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

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.