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.

 

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25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 21

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

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

Main points:

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

 

  • Give what you have when giving praise

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

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

  • The temple: a sacred place

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

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

  • The believer who has leaves but no fruit will wither

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

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

  • There is a difference between what you say and do

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

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

  • The workers who attack others will be punished

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

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

 

 

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 20

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

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

Main points in this chapter:

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

 

  • Longevity is not always worth more reward

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

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

  • We can not let power go to our heads

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

A couple of things I noticed here.

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

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

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

  • Keep pushing towards the truth and you will be rewarded

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

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

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

 

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 19

Still playing catch up! 🙂 I have been studying and going over this chapter ALL day. It is a tougher one for me than past ones. The big divorce word comes up and it hits very close to home. I love how God brings us to our biggest walls and the very things that make us squirm in order to teach us the truth! OK, it’s a love/hate type of thing but in the end I always come out thankful!

Main points from today’s chapter:

  • The art of marriage
  • What Jesus says about divorce
  • The true definition of “eternal life” and how we gain access to it

 

  • The art of marriage

Matthew 19:4-6 (The Message): “He answered, ‘Haven’t you read in your Bible that the Creator originally made man and woman for each other, male and female? And because of this, a man leaves father and mother and is firmly bonded to his wife, becoming on flesh – no longer two bodies but one. Because God created this organic union of the two sexes, no one should desecrate his art by cutting them apart.'”

I LOVE that this translation uses the word art to describe what God has created between man and woman. I am so saddened by how marriage is looked at these days. It is made so disposable. Vows seem to be just words people say while they stand in front of the decorations they took out a loan to pay for. I see young people who view marriage as just a thing you do and if it doesn’t work out, you just get rid of that one and upgrade like the newest iPhone. Couples getting together for the reason of simply not being lonely. ART is always unique. It is always handmade and put together with thought. Most times, art is worth a lot of money and people will pay hundreds if not thousands of dollars to get their hands on it. Art is inspired by moods, hardships, life experiences, nature and the beauty of what surrounds the artist. Marriage is similar in the way two people come together with two totally unique views on life. Their marriage is a unique blend of give and take, ups and downs and compromise. No two marriages will go through the exact same string of events nor will they go through the same reactions from both wife and husband. Each marriage is a work of art, gaining more and more value over time.

  • What Jesus says about divorce

Matthew 19:8-9 (The Message): “Jesus said, ‘Moses provided for divorce as a concession to your hardheartedness, but it is not part of God’s original plan. I’m holding you to the original plan, and holding you liable for adultery if you divorce your faithful wife and then marry someone else. I make an exception in cases where the spouse has committed adultery.'”

Matthew 19:8-9 (NIV): “Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.'”

I listed 2 translations of this scripture because it challenged what many believe these days, including what I believed before this. I guess I hadn’t really put a ton of thought into what was acceptable as far as divorce goes. I guess I had my own ideas about acceptable reasons for divorce, however, I am NOT God. I am just a single sinner living here on Earth trying my best to study and follow the Bible. If I am staying true to my beliefs that the Bible is our guide, then I suppose that means I better change the way I think about things according to what is in this guide I refer to!

  • The true definition of “eternal life” and how we gain access to it

Matthew 19:16-24 (NIV): “Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?’ ‘Why do you ask me about what is good?’ Jesus replied. ‘There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.’ ‘Which ones?’ he inquired. Jesus replied, ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’ ‘All these I have kept,’ the young man said. ‘What do I still lack?’ Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’

This scripture threw me off as well! Wait a minute…..I thought all we had to do to earn “eternal life” was to accept Jesus as our Lord. I grew up thinking that we could not earn Jesus’ love but rather that it was given freely. I was at a loss and I certainly did not want to write a study on the matter if I didn’t understand the concept, myself. So I studied it all day and here is what I found! It makes TOTAL sense to me now. It may require some extra reading if you are as interested as I was in the “real” meaning of eternal life. Here is a link to a teaching I read on the matter and it cleared things up once and for all!

Basically, it says that eternal life does not refer to living forever in heaven but rather, the QUALITY of life we are given NOW if we get to actually KNOW our Lord in a close and intimate way. So our salvation is being forgiven for our sins and gaining access to heaven. “Eternal life” takes it one step further and enters us into a relationship right now. I suppose you could compare it to a marriage. You can say your vows and sign a piece of paper saying you are married and that may be good enough for you. But in order to actually experience a close and intimate relationship with your spouse, you must make a daily effort to put into that relationship what you hope to get out of it. It’s a constant work in progress but the reward is immeasurable.

This being said, YES – we do need to follow the commandments in order to EARN eternal life (a close and intimate relationship with our Father).

 

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 17

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

Let’s get caught up today!

Main points for this chapter:

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

 

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

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

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

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

  • Look past the way YOU think things should be

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

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

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

  • Having a mustard seed of faith will move mountains

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

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

  • We must be examples and participate in society fairly

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

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

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

 

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 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.