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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What Freedom Really Looks Like

Following a weekend of celebrating the brave Veterans of our country, it only seems fitting to really reflect on the idea of FREEDOM.

I had a question to ask myself this morning and it was this: If we live in a FREE country and we serve a FREE God, why do we feel so UN-free? Imprisoned, hopeless, inferior, guilty, shameful, suffocated, and overwhelmed were some common themes that seemed to come to mind when I think of a lot of Americans these days.

After talking with God on my morning walk, he left me with this……Every negative feeling we feel can be traced back to one of our needs not being met.

I narrowed it down to 5 needs we must have met to be as successful as we can be here on Earth:

  • Survival (water, food, shelter etc)
  • Faith (something greater than us, quiet time)
  • Love/Relationships (significant other, family, friends)
  • Self Esteem (confidence, self worth)
  • Personality (interests, hobbies, fun)

God also clearly defined for me 3 ways in which we react when our needs are not met or are met poorly.

  • Emotional Reaction (anger, sadness, jealousy, greed, selfishness etc)
  • Put up a wall/Shut Down
  • Find a vice/Numbness

Thank you Lord for this clarity! If I can sit down at the table with God (as people do when they cherish a relationship) and just have coffee with him and bring him my hurts, I believe I can put it in one of the 5 categories of unmet needs and hopefully identify how I am trying to meet it with the 3 reactions. So you may think, although this list is interesting, what do I do once I’ve figured all of this out? How do I fix it? How do I get closer to feeling FREE?!

Through my own recent experiences, and a few little whispers from God, I’m thinking some answers may lie in the fruits of the spirit! Hang in there for a second while I try to make this connection for you. If we root ourselves in the holy spirit- we will bear the fruits of the spirit which include:

  • love
  • joy
  • peace
  • patience
  • kindness
  • goodness
  • faithfulness
  • gentleness and
  • self control (Galatians 5:22-23).

I have had times through my suffering, though, where I don’t know how to “root myself in the holy spirit,” know how to hear from God or wonder why he’s not answering. I’m learning that when I’m in that moment, if I turn to one of these fruits and try to apply them to the situation……that I start to receive answers! And blessings on top of that!

If I choose to treat other people (especially those who have hurt me) with love, patience, kindness, self control……(insert any of the above)…..I start to see it cycle back around to me and I start to hear God’s whispers again! I feel like sometimes I just need some concrete steps I can take to give myself a little bit of relief instead of always relying on this huge overwhelming idea that there is a God up there listening and then trying to figure out how to hear him, when my physical eyes and ears try to test me. Am I right? This is me, being totally raw with you guys. I can’t pretend like it’s 100% easy to be a Christian all the time. Our flesh and just the nature of being human, sure do love to test us and make us ask questions! I believe God wants us to experience FREEDOM in such a way that we can be open and transparent with our friends and love God and grow in him together! I pray you are able to feel some relief and experience true FREEDOM through some of these strategies I’ve been trying lately!

How I lost 12 pounds in 5 weeks without products or diets

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Disclaimer: this is not a product advertisement or way to get you to buy into a scam in order to lose weight and then still be unhappy when you finally do.

The picture is only a way for you to truly believe the very cliche things I’m about to tell you. I don’t do extreme exercise. I don’t starve myself or even really limit myself. I don’t take any supplements, energy boosters, protein shakes or diet pills. These are my results after 5 weeks. What do I do then, you ask?

  1. I rest when I’m tired (instead of taking energy supplements). I try to get to bed by 10:00.
  2. I wake up at 5:30am and go for a WALK (not even a jog) and enjoy the fresh air, quiet time and, sometimes, company of a friend.
  3. I eat every 2-3 hours. Mostly simple foods (sweet potatoes, almond milk, fish, chicken, cottage cheese, eggs- yes the whole egg, organic jam, local honey, chia seeds, almonds, dark chocolate chips, beans, carrots, celery, Ezekiel toast…..to name a few healthy options). Notice how salad wasn’t listed? Not that I don’t eat it, but it’s not my entire or even half of my “diet.” And guess what!? I cheat 2-3 days a week! I just don’t go overboard. I have Reese’s ice cream and apple pie and real, fatty, made from scratch gravy and cookies etc. I don’t cheat for the whole day. And if I do, I don’t feel guilty or over exercise because of it.
  4. I carve out quiet time for myself, to read, journal, color….whatever suits my mood that day.
  5. I try to do 1 thing a week that will help simplify our lives (clean out a closet, organize the filing cabinet, clean the yard….whatever it is.) The rest of the house is a mess?? So be it. I have young kids and that’s a given during this season.
  6. I’ve learned to forgive people I’ve held a grudge against my whole life. This is a HUGE one! As I’ve been known to eat my feelings.
  7. I budget. Or try my best. Dave Ramsey is a Christian based budgeting plan. Love it.

These are all things God has given us to cope, but we’ve sadly been trained to turn to the world for answers instead. Dieting, over exercising, negative self talk, sex addictions, overspending, drinking, smoking, keeping up with the Jones’. Whatever it is we do. And I say WE, because I still get very tempted to go back to these things sometimes!

Just turning to a more simple life has shown me more results in more areas of my life than ANY other thing I have ever tried!

I hope these things for you. I hope for contentment. ❤️