Day 2: Jesus Clears the Temple

Today, we continue tracing the footsteps of Jesus, as Monday morning he returned with his disciples to Jerusalem. Along the way, Jesus cursed a fig tree because it had failed to bear fruit. (Matthew 21:18-22)Some scholars believe this cursing of the fig tree represented God’s judgment on the spiritually dead religious leaders of Israel. Others believe the symbolism extended to all believers, demonstrating that genuine, living faith is more than just outward religiosity. True faith must bear spiritual fruit in a person’s life.

When Jesus arrived at the Temple he found the courts full of corrupt sales people.

He began flipping over their tables and clearing the Temple, saying, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.” (Luke 19:46)

On Monday evening Jesus stayed in Bethany again, probably in the home of his friends, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.

Matthew 21:12-17New International Version (NIV)

Jesus at the Temple

Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.

“It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’[a] but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’[b]”

The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them.

But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.

“Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.

“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read,

“‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’[c]?”

And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.

 Read more here- Mark 11:15–19, Luke 19:45-48, and John 2:13-17.

What I learned today…Jesus showed us His temper when He was frustrated with the people in the temple. I love that He did that. It helps when I feel righteous anger!
AND I need to make sure my house and temple stay holy, asking God to test MY heart in all I do.

Advertisements

Teenagers…Always

I remember being one…but it wasn’t like it is now. I can’t begin to imagine the pressure our teens feel. Everything is at their fingertips. They truly have to guard their minds and hearts at all times.

Having a teenager is AWESOME. I currently have two and a “tweeny” (11yr old describes himself that way). They are fun, funny, active, caring, witty…just all around amazing. We were always told teens were difficult. No one told us how much fun they would be to hang out with!

That doesn’t mean we don’t have tough times. Through all the battles they go through, my heart breaks for them frequently. That doesn’t mean I will take the easy road. That would be difficult in the long run, for allll of us.

I was talking with one of them over a challenge he was facing. Now that he is getting older, he couldn’t understand why I won’t let him dictate his direction. It’s a bit negotiable, but I am still the mom.

This is how I described it to him…

When he was a toddler, he loved eating with his hands. He would giggle and get food everywhere. There came a point when I need him to start learning how to use a spoon and fork. That made him FURIOUS! He would scream and through the utensils, then scream and throw the food! His actions showed how made he was because I didn’t understand that he DIDN’T WANT TO follow my direction. It was so much easier to just use his hands!

Now, though he is old and wiser, there are times where he will still feel like he really knows the best way to go, the best choices for his future. I could let him do whatever he feels like, however there are times when, as a parent, we need to step in and provide direction. He will get VERY made and get frustrated and maybe even not like us in the moment. All I can do is pray and stay strong. I can remember that little boy that threw a tantrum when he couldn’t see the path ahead of him. He only knew what he wanted in the moment.

I am like that with God. I think I know what would be best for me, and pray and pray that God will answer my prayers. When He doesn’t, I throw a tantrum. I do. I get so frustrated and think he doesn’t understand that I REALLY wanted it!

I know I have to realize that He knows what is best for me. He sees all the things I can’t see. I have to trust in Him and though I don’t understand His direction, I have to know He truly wants the best for me.

Remember –

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not in your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight. Prov 3:5-6

What I learned today…I love my teens so very much. I have to remember, to parent them, even when it is hard. Each day I need to spend thanking God for being patient with me and constantly showing me mercy and pray I can do the same to those I love.

 

Wanted

WANTED= A closer relationship to God.

Do you WANT a close relationship with God? How close?

I am a yo-yo dieter. I wish I could hold on to the first 2 weeks of a diet. That time when I feel SO good. When I eat all the “right” foods and stay away from the “wrong” ones. I have more energy. I move around more. I FEEL GOOD. Have you been there? Just by taking some of the stuff that’s bad for my body out of my life…I feeeeel better.

Now read this verse –  “But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with it’s practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in the knowledge in the image of its Creator.” Colossians 3:8-10

These are things we all struggle with. We need to realize, each “bad” thing you take from this list, as you become a new person and take off your old self…the closer you feel to God! With each layer that you take off, with each thing you work on…His light feeeeels a little warmer. You can hear Him a little more….All you have to do is start with a layer. What will the first layer be that you will remove? I PROMISE you won’t regret it. You will see a difference in your life.

Baby steps. Baby steps.

What I learned today…keep trying to do better. Every day.

Worldly vs Eternal Families

If you gave a party for ALL of your aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents, what would it be like and what would you do?

(Mine would look like a hot mess, and I would TRY my best to love everyone regardless of the arguments breaking out.)

What does the word family mean to you?

What are some of the benefits of being in a family?

What are some of the responsibilities?

How are the people in your family the same?

How are they different?

God’s family is like yours in some ways. If you gave a party and invited your church family, it would probably look a lot like the family that God gave you. Why? Because we are all broken. We are all someone’s daughter or son, mom or dad, brother or sister. Someone in your church family could act exactly like the ones do at your home party, but you know them in a different context.

If someone was looking at your life as a Christian, would they want to be a part of God’s family? That is a HUGE question for all of us. I remember hearing an old song growing up with a verse in it that said, “They will know we are Christians by our love”. Does someone know you are a Christian just by the way that you act? They should!

Do your best to watch your actions and words this weekend. INSIDE your house with your family, at church AND out in the world.

Be a great influence with your behavior.

“You are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household.” Ephesians 2:19

What I learned today…Everyone I look at, every day, is a brother or sister. They were made on purpose, for a purpose by God. I need to start loving and respecting EVERYONE more.

 

Rotten to Healthy Fruit Part 1

Fruit of SpiritWhat is your past like? Mine isn’t very bright and shiny. I have done many things I am not proud of. Paul wrote about some of them in Galatians 5 :19 – 21 ” The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Though I hit those sins and more, I can take comfort in knowing that the Bible also says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

I have become a new creature. I have to constantly renew my mind against the old ways, and work on becoming a better me.

What do I work on? Well, by reading the Bible, having accountability partners around me in friends and my small group, plus through the Holy Spirit, I work on praying for the fruit of the Spirit to become evident in my life. The fruit of the Spirit is found in Galatians 5 as well –

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”     Galatians 5: 22-23

A girlfriend pointed out the other day…it says FRUIT of the Spirit not fruitS of the Spirit. I hadn’t caught that! I had always looked at it as a list of separate things, not one whole.

I will process that more for awhile. For now let’s look at each section of the ONE Fruit.

  1. LOVE – Jesus said the GREATEST commandment was to Love God and Love Others, so of course this would be the first on the list. Another great passage that points to love is –  1 Corinthians 13
    “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” …              For me, it is HARD to love everyone. But it shows my spiritual maturity, when I do my best to change my heart so I can love everyone. When are some times YOU can choose to be more loving?
  2. JOY – I am naturally a fairly joyful person. But I have to fight HARD to not let the darkness of depression and self-doubt over power that. Also, have you ever noticed, some people get irritated with joyful people. When I am joyful, it’s not because I’m a clueless “Pollyanna”, but because I’m CHOOSING to be joyful, sometimes in spite of difficult circumstances. How can YOU choose to be joyful more?
  3. PEACE – I have written before on how I feel about peace. I was always a natural instigator. Whenever there is injustice, my anger gets riled up and I want to move instantly to action. Instead I have to remember to keep PEACE in my mind and soul. To wait for God’s direction so I know if it’s righteous anger or personal anger from my own brokenness. Now, at times, I have seen “peaceful” people as weak. The ones that let people walk all over them. That is NOT what this means. It means that regardless of my feelings about anything – God is in control of everything. I can’t jump in and want to fight everybody about everything because of how I feel. I need to pray more for peace in my heart, soul, and mind. Where can you bring PEACE to your life? Your family? Work? Your schedule? With your kids?
  4. PATIENCE –

We’ll have to be patient, as I’ll have to continue with patience tomorrow. 🙂

What I learned today…There is so much more to process regarding the fruit of the Spirit! It will be a constant challenge to get better with each throughout my life.

 

Depressed, Heartbroken and Angry

I am both heartbroken and angry as I write this.

Losing 4 friends, their kids or friends spouses in the last 6 months, due to suicide or overdose is breaking my heart.

Are they doing it because they are trying to “keep up with the Jones’s”?

Because they can’t find happiness?

Because they aren’t connected to authentic friends?

Because they don’t feel like the best man/woman, husband/wife, son/daughter?

Some of the people were connected to small groups and a church! If we are telling people that helps, why didn’t it?

The only thing I can think of, is that it takes AUTHENTIC living with others in community to help. Will that cure all problems, of course not. It is HARD.

Letting people in to see the ugliness, self-doubt, depressed, frustrated, whiney person we can all be is not easy. Some people will let one or two in, but not everyone.

I am part of a group where there are 3 people who battle extreme depression. The one I have seen make HUGE strides, attends small group, completed a step study (a Celebrate Recovery program that goes down to the roots of the “why” we are feeling what we feel) and continues to grow reaching out to take any class he can to try and learn more information to better himself and his situation.

Yet another one has gone the route of getting a psychologist, and is making great strides, if not totally comfortable opening up to the group.

And the third has chosen some friends to confide in but leans mostly on their family. Has not reached out, YET, for help as doctor’s haven’t worked in the past, nor has sharing it with others. And the depression comes back in a crushing way with each difficulty in life. The only thing that seems to help lesson the intensity and/or frequency is by staying busy being needed. It doesn’t take it away, but isolation, though sought after, makes it so much worse.

As I talked with my husband about our friends who have passed recently, we started talking about the men. How I wished they had mentors to talk to, like my husband. He, of course, responded how he is no one special. How could he lead other guys as a mentor, he still doesn’t know what he is doing and is on a day to day struggle with his life.

I replied, “You WENT through what some of these guys are going through. You were at a point you felt so guilty you couldn’t ‘keep up’, and you weren’t enough for your family. You KNOW that desperation and loneliness and you made it through. All you need to do is let them know they CAN get through it. You did. And then listen.”

If you are battling depression, talk to someone who has been there. Talk to a doctor. Talk to a friend. Talk to a pastor. Talk to someone. If that doesn’t help, talk to someone else.

There are people who have been there and made it through. You can too. It is worth it.

And if you feel that your family is better off without you, THAT IS A LIE. It is SO much worse for your family with you gone. If you can’t stay here for yourself, do it for them.

If you have battled depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and have conquered them and/or continue to conquer them…help someone by sharing it! You don’t know who around you needs to hear it. You might save someone’s life by having the guts to share your story.

What I learned today…life can be hard. But others have gone through what we are going through and made it. There is help. We need to find it. Hike up your britches, and ask for help…and then put in to action the direction you get. You are LOVED.

**Please don’t be offended by this post. I have only felt the pull of depression for the first time in the last year, and can’t begin to imagine what it is like on a daily, monthly, yearly basis. Praying for each and every person that reads this post and fights this battle constantly. XOXOXO