25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 25

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

Let’s dive in!

Main points for this chapter:

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

 

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

Matthew 25:1-12 (NKJV)

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

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

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

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

  • It’s criminal to live too cautiously

Matthew 25:14-30 (NIV)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Does that make sense?

  • The needy are more than just people

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

I was hungry and you fed me,

I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,

I was shivering and you gave me clothes,

I was sick and you stopped to visit,

I was in prison and you came to me.

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

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

 

 

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25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 15

Good morning everyone! Well it’s 11 am here, but no matter what time it is there I hope you have found time to sit down with the drink of your choice and enjoy this chapter with me! I am feeling especially grateful for this study today after watching videos of the tragedies currently going on in Syria. It is paralyzing to watch. How big of a blessing it is for us to have the freedom to sit down and read through scripture!

This is post #12 in the 25 part series where we are studying the book of Matthew in hopes of finding some “soul food” during this season of busyness and distraction!

The main points we will be going over today are:

  • What goes in means nothing. What comes out defines a person
  • Those who remain faithful against all odds will see breakthrough
  • Jesus had compassion for those who showed endurance 

 

  • What goes in means nothing. What comes out defines a person

Matthew 15:17-20 (NIV) explains this idea as a physical metaphor: “‘Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person’t mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts – murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.'”

(“Defile” means to make unclean or spoil)

I see the metaphor in these verses. Just as someone ingests food or drink, they can attend church every Sunday but if it is not digested and regurgitated (sorry for the image!) then nothing will come of it except for waste. The word and our studies must not only be taken in but it must be processed and used again. We must put our studies to use! What good is our knowledge if it is not shared with others?

  • Those who remain faithful against all odds will see breakthrough

Matthew 15:26-27 (NIV): “He replied, ‘It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.’ ‘Yes it is, Lord,’ she said. ‘Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.'”

I struggled with these verses, because I didn’t know how Jesus (the sinless, compassionate person that he was) would ever choose certain people (children in the metaphor) over other people (the dogs). I looked into it and learned that Jesus was on special mission to share the word with the Jews now and then the gentiles later. He was simply saying that it was not fair to take time and lessons away from the Jews in front of him and get distracted with a different mission at this time. However, the gentile lady remained persistent and even broke the law of that day to go to Jesus and beg for his help. Through her persistent faith, Jesus rewarded her and gave her what she had asked. When she says even the dogs eat the scraps from their master’s table, she was saying that she would take anything he was willing to give to her even if it was leftovers. She was hungry and if scraps were what she got, she would beg until she got even a taste of the food the master had.

  • Jesus had compassion for those who showed endurance

Matthew 15:32 (NIV):” Jesus called his disciples to him and said, ‘I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.'”

To me, this talks about the people who have been faithful in listening to the word and following His lead but have not seen breakthrough or are suffering through their current circumstances and are becoming weak. Jesus has compassion for these people and wants to give them not only what they need but more! He wants to fill them up, make them strong again and give them enough leftovers to share with others!

 

Home is Where the _____ is

The last month or so I have been pondering what it is exactly that makes a home, “home.” What about a home makes people homesick? Are they missing the people? The smells? The sounds? The comforts? Traditions? What is it exactly that makes a person refer to a certain house or town as “home?”

If you read my previous post about how many times I have moved in my life so far, you will understand why this would be a topic on my mind. 6 months ago, my husband, 3 kids and I made a big move across the country from Colorado to North Carolina. In those 6 months we have gone through many phases. Busy stage. Settling in stage. Getting necessary changes made stage. Starting school and making friends stage. Then there is the sit still and look at what you just went through stage. This is the one we are entering now and I must admit, this is where the homesickness starts to take place. In an effort to make the best out of our new home, I really needed to know what it was, exactly, that we missed about our old “home.”

We’ve heard sayings like, “Home is where the heart is,” or “Home is wherever I’m with you.” How do you define HOME?

Yesterday, I went through a particularly hard time with missing our family and being around them during the holidays (thank you hormones and catching a cold for the extra emotions!). I started to look for things that would make these sad feelings go away. I thought maybe looking at pictures would help, staying busy with housework or sending a message to my family to tell them I miss them would help, but it didn’t really. I went through social media apps on my phone looking for either inspiration or someone to talk to. What I ended up coming across was the visualization of the manger. A small family gathered to celebrate the birth of our Savior. The thought of a small group huddled together in the hay with the animals and how intimate that moment must have been. They were in the middle of one of the most important “memories” recorded, yet they had very little. The manger was not lit with red and green; the stable was not lined with Macy’s bags and Target boxes. They were together and that was enough.

Then in dawned on me. Memories. All of the things I had been missing, were just a bunch of collected memories of what we all used to do together that we won’t be doing this year.

“Home is where memories are made.” Wherever that may be.

The answer I was looking for. It comforted me. It made me realize that I didn’t lose a home, but rather gained a new one with tons of potential for new memories! Nothing can take away the memories we already have, but something sure could take away from new ones to come……and that is NOT MAKING THEM in the first place! I’ve come to accept the fact that memories will be made, whether we are trying to make them or not. The choice we have, however, is whether we will be proactive about making GOOD memories instead of regretting letting the memories pass us by. LASTING memories. Warm and fuzzy memories.

It was right then and there that I decided I was ditching that pity party I was currently attending and I was going to make new memories for our kids! The second my husband got home from work, I headed to the store. I walked down every single Christmas aisle just to get my fix of holiday spirit and I purchased some wrapping paper, cookie decorating supplies and the PIE FACE game! I decided that this year wasn’t going to be a sad Christmas, but one that we would remember for years to come! No more counting down the days for Christmas to be over. I texted some new friends we have made and asked them if they wanted to come over one night to decorate cookies and play the PIE FACE game with us! I also found a last minute “12 Days of Christmas” letter set on Pinterest to print out, dug out our Elf on the Shelf and set them out for the morning. The look on the kids ‘ faces this morning was priceless. While they were in school I turned the Christmas tunes up, made myself a warm drink and wrapped presents til I couldn’t anymore!

Moral of the story here is that we don’t have to be sad if things aren’t the way they’ve always been or if we won’t be where we usually are for the holidays. We have 3 beautiful children just waiting for us to create new memories with them and it would be a very unfortunate thing to miss out on that due to spending all of our time in the past.

How God Brought Me Home

I didn’t know I wanted animals or kids. God gave me both. 3 of each, and all rescues. Well, two cats and a dog needed a loving home. The kids just need rescuing from ME some days! 😬 I also didn’t know I needed a home, but God gave me the South. 

Goodness, did he give me the South. Front porches, sweet tea and accents. Tall trees, rocking chairs and good cookin. Curvy country roads and antique shops sprinkled throughout the beautiful countryside. He brought me home.

Growing up mostly in Kansas and Colorado, I enjoyed such things as high mountains and wheat fields. Both, beautiful in their unique ways and each gifted me with wonderful memories. Please don’t take this as ungrateful, but for some reason I always felt a tug to be somewhere else. 

I can’t explain it anyway else than to just say I’M HOME NOW.

Do you know how I got here? Pain. Unfortunate circumstances. Depression and anxiety. Struggling relationships. Loss. Stress. Health problems. Financial struggles. Jealousy. Anger…..the list goes on. And I’m not talking about over the span of my life. I’m talking about a 6 month period. It took me getting pushed to my absolute rock bottom for me to finally open my ears and heart to God’s great plan.

The not knowing why is so so hard. We like to feel like we are in control and when we aren’t, we kind of lose it. When we are at our weakest – that’s when our desperate faith reveals itself. After all, it’s easy to say we have “faith” when everything is going our way.

Last winter when my husband got laid off from his career of 10 years, we were on the road to losing everything. It was down right humiliating. I even had the tow guy show up to reposess my vehicle right in the middle of a bible study I was hosting. 

We met with a realtor in an attempt to sell our house before losing it. We had like 3 weeks to sell it before we would have to go into short sale and possibly foreclosure. We were signing papers and I’ll never forget the realtor asking me how I was so calm. It was God. The only way I could have been calm in that moment was if he was providing me peace! My husband cane out to North Carolina for a week to scope things out and we both decided that if we had no offers on our current house by that Sunday, we would agree to short sale. Sunday morning – just 30 mins before they wanted to show the house- they called and asked if that was possible. For SOME reason the house was spotless, the kids were already bathed and ready for church early and my mom (who was living with us) was almost done getting ready. This is UNHEARD of with 3 kids haha They showed the house and that night (the last night we agreed to take an offer before short sale), the people made an offer for MORE than we had listed! God is absolutely amazing and I am in awe of how he makes good out of everything. Side note: Hubby and I had even talked about divorce during these months! 
We had the opportunity to move across the country to North Carolina. And we did. I had never been to the state or seen the house we would move into, but it just felt right. 

I must tell you, I think I’m a southern girl at heart. I thought maybe I was born in the South in a previous life or something! This was HOME from the second we pulled into town. Although, our license plates said “Colorado” and our lack of accents proved us out of towners, this was home and we knew it.

Within the first month of moving in, a sweet but homeless dog showed up on our porch. She was in sad shape. I wasn’t sure we would keep her but our oldest daughter immediatly said, “If we keep her can we name her Charlotte?” Long story short, we love Charlotte to the bone and she is the best dog I have ever had! After Charlotte, followed Sadie our sweet outdoor kitty. And we moved with our kitty Darla that we adopted from a friend before her move. I sit on the porch and just LOVE on those furry family members with a swelling heart! To those who knew me growing up, I was FAR from an animal owner lol

We live on 4 acres with no fences and lots of room for the kids and animals to run! It takes about 15 mins to get to the closest stores and schools. We don’t have good telephone service or a trash pickup service but I LOVE it. We get muddy and our kids walk barefoot and I couldn’t tell you one brand my kids wear, because that’s not important. The horses and goats at Papa and Granny D’s farm can’t read anyway. 🙂

When the number of years you’ve lived and the number of houses you’ve lived in are the same.

I’ll start with my high school writing assignments. You know the very memorable ones you keep in scrapbooks? The ones that ask you to collect memories, traditions, family trees etc and compile them into one big beautiful portfolio of your life up until that point? Those ones.

Some of the assignments were easy for me and I loved them! Especially the ones about personality, hobbies or dreams. I have always had an interest in what makes people different, and still love it! The assignments I had trouble with, however, were the ones about memories. The ones where you had to pick your favorite family tradition or describe the home you grew up in. I struggled with these because, like the title suggests, I didn’t feel like I had that.

Now- this isn’t pity party time where I tell you about how awful my upbringing was. I had many wonderful things about my childhood, including but not limited to the times my sister and I would jump and play on big round hay bails til the sun went down, or the walks we would take with my grandma down back country roads to collect pop cans. I also have memories of going with my dad to work for 3 weeks on “the big truck” all across the country, eating at the buffets and taking pictures of all the beautiful places we visited. I’ll never forget how good my mom was at stuffing stockings! In fact, there aren’t many big presents I even remember but I remember almost every stocking I ever opened!

The part I felt I missed out on, was growing up in one house where all of these wonderful memories took place under one roof with the same close family members and close friends. I was envious of the fact that many of my friends got to experience both parents under the same roof (my parents separated when I was in 7th grade). I would watch as a friend from school would move and just be totally taken over with emotions of missing their house, neighbors, school and friends. I didn’t understand it. Moving came easy to me. It was like it was just another thing you do along with eating, drinking and going to school everyday. I became so used to moving, that I put up a wall towards people and they became acquaintances to me instead of close friends. I was simply preparing for the next move.

It wasn’t until I had children of my own that I came to see how this effected me. Because for the first time, I experienced an outpouring of sincerely uncontrollable happy emotions towards another person. I felt what it was like to be so close to someone that you would do anything for them. What hurt my kids, hurt me. What made them happy, made me tear up out of happiness for them.On the other hand, I saw what my mom saw when she looked at us kids. I experienced the feeling of not knowing the best way to raise them. I felt what it was like to have to make tough decisions even if my kids didn’t understand it. I had to go through tough circumstances that I hoped my young kids would never remember. I felt the feeling of comparing myself to other moms and wondering if I was doing a good enough job. For the first time, I understood my mom.

It was during our cross country move from Colorado to North Carolina this past summer, with my (mostly) happy little family of 5, that I saw my craving for a “home” burst wide open into a tangible dream! It took heartache, lots of it, to get to this point of making such a large move but I couldn’t be more thankful. The most ironic part of the whole thing is that because of this move, my husband and I are far away from anything we have ever known and away from 90% of our family. I have learned many, many things about myself during this journey (and it’s just beginning!)

Things I have learned:

Watching my husband get to spend time with his dad (his parents divorced when he was around Kindergarten age), is top 5 most amazing and humbling things I think I have ever experienced! My heart just explodes with happiness each time I get to see their relationship blossom again after 20 years!

Although, moving all of the time was hard, it also allowed me to experience many different places and types of people. I consider myself a very open person because of this. I don’t see skin color, political views, sexual preferences or circumstances when I see people. I see the person for who they are- a broken person doing their best- just like the rest of us!

Being alone and away from family is extremely hard but teaches you so much about yourself! It has also taught me that being apart does not make you distant, it makes you closer! I am far closer to my friends from CO and to my mother specifically since our move, than I ever was when I had them living down the street.

Making a choice to put your own spouse and kids in front of your sibllings, parents and extended family is a choice to break generational patterns. It is when you start over in a new place and are left with no choice but to be close to the people under your own roof, that you start to see the value in those relationships!

The past has no control over you when you choose to leave it behind and focus on the present. Maybe there were too many memories there? Maybe it was feeling like I was stuck in an ever revolving door of circumstances presenting themselves over and over again just with different faces on them. Maybe it was being too close to grudges I’ve held a large portion of my life. Whatever the reason, getting away from my past and starting over one last time was enough to ignite a flame inside of me that won’t easily be distinguished!

Finally, I learned that God is the author of our stories and whatever plans we think we have for our lives are no match for the plan God has already set aside for us. Just when we start to feel absolutely hopeless, he shows up and makes good out of it. He gives us hope!