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.

 

 

 

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25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 22

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

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

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

Main points:

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

 

 

  • All are invited, few are chosen

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

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

  • Giving back

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

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

  • God of the living, not dead

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

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

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

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

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

 

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 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).

 

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 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!

 

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.