Nothing to Prove

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

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

Chapter 1: My Quiet Confession

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He doesn’t. He never did.

Those are expectations we put on ourselves.

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25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 23

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

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

Main points for today are:

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

 

  • Don’t be a hypocrite!

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

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

  • Be humble

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

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

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

  • A promise is a promise

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

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

  • Look at the big picture

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

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

  • The outside is no representation of the inside

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

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

  • Stop blaming the generations before you

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

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

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

 

 

 

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 22

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

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

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

Main points:

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

 

 

  • All are invited, few are chosen

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

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

  • Giving back

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

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

  • God of the living, not dead

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

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

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

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

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

 

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 21

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

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

Main points:

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

 

  • Give what you have when giving praise

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

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

  • The temple: a sacred place

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

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

  • The believer who has leaves but no fruit will wither

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

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

  • There is a difference between what you say and do

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

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

  • The workers who attack others will be punished

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

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

 

 

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 13

Happy Friday! For many this was the last day of school for the kiddos before Christmas break, YAY! I know what you are really thinking lol You are thinking that now you will have less alone time and more 24/7 needs to be met. Let’s be honest. Because I know you still want to get your daily “soul food,” I will try to make these posts straight to the point and HOPEFULLY get them posted in the morning so you can read them with your morning coffee in peace and quiet (we can dream right)!

If this is your first time joining in on the series, I urge you to look at one of the previous posts for a description of the series and mentions of the bibles I use and how you can purchase your own. 🙂

Let’s get started!

Main points I want to hit on today:

  • Not all seed planted, will survive and flourish
  • The power behind a story
  • How we gain strength by growing next to weeds
  • The importance of time and patience
  • Sometimes the people closest to us have the least amount of faith in us

 

  • Not all seed planted, will survive and flourish

Matthew 13:3-8 (The Message): “‘What do you make of this? A farmer planted seed. As he scattered the seed, some of it fell on the road, and birds ate it. Some fell in the gravel; it sprouted quickly but didn’t put down roots, so when the sun came up it withered just as quickly. Some fell in the weeds; as it came up, it was strangled by the weeds. Some fell on good earth, and produced a harvest beyond his wildest dreams.'”

In Matthew 13:37-43 (The Message) Jesus explains this metaphor to the disciples: “So he explained. ‘The farmer who sows the pure seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the pure seeds are subjects of the kingdom, the thistles are subjects of the Devil, and the enemy who sows them is the Devil. The harvest is the end of the age, the curtain of history. The harvest hands are angels. The picture of thistles pulled up and burned is a scene from the final act. The Son of Man will send his angels, weed out the thistles from his kingdom, pitch them in the trash, and be done with them. They are going to complain to high heaven, but nobody is going to listen. At the same time, ripe, holy lives will mature and adorn the kingdom of their Father.'”

So here it is, blunt as can be. This is scripture, not my words. The seed being planted is all of human kind. The ones being thrown out are the ones who refused to follow God and the ones who are saved are followers of Jesus. This may seem horrifying, but that’s why our job is so important. We must make it our daily mission to reach out to those around us and show them the love of Jesus. This doesn’t always mean we have to go to the street corners and preach or force it on everyone we come across. Believe it or not, people can be pulled in by the love and compassion we show. Sometimes, all it takes is us just trying to be the best versions of ourselves that we can be.

  • The power behind a story

Matthew 13:10-12 (The Message): “The disciples came up and asked, ‘Why do you tell stories?’ He replied, ‘You’ve been given insight into God’s kingdom. You know how it works. Not everybody has this gift, this insight; it hasn’t been given to them. Whenever someone has a ready heart for this, the insights and understandings flow freely. But if there is no readiness, any trace of receptivity soon disappears. That’s why I tell stories: to create readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight. In their present state they can stare till doomsday and not see it, listen till they’re blue in the face and not get it.'”

I know to a lot of non believers and new believers, scripture can be overwhelming and confusing. The understanding will come with time. Until then, I believe in the importance of story telling and metaphors.

To me, it is like: How does someone relate to you until you have given them a taste of something you both have in common? For example: You meet a new person and on the surface it may appear you both come from different worlds-one from a rural, blue collar upbringing and one from an urban, white collar upbringing. You remain distant until somehow you connect and start talking about your stories, only to find out that both of you have suffered from some type of sexual abuse in your past. Up until this point, neither of you have ever come across someone who understood your hurt. Now, you suddenly have a reason to relate and connect with one another.

In the same way, we can relate to the people of the bible through stories. Our world today appears to be NOTHING like that of the bible days, but in reality the concepts are the same. If you’ve been reading along for the duration of this series so far, you have most likely found that you could relate to most, if not all, of the points brought up in the book of Matthew. Right? The power of your story WILL change lives and has the power to change THE WORLD!

  • How we gain strength by growing next to weeds

Matthew 13:24-30 (The Message): “He told another story. ‘God’s kingdom is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. That night, while his hired men were asleep, his enemy sowed thistles all through the wheat and slipped away before dawn. When the first green shoots appeared and the grain began to form, the thistles showed up, too. The farmhands came to the farmer and said, ‘Master that was clean seed you planted, wasn’t it? Where did these thistles come from?’ He answered, ‘Some enemy did this.’ The farmhands asked, ‘Should we weed out the thistles?’ He said, ‘No, if you weed the thistles, you’ll pull up the wheat, too. Let them grow together until harvest time. Then I’ll instruct the harvesters to pull up the thistles and tie them in bundles for the fire, then gather the wheat and put it in the barn.'”

I think anyone who has gone through a trial in their life, can agree that they grew from the experience. Whether it took them ten minutes or ten years to learn the lesson, they grew. My question is: would we have appreciation, faith, hope, love, endurance, strength or any of the other positive qualities we have come to posses if we hadn’t gone through some sort of trial to gain them? How could we possibly appreciate what we have if we had never gone without? How would our faith continue to grow stronger if it was never put to the test? How could we even claim to have endurance if we had never been in a situation where we were stretched past our limits? Growing along with the weeds, allows us to grow taller and stronger. If the weeds were plucked when we were still small, we would have no understanding of hardship. Because of that, we would have no appreciation or understanding of what those good qualities really meant. If we just hang in there, the weeds will be pulled eventually. Which brings me to the next point:

  • The importance of time and patience

Matthew 13:31-33 (The Message) gives two examples: “Another story. ‘God’s kingdom is like a pine nut that a farmer plants. It is quite small as seeds go, but in the course of years it grows into a huge pine tree, and eagles build nests in it.

‘ Another story. ‘God’s kingdom is like yeast that a woman works into the dough for dozens of loaves of barley bread – and waits while the dough rises.'”

In both of these metaphors, Jesus explains that great things come in time. The smallest seed, with proper care and nourishment, has potential to grow into a strong tree that is not easily moved. Also, one woman’s labor of working yeast into dough is enough to feed many, if she is patient while the dough rises. Life is a process, and for us to expect anything different is to be unrealistic.

  • Sometimes the people closest to us have the least amount of faith in us

Matthew 13:57-58 (The Message): “But Jesus said, ‘A prophet is taken for granted in his hometown and his family.’ He didn’t do many miracles there because of their hostile indifference.”

Matthew 13:57-58 (NIV): “And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.’ And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.”

The unfortunate truth is: sometimes the ones who hurt us will be the ones closest to us.

 

 

 

 

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!