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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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 27

I have been held back by sickness, but even that won’t stop me from finishing this series! I find no coincidence in the fact that a chronic illness struck me right as we were to study the crucifixion of Jesus! One of the most, if not the most, memorable events in history. Our enemy hates the idea of the good news being spread!

No introduction needed. Let’s dive in!

Things we may have missed (I won’t call them main points, because the main point here is that Jesus died on the cross to forgive us of our sins and give us everlasting life. There is no other main point bigger than that!):

  • Looking for forgiveness from the world will make you crazy
  • Our emotions can overpower our morals if we aren’t careful
  • Our weakness will spill over to others
  • People will test and mock God’s Will
  • Even Jesus had questions
  • Believers’ eyes will be reopened at the sight of miracles
  • The enemy is terrified of prophesies being fulfilled

 

  • Looking for forgiveness from the world will make you crazy

Matthew 27:3-5 (NIV): “When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. ‘I have sinned,’ he said, ‘for I have betrayed innocent blood.’ ‘What is that to us?’ they replied. ‘That’s your responsibility.’ So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.”

Notice how Judas did not ask God for forgiveness. He went to the very people who took part in the sin – to take it back….to ask forgiveness….to maybe change things. It didn’t work. For people are just people, they do not always show grace. God is the only one who 100% of the time shows grace, and that is where we need to go when our souls are crushed with unforgiveness. After Judas was rejected in this scene, he went off and hung himself.  He couldn’t handle it on his own.

  • Our emotions can overpower our morals if we aren’t careful

Matthew 27:15-18 (NIV): “Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus Barabbas. So when the crowd gathered, Pilate asked them, ‘Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?’ For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him.”

Matthew 27:23 (NIV): “‘Why? What crime has he committed?’ asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, ‘Crucify him!'”

The only thing they had against Jesus was their own emotions towards Him. Whether they be jealous, in disbelief, angry or whatever…..they were willing to KILL someone based off of emotions! It may seem extreme, but do we act this way in our daily life? Do we push our family and friends aside because of emotions or grudges and show more grace to strangers….even strangers who have done wrong or are still doing wrong??? Are we putting more energy into helping strangers than we are into tending to our closest relationships?

In the second verse – the crowd did not even KNOW WHY they wanted Jesus killed! They didn’t give a reason! They were just so angry they were willing to pardon a true criminal. Are there people you are mad at and don’t even remember the reason why because it’s been so long? Or if you do remember the reason, is it really as bad as you once felt it was? Were you overreacting out of hurt? Even if you still feel justified in your unforgiveness, is that how Jesus taught us (by example) to live? In unforgiveness?

  • Our weakness will spill over to others

Matthew 27:32 (The Message): “Along the way they came on a man from Cyrene named Simon and made him carry Jesus’ cross.”

They just came across this random man and made him carry this gigantic cross. I don’t know if Jesus knew this man or if he was just some random guy but either way, the enemy had beaten Jesus til he was so weak he could no longer carry the cross. It was up to someone else (against their will) to carry the cross for Him.

Now……have we ever been so weak that we can’t help but lean on those around us? Heck maybe we are so desperate, we end up sharing our story with the store clerk or the mail man. Whether it is our intention or not…..IT IS the intention of the enemy to knock down as many people as he can. So if that means someone else has to carry around our burden because we are too weak….well the enemy has a hay day with that! Don’t feel bad for going to those who care about you with your troubles. Fellowship is important. Also, don’t forget to take your worries to God and TRUST that he will look after you.

  • People will test and mock God’s Will

Matthew 27:42 (NIV): “‘He saved others,’ they said, ‘but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.'”

Non believers will take advantage of situations. For instance, if someone is suffering from cancer and their mother is sitting next to them praying daily that they be healed and they end up passing away……the enemy will just snatch that right up and throw it our face. Why wasn’t this person healed? God has a plan that none of us are aware of and maybe it was his will for this to end the way it did. Maybe the person who suffered from cancer positively effected more people in one day than most people do in their whole lives. The fact that this person is now in Heaven, pain free is a miracle in itself! We can’t expect to always know the answers. God had a will when he sent his Son to save the world, although it appeared He left Him there to suffer.

  • Even Jesus had questions

Matthew 27:46 (The Message): “Around mid-afternoon Jesus groaned out of the depths, crying loudly, ‘Eli, Eli lama sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?'”

Even Jesus Himself, who knew His Father’s plan and predicted it before it happened…..had questions. He had doubts. He wanted to know why this was happening. He felt abandoned. He remained strong through so much but got to a point where he had questions. We are not Jesus, so how many more questions and doubts will we have?

  • Believers’ eyes will be reopened at the sight of miracles

Matthew 27:51-53 (The Message): “At that moment, the Temple curtain was ripped in two, top to bottom. There was an earthquake, and rocks were split in pieces. What’s more, tombs were opened up, and many bodies of believers asleep in their graves were raised. (After Jesus’ resurrection, they left the tombs, entered into the holy city and appeared to many.)”

If you look at this in a metaphorical way you will see that believer’s eyes will be opened when they experience a miracle. They are believers, so they believe it can happen but when it actually does…..their eyes will be re-opened and they will go out and share with many! These may be believers who had strayed from their walk or who had doubts.

  • The enemy is terrified of prophesies being fulfilled

Matthew 27:62-66 (NIV): “The next day, the one after preparation day, the chief priests and the pharisees went to Pilate. ‘Sir,’ they said, ‘we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.’ So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.”

The enemy is terrified of looking like a fool and he would certainly look like one if prophesies started coming true! He will work overtime to make sure that this does not happen.

 

 

 

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 16

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

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

Main points:

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

 

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

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

Wondering what the “sign of Jonah” is?

This link describes it well:

Question: “What is the sign of Jonah?”


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Peter declares Jesus is the Messiah and is blessed

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

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

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

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

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

 

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 10

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

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

The main points we will touch on today:

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

 

  • Help the lost in your own neighborhood

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

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

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

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

  • Don’t allow yourself to be bullied into silence

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

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

  • Start small

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

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

*Hope to see you back tomorrow for Chapter 11!

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 7

Hello and welcome to Day 4 of our 25 Days of December series, where we are diving into the book of Matthew with the goal of gaining access to some “soul food” during this season of busyness and distraction!

It’s Saturday and I know you have a list of other things you could be doing right now, even if sleep is at the top, so I will get started!

If this is your first time reading, I will be referencing The Message and NIV translations with occasional entries from biblehub.com. If you don’t have a bible, you can jump over to biblehub.com, which is a very user friendly way to look up scripture and provides MANY translations allowing for easy deciphering. If you click on the blue link, I have bookmarked Matthew Chapter 7 for you! 🙂

The main points I want to touch on today are:

  • Judging others
  • Ask for what you need
  • Entering the “narrow gate”
  • False prophets
  • Building a firm foundation

I LOVE this chapter. Each point speaks directly to me and gives me a practical guide to follow in my day to day.

  • Judging others

Matthew 7:1-2 (NIV) reads: Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

(Raises her hand) I am guilty as charged! This may be one of my biggest weaknesses guys. The thing that keeps replaying in my mind is that we will be judged to the same measure as we have judged others. So not only do we get judged if we judge others but the degree to which we judge is even taken into account! YIKES! Looking back, I find that I tend to judge people when they are a threat to me or I feel hurt by them. It’s a defense we use to justify our feelings. All we can do is try our best to not judge others and if we do (because we are human) we know where to go for forgiveness! There is freedom in forgiving others AND in forgiving yourself!

  • Ask for what you need

Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV) promises us: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knows, the door will be opened.”

Something that dawned on me as I read these verses: ABSOLUTELY, we must go to our Father and ask, seek and knock, but this also applies to our interactions with our family and friends! We have all heard men tease women about how they assume men know what they need and then give them the silent treatment when they don’t get it! (Raises her hand, again!) GUILTY. I am all the time doing this to my poor husband! If I look even further, I do this with my family and friends as well! It is hard to be open with people. Sit them down with some coffee and tell them what you need or set boundaries where there is too much give and not enough receive. I recently did this. It was very hard and emotionally straining, but you know what I gained from it? The time to write this blog and join in on a community full of Jesus loving women! What a reward!

  • Entering the “narrow gate”

Matthew 7:13-20 (The Message) describes the narrow gate: “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easy going formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life-to God!- is vigorous and requires total attention.

We know that hard work produces great rewards in our everyday life. Why would our faith be any different? It WILL be hard to go against the crowd, for it is harder work. The crowd tends to do what is easy. Remember to always listen to your inner gauge of character and morals and to always go to God if you are questioning what his will is. I struggle weekly, if not daily with the writing of this blog. It’s not necessarily popular to set aside social events or Facebook scrolling to write a month long bible study. It just isn’t. I know that you too, choose to do the right thing when it’s not popular and I am SO PROUD of you for doing that!!

  • False prophets

Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don’t be impressed with charisma; look for character. Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say. A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbooks. These diseased trees with their bad apples are going to be chopped down and burned.”

Also, choose your church, your bible studies, the leaders in any area of your life -carefully! Unfortunately, there are people out there who are VERY good at pretending and they will stop at nothing to get what they want. 😦

Matthew 7:15 (NIV) says: Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.”

  • Building a firm foundation

Matthew 7:24-27 (NIV) tells us: “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

I like to think of this in a way that’s easy for me to visualize. I love the foundation metaphor but I like to think of it like a tree. Every time I put scripture into action it’s like another root growing it’s way deeper into the ground. The more I do this and grow my roots, the stronger the tree (myself) will stand when a storm hits. In turn, if I read scripture but do not apply it, it is like watering a tree that you haven’t actually planted into the ground. You can water it all you want but if the roots have nowhere to grow, the tree will die.

Not only that, but if we are “practicing what we preach,” non-believers will be attracted to the love and light they see in us, and want to know where we got it! The Lord! 🙂

I hope and pray that these lessons are touching you and inspiring you to love on others the way reading scripture does for me. ❤ Thank you so much for joining in on this community and being a part of this study and the sharing of my personal stories. I can’t wait to see you here again tomorrow!

* Reminder: You will have easier access to each of my posts by hitting the “follow” button in the sidebar to the right. This will sign you up to receive emails each time a post is published! Thanks again, friends!