When God Doesn’t Meet Our Needs

I think there is a burning question in each one of us, Christian or not. This question has been brought up over and over for years and it may even cause some doubt in believers or fuel the argument against Christianity.

Why does God allow suffering?

And just as many times as the question has been asked, it has been answered. There are many different views on this and I have read many of them but still never felt like I knew quite what the answer was.

During my quiet time yesterday morning, I didn’t mean to ask this question or to find any answers….I was simply reading Ephesians because I felt led to. An amazing thing happened…..I actually read the answer before I knew the question!

Phillipians 4:19 Says: “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

I know this verse has been both comforting and frustrating for many. Why doesn’t it feel like God is meeting my needs? I’ve read a lot about God’s timing being an answer….but I was enlightened when I read through the book of Ephesians! Maybe his timing is, indeed, now. Maybe we already have everything we could ever need.

I believe we tend to focus on the “meeting our needs” part and not the “according to the riches of his glory” part. We have this idea in our head of what it looks like to have our needs met, ask that “God’s will” be done, and then get frustrated when those two things don’t line up. All throughout Ephesians, God (through Paul) defines what this really means.

Starting in Chapter 1, Verses 7-8 Paul writes, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.”

I couldn’t help but notice the same language being used here as it was in Phillipians. According to his RICHES and glory. Maybe our idea of riches looks a whole lot different than God’s idea of riches. The cross is ONE. POWERFUL. WAY. God provides for us!  Imagine living weighed down by the chains of unforgiveness.

Need #1 ✅

He doesn’t stop here, though! We don’t need to read much further to see that he provides for us in yet -another- way.

Ephesians 1:8-9 says, “With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment – to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.”

Ephesians 1:13: “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised holy spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory.

So here, he has provided us with the Holy Spirit and the promise of an inheritance! If we just stopped there…..I would be in absolute awe of all that God has freely given us, without ever even deserving any of it!

Need # 2&3 ✅

But he goes on!

Ephesians 1:18: “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.”

He’s given us hope. Something to keep us on track. Keep our eye on the prize. We have something so valuable inside of us that there are no words to describe it. That last part made me feel treasured. This hope we have inside of us is described as being the RICHES of his glorious inheritance. I just see a jewel, reflecting this beautiful light in all of it’s brilliance, buried safe- deep down inside of us. HOPE. In order to make it through this fallen world, we NEED hope. We HAVE hope.

Need #4 ✅

Ending Chapter 1, in Verses 22-23 Paul writes, “And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

His fullness. The feeling of being completely satisfied. Full, according to Google’s Dictionary, is defined as “not lacking or omitting anything; complete.” Ephesians just told us that Jesus fills us in every way possible. We don’t go without the important things. At any given moment we have access to (so far) forgiveness, an inheritance, hope and now fullness. This doesn’t mean we ate too much Thanksgiving Dinner and now we are full….but it can.

❤️Have you experienced God’s fullness? I’d LOVE to hear about this in the comments. ❤️

I can’t accurately describe the way that it feels. It’s a satisfying feeling that no other thing on this planet could ever come close to giving us. And not only does it satisfy us, it overflows and fills those around us! What a wonderful gift.

Need #5 ✅

Adding to the list of needs being met, we read in chapter 2, verse 4: “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.”

verses 7-8: “In order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Love, mercy, grace, kindness.

Needs # 6, 7, 8, & 9 ✅

I had to pause here and really dig into 4 definitions in order to wrap my head around this.

Forgive- Stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake.

Mercy- Compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.

Grace- The free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.

Favor- approval, liking or support for someone or something.

So you’re telling me…..I get all of those things? Without having to earn or pay for them?

This world is so full of false promises…this drink will make you lose weight and make you happy, this car will impress your friends and make you happy, this house will make you look like you have it together and make you happy, this beverage will numb your problems and make you happy, this person will complete you and make you feel happy, this vacation will relax you and make you feel happy, this double cheeseburger will taste good and make you feel happy, this package on your doorstep will make you feel happy…..but it never does. Or if it does, it doesn’t last long. Not only that, but we spend our precious time CHASING these things. We work hard, neglect our family and friends, constantly compare ourselves and what does it get us? Back to where we started.

Ephesians 2:14 adds, “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with it’s commands and regulations.”

Our world is in a state of war and murder. We could get bigger guns, get rid of guns, limit guns or protect our guns with guns but God tells us that he is the source of our peace. We can chase peace in this world in whatever way we think will work, but the only true peace is found in God.

Need #10 ✅

Chapter 3, verse 12 tells us, “In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. I ask, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.”

It means so much to me that I can come to our Father at ANY time and he will listen. I can’t say this about one other person. It’s just the way things are…..we are people…..busy people and we can’t be there for everyone all the time. And even if we could…would we be as understanding, forgiving and full of the riches we NEED?

The last verse that touched me was Ephesians 3:16: “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.”

3 things we have access to if we take advantage of them: freedom, confidence and power.

Needs #11, 12 & 13 ✅

Next time we sit down to pray about our needs, my hope is that we will remember the needs he has already met and continues to meet. I’m not sure there is much more we could possibly need to make it through this fallen world.

  • Forgiveness/ Redemption
  • An Inheritance
  • The Holy Spirit/ Discernment
  • Hope
  • Mercy
  • Kindness
  • Favor
  • Grace
  • Kindness
  • Faith
  • Freedom
  • Confidence
  • Power

If one person on Earth offered all of these things all of the time, how would our world be changed? If there were MANY people walking around (called Christians), that had all of these things inside of them and they shared them…..how would the world change?

If we listened to Him, truly used these riches for good….could we change our circumstances? I recently read a quote that has stuck with me.

“When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” -Dalai Lama

My prayer is that we will rest, and listen to God’s direction.

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Running For Our Lives

I was walking through the wilderness. I tripped a couple of times and got hurt, no biggie. Then, I heard a noise that scared me so I started to jog. I stubbed my toes on the branches and scraped my arms on the trees as I went by. The noise was getting louder so I started to run. As I ran, I started to get tired and each of the little scrapes I had were getting sore. I started to run as fast as I could and lost track of where I was going. All I knew was I was going fast and I was going far. I had to get away from this thing. As my body was starting to give up on me, I came to a body of water. “Great,” I thought, “I know how to swim and I can hide here!” I dove into the water like I had so many times before. This time it was different, because I was exhausted and fighting for my life. In a panic, I forgot all of the swimming techniques I had learned in years past and just started throwing my arms and legs around in a desperate attempt to catch my breath.

As a child, I was trying to find my way through a world I knew nothing about. In the midst of this, I tripped and fell as most children do. We burn our finger, we scrape our knees, we get in trouble for lying. But then the small scrapes started to turn into gashes as life as I knew it – fell apart. Feelings of isolation and fear of the unknown were cutting me. Things like yelling, fighting and divorce left me bleeding. The loud sound of “what are you going to do?” kept getting louder and louder, so I ran faster. I ran as fast as I could to the first thing that made me feel safe. Alcohol. Despite the numbing, the sound kept ringing in my ears, “You don’t know where you’re going.”

My first relationship appeared as a big body of water. I thought, “Great! I know how to do this, and I can hide.” I dove in. Turns out, I was so exhausted and mentally drained that I started flinging my arms and legs around, just trying to stay afloat. I forgot everything I had learned in the past, such as: put others first, stay faithful, set boundaries. I was moving left and right, up and down, but all it was doing was making me drown even faster. In between betrayal, black outs, abuse, and silent cries for help…..I could barely catch my breath.

There is a survival float in swimming called the “Dead Man’s Float” or the “Jellyfish.” The first time I was introduced to this float, was in middle school swim class. It is meant to be used when someone is trapped in a large body of water or has run out of energy to get to shore. In the midst of struggle and panic, the person is asked to float facing down and dangle their limbs. Slowly turning their face sideways, they draw a breath and hold it underwater until they need another breath. The idea is to remain calm, relax, and conserve energy (and oxygen) until someone comes to the aid of the swimmer or until they have renewed energy and can swim to shore.

2

While mastering this skill in swim class, I remember the instructor telling us that the more we fought it, the harder it would be. It was important to fully relax and just float. If we tried to come upright again, we would have to move in order to stay afloat. It was when we were horizontal that we were able to float without effort. It’s hard to do much but relax when we are horizontal, right? This exercise not only relaxes your body, but your mind as well.

 

I came to the point where I was forced to choose….continue fighting and sink to the bottom or relax into God and find life again. I married a wonderful man who accepted me exactly how I was but this is not what saved me. In fact, we continued to struggle with jobs, finances and connection. We were drowning.

It wasn’t until we came together, made a decision to change and trusted God – that things started to look up. We said, “Ok, God. I’ll rest in you. Even in the middle of the deep waters, exhausted and fighting for our lives – we will rest in you.” We moved across the country, far away from everything we ever knew and trusted that God had a plan.

Now we are resting. We are catching our breath. Two years later, we are building our energy stores back up. We are building our strength in order to swim ashore and live the life God has designed for us. Through connection, church family, godly friendships, transparency and surrender…..we are resting and restoring our strength. It goes against our instincts to fight, to blame, to hide, to numb. In order to rest, fully rest, we have to do something we’ve rarely done. Stop, and do the hard things like admit things, ask forgiveness, give forgiveness, listen, learn, be open, be raw and transparent and face all of the terrifying things that have haunted us.

How many of us are running? Overworking, numbing out on social media and netflix, hiding behind our busy schedules and fake smiles? We run and run until we find ourselves in deep water. Maybe something hits us like the shock of cold water or maybe we suddenly feel the overwhelming pressure of water pushing down on us. No matter what brought us to this place of drowning, all we know is we have to do something.

I believe our first reaction may be to panic. We just want to catch our breath and stay above water. As you probably know, when we panic we actually continue to sink more. It’s when we find our calm and move slowly that we are able to see things more clearly. If we can bring ourselves to float and just let the weight dangle, we can focus our mind on what’s important. If we can slowly draw in a deep breath and just relax, our body and mind can start to restore energy levels. If we make time for hobbies, quiet time, screen free time, fellowship, boredom, and most of all – time with the Lord…..we will hear things we have never heard and see things we have never seen. We may still be in the water, but it is no longer drowning us.

When life throws finances, marriage, children, work, school, friends, tragedy, loss, and heartbreak at us……we kind of tend to panic. We are just trying to survive; throwing our limbs about trying to stay afloat. The whole time, we are just using up our valuable energy and sinking even further. Maybe God throws us in the water to slow us down.

After all, the transformation of the butterfly happens in the cocoon.

 

Transparency: seeing through shame

I experienced a turning point this morning. Down in the very sacred parts of me.

I’ve shared with people who ask, that I was saved at a very young age. I grew up in church and never remember a time where I did not believe in the things recorded in the Bible.

I also, don’t remember a time where I was living a sinner and was suddenly overcome with forgiveness and shed my old self. This may not make sense to most, because that is pretty much the definition of getting saved. Giving one’s life over to Jesus.

I’ve listened to speeches from people who have survived prison and been born again. I’ve also attended conferences where women have come out of sex trafficking and are now using their newfound faith to reach people all across the planet. Because these were incredibly moving, I felt like I was somehow shorted. How could I possibly make a difference if I didn’t have a story like that? After hearing many, many testimonies of believers giving their life over to Jesus and the miracle that surrounds that…..I almost craved to hear my own story. Truth is, I didn’t believe I had a story as amazing as those.

Now, as an adult, having reached a point where I can really sift through my life and truly digest the horrors I have lived through – my eyes are being opened.

For the past few weeks, I have really been struggling. Iv’e been struggling with shame and forgiving myself for my past. I grew up a Christian, this is true. However, I went through a good chunk of time (7-8 years) where I was not following the Lord. Sure, I still believed in Him, but you would never know it by my actions. I was leading a life I was not proud of. I can’t really tell you one specific reason WHY I was doing the things I was doing, but I was. And in full force. There really wasn’t any stopping me. Most people who know me now, and didn’t know me then, may find it hard to believe when I tell them the things I have done.

I have felt this urge to be honest about my past as a part of the healing process, but I’m finding some difficulty in this. In the past, I was unashamed about my actions and would really tell anyone who sat in front of me. It really wasn’t shocking to the people I chose to surround myself with. They had all done them or knew people who had. I live in a new part of the country and have found myself surrounded by some of the most amazing people! I feel incredibly blessed to have found not only an amazing group of friends, but also a church home like none I have ever experienced before. I think just having those things, has allowed me to feel safe and supported. Stable.

With this, comes a downside. Because I am surrounded by amazing people who have standards…..I feel much more shame when talking about the things Iv’e done. Not because they are judgmental, in fact they are far from it. But, because they aren’t desensitized to it like the people from my past. They feel strong emotion when they hear things of this nature. It hurts their heart. Because they genuinely care. So with that said, I am in a constant state of confusion. Do I share what Iv’e been through and done? Do those things matter anymore? In order to know me as a person, must someone know about my past? The answer, I believe, is yes.

I think about the deep splinter our daughter got in her foot. It was probably 4-5 inches long and deep in the skin of her foot. I think about how I had to sterilize and cut the skin with a razor blade in order to get it out before I could even begin to clean the wound. She was so brave to sit through such a scary thing. In fact, I worked hard to steady my own hands. I was just as nervous.

Are emotional wounds different? How scary and painful it must be to get the bad stuff out. It literally feels like a cut to the heart in order to drain the bad stuff. It is certainly scary. The people who are a part of this journey with us may feel scared too. But once the bad is out, we can not only see the wound better but we can begin to treat it properly. It is then, that the healing can begin. It may leave a scar, but it doesn’t have to be painful anymore.

So when I tell people about how detached I became when my parents divorced my seventh grade year, or how numb I was when I had an abortion at the age of 17, or how betrayed I felt when I discovered my stepdad was masturbating to pictures of me in my room, or how I don’t remember losing my virginity, or how desperate I felt trying to escape my abusive relationship in college, or how much attention I was craving while I was having premarital sex with strangers, or how lost I felt as I binge drank myself into blackouts for years, or how I spent my four year college loan in one year, or how unsatisfied I was with my body as I went under the knife to permanently change my body through cosmetic surgery and tattoos, or how low I felt when I walked in on my daughter’s dad cheating on me for the 7th time, or how strange I felt to be a single mother who had never even been married, or how helpless I felt when I wasn’t there for my daughter as she watched her dad attempt suicide, or how I couldn’t accept that a wonderful guy would want to marry me knowing all of that…………….I don’t have to be ashamed. Jesus made sure of it. He shed his blood to forgive people like me.

This morning in church as the feelings of shame flooded every fiber of my being and the pastor and worship team followed the Holy Spirit’s lead, tears began to pour out. The church gave an open invitation to those who did not yet know Jesus to make their way to the front so they could pray together. The whole time I wept. Although I am already saved, I felt God’s forgiveness flood through my soul and wipe clean any harbored shame I have kept hidden for all of these years. And that, my friends is one of the most beautiful things I have ever experienced in my 28 years.

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 25

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

Let’s dive in!

Main points for this chapter:

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

 

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

Matthew 25:1-12 (NKJV)

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

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

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

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

  • It’s criminal to live too cautiously

Matthew 25:14-30 (NIV)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Does that make sense?

  • The needy are more than just people

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

I was hungry and you fed me,

I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,

I was shivering and you gave me clothes,

I was sick and you stopped to visit,

I was in prison and you came to me.

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

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

 

 

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 24

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

Main points for today are:

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • The message will reach the entire world

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

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

  • The metaphor of the Vulture

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

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

  • Be prepared

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

The “Definition” of Parenting

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

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

Definitions to be included are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We all think of  Jesus’ 12 disciples.

What did they do?

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

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

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

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

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

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

ten-commandments-kids-wall-quote-4

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

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

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

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

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

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

prac·tice

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

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

train·ing

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

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

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

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

Correction and Protection (link here)

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

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

 

 

 

 

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 23

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

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

Main points for today are:

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

 

  • Don’t be a hypocrite!

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

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

  • Be humble

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

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

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

  • A promise is a promise

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

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

  • Look at the big picture

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

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

  • The outside is no representation of the inside

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

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

  • Stop blaming the generations before you

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

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

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