The “Definition” of Parenting

What does being a parent really mean? Why is being a parent so hard?

We’ve heard it a million times. Our children are not born with an instruction manual. Only they are. The bible. If you don’t consider yourself a Christian, hang in here with me. I will mostly be referencing the dictionary believe it or not. Common definitions of words you use everyday.Ready, this is going to be a doozy (definition: something outstanding or unique of it’s kind).

Definitions to be included are:

  • Discipline
  • Disciple
  • Guide
  • Practice
  • Training
  • Punishment

I’ll start with discipline. Discipline is one of the many hats a parent wears daily. One of those things we don’t really know how to do, but we are constantly doing. There are Facebook arguments, news stories, articles and many coffee chats about how to discipline your child and how -so and so- isn’t doing it right. Right?

dis·ci·pline
noun
1.
the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience

So, how do we “train” or “correct” our kids? What “rules” do they need to follow? What is the correct form of “punishment?”

I can’t directly answer that for you. I can’t tell you if your child is allowed to have a Snickers bar for breakfast or if they are allowed to sit on the counter and eat in the living room. We get SO frustrated because we don’t know how to pick the “rules” that will mold a child into a responsible, productive member of society. Then when we finally feel good about our rules, we struggle with how to stay consistent with them! That’s way too much to put on a human who makes mistakes! Are you guys with me? *stress*

Let’s look at a word that is hidden, but not very well…..in the word DISCPILine. Yes I typed it funky like that on purpose. DISCIPLE is in the word DISCIPLINE! Wowza! The things we miss…..

dis·ci·ple
noun
a personal follower of Jesus during his life, especially one of the twelve Apostles.

a follower or student of a teacher, leader, or philosopher.

We all think of  Jesus’ 12 disciples.

What did they do?

They followed Jesus, they made mistakes, they lacked faith and they even denied Jesus. Sound a little bit like us? Sound a little bit like our children?

As parents we are to be disciples and we are to guide our mini disciples. We are constantly learning from Jesus through our mistakes and our children are constantly learning from us through their mistakes (and ours, unfortunately). But our ultimate goal everyday should be to follow Jesus first and apply his lessons to our parenting. We should be raising these children to have minds of their own, not to follow rules even if they don’t understand them. One day they may not have us as a physical guide but they will remember the lessons we taught them. If they only remember one lesson, I hope it is that God is our guide and he sent Jesus to not only forgive our sins but to guide us in our daily living. He physically walked this Earth and he was a daily representation of how we should act and react.

guide
noun
1.
a person who advises or shows the way to others.
“this lady is going to act as our guide for the rest of the tour”
synonyms: escort, attendant, tour guide, docent, cicerone;

Notice that a guide is someone who advises or shows the way (leaving the student open to CHOOSE), not forces the way. Just saying.

Side Note: If we ever question what the right thing is…..we can look in the Word and find our answer. Always.

If you have never opened the bible (or even if you have but got overwhelmed), I encourage you to start with the 10 commandments:

ten-commandments-kids-wall-quote-4

         http://www.enchantingquotes.com/tencoki1.html

Now- how should our kids be “punished” if they do not obey?

Punishment
1
: the act of punishing
2
a : suffering, pain, or loss that serves as retribution
b : a penalty inflicted on an offender through judicial procedure
3
: severe, rough, or disastrous treatment

THIS IS WHERE IT GETS STICKY. This is where moms stop becoming friends because they don’t agree on how to punish their children. This is where news stories start because a mom did or didn’t punish their children correctly. Oh boy.

Ok, this is just from personal opinion. Take it or leave it. But I find that this world can be punishment enough sometimes. (I am NOT saying never punish your children!!) We live in a harsh world and it has a way of reminding us of that often.

This is my take on it. I consider a home to be a safe landing. I believe it should be a place to come to when we are feeling emotion of any kind. If we are sad, we can come home. If we are happy, we can come home. If we are feeling lost, we can come home. If we want our home to truly be this place for our children, we need to serve as their GUIDE instead of the DICTATOR. The world will punish them enough. If they steal, they will be punished in one way or another. If they commit adultery, this world will find a way to punish them. Have we all not experienced trials? Have a lot of them been a result of our misguided actions? If not, were we hurt by someone who was misguided? Did that person’s parent try their best to guide them according to the bible and commandments?

prac·tice

1.
the actual application or use of an idea, belief, or method as opposed to theories about such application or use.
“the principles and practice of teaching”
synonyms: application, exercise, use, operation, implementation, execution More
2.
repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintain proficiency in it.
“it must have taken a lot of practice to become so fluent”
synonyms: training, rehearsal, repetition, preparation; More
verb
1.
perform (an activity) or exercise (a skill) repeatedly or regularly in order to improve or maintain one’s proficiency

No matter which definition you look at they all carry the same message: the repeated application of an idea with the goal of improving or maintaining our proficiency. Parenting takes practice. Heck, being a human takes practice. It will til our last day. We need to make peace with that and accept the fact that we are always practicing at life and at parenting.

train·ing

the action of teaching a person or animal a particular skill or type of behavior.

synonyms: instruction, teaching, coaching, tuition, tutoring, guidance, schooling, education, orientation

I love that synonyms like coaching, tutoring and guidance are listed! I can’t recall many times that a math tutor showed up and started barking orders at the student! Tutors usually sit next to the student and guide them in figuring out math problems. This is often done in a library – quietly. It is much more effective to whisper a lesson than to yell it over and over again. Ever notice how kids don’t want to pay attention to you until you are sitting down quietly, ready to relax?! It is hard to avoid stress when dealing with children on a daily basis…..be kind to yourself as well. Remember the previous definition was PRACTICE! This takes practice.

That being said, sometimes we do have to “guide” our children with a little more force than we would like to.

Correction and Protection (link here)

A shepherd carries a rod and a staff, which he uses in different ways for different reasons. The rod is just a big, long stick with a little knob or bud at the top of it. A staff has more of a hook at the end of it.
The shepherd will practice endlessly so that he’ll be able to accurately chuck that rod at a predator or even at an unruly sheep to keep it in line. Sometimes an animal will wander off too far from the others. The staff is used to hook a wayward sheep and lead it back into the fold. At other times, it’s used as an examining tool to check the animals for parasites or other ailments.

The Holy Spirit sometimes has to use a rod of correction on us, doesn’t He? And it’s good to know that whenever we lose our way, He will use His staff to lovingly and gently guide us back onto the right path. -Joyce Meyer

 

 

 

 

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25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 22

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

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

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

Main points:

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

 

 

  • All are invited, few are chosen

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

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

  • Giving back

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

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

  • God of the living, not dead

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

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

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

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

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

 

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 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 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!

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 9

Hi guys! If this is your first time joining us: this is post #6 in a 25 part series I call “25 Days of December,” where we will be studying the book of Matthew in hopes of gaining access to “soul food” during this season of busyness and distraction! I’m so glad you’re here!

Yesterday we touched on the fact that the enemy DOES NOT like when he is exposed. The very fact that we are studying the word and exposing his lies makes him very uncomfortable. I have been struggling a bit with my posts and what people think or if they are even reaching anyone. I have to be confident that I’m feeling this because the enemy is mad that scripture is being spread to more and more people! So please pray with me that God continue to give me the confidence in my posts and his plan! Thank you!

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 9 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!)

We are all set with our reading material, our coffee and our quiet time so now, let’s get into the study for today!

Main points for today will be:

  • The company we keep
  • The risk of faith
  • Sheep with no shepherd

 

  • The company we keep

Matthew 9:10-13 (The Message) tells us: “Later when Jesus was eating supper at Matthew’s house with his close followers, a lot of disreputable characters came and joined them. When the Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company, they had a fit, and lit into Jesus’ followers. ‘What kind of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks and riffraff?’ Jesus, overhearing, shot back, ‘Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: ‘I’m after mercy, not religion.’ I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders.‘”

If our ultimate goal is to live like Jesus and spread the Word, then it is our mission to seek out the lost and hurting and give them the good news. What is it to others who sit back and judge us for taking someone (who may or may not be on drugs) to lunch? How can we let it effect us if they judge us for picking up the unpopular and taking them as our date to the social event of the year? Most of all, what church has the right to say that a prostitute is not allowed in their building? I will tell you this. When I am seeking out a new church for our family, I am much more attracted to the ones who invite the lost. I can’t handle churches that have a list of attendees that stays the same, week after week. The churches where you can feel eyeballs all over you if you aren’t dressed the way they expect you should be or who practically ask you to give them a resume before entering the door. It makes me sick. Who on Earth would ever come to serve a God who was not accepting of them right where they are: broken, lost and hungry for someone to love them?

  • The risk of faith

Matthew 9:22 (The Message): ” Jesus turned- caught her at it. The he reassured her: ‘Courage, daughter. You took a risk of faith, and now you’re well.’ The woman was well from then on.”

Faith comes with a risk, most times. Whether it’s the risk of believing in God where it is forbidden or the risk of believing God will do something that may seem impossible to those around us, Faith is risky. God will reward those who are willing to take the risk. I believe this is the same with those who are willing to DREAM. Dreaming is not so popular among the crowds. It just doesn’t seem REALISTIC. That’s because it’s not. According to google, realistic means, “representing familiar things in a way that is accurate or true to life.” The word that sticks out to me is FAMILIAR. Can we recall one time in history where something was invented due to the idea being FAMILIAR? No. It took someone believing in something that currently did not exist. Dream big, dear. You may be the next name in the history books!

  • Sheep with no shepherd

Matthew 9:36-38 (The Message): When he looked out over the crowds, his heart broke. So confused and aimless they were, like sheep with no shepherd. ‘What a huge harvest!’ he said to his disciples. ‘How few workers! On your knees and pray for harvest hands!’

God is seeking out believers who are willing to go beyond just believing and following, and LEAD the lost to their shepherd. This world is so full of lost and hurting people and we are called to love them. I know this idea may seem unrealistic to you. You may be thinking, “I don’t have a budget or the capability to go out to other countries and lead people to the Lord.” Honey, you don’t need to go anywhere. You are surrounded by broken people daily! Besides that, with technology as advanced as it is these days……you CAN reach the world, right from the laptop in your office. ❤ MUAH!

Can’t wait to see you back here tomorrow, ready to take on the world! 😉

 

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 8

Hello all! If this is your first time joining us: this is post #5 in a 25 part series I call “25 Days of December,” where we will be studying the book of Matthew in hopes of gaining access to “soul food” during this season of busyness and distraction! I’m so glad you’re here!

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 8 on biblehub.com. I have been 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 and youth versions!)

Now that we are prepared with reading material, let’s get started!

So far, we have learned some very practical tips we can apply to our everyday life. I am just going to say it: things are about to get real! Deep. Chapter 8 is not only about healing, but about true faith, our ultimate mission here on Earth and even a confrontations with the enemy.

The points we will be touching on today are:

  • “Your cleansed and grateful life, not your words, will bear witness to what I have done.” -Matthew 8:4 (The Message translation)
  • Having TRUE faith
  • “Your business is life, not death” -Section title heading (The Message)
  • The enemy gets very uncomfortable around those who speak the truth. Even the enemy knows Jesus will be returning!

 

  • “Your cleansed and grateful life, not your words, will bear witness to what I have done.” -Matthew 8:4 (The Message translation)

Matthew 8:1-4 (The Message) reads: “Jesus came down the mountain with the cheers of the crowd still ringing in his ears. Then a leper appeared and went to his knees before Jesus, praying, ‘Master, if you want to, you can heal my body.’ Jesus reached out and touched him, saying, ‘I want to. Be clean.’ Then and there, all signs of the leprosy were gone. Jesus said, ‘Don’t talk about this all over town. Just quietly present your healed body to the priest, along with the appropriate expressions of thanks to God. Your cleansed and grateful life, not your words, will bear witness to what I have done.’

I pondered these verses for a while before I finally got revelation. The best example I can use here is: If you suffer from alcoholism (for example) and the Lord heals you, don’t go around town boasting of your alcohol free life. Allow your sober living to speak for itself and give credit to God if someone notices.

  • Having TRUE faith

Two verses stuck out to me here.

Matthew 8:10 (The Message) says: Taken aback, Jesus said, ‘I’ve yet to come across this kind of simple trust in Israel, the very people who are supposed to know all about God and how he works.'”

Matthew 8:12 (The Message) makes this point again: “‘Then those who grew up ‘in faith’ but had no faith will find themselves out in the cold, outsiders to grace and wondering what happened.'”

People who claim to be “believers” and even more so, the people who have claimed to be “Christians” their whole lives but have no faith will find themselves out in the cold missing out on their blessings and wondering why God isn’t hearing them. We must reach down and find our true faith, not only in times when things are going our way, but most importantly when things ARE NOT going our way. We must trust in God’s timing. Who are we to accuse God of not hearing us? He hears us and we must believe that He has our best interest at heart. I find a lot of times, that if God doesn’t answer our prayers in the way we want Him to or WHEN we want Him to, we give up. We get mad. We doubt. We lose our way. Have a little faith in the creator of ALL things and the One who holds the blueprint to your entire life and beyond.

  • “Your business is life, not death” -Section title heading (The Message)

Matthew 8:20-22 (The Message): ” Jesus was curt: ‘Are you ready to rough it? We’re not staying in the best inns, you know.’ Another follower said, ‘Master, excuse me for a couple of days, please. I have my father’s funeral to take care of.’ Jesus refused. ‘First things first. Your business is life, not death. Follow me. Pursue life.'”

In this verse, they may be talking about the actual physical death of this follower’s father but I want to take this a step further and apply it to things we may experience daily. Let’s think about the “death” of friendships, jobs, houses, projects and seasons of our lives. We can not stay focused on the “death” of those things. Grieve and move on. (I promise I’m not heartless!!) We MUST focus on life and what God has planned for us. If we are too busy looking back, we may miss what is right in front of us. Please, don’t hangout in the yucky feelings of that loss. God has a PLAN for you and he is waiting for you to knock on the door and say, “Here I am Lord, and I’m ready to go through this with you, thick and thin.”

  • The enemy gets very uncomfortable around those who speak the truth. Even the enemy knows Jesus will be returning!

Matthew 8:29 (NIV) says: “‘What do you want with us, Son of God?’ They shouted. ‘Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?‘”

The enemy was hoping Jesus was going to leave them alone until the time of His return. Boy were their hopes about to be squashed!

Matthew 8:34 (NIV) says: “Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.”

The enemy wants NO part in being exposed or told to leave! Be prepared to face trials during a time where you are exposing the wrong things of this world. Can you recall a time where you told a friend they were being cheated on and you did not face condemnation or judgement from those involved?

You guys, you just dove into the deep end with me! I hope I didn’t lose you. Being a Christian is not for the faint of heart! Contrary to popular belief- being a christian does not mean you show up on Sunday with a smile plastered on your face and go around shaking hands all week. Christianity is about getting on your knees in your quiet time and crying and praying for those who are hurting, it’s about trying our best to apply scripture to our own life no matter HOW HARD that proves to be, it’s about sacrificing your date night to show up for a suicidal friend, and it’s about going through the trials and struggles of this world with FAITH that God is with us and has a wonderful plan for our life and a bundle of promises to fill our eternity! Amen. 🙂

Please join me tomorrow as we dive deeper into the book of Matthew, Chapter 9! Pray you all have an amazing rest of your Sunday and begin this next week with a newfound strength in your faith!

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 7

Hello and welcome to Day 4 of our 25 Days of December series, where we are diving into the book of Matthew with the goal of gaining access to some “soul food” during this season of busyness and distraction!

It’s Saturday and I know you have a list of other things you could be doing right now, even if sleep is at the top, so I will get started!

If this is your first time reading, I will be referencing The Message and NIV translations with occasional entries from biblehub.com. If you don’t have a bible, you can jump over to biblehub.com, which is a very user friendly way to look up scripture and provides MANY translations allowing for easy deciphering. If you click on the blue link, I have bookmarked Matthew Chapter 7 for you! 🙂

The main points I want to touch on today are:

  • Judging others
  • Ask for what you need
  • Entering the “narrow gate”
  • False prophets
  • Building a firm foundation

I LOVE this chapter. Each point speaks directly to me and gives me a practical guide to follow in my day to day.

  • Judging others

Matthew 7:1-2 (NIV) reads: Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

(Raises her hand) I am guilty as charged! This may be one of my biggest weaknesses guys. The thing that keeps replaying in my mind is that we will be judged to the same measure as we have judged others. So not only do we get judged if we judge others but the degree to which we judge is even taken into account! YIKES! Looking back, I find that I tend to judge people when they are a threat to me or I feel hurt by them. It’s a defense we use to justify our feelings. All we can do is try our best to not judge others and if we do (because we are human) we know where to go for forgiveness! There is freedom in forgiving others AND in forgiving yourself!

  • Ask for what you need

Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV) promises us: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knows, the door will be opened.”

Something that dawned on me as I read these verses: ABSOLUTELY, we must go to our Father and ask, seek and knock, but this also applies to our interactions with our family and friends! We have all heard men tease women about how they assume men know what they need and then give them the silent treatment when they don’t get it! (Raises her hand, again!) GUILTY. I am all the time doing this to my poor husband! If I look even further, I do this with my family and friends as well! It is hard to be open with people. Sit them down with some coffee and tell them what you need or set boundaries where there is too much give and not enough receive. I recently did this. It was very hard and emotionally straining, but you know what I gained from it? The time to write this blog and join in on a community full of Jesus loving women! What a reward!

  • Entering the “narrow gate”

Matthew 7:13-20 (The Message) describes the narrow gate: “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easy going formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life-to God!- is vigorous and requires total attention.

We know that hard work produces great rewards in our everyday life. Why would our faith be any different? It WILL be hard to go against the crowd, for it is harder work. The crowd tends to do what is easy. Remember to always listen to your inner gauge of character and morals and to always go to God if you are questioning what his will is. I struggle weekly, if not daily with the writing of this blog. It’s not necessarily popular to set aside social events or Facebook scrolling to write a month long bible study. It just isn’t. I know that you too, choose to do the right thing when it’s not popular and I am SO PROUD of you for doing that!!

  • False prophets

Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don’t be impressed with charisma; look for character. Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say. A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbooks. These diseased trees with their bad apples are going to be chopped down and burned.”

Also, choose your church, your bible studies, the leaders in any area of your life -carefully! Unfortunately, there are people out there who are VERY good at pretending and they will stop at nothing to get what they want. 😦

Matthew 7:15 (NIV) says: Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.”

  • Building a firm foundation

Matthew 7:24-27 (NIV) tells us: “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

I like to think of this in a way that’s easy for me to visualize. I love the foundation metaphor but I like to think of it like a tree. Every time I put scripture into action it’s like another root growing it’s way deeper into the ground. The more I do this and grow my roots, the stronger the tree (myself) will stand when a storm hits. In turn, if I read scripture but do not apply it, it is like watering a tree that you haven’t actually planted into the ground. You can water it all you want but if the roots have nowhere to grow, the tree will die.

Not only that, but if we are “practicing what we preach,” non-believers will be attracted to the love and light they see in us, and want to know where we got it! The Lord! 🙂

I hope and pray that these lessons are touching you and inspiring you to love on others the way reading scripture does for me. ❤ Thank you so much for joining in on this community and being a part of this study and the sharing of my personal stories. I can’t wait to see you here again tomorrow!

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