When God Doesn’t Meet Our Needs

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

Why does God allow suffering?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Need #1 ✅

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

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

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

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

Need # 2&3 ✅

But he goes on!

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

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

Need #4 ✅

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

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

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

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

Need #5 ✅

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

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

Love, mercy, grace, kindness.

Needs # 6, 7, 8, & 9 ✅

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Need #10 ✅

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

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

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

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

Needs #11, 12 & 13 ✅

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Running For Our Lives

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

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

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

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

2

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Transparency: seeing through shame

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 23

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

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

Main points for today are:

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

 

  • Don’t be a hypocrite!

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

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

  • Be humble

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

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

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

  • A promise is a promise

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

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

  • Look at the big picture

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

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

  • The outside is no representation of the inside

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

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

  • Stop blaming the generations before you

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

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

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

 

 

 

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 22

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

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

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

Main points:

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

 

 

  • All are invited, few are chosen

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

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

  • Giving back

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

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

  • God of the living, not dead

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

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

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

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

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

 

I Would Never Starve My Child

Unfortunately, we are seeing more and more in the media about moms who have left their children in a freezing car/heat of the summer or children who have been neglected due to their parents being on drugs. In school we learned of children who were locked in attics and shut off from the world, never learning how to talk. As a mother, myself, I have to really give myself a pep talk before even reading these stories. They are mortifying! We post about them on social media and leave our comments on how we think they should be punished. We cry and think to ourselves how we would NEVER -ever- starve our child or intentionally put them in harm’s way. Or would we?

In light of the recent teen suicides occurring in our Colorado hometown, I was inspired to write on the matter. We have two different scenarios here. Stories of physical needs not being met and stories of emotional needs not being met. Both equally devastating.

I’m not here to put blame on anyone or show my anger towards anyone. I’m here because my heart hurts. I not only feel compassion towards the children, but towards those directly involved including mothers, grandparents, aunt and uncles, cousins, friends, their librarian…..whoever else cares for that child.

Hang in here for a minute….. There is an irony here. We say we would throw mothers in jail for not feeding their children or leaving them in the cold, without even realizing we may be doing the same thing. Starving them of attention and leaving them in the cold world without guidance. Making them grow up too early. Chaining them to their school desks and medicating them if they act like children.

What are we doing on the daily to make sure our children KNOW they have a safe haven at home, that they won’t be judged for sharing their yucky feelings, that we are all human and fail from time to time, that we serve a loving Father that will never ever leave us alone in the cold? How are we guiding them to make the best choices even when they are hard? Are we putting our phones away to look them in the eye? Are we praising them for doing hard things in life? Are we spending one on one time with them to learn about what makes them tick? Are we listening to their stories? Do we know who their friends are? Do we know the trials they face at school? Have we sat on their bed at night and asked them hard questions? Have we given them boundaries that may not necessarily be popular? Do we sit down and go over the current trends and decide if they are healthy for our children? Have we given them privacy? Have we allowed them to be children? Do we celebrate their life?

The suicide, the promiscuity, the addictions, the bullying, the eating disorders…..these are not problems, these are symptoms. A cry out for help. When adults get to the end of their rope, they can have an alcoholic beverage, go on vacation, go to counseling, drive off and return a couple of hours later. What kind of outlet have we given our children? What are we teaching our children by our own actions?

Are we starving our children?

I will be 100% transparent with you here and tell you I struggle with at least one if not all of the above things. My oldest daughter has a different father than my two younger children. I would be bold face lying if I said they are treated equally. They aren’t. I hope one day they are. I suffer on a daily basis to show my daughter the affection that I so naturally give to the other two.

*Wow, you must be thinking I am a terrible mother.*

We really need to think about the root of the problem with these children and their relationships. I have spent her entire life wondering where I went wrong and why our relationship seems to be so hard. It’s still a work in progress but I know looking back that I did not have the bonding time with her that I had with the other two. I went through my entire pregnancy and the first 9 months of her life battling against adultery and other battles with her father. At 9 months custody was put into the court’s hands. I saw my 9 month old baby for a week at a time, alternating weeks with her father. At the time, I was in survival mode and did the best I could with what I had. I felt like I did a very good job as a single mother. When she was 3 years old, we got a different judge. A female judge. She could not believe the custody agreement we had and told us, “A baby should never be separated from her mother for that length of time, ever.” I ugly face cried right there in the court room. The thought of handing my baby over every other week just broke my heart into a million pieces, and because of that I built a wall. A wall of protection. I would not allow myself to be hurt anymore and now…..6 years later, that wall is still up. I built it so strong, now not even I can break it down. I wake up everyday thinking constantly about how I can rebuild our relationship and with each interaction her and I have in a day, I try so hard to make her feel wanted and loved and safe. It’s hard. I know how important these connections are and the effect they can have on children as they grow into teenagers and young adults. I KNOW.

And I know that the mothers of these suicide victims fight a hard fight for their children. Some of these mothers have hurts of their own and don’t realize what an impact those hurts are making on their children. It doesn’t always stem from their homes, though. Society is putting up a pretty damn good fight trying to steal the self esteem of our children. From malnourished super models, to cartoons about ego and building an empire to now movies called, “Suicide Squad.” These children need warriors to stand as their line of defense on the daily and because we can’t be everywhere all the time we have to trust that people around them have their best interest in mind. What can we do to ensure that our children and their generation grow up with good intentions and self esteem? How can we help the children we come across daily? We have the power to build them up in just a few words. We can make a difference! Tel them they look beautiful. Thank them for holding the door. Thank them for playing so nicely with our children. Tell them they are doing a great job. Tell them they made you proud for what they did. Encourage them to make the right decision. Find time to invest in their hobbies. Go out of your way.

Let us make a conscious decision to feed our children. May no child be starved.

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)