25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 23

Good Morning lovelies! I hope your day is off to a great start! If not, join the club haha. My day today is actually going well, but I have my share of bad days! When I get a chance, I take advantage of those days and use any spare time I may have to study, read a good book, look at inspirational quotes or get outside! These are all things that lift me up, I hope you have discovered things you can turn to as well!

Let’s get started on our study today! (Yes, Jeannie, I am behind by one chapter! Whoops! God sees my intentions right, lol) I can’t believe how much goodness is in the Word!

Main points for today are:

  • Don’t be a hypocrite!
  • Be humble
  • A promise is a promise
  • Look at the big picture
  • The outside is no representation of the inside
  • Stop blaming the generations before you

 

  • Don’t be a hypocrite!

Matthew 23:1-4 (The Message): “Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: ‘The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.'”

This hit me hard. The way this scripture compares being a hypocrite to putting a heavy load on someone else’s shoulders but not volunteering to help with the load, was big! I think to the lessons I try to teach our children daily. They are good lessons, and sure they should try their best to follow them……but do I try my best to do the same things I am asking of them? Or do I put great expectations on them and expect them to figure it out themselves? Do you see the word “disciple” in “discipline?” Guilty! I pray that I am constantly reminded of my job as a mother, to first and foremost be a disciple to our children.

  • Be humble

Matthew 23: 8-12 (The Message): “‘Don’t let people do that to you, put you on a pedestal like that. You all have a single Teacher, and you are all classmates. Don’t set people up as experts over your life, letting them tell you what to do. Save that authority for God; let Him tell you what to do. No one else should carry the title of ‘Father’; you have only one Father, and he’s in heaven. And don’t let people maneuver you into taking charge of them. There is only one Life-Leader for you and them- Christ. Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.'”

I LOVE the very first line. “Don’t let people do that to you, put you on a pedestal like that.” We are ALL following the same Teacher here. There may be students in class who are better at giving reports or some that are better at running the camera, but we all have the SAME TEACHER. In the end, we are all held accountable for the same assignment and have the same expectations regardless of our natural talents. Some people thought math was a breeze, others really struggled. The ones who were naturals could become tutors if they wanted to help the others, but they did not become the teacher just because they were quick learners.

I also, love the part that says, “Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant………But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.” I have become so passionate about the power behind just being yourself and being unashamed about being human. The people you are afraid of, have simply just learned how to put on a bigger show. They are just as broken as you are.

  • A promise is a promise

Matthew 23:16-22 (The Message): “‘You’re hopeless! What arrogant stupidity! You say, ‘If someone makes a promise with his fingers crossed, that’s nothing; but if he swears with his hand on the Bible, that’s serious.’ What ignorance! Does the leather on the Bible carry more weight than the skin on your hands? And what about this piece of trivia: ‘If you shake hands on a promise, that’s nothing; but if you raise your hand that God is your witness, that’s serious? What ridiculous hairsplitting! What difference does it make whether you shake hands or raise hands? A promise is a promise. What difference does it make if you make your promise inside or outside a house of worship? A promise is a promise. God is present, watching and holding you to account regardless.”‘

Good point. God is watching no matter where we are or what we are doing when we make a promise. We are held accountable after that. No excuses as to why that promise didn’t count.

  • Look at the big picture

Matthew 23:23-24 (NIV): “‘Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices – mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.'”

A lot of people make a big deal out of tithing, and it is important. There is so much more to giving tithe though. Do you think God gives us a pat on the back if we give our weekly tithe at church but then leave and do not follow the teachings? We get so distracted, arguing about the right way to tithe that we no longer have the time to concentrate on what really matters.

  • The outside is no representation of the inside

Matthew 23:27-28 (NIV) paints the perfect picture: “‘Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.'”

Not only should we work on the inside of us instead of worrying about the outside, but we need to apply this to other people, as well. OK, we know that things aren’t always as they appear. Instead of saying “don’t judge,” let’s instead make it a point to get to know the very people we are (because we are human) judging. After all, the only way to see past the outside appearances is to really dig in deep and look at the inside. If the inside isn’t looking too pretty we have a few choices…..among them: pray for them, provide a listening ear, show them you are not judging, relate to them, break down the walls, simply be there for them, show them you aren’t leaving like other people have, or (if you must) set boundaries and remove yourself from the relationship if God lays that on your heart. I don’t see the last option being God’s first option. If we look at how Jesus behaved during his time on Earth, it was most often from grace and compassion, not hate, bitterness and envy.

  • Stop blaming the generations before you

Matthew 23:33-34 (The Message): “‘Snakes! Reptilian sneaks! Do you think you can worm your way out of this? Never have to pay the piper? It’s on account of people like you that I send prophets and wise guides and scholars, generation after generation – and generation after generation you treat them like dirt, greeting them with lynch mobs, hounding them with abuse.'”

I applied this to parents and grandparents. We try to worm our way out of things we’ve done by blaming our parents. Sometimes, taking it even further and holding grudges or resentment. There is no doubt that our childhood and past play a big part in how we were molded into the person we are today. The thing we get wrong, I think, is that we are just as mold-able today! For some reason we think that we were molded and then fired in the kiln, never to be reshaped again. Only broken if we are mistreated.

If we allow our experiences, the people who surround us, The Word and most of all -God- to mold us until our last day, that is where freedom shows up. Why do we get ourselves stuck in the past. Why do we allow our past trials to chain us up? Why do we feel better if we blame it on the way we were raised or not raised? The truth is, we are humans raising humans here and that is kind of scary! lol Our parents made mistakes and we will make mistakes. That’s just human nature. God is all about forgiveness and freedom! Take the very hard step of forgiving your parents or grandparents. First tell God you forgive them and ask for His forgiveness for your grudge, then forgive yourself, then let them know you forgive them (if appropriate or possible). I think this is important even for those who are deceased (someone deceased, whom you hold unforgiveness towards). It will change your entire world, I promise.

 

 

 

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25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 21

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

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

Main points:

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

 

  • Give what you have when giving praise

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

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

  • The temple: a sacred place

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

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

  • The believer who has leaves but no fruit will wither

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

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

  • There is a difference between what you say and do

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

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

  • The workers who attack others will be punished

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

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

 

 

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 14

Hi guys 🙂 Welcome to Day 11 of our series I call, “25 Days of December” where we are studying the book of Matthew, chapters 4-28 in hopes you are able to find some “soul food” during this season of busyness and distraction!

During this series I will be mostly referencing The Message and NIV translations, but will occasionally reference biblehub.com where many translations can be found.

In order to respect your time and holiday vacation, I will go ahead and get started!

Main ideas to be discussed today are:

  • King Herod
  • Feeding five thousand
  • Walking on water

 

  • King Herod

Matthew 14:3-12 (The Message) tells the story of why John the Baptist was beheaded: “Herod had arrested John, put him in chains, and sent him to prison to placate Herodias, his brother Phillip’s wife. John had provoked Herod by naming his relationship with Herodias “adultery.” Herod wanted to kill him, but he was afraid because so many people revered John as a prophet of God. But at his birthday celebration, he got his chance. Herodias’s daughter provided the entertainment, dancing for the guests. She swept Herod away. In his drunken enthusiasm, he promised her on oath anything she wanted. Already coached by her mother, she was ready: “give me, served up on a platter, the head of John the Baptizer.: That sobered the king up fast. Unwilling to lose face with his guests, he did it – ordered John’s head cut off and presented to the girl on a platter. She in turn gave it to her mother. Later, John’s disciples got the body, gave it a reverent burial, and reported to Jesus.”

This is deep. So many things going on here! Adultery, fear of being found out, revenge, peer pressure, manipulation, murder, and so many more. We may think this is pretty far fetched, but is it? It may not always end in murder, but adultery is all around us even if we are unaware. People stopping at nothing to make sure their secrets are not found out. Going to great lengths to seek revenge on someone who brought light to the truth at your expense. The unfortunate results of giving into peer pressure. People manipulating people in order to get what they want. What can we take from this? Well…..the person behind this whole scene is the very king, himself. Don’t always believe that because someone holds a “leader” title, they have pure motives! We are all human and we all sin. Do not place people on a pedestal that they don’t deserve to be put on!

 

  • Feeding five thousand

Matthew 14:16-21 (The Message): But Jesus said, ‘There is no need to dismiss them. You give them supper.’ ‘All we have are five loaves of bread and two fish,’ they said. Jesus said, ‘Bring them here.’ Then he had the people sit on the grass. He took the five loaves and two fish, lifted his face to heaven in prayer, blessed, broke and gave the bread to the disciples. The disciples then gave the food to the congregation. They all ate their fill. They fathered twelve baskets of leftovers. About five thousand were fed.”

We have all heard this story of the bread and fish being multiplied. I remember it from Sunday school, but I always thought it was about the miracle behind the food. What I didn’t realize until tonight is that this is a metaphor! If the little food they had is the little bit of service we provide in God’s name, all we must do is pray a blessing over our ministry and it will be multiplied to feed the thousands! Our “ministry” does not have to be a big building with a fancy name! We serve in our ministry each time we share our story or help the homeless person sitting in the cold. We are all called to do different things and if we truly believe that we have a purpose and we walk in that, our efforts will be multiplied and go on to serve more and more people!! I don’t think there is any greater reward than that!

  • Walking on water

Matthew 14:29-31 (NIV): “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

Two things here:

  1. Peter, through faith, was able to walk on water but when he started to fear he was no longer able. Not only is that pretty awesome to be able to do such a thing as walk on water (see where faith can take us?), but the first hint of fear prevented him from “walking” in that miracle any longer. In the same way that we must learn how powerful faith is, we must also learn how powerful FEAR is!
  2. Another thing, that sometimes gets neglected in this story, is the fact that Jesus didn’t hesitate for one second to save Peter from the waves he threw himself into. Peter, with his lack of faith, started to drown in the waves and Jesus didn’t punish him for it or ask questions first- he saved him from his own mess first, then asked questions. Like parents, letting their children make mistakes then discussing the situation with them in hopes of highlighting the learning moment. Jesus knows we are human and we will not walk in 100% faith all the time. He does encourage us to have faith, but is also there to save us when we have failed to have that faith.

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 6

Hi guys! If this is your first time reading a post from this series, we are starting post #3 in a study of the book of Matthew running for 25 days through the month of December. My hope for you as a reader, is that you feel you have gained access to “soul food” during this season of busyness and distraction!

Before we dive into our study, I wanted to share a little battle I had inside myself last night! I had this idea that maybe I should shorten the posts in this series to allow for easier reading and the ability to reach a larger audience. I struggled with this. I went back and forth on what God’s will for this series truly was and if it was impacting anyone. This morning, it hit me! A verse from the very chapter we studied yesterday! God was trying to teach me a lesson through chapter 5 that I had skipped over!

Matthew 5:1-2 (The Message translation) says: When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions.

His goal at that point was not to yell at the top of his lungs and hope that everyone could hear. His goal was to take the hungry who were serious about learning and bring them to a quiet place where they could study and really get some substance! Guys, this is our quiet place and I’m so sincerely glad you are here!

I do want to remind you that I will mostly be referencing The Message translation (I find this translation very relatable and easy to understand for new readers), as well as the NIV translation. I will, however, occasionally reference biblehub.com because of the vast number of translations available. It really opens up the possibilities for deciphering. Without further ado, let’s dive in!

The main points we will be touching on today are:

  • Giving without making it a production
  • Being open, honest and most importantly OURSELVES in prayer
  • Giving up our worry and concentrating on giving our attention to God’s will

 

  • Giving without making it a production

Matthew 6:2-4 (The Message) says: When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself. You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure -“playactors” I call them- treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone else is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that’s all they get. When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it – quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.

I underlined a portion of the verse because I wanted to clarify something. I believe there ARE people who are called to get on stage and do God’s works for big crowds. The difference between walking in God’s purpose for you and walking in your selfish purpose for yourself is your HEART. “Acting compassionate as long as someone else is watching, playing to the crowds,” tells me that the ONLY time this person shows compassion is in front of crowds vs. someone with a heart for God showing compassion BOTH in front of crowds AND in secret if God has called them to do that.

Let’s discuss this! How do you read this verse? What sticks out to you about it? Have you ever had a hard time trying to figure out if someone truly has a heart for God or if they have selfish motives?

  • Being open, honest and most importantly OURSELVES in prayer

Matthew 6:7-8 (NIV) reads: “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

Our Father ALREADY knows what we need, all he asks of us is that we come to him with a humble heart and talk with him. We don’t have to have fancy words or a certain formula on how to pray properly. I have been saddened at times when I’ve seen my fellow sisters become frozen in fear of praying in front of other people. They are afraid they will sound silly or not know what to say. If you are in this place, you can find comfort in knowing that the order of your words or even the simple fact that you can not find the words to pray, make no difference to your Father! The fact that you have come to Him at all makes Him so happy!

The second part to this is: where are your actions? What I mean by this is: after you pray, how does that change the way you act or react in this world? Have you allowed God to change your heart, forgive you, and give you direction in your steps from that point on?

Matthew 6:14-15 (The Message) says: In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.

I don’t think there is a better way to say it. Just digest that for a moment. Carry it with you wherever you go! (I hope you are praying wherever you are, whenever you feel you need to.)

Have you ever been convicted of you actions not lining up with your prayers? Please share with me a time where you decided to line up your actions with your prayers and you saw change from it!

  • Giving up our worry and concentrating on giving our attention to God’s will

I think our human instinct tends to kick in and we spend our time WORRYING about how we will make enough money to cover the bills, how we will get clothes for our children come winter or how we will make sure we have a big enough savings to cover us if disaster strikes us. I love how The NIV translation says it:

Matthew 6:27 (NIV) says: Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

Not only do we WASTE our time WORRYING, but the enemy LOVES when we worry! If we are distracted by how we think WE are going to fix our circumstances, that leaves us with LESS time to go to our FATHER who is the true provider of our needs!

The Message translation really opened my eyes when I read Matthew 6:30-33.

Matthew 6:30-33 (The Message) says: “…..What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with GETTING, so you can respond to God’s GIVING……” (Emphasis added by me)

SPOILER ALERT!

God gave me clear vision of this blog expanding into a full grown ministry and business as a provider for our home. He has shown me some of the details, but not all. I am trusting in his timing. The reason I bring this up, is because, the above portion of this verse is CURRENTLY helping to push me through this season of the beginning stages in this new ministry. I only started this blog (less than) 2 months ago standing on the belief that God would lead it in the direction He meant for it to go. I have a heart for the readers of this blog and I am excited for what is to come. Some days, I get ahead of myself and start making plans without asking God’s opinion. That always proves to be a mistake and I find myself asking for forgiveness and asking that He step back in and direct me the way that He has planned. We have yet to go hungry or without clothes and I need to trust that He will provide for us as long as I keep the heart of this ministry focused on HIM.

Do you struggle the way that I do in trusting that your needs will be met? Do you have a specific story you would like to share where putting your trust in the Lord paid off? Please feel free to leave a comment below! I would LOVE to be inspired by your stories! Hey this girl needs filled with inspiration too. 😉

I love ya’ll and I’m truly excited for the where the rest of this series is going to take us! I can’t wait to meet with you tomorrow, right here in our quiet place!

 

 

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 4

Hello everyone! Today is the first day in the “25 Days of December” series, where we are going to dive into the book of Matthew (chapters 4-28) and give you a little soul food to get you through this season full of busyness and distraction. 🙂

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Let me preface this by saying that I feel like a Grinch some days. SOME days I feel overwhelmed with gift buying, sales ads, traditions, to do lists, food lists, event dates and all of the other things that tend to come with the holiday season. Don’t get me wrong, the holidays make me feel warm inside and I love to spend time with my family and create memories for our children but GOLLY, it’s kinda been turned into a big tornado of doing and spending and not so much enjoying, am I right? Being an introvert, I thrive off of quiet time, reading and studying. The holidays tend to kind of squash that.

During my study yesterday (yes, this just came to be YESTERDAY), God just laid it on my heart to provide a study of the book of Matthew and share it with you ladies. Now, I don’t know about you but when I hear God’s whispers I try my hardest to obey! And our loving God always rewards obedience. 🙂 To be completely honest, I have no idea what I’m going to be writing each day and I have nothing prepared in advance. I simply prayed over the study, over you ladies and asked that my blog posts be the voice of whatever it is God is wanting to be said here. I sincerely pray that you ladies find value in this series and find some light through the holidays. ❤

Before we start, I just wanted to clarify that I am not a bible expert. I have no special degrees or certificates. I’m just an everyday wife and mom trying to dig into scripture and apply it to my life like any other regular person out there. The thing that may be a little different is the fact that I am FIRED UP to share my “scripture digging” adventure with YOU! So let’s get started….

Today, we start in chapter 4 where Jesus is tempted by Satan 3 times and goes to gather men along the beach of Lake Galilee to become “fishers of men.”

Side note: I will mostly be referencing both the Message translation and the NIV translation. I also like to use biblehub.com to look up verses that really stick out to me, because it offers MANY versions of the same verse which opens up lots of room for deciphering!

The first part of this chapter where Jesus is tempted by Satan three times, spoke to me in a way that every human on this planet can understand! TEMPTATION. Not one of us is exempt from this. We all know what Satan has set out to do: steal, kill and destroy. He stops at nothing but the power of Jesus. He has so many strategies that it makes it hard for us to figure out what’s going on! He will hit us out of NOWHERE and most times he will start at our WEAKNESSES. Satan does not place nice, guys.

In Matthew 4:1-3 we read, “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

His weakness. His hunger. Now, he’s Jesus, he could have easily performed a miracle and turned the stones into bread and satisfied his hunger but he knew that was not His Father’s plan and that He would be giving into the enemy and THEREFORE giving him POWER. You guys, the important thing here is not that we do or do not give into temptation (although, that is important). The even BIGGER point here, is that when we DO give into temptation, that allows Satan IN! It gets him closer and closer to where he really wants to be. In our hearts; STEALING our family, friends and love for Jesus, KILLING our passion and drive, and DESTROYING the plan God has for us.

This is not where you need to start feeling bad about all of the temptations you’ve given into. The mistakes you’ve made and the times you’ve given in can be forgiven! Our Father loves us so much and will forgive us of our sins. We can not be strong ALL the time. We are human, and unlike Jesus, we do not have the answer every time. BUT, we do have the same access to our Father that Jesus did, through prayer. Lately, I have been finding AMAZING amounts of pressure relieved by prayer and asking for forgiveness as well as giving forgiveness to others even if it may appear that they don’t deserve it. Grace.

If we DO need somewhere to look when we want to resist temptation, though, we can look to Jesus’ response in Matthew 4:4.

Matthew 4:4 says: Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”

When it comes down to it, all we really need in this life is God. Sure there are things we “need” to survive like water, food, shelter, love and so on but hasn’t GOD promised he will provide all of those things and more to those who believe in Him?

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

Again in Luke 12:31 we read: New Living Translation
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.

The word is our SWORD. We must pull it out and fight the enemy when he tries to tempt us!

The second time Satan tries to tempt Jesus, he tries to do so by challenging Him. His attitude comes off as: So your Father has all of these powers? Prove it! And how does Jesus respond? He used his SWORD (scripture), and quotes Deuteronomy.

Deuteronomy 6:16 says: “Do not put the LORD your God to the test as you did at Massah.”

The third and final time Jesus is tempted, Satan pulls a very famous stunt of his by offering Jesus the riches of the world. This one hits home for a lot of us, if not all of us, at one point or another. How appealing has the enemy made money, diamonds, brand name clothes, big houses, and fast cars? How much money does any given brand spend on advertising in a year? He works overtime trying to convince us that we will be LIKED and ACCEPTED if we have these things. We will FIT IN if we follow the crowd and fit into this mold. Being POPULAR fuels many of our daily actions!!

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We are ALL guilty of this. The enemy feels he is winning at this, because he sees our weakness of wanting to feel loved and accepted; as our human instincts crave it to survive. The thing we have mixed up here is that God instilled this craving into us so that we would NEED HIM! That craving that we all have can only be satisfied by Him.

I have experienced this like anyone else out there. I STILL fight temptation to have the things of this world. One thing I can say, though, is that God has shown me that those things not only leave me empty but they push me further away from God and closer to the enemy. Can I get personal and share my money situation like we are told not to? ha. A year ago my husband was making $12,000 a month. We were on the verge of divorce. Today he makes less than $3,000 a month and we are the happiest we have EVER been! We budget TOGETHER, we spend QUALITY time together, we ENJOY each other’s presence and we push through this life TOGETHER! We no longer try to satisfy our needs with money and things. When our budget doesn’t allow us to take trips or go out to eat or take the kids to a playhouse – we stay home and watch Frosty the Snowman, drink hot chocolate and play on the floor (GASP!)

Simply put: If we desire the things of this world over God, we are worshiping the wrong God. That hurts. As Christians, we don’t want to hear that we are WORSHIPING THINGS. That seems as crazy as worshiping a cow. Worshiping doesn’t necessarily mean we bow down and pray to this thing. It simply means we put it first. If the majority of our thoughts revolve around something other than God, we need to change our priorities. What is the motive behind our actions? That will ultimately tell us who or what we are worshiping. Now, we all have everyday tasks that we need to do: cooking, cleaning, errands, work, attending events etc but we need to look at the REASON we do these things. Putting God first doesn’t always have to mean we spend 24/7 at church. We can serve Him through our DAILY actions. We can clean our house in joy knowing that we are providing a happy place  for our family to land, we can go to work and make a difference in someone else’s life, we can tip a waitress a bigger amount because we are blessed with the means to do so.

The last thing I wanted to touch on today was when Jesus walked down the beach of Lake Galilee and began to gather “fishers of men.” What does this mean to you? To me, it means that God is calling us to go out and “catch” the hearts of the broken and tell them about the love of Jesus. Let’s talk to our friends and family with meaning. Let’s be REAL and SINCERE and relate to people! Tear down walls, cry with people, break generational cycles of abuse, CARE about PEOPLE and not what they are wearing or driving.

For some reason, my husband and I tend to get into Netflix shows that have to do with the end of the world. Power outages, viral outbreaks, zombies…..whatever it is. I take away things from those shows other than the cool visual effects and sappy love stories. One thing that kind of sticks with me is: in all of these shows, these people are having to survive and guess what? MONEY means NOTHING. It loses it’s value. The material things these people worked their whole lives to store up and gain status from…..they mean absolutely nothing. The things that mean something to them during this time are their faith and relationships. Hollywood did get something right. The End. ❤

*I hope to see you tomorrow, all ready to dive into chapter 5! If you haven’t already, please find the “follow” button in the sidebar on the right so you can receive daily emails. This will allow you to easily access these posts each day of the series!

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