Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral virtue, and in your moral virtue,
knowledge ;

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Matthew Chapter 12

In the beginning of Chapter 12 the disciples are hungry. So they began to pick grain from a field and eat it. It says in Duet. 23:25 that it is ok to eat from your neighbors field if you are hungry. The problem, in the eyes of the Pharisees, was that they were doing it on the sabbath. The law did not forbid it but the extra set of laws written by the priests and scribes called the Talmud, did. The writers of the Talmud had declared it "harvesting" and therefore it was not allowed on the sabbath.

The pharisees must have been following Jesus and the disciples and watching them very closely. This seemed  to the Pharisees, like a good opportunity to inform Jesus of what was written in the law. To them it appeared that He did not know the law very well and was breaking it at every turn. In verse 12:7 Jesus confronts them with the fact that  the rules that they had instituted and enforced, were not based on mercy for the people that God loved.  God is merciful.

They obviously did not get the point. Jesus goes into their synagogue to teach. In the synagogue, was a man with a withered hand. I can imagine the suffering of this man. Try to imagine your husband or son with a withered hand. My young daughter has cerebral palsy and has trouble with her hands. They are weak and unable to do many things a person her age should be able to do. She is still unable to write anything but a very large scribbly version of her first name. Buttons are too difficult for her as are most snaps

In verse 12:10, as the man with the withered hand looked on, the Pharisees confront Jesus about whether it is lawful to heal on the sabbath. The verse says they were ready to accuse Him of breaking the Law. Jesus talks to them about sheep, knowing that there were very few things that were more valuable than their herd animals in those days.  I'm sure that the man with the withered hand was anxious to see how this was going to turn out. Then Jesus said "stretch out you hand"

Can you imagine the joy and gratitude  he had for Jesus. His life was completely changed forever. I'm sure all who loved him rejoiced and I'm sure he heard the words of Jesus" it is lawful to do good on the sabbath"(12:12)
I want to move on to the thing that we will use to remember this chapter. Verses 12:31-32 is the passage where Jesus speaks of the "UNPARDONABLE SIN" The word "unpardonable has 12 letters so we will use it to remember this chapter.The verse about the unpardonable sin is a subject that Christians frequently discuss so it is good to be able to quickly turn to it.
 Remember ***unpardonable has 12 letters. This is chapter 12***

Jesus goes on after this to address the Pharisees in pretty strong language. In verses 12:33-37, He addresses them much the same way that John the baptist did in chapter 3:7-10. John also calls them a brood of vipers and challenges them to produce good fruit but Jesus goes on to warn them that they will have to give an accounting for  their words on the day of judgment and that they will either be justified or condemned by their words. (12:37). Remember, they had just accused Jesus of being the ruler of the demons in verse 12:24.

In verse 38, the Scribes and the Pharisees, seemed to completely ignore what Jesus had just said to them. They ask Him to do a miracle so they could see it. He calls them an evil and adulterous generation. After all, they had just seen Him heal a man's hand and set a demon possessed man free. His language towards them gets stronger and less forgiving as time goes on and their hatred of Him grows.

To finish the Chapter, verses 47-50 is an account of His family coming, and wanting, to speak to Him.
The same account of this story is given to us in the Mark 3:21-35. In Mark, we are given more details.  Mark  tells us that the house where Jesus and  the disciples were  staying was so full of people that they couldn't even eat a meal and that Jesus's family simply couldn't get in. So they sent word to Jesus that they wanted to speak to Him. Verse 3:21 in Mark tells us that His family came to get Him because they thought He had taken leave of His senses. Even His own family did not understand.

Ok, so time to start reading Chapter 13, keep going ladies, read, practice,read, practice,read, practice. Take as much time as you need. This is not a race. We are almost 1/2 way through the book of Matthew.
before you know it, you will be able to tell of something from every chapter. Soon you will be able to say "I know where that is" and quickly turn to it.

So Chapter 12 we will use 12:12 OF, HOW MUCH MORE VALUABLE IS A MAN THAN A SHEEP, THEREFORE IT IS LAWFUL TO DO GOOD ON THE SABBATH and the word UNPARDONABLE because it has 12 letters and the passage about the unpardonable sin is here.

Chapter 11 , the 11 looks like prison bars so we will remember, JOHN THE BAPTIST WAS IN PRISON. and if you let the 11 fall in it will make an X to remind you of the oxen passage.

Chapter 10, we will remember, 10 SENDS OUT THE 12, this is where Jesus send the disciples out to preach the good news.


Chapter 8, verse 8:8 is LORD I AM NOT WORTHY TO HAVE YOU COME UNDER MY ROOF BUT JUST SAY THE WORD AND MY SERVANT WILL BE HEALED,it is the story of the centurion with the great faith. also, LET THE DEAD BURY THEIR OWN DEAD, CALMS THE SEA AND PIGS OVER A CLIFF. there is lots here

Chapter 7, the words JUDGING AND PROPHET   have 7 letters. this is where the plank in the eye and the fruit inspection passages are.

Chapter 6, is PRAYER AND WORRY, the Lord's prayer is here and some passages about worrying.

Chapter 5, BLESS YOUR HEART, the beatitudes are here and the passage about committing adultery in your heart are here 

Chapter 4, THINK FAST, Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights, and he CALLED 4 APOSTLES, peter, Andrew, James and John

Chapter 3, H2O JOHN THE BAPTIST BAPTIZES JESUS and we see the TRINITY as Jesus comes from the water  (H2O)

Chapter 1, the first 17 verses are genealogy and with verse 18 if you lay it on it's side it looks like a SWADDLED BABY. It's the Christmas story.

I know that this is getting a little long. I'll see what I can do. God bless all of you. I'm praying for every one of you. You are " shodding your feet with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace" (Ephes. 6:15). Til recently, I did not know that they shod the feet of oxen as well as horses. Just something to think about.

Much love
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you shall find rest for your souls for  My yoke is easy. My burden is light. Matthew 11:29-30



Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Matthew Chapter 11 part 2

In Chapter 11:28-30, Jesus says; " come to Me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from Me for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, My burden is light."

Last year when Kirk, Hannah and I went to the fair, I was walking around by myself while Kirk and Hannah were on one of their hour long carousel riding sessions. I came across a crowd of people sitting on a set of bleachers set up in a half circle. In the center was a small elderly woman with a small switch that looked like she had taken it from a young tree and pulled all the leaves off. Standing calmly next to her, in the middle of the half circle, was an enormous team of yoked oxen. The oxen were less that 6 feet from the crowd of people watching her demonstration . She had no ropes on them. No apparent way to stop them if they decided to run away or charge. I am used to horses. There is no way in the setting like the fair, that you could take a horse anywhere without a halter and a lead line. As I walked by I was shocked at the sight of these huge animals standing so near the crowd of people . The scene seemed surreal. I stopped to look and hear what the woman was saying. She was teaching the crowd about oxen. She was explaining her team and how her large ox on the right was her "old soul". She said that when she put a team together, she would look for an "old soul" to be her lead ox. This ox would be large, steady and even tempered even from it's youth. The oxen teams were usually put together when they were calves.  The woman was showing us, as part of her demonstration, how she controlled them with the small stick she held in her hand. I was absolutely amazed. What was amazing to me was the size and temperament of her animals.She was the master of this oxen team. They followed her calmly to and from the demonstration.

I've since done some research on oxen. They are quiet animals, which means, they do not excite easily.
They are intelligent, patient, consistent and able to bear heavy burdens for long periods of time .
If they have a master, and they are equally yoked, they are very willing to work for 10 to 12 hours a day. 

The yokes for oxen are still made by hand. They are carved from wood and shaped to fit each individual oxen  within the team. The yokes are carefully crafted, shaped, carved and sanded, repeatedly as the oxen grow and  mature.  The master doesn't want the oxen to be sore or chaffed from his work.  
After becoming aware of all of this information about oxen I find verses 28-30 in Chapter 11 to be amazing and incredible. Jesus is likening himself to the "old Soul" in an oxen team. He is saying that He is strong, steady, and patient. He is saying that the master will shape the yokes of our lives perfectly to fit us. Jesus is saying that He will shoulder the load of our lives. He will take us the way we should go if we will get in the yoke with Him. 
The old soul in an oxen team is the leader, he keeps his team member on the straight path, he gives the confidence to keep going, to keep working. 

One account I read was written by a man and a woman who train oxen teams. They had a team who had been together for a number of years. The lead ox was injured in one of his hind legs and had to be put down. The remaining ox wandered aimlessly, and hopelessly ran at anything that moved. They had to put down the remaining team member because he couldn't function without his "old soul".

One of the most important things that the Lord has shown me in these verses, is that not one word in the bible is  by chance. It wasn't by chance that He uses the example of oxen and a yoke in these verses. He could not have used other words here and given us the same meaning. The Lord's word is so purposeful. So amazing. 
One more thing about the oxen and their yokes. When they are yoked together they have to stay very close . Sometimes their massive bodies are actually touching as they work. They are always within inches of each other.
God bless you girls, read more, get closer. 


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Matthew Chapter 11 part 1

Bible Matthew Study
Someone told me that she likes to guess what I will use to remember the next chapter we are going to study . I doubt she will  guess this. I know that it is a little odd, but I think prison bars look like the number 11, if you view them just right. So, we will use prison bars to remember this chapter. 
There are two things in this chapter that are striking to me. John the Baptist is in prison and Jesus comparing our union with Him to being yoked together as oxen.
I think I will write this in two parts. Chapter 11 part 1 is about John the Baptist. Part 2 is about the yoke and the oxen, verses 11:28-30.

In verse 3, John, from prison, sends his disciples with a question for Jesus. He asks Jesus if He is the expected Messiah or should they be looking for some one else.  I have read a few commentaries on this passage and I think that many of them  over spiritualize what is happening here. It is my goal to see everyone in the bible as flesh and blood human beings,  because  that's what they were. Oh course the Holy Spirit was at work in every bit of the scriptures, but these were people, just like you and me. 
So, when I read this passage about John, I see a man sitting in prison wondering, why he is still there. He knows how he got there (Luke 3:18-20) but probably thought that maybe church leaders would have been outraged to have a godly man treated so badly. After all, he was right about the sins of Herod. He hadn't accounted for the fact that they viewed him as a threat. He was pointing to Jesus as the Messiah. We are told in 10:34 that the Pharisees were accusing Jesus of having the power of the devil behind His miracles and in 12:14  the Pharisees had reach the point of plotting  to kill Jesus.  So they were certainly not going to get His biggest supporter out of prison. As the days wore on, I believe John  couldn't believe that he was still sitting there . After all, he knew who he was. He had had a miraculous birth heralded by the angel Gabriel to his parents (Luke 1:5-25, 57-66,76-80). He was the right hand man of the Messiah so how could He leave him in prison? This was not the way it was supposed to work out. He knew he had always been faithful and bold in his calling. He knew he loved God above all else. His life had been devoted to his calling. So why was he still sitting in prison? I believe that this was the real question that John wanted answered. He wanted Jesus to set up His kingdom, save his right hand man  and get on with ruling and reining forever more in righteousness. (Isaiah 9:6). 
I have been there many times saying  "Lord, I know what you asked me to do. I know I'm doing it. I know I'm devoted to doing it. So why isn't it working out the way I planned that it would when I worked it all out in my head? Why are we struggling? Why are we having to pray psalm 142:5-7 ? What is going on?"

I believe that John was just like us. He knew a lot. But he didn't know everything and he didn't understand that Jesus had come to die on the cross to save His people from their sins. Prison was God's plan for him. It was the part of his ministry that wasn't revealed to him. He was no longer needed to herald the coming Messiah. God would use prison to take him to glory. Amazing! (Isaiah 55:8-9)

So we will use PRISON BARS   I I  to remember this chapter. Also if you let the I I fall inward you get an X to remember OX with. (give it a try)

Chapter 10 is 10 sends out the 12. Jesus sends out His disciples with many famous verses, "confess me before men," "loves father and mother more than me is not worthy" ect.

Chapter 9  is verse 9:9 Matthew is called and double the 9 and you get 18  at verse 18 is the story of Jesus healing the woman with the issue of blood and raising the little girl from the dead.

Chapter 8 is 8:8 Lord I am not worthy to have you come under my roof but just say the word and my servant will be healed. It is the story of the centurion with the great faith Also we want to remember LET THE DEAD BURY THEIR OWN DEAD AND PIGS OVER A CLIFF.

Chapter 7 is JUDGING, plank in the eye,and PROPHET, fruit inspection, both are 7 letter words

Chapter 6 is PRAYER , the lords prayer is here and WORRY.  This is one of the places where the Lord tells us not to worry.

Chapter 5 is BLESS your HEART,  the Beatitudes are here and the adultery in your heart verse is here.

Chapter 4 is THINK FAST,  Jesus fasts for forty days and forty nights and Jesus calls 4 APOSTLES, ANDREW, PETER, JAMES AND JOHN

Chapter 3 is H2O, John baptizes Jesus and we see the TRINITY when Jesus comes out of the water.


Chapter 1 is first 17 verses are genealogy and if you turn the 18 on it's side it looks like a swaddled baby. It's the Christmas story.

Ok, ladies, keep your bibles out. Keep reading. I will post part 2 soon. Start reading chapter 12. read it as many times as you can. Pray to commit the verses to memory and practice during the day and as you go to sleep at night. God Bless
"Therefore do not fear for you are of more value than many sparrows." Jesus 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Matthew Chapter 10

As we sat together on Thursday night, we discussed what we would use to remember this chapter. I admit, I was a little stumped. We decided to use 10 SENDS OUT THE 12. 
In this Chapter Jesus gives His disciples authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and the ability to cleanse and heal all manner of illness and sickness . He tells them to heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons. He says " freely you received, freely give" 10:8. He told them not to gather money for their journey. Not to take a backpack or even a change of clothes. He tells them to go only to the cities of the children of Israel. No gentile cities, no Samaritan cities. He says to shake off the dust from their feet of any cities that do not receive them. Then He says that It will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for those cities that do not receive them. The story of what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah is in Genesis 19:1-29. Read those verses if you are not familiar with that passage.

He goes on in verses 16-42 to say some of the most important verses of our faith while speaking also of things that were to happen to the disciples in the future.
If I had been one of them, I would have been afraid. They were told of persecution and rejection and even told that they were not to fear death. (10:28). Some day we may be called to face death rather than denounce our savior. Many people around the world are. But, I think that most of us face fear of rejection, fear of embarrassment, fear of our lives changing if we share Christ as we should. A lot of times we are "paralyzed by fear" but not in the way we see it portrayed in the scary movies. I mean that our Christian lives become stagnant, shallow, cut off from a fresh water source like a stagnant pond. Jesus in our lives is meant to flow from us like "rivers of living water" (John 7:28)  

Martin Luther Said:
Let goods and kindred go
This mortal life also
The body they may kill
God's truth abideth still
His kingdom is forever

 They were also told that they were worth much more to God than any of the little sparrows that crowd in my barn for warmth in the winter. I'm not sure that that would have been a comfort to me in their situation. He also told them that the hairs on their heads were all numbered (10:30) Not counted, numbered. There is a hair #240, on your head. I find this idea positively amazing.                                                                              

I don't want to go on and on but there are a few more things I want to mention. This was a group of 12 men listening to Him. I'm sure some had probably zoned out by now and missed some of what He was saying. They were people just like us remember . This group included Judas, who betrayed Jesus. I have wondered about the miracles they performed and if any were performed by Judas. But I digress. The  verse I actually want to point out is 10:38. We are so familiar with this verse that we don't give it a second thought. But, think about this verse from the perspective of the 12 men that were standing there listening to Jesus tell them how to get ready for their journey. He says " And he who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me". This verse means a lot to us, but it didn't mean anything to them. Jesus had not taken up any cross at that point. I am sure that they did not know what He meant by those words. I consider it a miracle that Matthew remembered Him saying those words and wrote it down for us. By the time Matthew recorded those words , it meant a lot to the disciples too. 

One  last thing about this chapter, I believe that verse 10:39 is a promise. Nothing better than losing your life,as you know it, and being right where God wants you. The day we got the call from the state of Vermont asking us to become parents for our daughter Hannah, was the day that this verse became real to me. As I spoke on the phone with the placement coordinator for Child protective services I could hear the Lord saying to me "lose your life","lose your life" over and over again . Well we lost our lives as we knew it that day. The next day we were the scared parents of a very sick infant. Our lives have never been the same. We have seen and continue to see miracles on behalf of this little "fatherless child". The Lord has taken very tender care of her and we have been privileged to watch Him work.

So, for this chapter we will remember 10 SENDS OUT THE 12. If you want to, you can also remember that if you DOUBLE THE 12 , YOU GET 24. In chapter 24, Jesus is again speaking to the disciples and He says many things that are similar to some of the things He says in this chapter. But you don't have to remember that because we will eventually get to chapter 24.

Chapter 9 we are remembering VERSE 9:9  JESUS CALLS MATTHEW, DOUBLE THE 9 AND YOU GET18, in verse 9:18 we start the story of Jesus healing the woman with the issue of blood and Jesus bringing the little girl back to life.


Chapter 7, JUDGING , plank in the eye and Prophet, fruit inspection.

Chapter 6, PRAYER, Lord's prayer is here and Worry,Jesus says not to worry.

Chapter 5, BLESS YOUR HEART, The beatitudes are here and the "adultery in your heart" verse is here.

Chapter 4, THINK FAST, Jesus fasts for 40 days and 40 nights, He appoints 4 APOSTLES, Peter Andrew, James and John.

Chapter 3, H2O, John the Baptist baptizes Jesus and we see the TRINITY as Jesus comes from the water.

Chapter 1, first 17 verses are genealogy and TURN THE 18 ON IT'S SIDE AND IT LOOKS LIKE A SWADDLED BABY. It's the Christmas story.

So, keep reading! Move on to Chapter 11. Remember to read it as many times as you can and practice the memory tools we are using. Pray for remembrance, and start sharing what you remember with your family. Your kids are bound to be impressed. !!!God bless you.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Matthew Chapter 9

We are going to use  9:9 as the first thing to remind of what is in this chapter. In that verse, Jesus calls Matthew the tax collector ( and author of this book) to follow Him. After this, Jesus heads off to dinner with Matthew and his friends, who were very unacceptable people to the Pharisees.
 In the first 17 verses of this chapter, Jesus is making a very important statement to all of the people he came in contact with. He was teaching them that He had come to bring something different to their relationship with God. It was not going to be the same old burden filled religion that they had lived under for so long. We also see that he reacted differently to each group of people depending on who they were and what they needed. Matthew had rejected his Jewish background so he was probably surprised and pleased to have Jesus ask him to be a follower. The fact that Jesus wanted to have dinner with him and  his "sinner" friends was down right shocking. Especially to the Pharisees who were just waiting for Jesus to mess up and break the rules about who a pious Jew could eat with.
Both the Pharisees and John the baptist followers had questions for Him about His behavior. The Pharisees wanted to know why He was eating with those people, and John's followers wanted to know why He was eating at all. 
He told the Pharisees that he was there for the sinners, the needy, the sick. He wasn't there for the holy people who had it altogether and didn't need Him.
He told John's followers,(who by the way included Peter and Andrew according to John chapter 1) that right now, He was what was important. He was going to be His disciples main focus until He was gone.
Then He goes on to tell both groups that what He was doing was not going to be able to be put into the old Jewish religion. Just like grape juice before it ferments, the new relationship with God was going to need new boundaries, new room to expand, new ideas, new thinking. 

From verse 18-26, he goes on to prove what He was saying in an amazing way. A ruler of the Jews comes and bows down before Jesus because his little daughter had died and He wanted Jesus to come and touch her so that she would live. He was asking something of Jesus that he knew none of the leaders, or priests from the temple would do. Touch a dead person. ( Num.19:11-22)     That job would have been reserved for a close family relative or a paid undertaker. Any person who touched a dead body would be unclean for a week and was required to go through a process of ceremonial cleansing.
The second astonishing thing was that a woman with an issue of blood came right up and touched Jesus, which also made Him unclean according to the law. (Lev. 15:19-33). 
I think that it is very significant that Jesus touched or was touched by both of these people after using the analogy of unshrunk cloth and new wine. There had to be people in the crowd who considered Jesus unclean after the woman with an issue of blood for 12 years, had touched Him. And yet we don't have any mention that Jesus was now considered unclean and that He would have been considered  to be unclean for a week.
In normal circumstances, the ruler from the temple would have never invited an unclean Jesus to touch his little daughter, but he was desperate. The concerns of the world always pass away from us when we are desperate. Jesus could have raised the little girl without touching her but He had to touch her. He had to show them that their rules and traditions did not pertain to Him. He was the fulfillment of all of their rules and traditions. He was the healer and the cleanser. 
He goes on from there to touch,  and heal, 2 blind men.  The blind men did not care at all that Jesus had just touched a woman with an issue of blood and a dead person. All concerns paled in the light of them receiving their sight.

I believe that a lot of people received their "sight" that day. 
Jesus was so different from anything they had ever seen or heard of. He was compassionate, wise and unaffected by the heavy rules and burdens that the religious leaders had heaped on the people. (Luke 11:46). 
The Talmud contains a lot of these rules and regulations and is fascinating reading. You really get a sense of the impossible life these people were living in the days that Jesus walked the earth. 

she is a carousel fanatic!
The end of this chapter is hard for me to read. The demon possessed man who could not speak is referred to as the "dumb" man. Anytime this term is used it is hard for me. My precious daughter Hannah did not learn to speak until she was seven. She still struggles and her speech is hard to understand. We are always praying for a complete healing for our beautiful daughter. God is good.

Ok, so we are now a third of the way through the book of Matthew.
Once again, here is the list we are using to remember what is in our chapters.

Chapter 9  We are using verse 9:9 JESUS CALLS MATTHEW THE TAX GATHERER. Double the 9 and you get verse 18 this is where the story begins about the woman with the issue of blood and the mans little daughter being raised from the dead.

Chapter 8. We use 8:8 LORD I AM NOT WORTHY FOR YOU TO COME UNDER MY ROOF BUT JUST SAY THE WORD AND MY SERVANT WILL BE HEALED. It is the story of the centurion with the great faith . We are also remembering, LET THE DEAD BURY THEIR OWN DEAD AND PIGS OVER A CLIFF. Chapter 8 is the hardest one to remember but with practice we can do it.

Chapter 7 is JUDGING, plank in the eye and PROPHET, fruit inspection.

Chapter 6 is PRAYER , Lord's prayer is here and WORRY, Jesus talks about worry.

Chapter 5 is BLESS your HEART,  the beatitudes are here (sermon on the mount) and Jesus talks about committing adultery in your heart.

Chapter 4 is THINK FAST, Jesus fasts for forty day and forty nights. He also calls 4 APOSTLES, Peter and Andrew, James and John .

Chapter 3 is H2O, (the chemical symbol for water) John the baptist baptizes Jesus, and we see the TRINITY (3) as Jesus comes out of the water.


Chapter 1 is the first 17 verses are genealogy and then is you turn  the 18 on it's side it looks like a SWADDLED BABY. It's the Christmas story.

Time to move to Chapter 10! Remember to read it as many times as you can. Practice these remembering hints as you fall asleep at night. Practice them as you sit at stop lights if the noise from the back seat is not deafening. Pray that the Almighty, Glorious Lord, will give you remembrance and diligence .

God Bless you sisters!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Matthew Chapter 8

This is another amazing chapter in the Book of Matthew. The chapter starts with a recounting of a leper being healed. In verse 8: 4 Jesus tells the leper not to tell anyone about his healing, but to go show himself to the priest and to take the offering that Moses commanded for a testimony to them.

So, picture this. This man  had been pronounced unclean through a series of examinations done by the very priests he was now going to  visit. Using Lev. 13 as a guide, it could have taken them anywhere from 1 day to 3 weeks to decide if he had leprosy before he was put out of the temple and society as he knew it. He was now going back to those priests with 2 male lambs, a 1 year old ewe, a bushel of fine flour and about a pint of oil. On his first visit to the priests, they would have been required to ... well, in the interest of not making this to wordy... go to Lev. 14 and read what the priests now had to do for him according to the Law written by Moses. This was going to be a long drawn out process for the priests. They were going to have to confront the fact that Jesus had healed this man of leprosy, over and over again. It was going to require a lot of work on their part. It is possible, that Nicodemus (from John 3 and 7), came to faith because of this man showing up in the temple. And, from this man's point of view, he was just 1 short week away from being back in the house with his family. (how amazing for him)

In the next  8 verses we get the story of the centurion coming to ask Jesus to heal his servant.  In verse 8:8, he says "Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof but just say the word and my servant will be healed" In verse  8:10, it says Jesus marvels at the statements of this Roman soldier and tells the crowd that He has not encountered such great faith in all Israel. Just a few verses later He calls His disciples, "men of little faith".
I have looked at this verse many times. This is the kind of faith I pray the Lord will give me. We will use this verse as one of the ways to remember this chapter. Verse 8:8 is; Lord I am not worthy to have You come under my roof, but just say the word and my servant will be healed. This will help us to remember that the story of the centurion, is here.
In verse 8 ;14 we see that Jesus heals Peter's mother in law. Before I saw this verse, I heard pastors say that Peter was married. I used to think, how do they know that? Well here is how they know it. If you can remember  where this verse is, you too can sound very impressive.
The next thing I want to point out is verse  8:22. In verse 21 a disciple asks if he can wait to follow Jesus until after he had buried his father.
What makes this interesting is that his father wasn't dead yet. He was asking if he could wait until his dad was dead and gone to follow Jesus. Jesus says to him, "follow me and let the dead bury their own dead". I want to remember this statement by Jesus in this chapter because I want us to remember how Jesus thinks of the unsaved.  He considers them dead. Our unsaved loved ones are dead. We need to see the urgency of bringing them to life in Christ. "Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead".

Hannah and her precious little friends at the school talent show
After this, we have the account of Jesus calming the sea for the very afraid disciples. Am I wrong, or does just about everyone in the U.S. know this story? I'm including unbelievers in that question. The assumption that everyone knows this story, has made me think that we should know where it is. So it will also be included in our "remembering" of this chapter .
Lastly, in this chapter, we have the story of Jesus healing the demoniacs and sending the herd of swine  into the sea that He had just calmed. This was the region of the Gadarenes. The 7th son of Jacob was Gad. We read about the Gadites getting this land in the book of Numbers. These people should not have been anywhere near swine. I am sure that is why the whole town came out to ask Jesus to leave their region in verse 34.

 Peter was married.
I know that this is a lot for one chapter, but I'm sure we can do it.

Chapter 7 is JUDGING and PROPHET , both 7 letter words
Chapter 6 is PRAYER and WORRY, The Lords prayer is here and Jesus talks about worrying.
Chapter 5 is BLESS your HEART,  The beatitudes are here and this is where Jesus talks about adultery (and other sins) being a condition of the heart.
Chapter 4 is THINK FAST, Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 night, he appointed 4 disciples, Peter , Andrew, James and John
Chapter 3 is H2O, John the baptist, baptizes Jesus and we see the TRINITY  as Jesus come out of the H2O (water)
Chapter 1 is, the first 17 verses are genealogy then TURN THE 18 ON IT'S SIDE AND IT LOOKS LIKE A SWADDLED BABY, IT'S THE CHRISTMAS STORY.

Ok, ladies, if you have been practicing,  you already know what is in the first 8 chapters of the Book of Matthew. Keep reading and keep practicing. We are fast approaching Chapter 9. At that point we will be almost a 1/3 of the way through this book. There are only 28 chapters in the book of Matthew. I'm very excited about this. I encourage you to make a list of the things and topics that you can now easily find in the bible when having discussions with other people.
The Christmas Story
The beatitudes (sermon on the mount)
Jesus fasting and the devils temptations
Where you can find the Trinity portrayed in scripture
The plank in the eye verse
and there are more, make your own list. You will be surprised at what you can remember. Start showing your husbands and your kids.  
It's all good girls. Keep reading and keep practicing. Start reading Chapter 9 if you haven't already!
God is good.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Matthew Chapter 7

In this chapter Jesus talks about judging our brother and discerning a false prophet. I think, over time these two ideas have some how gotten mixed up so that we are  judging our brothers fruit by looking at his life and not really holding our teachers and persons claiming to be speaking from God, accountable for their fruit.
He starts Chapter 7 forcefully saying "do not judge lest you be judged" He actually says there is a consequence for judging your brother. We will be judged by the same measure that we use to judge. Matt.7:2 (yikes)
I know that in my life,  I was guilty of judging fellow believers without even realizing what I was doing. I literally thought that my first two children were quiet , compliant and obedient because I was such a good mother. If there was a mom whose child was "out of control", busy, or naughty in the grocery store, I thought she was not a competent parent. I judged her and pitied her all at the same time. Of course, I never said anything to her unless she asked but in my heart, I was the worst of "judging offenders".
I never knew what Jesus meant by the log, plank or 4x4 post in your own eye, until recently.   If we look at Chapters 5 and 6, we see that Jesus spent these two chapters talking almost exclusively about how much more important it is to consider our hearts motives and our thoughts than what is going on on the outside of us. He likens whatever is going on in someone elses life, that we might judge them for, to a speck compared with the large, impaling object in our own lives. What is important is our heart, our motives, and our deepest thoughts . If we judge, we judge wrongly. Only Jesus knows what is really going on in a person's life. I'm not talking about blatant sin. I'm talking about an out of control kid, a dirty house, a weight problem or maybe, always having a financial crisis going on. These are the kinds of things that we judge other people for. Jesus says don't do it. The Lord used  our third child, Aaron, to show me my heart.
Aaron  was absolutely amazing. He did everything that I would have judged another mother for and then some. He was 9 months old when he reached over the side of a cart at the grocery store and pulled a dozen eggs out of the case and on to the floor. He was big and strong from the moment he was born and never stopped to take a breath. I had a friend who had a daycare, who one day said to me that she loved me and considered me her best friend but that she would never babysit Aaron so not to ask. As his uniqueness became apparent to our church family and circle of friends , we were consistently uninvited to small indoor gatherings and get togethers. He was totally and completely uncivilized until he got to be around 8 years old. It was a very necessary, humbling experience for me. Same mom, same family, different child. I saw my heart and I learned a lesson.

When my husband Kirk and I have someone come and complain about another person or family in the church, we always evaluate the complaint against the word of God. Is it sin? Or would addressing the issue hurt or discourage the person being complained about. Our method is to always err on the side of grace and we encourage the complainer to pray and do the same.

Ok, so back to the mix up.  I have heard many people say, and I'm sure I've said it myself, " I just don't see any fruit in her life. " Here in Matthew 7:15 the fruit inspecting is directed at false prophets and teachers. People who would speak as from the Lord and teach God's word. Not our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are to judge the fruit of people who would set themselves up as authority figures in the church. When their fruit is inspected, do their thorns (7:16) come out? This is the kind of fruit inspection we must do.
I recently spoke to a dear sister who dared to speak ill of the book the "Shack" She pointed out some of the flaws in the fictional book. The woman with whom she shared her opinion was so upset that she got her pastor involved. The "pastor" went on the offensive to defend this piece of fiction. He wrote very upsetting and hurtful things to my friend. In my opinion, his thorns were showing.

One last thing I want to mention, from Matt. 7:21-27 an amazing thing happens. Try to put yourself in the place of one of the, potentially, 200,000 people listening to Jesus that day. Read the passage as if you are one of those people hearing it for the first time from Jesus in the flesh. In my humble ability to paraphrase, Jesus says to them; I will be making the decision of who does and who doesn't get into heaven. I will require that I know you personally. You cannot get away with saying that you know me and have done many good things in my name. I will send away anyone who I do not know. They will not get into heaven. If you are wise you will heed My words.
It can't get much clearer than this. Jesus says He is the way to heaven. I have had people say to me that Jesus never said that He was the only way to heaven. Of course, I disagree.
 This picture was taken by the Hubble telescope. The scientists name it "the eye of God"

Ok, so we will use JUDGING and PROPHET to remember Chapter 7.

Chapter 6 is PRAYER and WORRY. The Lords prayer is there  and we should remember where all scriptures for worry and anxiety are.

Chapter 5 is BLESS your HEART, the beatitudes are here and Jesus speaks of sins being a matter of the heart.

Chapter 4 THINK FAST, Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights and He called 4 apostles, Peter, Andrew, James and John

Chapter 3 H2O, John baptizes Jesus with water and we see the TRINITY when Jesus comes out of the water


Chapter 1, the first 17 verses are genealogy then if you turn  the 18 on it's side it looks like a SWADDLED BABY, it's the Christmas story.

Start reading Chapter 8 if you haven't already! Remember to read it as many times as you can. Practice your remembrance cues as you go to sleep at night. Or if you are awake in the night, force yourself to practice. It will keep your mind from running away with your sleep.
Also, PRAY, PRAY, PRAY that the Lord will give you remembrance. 

One last thing I want to share with you. Gloria sent this to me.

Fear came knocking, Faith answered the door and there was no one there.

Love Nancy

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Matthew Chapter 6

Oh my goodness, this is such an important chapter! We have the God of all creation, and all time, talking about prayer. Jesus tells us in chapter 6 to get alone with Him when it's time to pray. 
Of course 1st Thess. 5:17 tells us to pray without ceasing, but I believe that Jesus is talking about intimate time with God. Our special time with only Him. When we need to be alone. When we need to shut the door. I heard Ann Graham Lot talk about what a struggle setting her prayer time aside is. She talks about fighting through and persevering. I love it! I feel that way many times as I'm trying to get to my room, and my knees to pray. Her words really encouraged me. If someone like her feels like she has to fight and struggle to get to her pray time then there is nothing wrong with me or you having to struggle too.
 Sometimes I think; Why is this so hard? The school calls, the dog throws up, the neighbor bangs on the door for the first time in 3 months. I remember the clothes in the washer that are going to mildew if I don't save them , or the dentist visit that has to be scheduled right then or I'll forget it. Ephes. 6:12 explains it. Our struggle is not against flesh and blood. I started taking my phone off the hook and taking a paper and pen with me to write down the things that I seem to remember only when I go to pray. Every prayer time I'm presented with different circumstances that threaten my time. I am trying to view each distraction with an eternal perspective. This does seem to help but the struggle for that precious time goes on. Anyway, I want to use the word PRAYER because it has 6 letters and the "Lords Prayer" is here. Although, it's not really the Lord's prayer. It's a guide to our prayer time.

Something else I want to mention is that some people teach and believe that you are not truly able to pray and experience a rich full prayer life unless you pray in tongues. They truly believe that some how your faith or belief is lacking if you don't have this spiritual gift. In response to this, I think we have to look to the scripture  for our answer. There is never an instance in the bible when Jesus speaks in tongues, never a time when He says we should eagerly seek this gift. Here in Matthew 6, Jesus is teaching the disciples about prayer. There is no mention of tongues in this passage. In Luke 11, the disciples ask Jesus to teach them to pray. There is no mention of tongues in this passage either. In 1st Corinthians 12, Paul teaches about spiritual gifts. In that chapter he says " to each one is given the manifestation of the spirit for the common good" . This is an excellent chapter to read  and learn about the gifts of the spirit if you have ever had questions.
I had a discussion at a yard sale with a woman that held the view on tongues that I mentioned earlier. When I asked her about 1st Corinth. 12, she told me that she wasn't a bible scholar. (?huh?)

Anyway, The other thing I want to use to remember this chapter is WORRY. I know it's only 5 letters but I think having a reference to where all the times the Lord mentions being anxious and worrying is a good thing. I won't list them here because we want to remember that Chapter 6 of Matthew addresses worrying in verses 25-34 . Many of you have heard me say that living under the burdens of the "What Ifs" is a very heavy burden to live under. Verse 34 of  chapter 6 is amazing, "Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for it self. Each day has enough trouble of it's own" Amazing, "each day has enough trouble of it's own"
This statement is so "now"  isn't it?

So we will use PRAYER and WORRY to remember CHAPTER 6

CHAPTER 5 we are using BLESS your HEART

CHAPTER 4 think FAST, Jesus fasted 40 days and 40 nights and He called 4 DISCIPLES, Peter, Andrew, James and John.

CHAPTER 3, h2O  John the Baptist, baptizes Jesus and we see the TRINITY when Jesus comes out of the water.


CHAPTER 1, first 17 verses are genealogy and then if you turn 18 on it's side it looks like a SWADDLED BABY, we have the story of the (one) only begotten son. It's the Christmas story.

Sorry it took me a little while longer than normal to get to this. It's time to go on to Chapter 7, if you haven't already. Remember to keep reading and keep practicing. Soon you will start feeling very confident about the book of Matthew.
God Bless

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Matthew Chapter 5

This picture is , supposedly, not Photo Shopped. It was taken in Louisiana somewhere. I think. Anyway, I want to use the words BLESS and HEART to remember this chapter We are going to use the word BLESS because this chapter starts with what everyone calls the beatitudes. It has 5 letters and this is chapter 5 .
 I don't want this to be too long, but I want to talk about this list of "Blessed are the".  Most people, even people outside of church circles, are familiar with this list passage in scripture. What most people don't realize is that it is a description of  the process that a person goes through when they become a follower of the Messiah, Jesus .
 Verse 3 says "Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven". When a person realizes they have nothing to bring spiritually to earn their way to heaven, then they are ready for salvation.
Verse 4 , Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted. As we confront our own sin and short comings , we mourn. As we grow in the faith, we mourn for our loved ones and a lost world.

Verse 5. Blessed are the humble and meek for they shall inherit the earth.  This word meek, in our culture, makes us think of a mouse. But, in the Greek, this word was used for a horse that was broken. It implies power under control. This is Tango, my horse. He is very large even by horse standards. It is hard to tell how large he is by this little picture but if you look at the gate he is standing near you can kind of tell how tall he is compared to other horses because that gate is designed to allow a person to mount the horse and ride through the gate. I think we could do it but we would both have to duck. Obviously, I haven't tried it yet. Many times I have looked at him and thought that he could kill me if he wanted to and yet, he is the most gentlemanly of horses. His manners are impeccable. Tango is definitely power under control. Jesus, our humble and meek savior,will inherit the earth. He is the ultimate example of power under control.

Verse 8, Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. It is impossible to have a pure heart without being cleansed by the blood of the lamb.

Verse 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God. Isa. 9:6 says Jesus is the Prince of Peace. In John 14:27 Jesus says " Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you." If you are sowing Jesus in people's lives, you are sowing peace. 

Then, He goes on to talk about being persecuted for His sake.
After that He tells them that they are the salt of the earth. I googled the history of salt. I learned that salt meant much more to them than it does to us. Salt was as valuable as silver. Part of every Roman guards salary was paid in salt(worth his salt). They would carry it with them to cleanse wounds (rubbing salt in a wound), They used to preserve meat and yes, pay for things. It was called their "solarium" This is where the word salary came from. They used to rub newborn babies down with salt. When He told them they were the salt of the earth, he was telling them that they were a healer, a preserver and were more needed than money in people's lives. 
He then tells them that they are the light of the world. Again, this meant something different to them than it does to us. Their light was usually a pottery lamp that had a large hole in the top to add oil. They looked kind of like Aladdin's genie lamp only not as fancy. The wick was a thick piece of cord that had one end coming out of a spout, and the other, soaking in the oil in the belly of the lamp. Theses lamps were very smokey and not very efficient. Every thing about them smelled like their light. The smokey smell of their light permeated their hair, their clothes, everything and  when they lit them they literally pierced the darkness. There were no street lights . When it was dark, it was dark. Where we live in Vermont, it is dark at night. We have no street lights or anything to light the night if our lights are out.  We can not even see our house from the road. All you see is total darkness. In short, He was telling them that just like their lights, they should be permeated with their new faith and pierce the darkness of this world.
He goes on in verses 17-20 to address the religious system they have been living under. Verses 21-48 He is taking on what they had been taught about certain sins and living a godly life. He makes the point that sin is a condition of the heart. All sin starts there, so He wants them to understand that their actions are not as important as their attitudes and what's really going on inside of their hearts and minds.This was so foreign to them. Everything had been about actions before, especially what was done in front of other people. In our lives, a good spiritual exercise for us is to examine our motives in front of the Lord for every prayer we pray. The Lord sees our true motives anyway even if we don't see them at first. He will reveal our true hearts motives  to us. This is sooooo good. I remember when I started doing this . It feels great. I feel so much closer to God in my prayer life now. So in short, BLESS and HEART both have 5 letters and we will use the phrase "Bless your heart" to remember this chapter. If you can work salt and light in there somehow too that would be good. Let me know if you come up with something. 

Chapter 1. the first 17 verses are genealogy, with verse 18 if you turn it on it's side, it looks kind of like a SWADDLED BABY, it is the story of the only(one) begotten son. It's the Christmas story.
Chapter 3. H2O, John the baptist baptizes Jesus, and we see the TRINITY as He comes from the water .
Chapter 4. THINK FAST, Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights, and He called 4 APOSTLES in chapter 4. James, John , Peter and Andrew.
Chapter 5. BLESS your HEART,  first part of the chapter is the beatitudes and the last part deals with issues of the heart. (work salt and light in there too if you can).

Ok girls, keep reading! On to chapter 6 if you haven't started it already. Read it as many times as you can. It will help you to remember what's there along with your word association helps. Remember to practice as you fall asleep at night. If you fall asleep too fast, then start practicing when you stand in line somewhere or when you are at a stop light. Pray for remembrance. I'm praying for all of you. Even if I don't know who all of you are, God does.