When God Doesn’t Meet Our Needs

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

Why does God allow suffering?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Need #1 ✅

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

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

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

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

Need # 2&3 ✅

But he goes on!

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

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

Need #4 ✅

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

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

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

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

Need #5 ✅

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

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

Love, mercy, grace, kindness.

Needs # 6, 7, 8, & 9 ✅

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Need #10 ✅

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

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

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

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

Needs #11, 12 & 13 ✅

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Transparency: seeing through shame

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 21

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

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

Main points:

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

 

  • Give what you have when giving praise

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

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

  • The temple: a sacred place

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

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

  • The believer who has leaves but no fruit will wither

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

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

  • There is a difference between what you say and do

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

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

  • The workers who attack others will be punished

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

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

 

 

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 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.

 

 

 

 

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 12

Hi guys! Second study post for today! I’ve sat down with my hot tea, box of Kleenex and my bible and I WILL get these two chapters posted for you! I have been fighting this terrible cold/sinus infection, but I recruited my husband to watch the kids while I rested this morning and I’m finally feeling well enough to open my eyes!

If this is your first time reading, we are on post #9 in the series I like to call “25 Days of December” where we are studying the book of Matthew in an attempt to access some “soul food” during this season of busyness and distraction.

I want to remind you that I will be referencing The Message and NIV translations with occasional mentions of biblehub.com. If you do not have a bible handy, you can click here to link straight to Matthew chapter 12 on biblehub.com. In other news, I was recently asked what bible I use. If you would like to view the two bibles I use, you can visit Amazon through these links: link 1 and link 2 and purchase your own! (Note: link 2 is to a bible that is SIMILAR to The Message translation that I use. The exact one I have, is not available on Amazon but the one linked is a women’s version I’m sure you will love! If you are looking to gift one, there are many other versions available including men’s (NIV), youth (The Message) and children versions!)

Now that we have our reading material, let’s get started!

Main points for this chapter will be:

  • Heart over Religion
  • Qualities of a handpicked servant
  • A good person’s heart will produce good fruit
  • The power behind words
  • The danger in leaving a person “vacant”
  • Obedience is thicker than blood

 

  • Heart over Religion

Matthew 12:6-8 (The Message): “‘There is far more at stake here than religion. If you had any idea what this scripture meant- ‘I prefer a flexible heart to an inflexible ritual’ – you wouldn’t be nitpicking like this. The Son of Man is no lackey to the Sabbath; he’s in charge.

Our Father prefers we have a good heart behind our actions vs. following any sort of rules or religion.

  • Qualities of a handpicked servant

Matthew 12:18-21 (The Message): Look well at my handpicked servant; I him so much, take such delight in him. I’ve placed my Spirit on him; he’ll decree justice to the nations. But he won’t yell, won’t raise his voice; there’ll be no commotion in the streets. He won’t walk over anyone’s feelings, won’t push you into a corner. Before you know it, his justice will triumph; the mere sound of his nae will signal hope, even among -off unbelievers.

A true servant with God’s best interest in mind will not go through the streets announcing himself. He will never walk over anyone’s feelings or bank account to make a point and would never bully you into a position of “following their rules.”

  • A good person’s heart will produce good fruit

Matthew 12: 34-35 (The Message): “‘It’s you heart, not the dictionary, that gives meaning to your words. A good person produces good deeds and words season after season.'”

Matthew 12:34-35 (NIV): “‘You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.'”

A person’s true intentions will be made evident through the fruit they produce. Although, it may not be obvious right away, their intentions WILL become obvious with time!

  • The power behind words

Matthew 12:37 (The Message): “‘Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation. Words can also be your damnation.'”

It is pretty clear in this verse: your words have POWER! Be careful how you use them!

  • The danger in leaving a person “vacant”

Matthew 12:43-45: “‘When a defiling evil spirit is expelled from someone, it drifts along through the desert looking for an oasis, some unsuspecting soul it can bedevil. When it doesn’t find anyone, it says, ‘I’ll go back to my old haunt.’ On return it finds the person spotlessly clean, but vacant. It then runs out and rounds up seven other spirits more evil than itself and they all move in, whooping it up. That person ends up far worse off than if he’d never gotten cleaned up in the first place. That’s what this generation is like: You may think you have cleaned out the junk from your lives and gotten ready for God, but you weren’t hospitable to my kingdom message, and now all the devils are moving back in.‘”

This specifically speaks to people who have come clean before the Lord but then do not pour back into it, the word and promises of God. I feel like this is our obligation, as believers. We are not only called to go out, find the lost and show them to God; but to continue to pour love and support into them. If we are not available to do this, it is our job to make sure we point them in the direction of somewhere they can find their “soul food!”

  • Obedience is thicker than blood

Matthew 12:46-50 (The Message):  “While he was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers showed up. They were outside trying to get a message to him. Someone told Jesus, ‘Your mother and brothers are out here, wanting to speak with you.’ Jesus didn’t respond directly, but said, ‘Who do you think my mother and brothers are?’ He then stretched out his hand toward his disciples. ‘Look closely. These are my mother and brothers. Obedience is thicker than blood. The person who obeys my heavenly Father’s will is my brother and sister and mother.’

To me, this means that the people we are reaching out to are just as important as our own family. We should view others as our brothers and sisters in Christ!

 

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 10

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

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

The main points we will touch on today:

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

 

  • Help the lost in your own neighborhood

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

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

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

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

  • Don’t allow yourself to be bullied into silence

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

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

  • Start small

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

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

*Hope to see you back tomorrow for Chapter 11!