you have scripture and the holy spirit to back up any questions you may have!

  • Watch for the “yeast” of the Pharisees and Sadducees

Matthew 16:5-7 (NIV): “When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. ‘Be careful,’ Jesus said to them. ‘Be on guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’ They discussed this among themselves and said, ‘It is because we didn’t bring any bread.'”

When the disciples had no physical bread for their journey, they assumed Jesus was warning them against the physical yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

You know I think Jesus and I would have been buds. He gets me! I am always thinking in metaphors and feel like people don’t understand me lol But Jesus was all the time talking in metaphors!!

In Matthew 16:8-12 (NIV) Jesus goes on to explain: “Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, ‘You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’ Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

Remember from the previous post in chapter 14, when we talked about the bread representing teachings/service? I believe the yeast to be the intentions behind the teachings, just as the yeast is the necessary ingredient needed to make bread. The quality of the yeast, will show in the quality of the bread.

  • Peter declares Jesus is the Messiah and is blessed

Matthew 16:16-19 (NIV): “Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.'”

  • Jesus is in the driver’s seat, not us

Matthew 16:24-27 (NIV): “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.'”

This totally reminds me of children thinking they know more than parents. Most of the time kids don’t appreciate the lessons parents instilled in them until they are well into adulthood themselves. It’s just hard to see the situation for what it is, until it’s over and we see God’s perfect plan unfold.

Jesus wants us to have his plan in mind before our own, always thinking WWJD (to be extremely corny) before we react to anything this life brings us. So, let’s be selfless. Isn’t that one of the greatest messages behind life in general? The greatest goal we could ever have is to love like Jesus loves, putting others before ourselves and experiencing the freedom, connections and closeness in our relationships because of it! The grudges we are holding…..we may think it is making us feel better because we had the last word or we may think we have “the right” to feel the way we do but in reality, forgiving someone and showing grace towards the situation will change it faster than holding a grudge ever will. Showing grace doesn’t always mean we allow others to walk all over us; showing grace can mean setting boundaries, walking away and letting the other person know that it’s all good. That God must have had a different plan, and we are totally content with going down a different path without holding on to any anger associated with the end of this one. Amen, to that. (Sigh of relief)

 

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25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 15

Good morning everyone! Well it’s 11 am here, but no matter what time it is there I hope you have found time to sit down with the drink of your choice and enjoy this chapter with me! I am feeling especially grateful for this study today after watching videos of the tragedies currently going on in Syria. It is paralyzing to watch. How big of a blessing it is for us to have the freedom to sit down and read through scripture!

This is post #12 in the 25 part series where we are studying the book of Matthew in hopes of finding some “soul food” during this season of busyness and distraction!

The main points we will be going over today are:

  • What goes in means nothing. What comes out defines a person
  • Those who remain faithful against all odds will see breakthrough
  • Jesus had compassion for those who showed endurance 

 

  • What goes in means nothing. What comes out defines a person

Matthew 15:17-20 (NIV) explains this idea as a physical metaphor: “‘Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person’t mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts – murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.'”

(“Defile” means to make unclean or spoil)

I see the metaphor in these verses. Just as someone ingests food or drink, they can attend church every Sunday but if it is not digested and regurgitated (sorry for the image!) then nothing will come of it except for waste. The word and our studies must not only be taken in but it must be processed and used again. We must put our studies to use! What good is our knowledge if it is not shared with others?

  • Those who remain faithful against all odds will see breakthrough

Matthew 15:26-27 (NIV): “He replied, ‘It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.’ ‘Yes it is, Lord,’ she said. ‘Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.'”

I struggled with these verses, because I didn’t know how Jesus (the sinless, compassionate person that he was) would ever choose certain people (children in the metaphor) over other people (the dogs). I looked into it and learned that Jesus was on special mission to share the word with the Jews now and then the gentiles later. He was simply saying that it was not fair to take time and lessons away from the Jews in front of him and get distracted with a different mission at this time. However, the gentile lady remained persistent and even broke the law of that day to go to Jesus and beg for his help. Through her persistent faith, Jesus rewarded her and gave her what she had asked. When she says even the dogs eat the scraps from their master’s table, she was saying that she would take anything he was willing to give to her even if it was leftovers. She was hungry and if scraps were what she got, she would beg until she got even a taste of the food the master had.

  • Jesus had compassion for those who showed endurance

Matthew 15:32 (NIV):” Jesus called his disciples to him and said, ‘I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.'”

To me, this talks about the people who have been faithful in listening to the word and following His lead but have not seen breakthrough or are suffering through their current circumstances and are becoming weak. Jesus has compassion for these people and wants to give them not only what they need but more! He wants to fill them up, make them strong again and give them enough leftovers to share with others!

 

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 14

Hi guys 🙂 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): “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 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.

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 12

Hi guys! Second study post for today! I’ve sat down with my hot tea, box of Kleenex and my bible and I WILL get these two chapters posted for you! I have been fighting this terrible cold/sinus infection, but I recruited my husband to watch the kids while I rested this morning and I’m finally feeling well enough to open my eyes!

If this is your first time reading, we are on post #9 in the series I like to call “25 Days of December” where we are studying the book of Matthew in an attempt to access some “soul food” during this season of busyness and distraction.

I want to remind you that I will be referencing The Message and NIV translations with occasional mentions of biblehub.com. If you do not have a bible handy, you can click here to link straight to Matthew chapter 12 on biblehub.com. In other news, I was recently asked what bible I use. If you would like to view the two bibles I use, you can visit Amazon through these links: link 1 and link 2 and purchase your own! (Note: link 2 is to a bible that is SIMILAR to The Message translation that I use. The exact one I have, is not available on Amazon but the one linked is a women’s version I’m sure you will love! If you are looking to gift one, there are many other versions available including men’s (NIV), youth (The Message) and children versions!)

Now that we have our reading material, let’s get started!

Main points for this chapter will be:

  • Heart over Religion
  • Qualities of a handpicked servant
  • A good person’s heart will produce good fruit
  • The power behind words
  • The danger in leaving a person “vacant”
  • Obedience is thicker than blood

 

  • Heart over Religion

Matthew 12:6-8 (The Message): “‘There is far more at stake here than religion. If you had any idea what this scripture meant- ‘I prefer a flexible heart to an inflexible ritual’ – you wouldn’t be nitpicking like this. The Son of Man is no lackey to the Sabbath; he’s in charge.

Our Father prefers we have a good heart behind our actions vs. following any sort of rules or religion.

  • Qualities of a handpicked servant

Matthew 12:18-21 (The Message): Look well at my handpicked servant; I him so much, take such delight in him. I’ve placed my Spirit on him; he’ll decree justice to the nations. But he won’t yell, won’t raise his voice; there’ll be no commotion in the streets. He won’t walk over anyone’s feelings, won’t push you into a corner. Before you know it, his justice will triumph; the mere sound of his nae will signal hope, even among -off unbelievers.

A true servant with God’s best interest in mind will not go through the streets announcing himself. He will never walk over anyone’s feelings or bank account to make a point and would never bully you into a position of “following their rules.”

  • A good person’s heart will produce good fruit

Matthew 12: 34-35 (The Message): “‘It’s you heart, not the dictionary, that gives meaning to your words. A good person produces good deeds and words season after season.'”

Matthew 12:34-35 (NIV): “‘You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.'”

A person’s true intentions will be made evident through the fruit they produce. Although, it may not be obvious right away, their intentions WILL become obvious with time!

  • The power behind words

Matthew 12:37 (The Message): “‘Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation. Words can also be your damnation.'”

It is pretty clear in this verse: your words have POWER! Be careful how you use them!

  • The danger in leaving a person “vacant”

Matthew 12:43-45: “‘When a defiling evil spirit is expelled from someone, it drifts along through the desert looking for an oasis, some unsuspecting soul it can bedevil. When it doesn’t find anyone, it says, ‘I’ll go back to my old haunt.’ On return it finds the person spotlessly clean, but vacant. It then runs out and rounds up seven other spirits more evil than itself and they all move in, whooping it up. That person ends up far worse off than if he’d never gotten cleaned up in the first place. That’s what this generation is like: You may think you have cleaned out the junk from your lives and gotten ready for God, but you weren’t hospitable to my kingdom message, and now all the devils are moving back in.‘”

This specifically speaks to people who have come clean before the Lord but then do not pour back into it, the word and promises of God. I feel like this is our obligation, as believers. We are not only called to go out, find the lost and show them to God; but to continue to pour love and support into them. If we are not available to do this, it is our job to make sure we point them in the direction of somewhere they can find their “soul food!”

  • Obedience is thicker than blood

Matthew 12:46-50 (The Message):  “While he was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers showed up. They were outside trying to get a message to him. Someone told Jesus, ‘Your mother and brothers are out here, wanting to speak with you.’ Jesus didn’t respond directly, but said, ‘Who do you think my mother and brothers are?’ He then stretched out his hand toward his disciples. ‘Look closely. These are my mother and brothers. Obedience is thicker than blood. The person who obeys my heavenly Father’s will is my brother and sister and mother.’

To me, this means that the people we are reaching out to are just as important as our own family. We should view others as our brothers and sisters in Christ!

 

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 10

Hi guys! Happy Tuesday! If this is your first time reading, we are on post #7 in the series I call, “25 Days of December” where we are going through the book of Matthew together in hopes of finding some “soul food” during this season of busyness and distraction. I believe this month has become a time where we tend to concentrate on our gift lists and holiday plans a little more than the word. I’d like to think of fellowship and bible study as “filling our cup, so that we are able to pour into others.” That includes pouring our love into those surrounding us during the holidays! So let’s get started.

I want to remind you that I will be referencing The Message and NIV translations with occasional mentions of biblehub.com. If you do not have a bible handy, you can click here to link straight to Matthew chapter 10 on biblehub.com. In other news, I was recently asked what bible I use. If you would like to view the two bibles I use, you can visit Amazon through these links: link 1 and link 2 and purchase your own! (Note: link 2 is to a bible that is SIMILAR to The Message translation that I use. The exact one I have, is not available on Amazon but the one linked is a women’s version I’m sure you will love! If you are looking to gift one, there are many other versions available including men’s (NIV), youth (The Message) and children versions!)

The main points we will touch on today:

  • Help the lost in your own neighborhood
  • Don’t allow yourself to be bullied into silence
  • Start small

 

  • Help the lost in your own neighborhood

Matthew 10:5-6 (The Message): ” Jesus sent his twelve harvest hands out with this charge: ‘Don’t begin by traveling to some far-off place to convert unbelievers. And don’t try to be dramatic by tackling some public enemy. Go to the lost, confused people right her in the neighborhood.'”

I think, sometimes, we think in order to make an impact we have to go do something extraordinary like travel overseas and build homes. If that is what you feel called to do, then definitely go do that but please don’t underestimate the opportunities you come across daily to help others. If showing compassion to kids at work while the boss bullies them is what you are called to do during this time, that is fabulous! If building your friends up in their ministries while still trying to find yours, is your calling right now, that’s awesome! If paying for the person behind you at lunch is what you feel called to do, you are making JUST AS BIG of a difference as that evangelist on TV.

Matthew 10:9-10 (The Message) also tells us: “‘ Don’t think you have to put on a fund-raising campaign before you start. You don’t need a lot of equipment. You are the equipment, and all you need to keep that going is three meals a day. Travel light.'”

Matthew 10:19-20 (The Message): “‘And don’t worry about what you’ll say of how you’ll say it. The right words will be there; the Spirit of your Father will supply the words.'”

  • Don’t allow yourself to be bullied into silence

Matthew 10:28 (The Message) reminds us: “‘Don’t be bluffed into silence by the threats of bullies. There’s nothing they can do to your soul, your core being. Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life-body and soul-in his hands.'”

People will be uncomfortable with you talking about God, or doing anything that has to do with God for that matter. Don’t let that change what you believe to be true. Now, I’m not saying we should shove our beliefs at people or change the way we treat them if they don’t believe the same as us. In fact, I think the best way to treat opposition is with kindness and compassion. These are very hurt people we are talking to and they may react out of that hurt. If we continue to show compassion, forgiveness and love towards them even after they have shown opposition towards our beliefs, that will speak to what we truly believe. We, then, will not only be people who speak about our beliefs but people who MODEL those beliefs in our everyday lives. Next point being: Don’t allow that opposition to stop you from believing or sharing!

  • Start small

Matthew 10:42 (The Message) instructs us: “‘This is a large work I’ve called you into, but don’t be overwhelmed by it. It’s best to start small. Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance. The smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice. You won’t lose out on a thing.'”

I think, we see people all the time in the media who have made it to the big time. People, like Oprah, who have the means to make a huge impact. We see ministries on Instagram or Facebook, who have thousands of followers and are impacting hundreds of people daily and we start to get down on ourselves. Who are we kidding with our 5o followers and our posts that get no response? The enemy would love nothing more than for us to give up. He can not only stop the spread of the word, but also the spread of understanding, forgiveness, love, compassion and fellowship. Women, simply lifting up other women is a HUGE thing! We live in a world where women have come to compare themselves to one another and COMPETE against the very women who could be lifting them up if they gave them half a chance. The enemy LOVES to see strife and envy. Don’t let him win. Keep going. Keep doing your small acts of kindness and paying it forward. Keep praying for people. Keep sharing your story. Keep helping in the little ways that you can. It won’t go unnoticed. At least not by the One who really matters. ❤

*Hope to see you back tomorrow for Chapter 11!