Being a Believer During Times of Uncertainty

You haven’t heard from me in over a week and considering the excitement I had over the “25 Days of December” series (I promise I will get those last two posts out!!!), this is kind of weird, right? Right. It is. That’s because I haven’t been myself the last week and a half or so. And to be honest, I haven’t been myself…for the past 15 years.

I confide in my parents, sister and some close friends, but really I don’t share much about it because I feel kind of crazy. I feel like a hypochondriac. It’s my health (or lack of sometimes) and I have no idea what causes it and have yet to find a doctor who knows either. This time I won’t stop at “I Don’t Know.” I am on a mission to find answers.

Because this is a faith based blog and my number 1 goal is to always be transparent with my readers, I want to share with you that I am struggling. I am struggling to find a balance or an answer.

Are you lost yet?

Starting in 6th grade with SEVERE constipation (sorry for the TMI) and growing into more symptoms and -more often- ever since then….. I have had my fair share of ER visits, doctors appointments, tests and uncertainty.

In 2007 I experienced my first big episode since 6th grade. I was dizzy, would fall asleep driving (we are talking about driving just across town), had chest pain, heart palpitations and shakiness. The doctors did tests but found nothing. I was healthy and normal.

Again, in 2010, I experienced a few months where I was super dizzy almost passing out, having hot flashes, chest pain and heart palpitations again. The doctors ran even more tests and did find some irregular heartbeats and put me on some medicine…..that made it worse. To the point they couldn’t find my pulse in the ER. After that visit with my doctor where his face turned ghost white because he admitted he gave me too high of a dose – I stopped all efforts to see a doctor and GAVE UP.

In 2014 after our honeymoon, I found myself in the ER because I literally could not walk. Severe constipation again.

With each pregnancy my symptoms would reappear and get worse. It was very hard to work or even get ready in the morning due to the dizziness. I would go into the doc or ER and they would give me fluids and send me on my way.

In 2015 I was pregnant with our son and had the “normal” me symptoms of dizziness and hot flashes, added some spider veins and severe itchiness but I was pretty used to it and tried my best to make it through.

Towards the last few months of pregnancy I just felt like something wasn’t right. I sat in the OB office and bawled, telling her how I really didn’t feel good and requested she recheck my due date or do an ultrasound or something! She said she would not change my due date and refused me an ultrasound. Let me just add in that she had pushed it 2 weeks out from the original one which meant 2 more weeks of this horrific pain! I even went to the ER feeling like maybe I was in labor or something and requested an ultrasound. They refused me one there too. I got desperate enough that I called my previous OB who was no longer delivering and asked for his advice. After a long chat on the phone, he so selflessly offered to assist in the c-section. Boy did he save my life!

Come the day of my scheduled c section……we found out in the middle of surgery that I had a hole in my uterus big enough to deliver our son out of without an incision!!! Right then and there, I promised myself that I would no longer ignore my gut feelings and I would demand answers when I didn’t feel right! It’s a miracle our son and I made it out not only alive, but with NO complications. Praise God!

Following this experience I fell into post partum depression. For a few months- but it felt like YEARS! Terrible. I lost all interest in life and my family. I also had spinal headaches and had to get a blood patch that was very painful and pretty much locked up my back for a few days. I couldn’t move. I also had my tubes tied, when they found that my uterus was attached to the lining of my abdomen with scar tissue making for a longer surgery. But we made it out ok and I was ok with that!

I had also started back to work and noticed my vision wasn’t the 20/20 I had always had. Signs were starting to get blurry. I went in and got a prescription and some new glasses, only after a week of trying to get used to them they just weren’t working. I went back in to try and correct the prescription with no luck. I returned the glasses and have just dealt with the blurriness when it shows up. It is not all the time. I also had an episode at work where all of a sudden I just couldn’t handle it. I sat and cried and felt shaky and disoriented and dizzy and was sent home.

After recovering from that whole ordeal, life was great! I felt like myself again! In fact, feeling very optimistic about the future! In between “episodes” I always feel great. I feel like I can take on the world!

Then about 5 months later, I was taking a marketing class at the local college and started to get a headache. No biggie. Ok, that’s a lie. The headache got so bad. I started to get super shaky and disoriented. I tried to drive the 30 mins home but made it 5 mins, stopped on the side of the highway and called my husband. I had no idea what was going on! A whole list of symptoms I won’t bore you with sent me to the ER where they pretty much just blew me off and prescribed me Dramamine for my dizziness. I am calling this episode a panic attack for lack of any other information from doctors on what it could have been. I felt like I had a heart attack.

Now here we are – 4 months later and I am having new symptoms along with old ones and feeling so unlike myself I’m at a loss. I am getting clumsy, knocking things over and mis-aiming when I go to grab things. I have flushing in my face where I turn bright red and have a burning sensation. I feel like bugs are crawling on my scalp. I am freezing all day then having night sweats at night. I am dizzy pretty much 24/7 and having a hard time remembering what I’m doing. I have tingling in my back and severe itching in my right leg from the knee down. I have headaches often and fatigue. I am usually passed out on the couch by 8 pm.

I am waiting on insurance to go through any day now so I can start seeing a new doctor and get to the bottom of this. 15 years is too long to suffer and have zero answers. These “episodes” are getting more frequent and adding on more symptoms and all I really want is to be healthy so I can take care of my babies and husband and write this blog like my heart is hungry for!

Now maybe this is a mistake on my part, but I have been doing a little research. I confided in 2 friends – one who got diagnosed with Lyme disease recently and another who just got diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis last January. I have researched each of these diseases and many like them and started looking into my family tree. My grandfather on my dad’s side suffered from Spinal Atrophy, which doctors thought was MS due to lack of MRI’s back then and I have very few memories of him using a walker, most memories are of him in a wheelchair. From my research, what he had is genetic.

Because this is a faith based blog and my number 1 goal is to always be transparent with my readers, I want to share with you that I am struggling. I am struggling to find a balance or an answer. Do I continue to dig in, research and find answers? Or do I have faith, like I am always talking about in my posts? Do I trust that God will heal me and cease all efforts to find answers? Does God want me to find answers so that my story can be a testimony of faith and healing for others? I am honestly in a period of uncertainty and I would love your grace during this incredibly confusing time. I have a deep, deep passion for this blog and all of the studies and posts that are part of it. I want to continue to bring hope to others through the story telling of my experiences and the transparency through which they are told. Please pray for me and our journey together as believers.

MUAH!! Thank you all.

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25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 26

Let’s keep going! On to chapter 26!

If this is your first time reading in this series, please feel free to find the “25 Days of December” category in the sidebar and read through the study we’ve done here on the book of Matthew! Lots of good stuff in here. This chapter can hardly be properly summarized in bullet points for every line is full of love, sacrifice, and grace. This is the chapter that prepares us for the cross. There is no summarizing that! I just wanted to point out a few things that may be missed in all of the excitement.

Main points for this chapter:

  • Blessing Jesus will not always be popular
  • Some of the most dedicated followers will become traitors
  • Keep praying, even during the still moments
  • Don’t be pressured into denying your faith

 

  • Blessing Jesus will not always be popular

Matthew 26:6-13 (The Message): “When Jesus was at Bethany, a guest of Simon the Leper, a woman came up to him as he was eating dinner and anointed him with a bottle of very expensive perfume. When the disciples saw what was happening, they were furious. ‘That’s criminal! This could have been sold for a lot and the money handed out to the poor.’ When Jesus realized what was going on, he intervened. ‘Why are you giving this woman a hard time? She has just done something wonderfully significant for me. You will have the poor with you every day for the rest of your lives, but not me. When she poured this perfume on my body, what she really did was anoint me for burial, what she has just done is going to be remembered and admired.’

 

To the world, we WILL look crazy sometimes. What would you think  if instead of giving to the food pantry one month, a family decided to go out on a limb and offer to buy $300 worth of groceries for someone in their bible study who appears to be doing just fine? Would it raise questions? Is there a possibility it could offend the recipient? Maybe so, but you will never know until you try. That family who seems to be doing very well for themselves could have lost their job that day and no one even knew. If you hear a whisper from God, listen! No matter the risks. People WILL judge your actions. They WILL wonder why you choose to help the people you do. When you listen to the whispers, you are blessing God instead of the world. There will always be people who are less fortunate. There will also always be a gazillion other people on the planet who have the option to help, as well. This woman had one chance to anoint Jesus for burial. One chance. She was obedient and Jesus recognized her for it.

  • Some of the most dedicated followers will become traitors

Matthew 26:23 (The Message): “‘The one who hands me over is someone I eat with daily, one who passes me food at the table.'”

Did you grow up with a family who was dedicated to the church, never missing a Sunday or a church gathering? Do you follow a credible evangelist on the television who has helped guide you for years? Do you have someone you go to with every personal battle or question?

Please, don’t put them on a pedestal they don’t belong on. For we are ALL human and it only takes a kick to knock that pedestal right out from under them. They have flaws and they sin and Jesus says in this verse that the one who hands Him over is someone very close to him. Those who appear to be the most faithful Christians on the planet may very well be the first to crack under pressure. Make sure that you are always digging into the Word and finding answers through prayer, for those who guide you may not always be there.

  • Keep praying, even during the still moments

Matthew 26:41 (NIV): “‘Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.'”

Matthew 26:41 (The Message): “‘Stay alert; be in prayer so you don’t wander into temptation without even knowing you’re in danger…..'”

Even in the moments of waiting or the times where life is going pretty good for us, we must always remain in prayer. This world is harsh and we are human. It takes only one single action or word to drag us into temptation. Prayer is our lifeline, always feeding us the truth. Don’t wait until you have given into the world and are sinking in quicksand to call out to our Father.

  • Don’t be pressured into denying your faith

Matthew 26:74-75 (The Message): “Then he got really nervous and swore. ‘I don’t know the man!’ Just then a rooster crowed. Peter remembered what Jesus has said: ‘Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.’ He went out and cried and cried and cried.”

By nature, we tend to follow the crowd and do what makes us fit in. These are natural instincts. We tend to go into survival mode, for if you fit in with the crowd you can travel with them and share food/shelter with them (in a survival situation). That is what the world tells us.

God has promised that he will provide for us and we do not need to turn to the world for acceptance. We must never deny our faith under pressure in order to “fit in.” He will see our loyalty and reward it.

 

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 25

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

Let’s dive in!

Main points for this chapter:

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

 

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

Matthew 25:1-12 (NKJV)

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

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

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

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

  • It’s criminal to live too cautiously

Matthew 25:14-30 (NIV)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Does that make sense?

  • The needy are more than just people

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

I was hungry and you fed me,

I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,

I was shivering and you gave me clothes,

I was sick and you stopped to visit,

I was in prison and you came to me.

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

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

 

 

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 24

I’m here! Didn’t fall off the face of the planet lol I have a good report though! In an effort to jump start my New Years Resolution of “balance” I have put more focus on my homemaking and this week has been fabulous because of it! So much relief, having the budget done, meal planning done, laundry caught up every single day, no waking up to dishes and the kids and hubby seem to be enjoying the results too. SO….I’m sorry about missing a few studies. I am still really enjoying them! I hope you are too. 🙂 So in terms of soul food, let’s EAT!

Main points for today are:

  • Don’t praise material things, for they will not last forever
  • Stay focused, do not fear and do not be deceived  
  • The message will reach the entire world
  • The metaphor of the Vulture
  • Be prepared

 

  • Don’t praise material things, for they will not last forever

Matthew 24:2 (NIV): “‘Do you see all these things?’ he asked. ‘Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.'”

We have been told not to put our focus on material things but when we read it like this….we can see. Nothing we currently have will exist forever (aside from our soul). If you ever watch end of the world movies, it’s easy to visualize what this may look like. If you haven’t seen movies such as these, it looks a little bit like this: ghost towns, people traveling to look for food and supplies, families separated, and people changing from what we knew them as before.

If you know me personally, you probably think of me as a pretty optimistic person. I believe I am most times. So reading a chapter like this leaves me sitting here staring at my bible with my eyes wide open wondering how in the world I will get through something like this. Thing is….it’s part of the bible I believe in and if I truly believe it, I can’t go changing the parts I don’t like! This brings me to the next point.

  • Stay focused, do not fear and do not be deceived  

Matthew 24:4-13 (The Message): “Jesus said, ‘Watch out for doomsday deceivers. Many leaders are going to show up with forged identities, claiming, ‘I am Christ, The Messiah.’ They will deceive a lot of people. When reports come in of wars and rumored wars, keep your head and don’t panic. This is routine history; this is no sign of the end. Nation will fight nation and ruler fight ruler, over and over. Famines and earthquakes will occur in various places. This is nothing compared to what is coming. They are going to throw you to the wolves and kill you, everyone hating you because you carry my name. And then, going from bad to worse, it will be dog-eat-dog, everyone at each other’s throat, everyone hating each other. In the confusion, lying preachers will come forward and deceive a lot of people. For may others, the overwhelming spread of evil will do them in – nothing left of their love but a mound of ashes. Staying with it – that’s what God requires. Stay with it to the end. You won’t be sorry, and you’ll be saved. ‘”

*Eyes wide open in amazement* again…. This all seems so harsh as we read it, but look around. Is it really much different than what we already see happening all over the world right now? Most of us are very fortunate to not have to be experiencing any of these things, so maybe we don’t see it. We are truly surrounded by it. War, suicides, bombings, shootings, terrorist attacks, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc. How are these different than what scripture describes? We already hate each other for political views, sexual preferences, race, religious backgrounds or whatever else may make us different. We are at each other’s throats all the time, even with those closest to us.

We have to stay focused. We have to stay in the Word. We have to apply the Word. We have to keep our faith in the fact that Jesus said, if we stick it out til the end he will save us. We have to cling to His promises. We can’t be deceived or led astray by any of the enemy’s sneaky ways. Thing is…..if we aren’t studying the Word, we WON’T KNOW when we are being deceived.

  • The message will reach the entire world

Matthew 24:14 (The Message): “‘All during this time, the good news – the Message of the kingdom – will be preached all over the world, a witness staked out in every country. And then the end will come.'”

Well that makes me feel better. My husband and I were just having a conversation the other night about people getting saved and if everyone on the planet will have a chance to be saved. My husband has a good heart and he said to me, “I just have a hard time believing that people of different religions, children, people who are living in secluded areas of the world…..that they would go to hell. What if they didn’t get a chance to hear about Jesus and make their choice?” When he asked me that, I teared up. Then I had a sudden feeling of almost guilt…or a mission I needed to start right that second. Slip my boots on over my pajamas, because I needed to go out and reach people so this didn’t happen! But then we continued to talk and study and now coming across this verse, we can rest knowing that everyone will hear the Word. HOWEVER, that doesn’t give us a free pass to sit back, say we are saved and leave everyone else to fend for themselves. We DO have a mission! Each of ours may look a little different, but they all have the same common goal! To reach the world with the good news!

  • The metaphor of the Vulture

Matthew 24:26-28 (The Message): “‘So if they say, ‘Run to the country and see him arrive!’ or, ‘Quick, get downtown, see him come!’ don’t give them the time of day. The Arrival of the Son of Man isn’t something you go to see. He comes like swift lightning to you! Whenever you see crowds gathering, think of carrion vultures circling, moving in, hovering over a rotting carcass. You can be quite sure that it’s not the living Son of Man pulling in those crowds.'”

The way this translation describes this metaphor helped me to really understand! A vulture circles a rotting carcass and feasts on it the same way the crowds will circle around the deceivers and feast on their lies. WOW! So the old idea of not following the crowd, really holds true here. Follow what you know to be true, not what others tell you is true.

  • Be prepared

Matthew 24:39-51 warns us to be prepared for the Son’s Return and to always do what we know to be right, for we never know when the time will come. He may catch us in the middle of serving ourselves or the world instead of serving the kingdom.

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).

 

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 17

Hello lovelies! I had a weird couple of days there. I continued to read the chapters assigned to each particular day, but God was talking to me about some other things. I apologize to any of you who were looking forward to these studies!

Let’s get caught up today!

Main points for this chapter:

  • Do not be afraid of the miraculous ways God will manifest Himself and His plan
  • Look past the way YOU think things should be
  • Having a mustard seed of faith will move mountains
  • We must be examples and participate in society fairly

 

  • Do not be afraid of the miraculous ways God will manifest Himself and His plan

In Matthew 17:1-13 we are told about a visitation made by God, Moses and Elijah. Fear is specifically addressed in Matthew 17:6-8

Matthew 17:6-8 (The Message): “When the disciples heard it, they fell flat on their faces, scared to death. But Jesus came over and touched them. ‘Don’t be afraid.’ When they opened their eyes and looked around all they saw was Jesus, only Jesus.”

It’s obvious to me that Jesus does not want us to fear the miraculous things God will reveal to us but I questioned another piece of these verses. After the disciples were fearful, it appears that the vision disappears. Was that a coincidence? Or did it disappear as a result of their fear? Is the one thing that remains constant, even through fear, Jesus? I’d love your thoughts on this. We all know that as humans, we will experience fear at times. I’m thinking we can turn to this scripture with comfort, knowing that Jesus is with us and tells us not to fear. Another thing is, God is pretty amazing! The simple sound of his voice dropped these disciples to their knees! Let us not forget who we serve! If his voice is that powerful, what is stopping us from believing he can accomplish ANYTHING and everything in our lives? Faith. Faith overcomes fear.

  • Look past the way YOU think things should be

Matthew 17:10-13 (The Message): “The disciples, meanwhile, were asking questions. ‘Why do the religion scholars say that Elijah has to come first?’ Jesus answered, ‘Elijah does come and get everything ready. I’m telling you, Elijah has already come but they didn’t know him when they saw him. They treated him like dirt, the same way they are about to treat the Son of Man.’ That’s when the disciples realized that all along he had been talking about John the Baptizer.”

I think, the disciples had their own thoughts about what Elijah would be like. Maybe they took the prophecy too literally? Maybe they didn’t see what was right in front of them. If we apply this to our daily lives we will see that we may miss what is right in front of us due to our own expectations and ideas of what it should be like. We may be disregarding a huge blessing meant just for us because it doesn’t look like the blessing we were expecting.

What if our mom told us we would be getting “a puppy” tomorrow? When we walk outside the next day and see a kitten on the porch we get upset wondering where the puppy is! It’s right in front of us. In our heads we are expecting a baby dog. What if mom was bringing us a kitten named “a puppy?” It may not make sense, but it doesn’t have to. God has plans for us that are far beyond our imaginations. He has seen the days ahead of us and we should trust his plan.

  • Having a mustard seed of faith will move mountains

Matthew 17:20-21 (NIV): “He replied, ‘Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.'”

We don’t have to go around rearranging the Earth to display our faith. Think of the metaphorical mountains in your life. Think about how our parents and teachers told us we could be anything we wanted when we grew up. The difference between those who became it and the ones who didn’t, was their faith in themselves and God. We really do have astronauts, scientists, teachers, nurses and artists. We weren’t dreaming up things that weren’t achievable. But to some those dreams still remain a dream. I love the quote, “Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.” I haven’t been able to find who originally said it, but I refer back to it regularly!

  • We must be examples and participate in society fairly

Matthew 17:24-26 (NIV): “After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax came to Peter and asked, ‘Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?’ ‘Yes, he does,’ he replied. When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. ‘What do you think , Simon?’ he asked. ‘From whom do the Kings of the earth collect duty and taxes-from their own children or from others?’ ‘From others,’ Peter answered. ‘Then the children are exempt.’ Jesus said to him. ‘But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch, open its mouth and you will find a four drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.'”

This is my interpretation. I see that Jesus points out that the children of the Kings are exempt from paying taxes and that is not fair. Instead of challenging the way things are, fair or not, Jesus says go ahead and pay the tax. After all, who would we be to exempt ourselves from the law? We would be no better than those who were currently twisting the rules. If we want people to see our Father for who he is, we want to act like Jesus and show non believers how honest He is. Our example will speak louder than any sermon ever could.

The second thing I notice here is that Jesus provided the funds as long as Peter was obeying the law. I believe that God will provide for us. We don’t need to spend our time stressing over where we will get the money to pay. We have more time sensitive matters to tend to! Like spreading the truth!

 

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 16

We are studying the book of Matthew, chapters 4-28 and we are on chapter 16. How are you all feeling? I feel like I have gained some major insight from reading through these stories. If I am being 100% transparent with you then I will tell you that until the start of this series, I may have opened my bible a total of 10 times with the intention of studying on my own. I never did have this huge interest in reading the bible. If I ever did open it, it was in church or I was led to it from a book study I was doing. My least favorite subject in school was history and I always thought that’s what the bible was…..a huge book of history lessons. I see differently now! Every single chapter we have gone over has had some very valuable hidden treasures buried within it, and I actually find it quite fascinating trying to apply these parables, metaphors and lessons to my own life and sharing it with others!

Let’s dig into chapter 16 and see what the word has for us today. 🙂

Main points:

  • Proof that Jesus is Lord, is in the “sign of Jonah”
  • Watch for the “yeast” of the Pharisees and Sadducees
  • Peter declares Jesus is the Messiah and is blessed
  • Jesus is in the driver’s seat, not us

 

  • Proof that Jesus is Lord, is in the “sign of Jonah”

Matthew 16:4 (NIV): “A wicked and adulterous generation lookds for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.’ Jesus then left them and went away.”

Wondering what the “sign of Jonah” is?

This link describes it well:

Question: “What is the sign of Jonah?”


Answer: The phrase “sign of Jonah” was used by Jesus as a typological metaphor for His future crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. Jesus answered with this expression when asked by the Pharisees for miraculous proof the He was indeed the Messiah. The Pharisees remained unconvinced of Jesus’ claims about Himself, despite His having just cured a demon-possessed man who was both blind and mute. Shortly after the Pharisees accused Jesus of driving out demons by the power of Satan, they said to Him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here” (Matthew 12:38–41).

We are human and because of that we will naturally have questions. Even growing up as a Christian my whole life, I would be lying if said I hadn’t questioned some part of my beliefs or considered be open to other people’s thinking. You could probably blame this on the rebellious tendencies I have on occasion! ha! Somehow, in all of my questioning though, I am brought back by scripture or by the things I have experienced. The verses above, mentioning the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus (and his prediction of it!) are proof enough for me! Don’t feel bad for having questions, this just means you are a deep thinker and won’t accept ideas simply because you are told to. You can, however, rest on the fact that you have scripture and the holy spirit to back up any questions you may have!

  • Watch for the “yeast” of the Pharisees and Sadducees

Matthew 16:5-7 (NIV): “When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. ‘Be careful,’ Jesus said to them. ‘Be on guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’ They discussed this among themselves and said, ‘It is because we didn’t bring any bread.'”

When the disciples had no physical bread for their journey, they assumed Jesus was warning them against the physical yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

You know I think Jesus and I would have been buds. He gets me! I am always thinking in metaphors and feel like people don’t understand me lol But Jesus was all the time talking in metaphors!!

In Matthew 16:8-12 (NIV) Jesus goes on to explain: “Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, ‘You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’ Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

Remember from the previous post in chapter 14, when we talked about the bread representing teachings/service? I believe the yeast to be the intentions behind the teachings, just as the yeast is the necessary ingredient needed to make bread. The quality of the yeast, will show in the quality of the bread.

  • Peter declares Jesus is the Messiah and is blessed

Matthew 16:16-19 (NIV): “Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.'”

  • Jesus is in the driver’s seat, not us

Matthew 16:24-27 (NIV): “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.'”

This totally reminds me of children thinking they know more than parents. Most of the time kids don’t appreciate the lessons parents instilled in them until they are well into adulthood themselves. It’s just hard to see the situation for what it is, until it’s over and we see God’s perfect plan unfold.

Jesus wants us to have his plan in mind before our own, always thinking WWJD (to be extremely corny) before we react to anything this life brings us. So, let’s be selfless. Isn’t that one of the greatest messages behind life in general? The greatest goal we could ever have is to love like Jesus loves, putting others before ourselves and experiencing the freedom, connections and closeness in our relationships because of it! The grudges we are holding…..we may think it is making us feel better because we had the last word or we may think we have “the right” to feel the way we do but in reality, forgiving someone and showing grace towards the situation will change it faster than holding a grudge ever will. Showing grace doesn’t always mean we allow others to walk all over us; showing grace can mean setting boundaries, walking away and letting the other person know that it’s all good. That God must have had a different plan, and we are totally content with going down a different path without holding on to any anger associated with the end of this one. Amen, to that. (Sigh of relief)