Thursday, March 31, 2011

Having Faith

Faith is hard idea to wrap our heads around.  I remember as a kid I asked my Sunday School teacher why we believe the Bible.  It was just a book written by a group of people long ago.  I didn't understand why we put so much trust in a book.  As great of a man as my teacher was, he couldn't answer in a way that I could understand.  He simply told me that he had faith that it was true. 

As an adult, I understand now.  But I think I only get it because I know so much more about it.  I know some of the historically accurate parts.  I see what God does in people's lives.  I feel his presence. 

Mark 11 and Genesis 41 both show true faith.  Jesus tells the disciples that if they truly believe, they could throw a mountain into the sea. I believe that it would take a lot of practice with meditation before my prayers could move mountains.  My prayer life could use some work! 

Joseph interprets the dreams of Pharoah which dictate his job for 14 years.  Could faith lead you down a career path for 14 years??  My last blog dealt with the ability to give up the life you've created to follow Jesus.  Joseph only needed to give up life in prison, not his riches.  Do we have the faith and courage to follow God despite our own plans?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


We are all busy.  We are all doing the best we know how to do, right?  Or are we?  How often do we give up without working to our potential? 

The rich man who approaches Jesus in Mark 10 is frustrated because Jesus tells him to truly gain a place in heaven he would need to sell all of his riches and follow Christ.  What about the man's children?  The man may have very real responsibilities to his family, and their survival may depend on his riches.   Can you pick up everything and move to a foreign country as a missionary?  I couldn't.  I get the man's frustration!

Joseph suffers his own frustrations when he asked the cup bearer to remember him once reinstated to his position.  The cup bearer didn't remember him.  Joseph is trying to better his situation any way he can.  Things just don't seem to be going well for him.  It's hard to understand God's ways. I get Joseph's frustrations too!

I hope you fight through your frustrations today and understand that God is in control so you don't have to be!

Success in What You Do

Jesus came to Earth to fulfill a mission.  When he goes upon the mountain in Mark 9, Elijah and Moses join him.  This probably happens for several reasons.  The disciples who witness this confirm their belief that Christ is the Messiah.  They also help Jesus.  He knows he is in for some rough days.  God tells us that he will make us successful in what we are meant to do, but he doesn't promise that it will be easy.  He DOES promise to not give us more than we can bear.  He sends Jesus comfort and strength with these two men from the past.

Joseph, in Genesis 39, also has a mission in his life.  He doesn't know yet what all is in store for him.  Even when thrown in prison when he is not guilty, God stays with him.  God leads him through and makes him successful. 

I pray that God leads you through your day and shows you your successes.

Monday, March 28, 2011


The two chapters I read today deal with imperfections.  We all strive to better ourselves, often fall short, and try again.  We make resolutions and promises.  We write out our plans to improve.  How many of us are currently on a diet?  How many of us have the best of intentions on Sunday nights and Monday mornings that this week will be smoother, more organized, and we will accomplish more than last week? 

Jesus tells his disciples in Mark 8 to beware of the yeast of the political leaders of the day.  Obviously, he isn't actually speaking of bread.  He tells them that a small amount of their "wisom" could ruin a man.  He goes on the say that it will do no good to gain riches if you lose your soul along the way.  It sounds as if Jesus expects us to be perfect.  He doesn't want even a little sin to overpower us and cause us to stray from him.  So how do we stay perfect??  Grace and mercy have allowed our mess-ups to be forgiven.  Every day we are challenged to focus on Christ and not let in the yeast.

The good news is that God doesn't wait for us to be perfect to use us.  Judah, one of Jacob's sons, leaves his family in Genesis 38. He goes and marries outside of his group.  His sons are not nice men.  Two are struck dead for their sins. The wife of the first is invited to live with him so she can marry his youngest son when he comes of age.  She tricks Judah into fathering a set of twins with her.  They are not a holy or righteous couple, but my Bible points out in the sidebar that they both are listed as ancestors of Jesus.  God uses these imperfect people to continue his plans. 

I pray that God assists me in my quest to be perfect in his eyes and thank him for using me and loving me the way that I am!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

What Others Think of Me

I'm quite late tonight getting my post up.  Weekends are always crazy that way! 

I got to thinking lately about what others think of me.  Sometimes I think people think more highly of me than they should.  If they knew about my mistakes or if they knew about my shortfalls, they wouldn't like me as much as they do.  Then I think, sometimes, that some people won't give me a chance.  They assume that I am not worthy of their time.  They have nothing nice to say about me. 

Tonight I read Mark 7.  Jesus says about the hypocrites in verse 6, "These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me." 

When I read this, I remember that it does not matter what others think of me, only how God sees me.  Joseph is sold by his brothers into slavery.  Reuben attempts to save him, but for what reason?  Does he do it to find favor in his father's eyes or to make up for sleeping with his father's concubines? 

I need to remember that my motives are just as important as my actions when God can see into my heart.  I will remember this as I plan my week.  Each night I sit down and fill out my daily docket. (from This week I will use Mark 7:6 as my inspiration verse.  I hope it helps me focus on God's view of me, not what others think of me.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Cruel Times in the Lives of Women

I post often about the difference in women's lives during biblical times in contrast to today.  In Mark 6, we see the daughter of Herodias convince Herod to behead John the Baptist.  I don't know how old the girl was, but I am guessing she was a teenager if she was performing a sensual dance.  She probably was greatly influenced by her mother to make the choice she made for her reward.  I wonder why Jesus didn't intervene and help John the Baptist.  He was off feeding five thousand and walking on water at the time.

In Genesis 35 we learn that Rachel, beloved wife of Jacob, died just after delivering Benjamin.  She was one of the richest women around and loved by a rich man, but couldn't escape the harms of childbirth. 

I am thankful to be a women today for many reasons, but among the highest is our medical knowledge and assistance with child birth.

Genesis 36 recount the lineage of Esau and the kings of the time.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Old Testament vs. New

There is good reason why we don't teach our children but a handful of the stories from the Old Testament.  Genesis 34 tells the story of Dinah, Jacob's daughter.  She is raped and bought as a wife for the son of the leader of the town.  Jacob's sons tell the men of the town that in order to marry any woman from Jacob's lineage, all men of the town must be circumsized.  While the men of the town are recovering, Jacob's sons go and kill them all.  Women were treated as property at that time, but these brothers murdered a huge population because of the honor of their sister. 

The amazing thing is that God doesn't condemn this behavior.  He speaks freely to Jacob often, but the Bible doesn't acknowledge God's reaction to what the boys did.  Perhaps because the men who were killed were not his chosen people. 

The New Testament is full of miracles that we often share with our children.  They aren't often bloody or scary.  Mark 5 retells the story from Matthew of the demon possessed man who is freed from his demons.  They go into the herd of pigs and drowned.  The description of the demon possessed man is a little scary! 

Mark is so full of miracles of healing and bringing the dead back to life.  It makes you wonder why more miracles don't take place today.  I know everyone throws around the term "miracle," but how often are the dead brought back to life today?  Perhaps more often than I hear of, I don't know. 

I have a friend who could use a miracle today.  Her little girl is in the hospital.  Pray for Madison!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

out in the open

Secrets are hard!  They often become lies and spiral out of control.  Or they are hurtful to others.  The secret is revealed and suddenly you have upset someone you care about.  Today however, we read about good secrets. 

Mark 4 shows Jesus teaching in parables.  The disciples ask what they mean, and once they are alone, Jesus explains some of the stories to them.  The tells them that they are secrets.  He doesn't want the masses of people understanding everything yet.  But then he goes on to tell them the secrets are like a lamp.  Rather than hiding them, share them with everyone. 

While this seems confusing, I THINK it means that Jesus didn't not come to educate the masses.  He came to train others to teach for him.  Many of these men went on to write books in the Bible for our benefit 2000 years later.  

In Genesis 33, Jacob is so afraid of Esau that he tries to buy his favor.  Everyone is much happier once they are honest with each other.  Here, secrets revealed create harmony. 

I hope the secrets you are burdened with are happy and helpful, rather than hurtful.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


I have a friend who has a huge decision to make in her life right now.  It will affect her life and the lives of her children as long as they live.  It will shape her future and she is struggling to hear the voice of God. 

We go through times when we can't tell if God is there.  We need help or need assurance that we are on the right track, but nobody answers. 

Jesus, in Mark 3, shows anger because some accuse him of being a follower of Satan.  He explains that he works for God, but many don't believe him.  He struggles to prove that helping others is more important sometimes that laws that would prohibit the help.  Again, those opposing Jesus plot his capture. 

Jacob wrestles with a supernatural being in Genesis 32.  He refuses to give up, but losing when God dislocates Jacob's hip. 

We all have our times of wrestling with God.  Sometimes we think we know what they right decision is, but things don't always fall into place.  Sometimes we argue with God.  We don't want to do what he is telling us to do! 

Good luck today in your struggles with God.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Intrigue of the Old Testament

Good morning friends,
This week is hectic.  Our family is in all different directions.  Yesterday I only saw my son for an hour and saw my husband even less.  My son decided in the middle of night that he wanted to sleep with us, and I took that to mean that he missed us too.  Today will be more of the same. 

Reading Mark 2 didn't calm me down much.  So far, this book just feels rushed.  The stories were simply shortened versions of those in Matthew. 

Then we move to Genesis 31.  Boy was this a fun one!  Jacob decides it is time to leave Laban after 20 years.  He actually consults Leah and Rachel first.  Before fleeing, Rachel steals her father's idols.  I first thought for money, but the sidebar in my Bible suggests that she may have taken them because whoever holds the household idols has control over the inheritance.  Jacob says that if they are found, the thief could be put to death, not knowing Rachel had them.  What does she do?  She sits on them and tells her dad she is having her period!  I've heard of a lot of women using menstration as an excuse, but for stealing?  You have to love the stories of the Old Testament!

I hope your day feels calm!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Beginning of Mark and More Sibling Rivalry

Today marks a milestone in my journey.  Today we begin our third book, which means I completed one full book, and I am still moving forward. 

Mark is written, of course, by Mark.  Apparently he traveled with Paul and wrote much of this book based on his relationship with Peter.  According my Bible, this was the first of the Gospels written.  He probably wrote it around 55 AD.

Mark completely skips the birth of Jesus.  He gets right to the nitty gritty and begins with the baptism of Jesus.  It struck me that I know more than a few people who would also tell you their lives began with baptism.  They no longer identify with the person they were before turning their life over to Christ.  I wonder if Mark's purpose in beginning here had anything to do with acknowledging that Jesus's life as a servant and Savior truly began with baptism. 

Mark 1 moves quickly.  Jesus spends his 40 days in the desert fighting temptation, calls his disciples, and begins his ministry and healing. 

My favorite verse is 1:35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

I don't leave my house, but I get up early and work on this blog from my couch (only solitary when everyone else is still in bed) to pray.

Onto Genesis now.  My Dad often says that if anyone tells you they will treat you life family, you should get away from them as quickly as possible.  Jacob, his wives, and his relationship with his uncle/father-in-law is a prime example.  Rachel and Leah are upset and trying to outdo each other with having children.  Jacob is busy trying to trick Laban out of strong livestock.  Nobody seems grateful for what they have.  I think the hardest thing to understand is still the relationship between men and women.  We read that Jacob loved Rachel, but he goes and fathers children repeatedly with Leah, and two servant girls.  It makes no sense to me!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Moving forward

We make New Year's resolutions each January.  We school teachers set new goals every August.  However, there are new beginnings every day.  The recent spring weather has me feeling like making some changes to issues that bother me, like the cleaners I use in my home.  I know they aren't safe for my cat or my son to be around, so why do I use them?  As I read Matthew 28, the last chapter in that book, I confirmed my thinking.  The Resurrection is something we can celebrate each day.  We don't have to wait until Easter.  My changes may be small, perhaps only household cleaners, but I get to celebrate a change that improves our lives.  Let's celebrate my new resolution!

Jacob's issues in Genesis 29 are nothing to celebrate!  He is tricked by his uncle so he will marry Leah instead of Rachel.  The problem is that Jacob has fallen in love with Rachel.  It is hard to feel too sorry for Jacob since he tricked his own father.  Lucky for him, he only had to work for 7 more years to get another wife!  I'm not sure my husband would work 7 years for me.  I'm fairly sure he would say no after my cleaning spree today.  He finally just left the house.  That was a wise choice on his part!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

New Ideas in Old Stories

Matthew 27 is the story of the crucifixion of Jesus.  I've heard this story since I was two years old.  When I read it this morning I was very distracted by my husband and my son.  They were running around playing and making a mess that I knew I would have to clean up later.  However, there were two ideas I read that were new to me.  I'm sure I've read them before, but I had never thought about them before. 

First of all, I didn't remember that when Jesus died and the earth shook, the tombs of others opened and many holy people came back to life.  They were seen walking around town afterwards. 

Second, the soldiers knew Jesus was to rise after three days.  They sealed the tomb and put a guard there to keep his disciples from faking a resurrection.  That probably saved Christianity.  There can be no doubt now that the resurrection was real. 

In Genesis 28, Jacob has his famous dream of the staircase to heaven.  He is in awe of this dream and that place.  He vows to build a house for God. 

I hope everyone has a good day learning new ideas from old stories.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Courage in the Darkness

None of us like to hurt.  None of us enjoy true fear.  Jesus, in Matthew 26, was no exception.  He prayed for God to lift his burden.  He wanted to change the plan for his life.  He didn't want to be crucified. 

How often do we pray for God to help us when we are walking through difficult times?  It isn't often that we see what is to come.  When I think of the hardests times of my life, I didn't know what was in store for me beforehand.  I only realized it in the middle of the storm.  I only needed courage to come out on the other side. 

Jesus was able to see what pain and suffering he would endure.  Despite his prayers for help and his fear of the future, he mustered the strength and courage to move forward.  He didn't call down legions of angels or crawl under a rock and hide.  He faced what was meant for his life. 

So how do we find the courage we need to lead us through the darkness in our lives?  We trust that God is in control.  That doesn't mean we won't hurt.  It doesn't even mean we will survive!  It means that we can trust that when all is said and done, when the clouds lift, we will eventually be in heaven with Jesus.  That is a hard pill to swallow, especially if you are facing cancer or watching your child suffer.  Let God take control and trust that in the end, the darkness will disappear. 

When we look into Genesis chapter 27, we see others stuggling to understand their future.  Jacob deceives Isaac and takes his blessing intended for Esau.  I don't understand why a father cannot bless two sons, but Isaac wouldn't bless Esau later.  Despite the blessing, Jacob has to flee his brother's retaliation.  At first glance, you would think that Rebekah should be punished for the deception, but she was carrying out God's plan as well. It was predicted early on, back during her pregnancy, that Esau would serve Jacob.  I said this the other day, and I will say it again!  I am glad that my son is an only child when I read stories like this one!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Caught Being Good

Our teachers are on a secret mission right now.  We are watching our students secretly to catch some being kind.  If they are caught, we record their names and behaviors to turn in to the administrators.  The students' names and behaviors will be read in the cafeteria for all to hear.  They will receive honor and an award for their kindness.  But it's a secret!  The kids don't know we are doing it. 

Matthew 25 tells us that we don't know when Jesus will return.  We must always be prepared.  We must always act as if our Lord is watching our behavior.  Instead of wasting or hiding our gifts, we are to use them to gain more glory for him.  When he returns, we want to be in the group that is told, "Well done, good and faithful servant!" 

Likewise, we see Isaac, in Genesis chapter 26, remain a faithful servant of God.  Each time God tells him where to live, he goes.  He, like his father Abraham, follows the will of God.  Esau, however, does not.  When he decides to marry, he doesn't marry a Hebrew woman.  He chooses two other women.  The Bible tells us that it is a source of grief for Isaac and Rebekah.   This shows that just because you are following God's directions for your life, life may not be easy.  Isaac is faithful, but his life is not free from trouble. 

What will God catch you doing today?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Standing in Faith

Matthew 24:7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingsom.  There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 

Sounds familiar???  Turn on the news and look for signs of the beginning of the end of times.  See any?  Jesus tells us in Matthew 24 that we are to always be prepared and stand fast in our faith.  We are to keep our eyes on God throughout the worst of times.  The entire chapter gives signs of the return of Christ.  He ends by telling his disciples to be prepared!

Now we turn to Genesis.  We begin with the death of Abraham.  Then we read a list of Ishmael's descendants.  Next we turn to Isaac.  Isaac was 40 when he married Rebekah.  She, like Sarah, was barren.  Isaac prayed asking for her to have a child.  She gave birth to twins, Esau and Jacob.  We end with Esau dispising his birthright when Jacob convinces Esau to sell it for a bowl of stew. 

So far we have seen horrible sibling rivalry.  Cain kills Able.  Ishmael and Isaac have issues. Jacob and Esau spend years arguing and tricking each other.  All this makes me glad that my son is an only child right now!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


One of the great lessons we teachers try to teach our students is to take pride in their work.  We want them to work hard enough on the assignment that they will be pleased with themselves at the end and proud to turn it in.  Occasionally, some will take this too far by bragging about good grades or boasting that they are the smartest kid in the class.  Jesus spends all of Matthew chapter 23 telling of the hypocrisy of the religious leaders.  They spend more time and energy focusing on money than on humbling themselves as servants of God. 

Christians often get a bad reputation because we so often get a "holier than thou" attitiude toward others.  Jesus warns the leaders that they will pay for their sins and for the sins of their ancestors.  He goes on to say that the only thing worse than their hypocrisy is their way of convincing others to sin also. 

Genesis chapter 24 tells the story of two servants striving to the will of God.  Abraham sends one of his servants to find a wife for Isaac.  Throughout his journey, he turns to God in prayer.  God helps him fulfill his job.  Rebekah CHOOSES to go back with him to marry Isaac.  The chapter ends with Isaac loving Rebekah.  She didn't know what she was getting herself into, but she married someone who would love her. 

We don't always choose our place in life.  We certainly don't always control our successes.  Today, let's remember that our blessings are from God, not from us.  We have no reason to brag.  We have every reason to pray that we live the life chosen for us by God.

Monday, March 14, 2011

pieces of the puzzle

Good morning,
Today, as I read, I felt like pieces of the puzzle were coming together.  The parable of the wedding banquet made sense right away.  I understand that everyone is invited to follow Jesus and live their life according to God's will.  I understand that few will accept and follow through with this. 
Jesus told the people to give taxes to Caesar because it is worldly money.  We give to the government what belongs to them, but we should give ourselves to God.  The greatest commandment is to "Love the Lord your God with all you heart and with all your soul and with all your mind."  If we do this, everything else will fall into place. 

In Genesis, we see Abraham buy a plot of land, well a cave, to bury Sarah.  Even though God told him that land was rightfully his, he bought it from the man who lived in the region.  This cave would be the final resting place for Abraham and several others. 

Today we see many people who live according to God's will, but also follow the law of the land they live in.  We have to balance both.  We must put God first, but humble ourselves to others.  Just because we are promised great things in the future, doesn't mean we don't have to follow rules today.

Have a great day!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Looking for inspiration

I hope the time change didn't mess anyone up too badly!  Our house has survived the loss of an hour, but the true test will come in the morning.  Will Devon get up?  Or will he fight me when I tell him he has to get dressed and go to the sitter's house?

This week I have been in search of inspiration.  I've been looking for ideas or people who can motivate me to do the mundane, ordinary routine.  I've searched blogs and found several that I have fallen in love with. 
When I sat down this afternoon to do my Bible reading and write the blog, I kept feeling pulled to return to someone else's blog, to read their life.  Time called me back to my own work.  I want to begin this week by being present in my own life.  I want to focus on those in my home, not those on tv or on the internet.  My energy and time needs to be devoted to the jobs God has placed before me, wife, mother, and teacher.  I encourage you to do the same.

Matthew 21 echoes this idea.  Jesus returns to Jerusalem.  He over throws the temple because of the buyers and sellers who were there.  He diligently, parable after parable, tried to explain to the disciples that only the strictest of devotion to him and God will allow them entry into the gates of Heaven.  He knows the end of his time on earth is near.  I imagine he was feeling under pressure to accomplish all he came to do before the deadline.  He had to focus his eyes on his goal.  He teaches in parables, but strives for his disciples to understand their meaning.  He wants his family, the nation of Israel, to devote their time, energy, and focus to God.  Otherwise, the kingdom of God will be given to the Gentiles. 

In Genesis 22, Abraham is also tested by his faith. He nearly sacrificed his own son because God spoke to him and told him to do so.  Just before he killed Isaac, God stopped Abraham and sent a ram to be sacrificed instead.  I would like to know how traumatized Isaac was by this.  He was old enough to ask where the lamb was, so he was old enough to understand what was going on!  I bet when Abraham returned home, his focus remained on God and God's will for his life.

This week, let's stay focused!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The beginning of Christ's long journey/Birth of Isaac

Good morning,
As I began to type, I realized that my clock on my laptop has already changed over for the time change tonight.  It makes me sad to see an hour disappear.  I started thinking about which hour of my day I should delete.  I think I'll choose an hour of cleaning. 

Today's passage in Matthew is chapter 20.  The Resurrection is chapter 28.  In a little over a week, we will finish Matthew.  I remember feeling terribly depressed when I got to this part of the Bible because you know you are about to read the horrific story of the crucifixion and all of Jesus's sufferings leading up to it.  I will try to not be too depressing when I blog!

The parable of the workers in the vineyard is a tough one.  A man hires workers, promising to pay them a denarius.  A few hours later, he hires more.  A little after that, he hires more.  Throughout the day, he continues to hire more until the hour before quitting time.  When the day was done, he paid the last hired first.  They received the same pay as those who worked a full day.  The first hired complained and were told that all would receive the same.  The owner told them to not be upset with his generosity to others. 

It is hard when you feel mistreated.  I would be upset too.  I get mad when others that I work with are rewarded equally when I know I worked harder than they did.  There is a big discussion out there to pay teachers based on performance.  It isn't a terrible idea!  I don't think it would work well, but I see why some want it.  When you apply this to Jesus's message, he tells us that the last will be first and the first will be last.  I get that those of us who humble ourselves will receive more in heaven.  But it is still hard!

Genesis 21
Isaac is born, giving great joy to his parents!  The only issue now seems to be Hagar and Ishmael.  Sarah wants them gone.  She should have seen that coming!  Abraham is upset because Ishmael is his son, afterall.  God tells him not to worry.  Ishmael will be fine. 

Hagar and Ismael go out and struggle in the desert.  God steps in and saves them again. 

Abraham also makes a pact with Abimelech that they won't fight. He knows Abraham is powerful. 

Enjoy your day.  Choose wisely which hour you delete!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Matthew 19 Genesis 20

It's funny how the many of the same issues we have today in our everyday lives are the issues the disciples had when following Jesus.  Matthew 19 could easily be found on a blog out there for working or stay at home moms who are trying to do the best they can.  The topics discussed range from how to keep you marriage working, to raising happy children, to balancing how much of yourself you give to others. 

Jesus clearly states that divorce should only occur when unfaithfulness enters a marriage.  If you can't handle the difficulties of marriage, don't get married! 

He then tells us that we should raise our children to come to him.  He says the kingdom of heaven is for them too.

Finally, we read about the rich man who isn't willing to lay down his possessions to follow Jesus.  Jesus tells his disciples of the rewards in heaven for those who devote their lives to following him.  This is tricky, because we design our lives to be successful.  We know we need money to clothe and feed our families.  I understand this to mean that every decision in my life needs to be based on God's will for my life.  That includes work, raising my family, and what I do with my money.  We are not rich!  We are comfortable.  There are days when I think I could probably give more to others and deal with being uncomfortable.  Tricky, tricky, tricky!  It makes you think!

Genesis 20
You would think that Abraham would have learned by now to not lie about his relationship with Sarah.  He goes into Negev and told everyone that Sarah was his sister.  Of course, the king decides that Sarah should become his wife.  Sarah must have been a cute little thing, because every king wants her to be his wife!  Anyway, God curses the whole kingdom because of Sarah.  The king has to give her back to Abraham and ask for the curse to be removed.  Poor Sarah!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Matthew 18 Genesis 19

Every time I woke up last night, I heard rain beating on the windows.  The heavy rain isn't over, and it makes me want to stay in my pajamas all day!  My fifth graders probably would enjoy a pajama day today as well! 

I write about children a lot, both in this blog and in my personal writings.  Today's passage in Matthew 18 hit a nerve with me.  Jesus tells his disciples that only those who humble themselves like the children will enter the Kingdom of God.  He warns us to not ever be the cause of sin for anyone, especially not our children.  We all worry about what our children are learning at school or from their friends.  This makes me think about what my son is learning from me.  Will he sin because of something I taught him?  I hope not!

Chapter 18 continues with the parable of the lost sheep.  Then Jesus tells us how to handle a situation when another has sin against us.  We are to confront them, not act as a doormat for others to run all over.  We then read the parable of the unmerciful servant and learn that we are to forgive over and over again. 

Genesis 19
What a switch!  When you move from the beautiful words of Jesus' teachings to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, it kind of rattles the brain. 

This chapter shows quite a bit about the customs of the day.  Lot welcomes angels into his home, and has to offer his two daughters to the angry mob in order to keep the angels safe.  The daughters are not harmed because the angels inflict blindness onto the men.  Lot is able to flee with his daughters and wife, although his wife doesn't get far since she looks back and turns into a pillar of salt. 

We end this chapter with each of Lot's daughters getting him drunk so they can sneak into his bed to get pregnant.  I wanted children badly, but that is just crazy! 

The readings today were all over the map!  I hope you are able to make sense of the craziness of life today!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Matthew 17 Genesis 18

Good morning,
Today is Ash Wednesday.  For all of you who celebrate this event, I hope today is meaningful.

This morning I had to spend a little time searching online to help me understand Matthew 17.  I will try to give you the best interpretation I can. 

We begin with Jesus climbing a mountain with Peter, James, and John.  Upon the mountain, Moses and Elijah join them.  Jesus transforms into a shining white light.  Peter, apparently fearing for their safety, offers to build shelter, but a bright cloud enshrouds them all.  The voice of God speaks the them. 

After that display of power, the disciples get fussed at for not being able to heal a boy with a demon.  Jesus tells them they didn't have enough faith.  He says, "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move.  Nothing will be impossible for you."

The is a great and reassuring passage, but I find it odd that it came right after several disciples witnessed great power.  I would think that would increase their faith.

The confusing part today came at the end of chapter 17.  Peter asks Jesus why he doesn't pay the two-drachma tax.  I looked up this tax and found that it went to the upkeep of the temple.  A drachma was a day's wages.  Only certain people paid the tax, though.  Peter's concern, I believe, is that he may have to switch religions because of Jesus.  The Jewish faith was changing with the introduction of Christ.  The new Christians were not sure how to handle the laws of the government and the Law of Moses now that Jesus was there.  To alleviate the problem, Jesus told Peter to get the money from a fish.  I found some commentary that suggested that actually meant he went to the body of people, "sea" and got money from those who were new Christians. "fish"  I don't know if that is true or not.

Genesis 18
Three visitors appear at Abraham's home.  He orders Sarah to put together a grand meal for the visitors.  They ask for Sarah, and the Lord tells that Sarah will have a baby within a year.  This is when Sarah laughs.  She gets in trouble for lying about it.  I wish I could use this section in my classroom too!

The Lord them tells Abraham that he will destroy Sodom and Gomorrah.  Abraham negotiates the search for righteous men.  Abraham shows some brazen behavior with his negotiating.  I'm not sure I would have the courage!

Have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Matthew 16 Genesis 17

Good morning,
I could feel the frustration of Jesus when I read Matthew 16 just now. He seems to constantly be saying to his disciples that they need to think about the things he says to them.  It is like he is trying to share the greatest stories and news of the world, but can't come right out and say anything for fear of those against them.  Everything is said in code. 

I did have to look up one phrase this morning.  Jesus tells his followers, who demand for a sign, that they have to wait for the sign of Jonah.  I know the story of Jonah in the belly of fish, but I didn't know what the sign was.  I looked back at Matthew 12, which I just read a few days ago.  I had missed this verse altogether.  The sign of Jonah represents the three days that Jonah spent inside the belly of the fish before returning to the outside world.  The disciples are to wait until something like that happens again.

Jesus predicts his death in the chapter by telling his followers that he will go to Jerusalem and be killed.  Peter pitches a fit, but Jesus reassures him by saying that God's ways are not the ways of man.

Genesis 17 makes me glad to be a woman.  This is the chapter all about circumcision!  Can you imagine living in the tent camp the day Abraham, formally Abram, walked in a told everyone that all males would be circumcised?  Imagine how horrible the whole week would be?!  I felt bad enough telling the doctors in the hospital to circumcise my son, who was only a day old.  I couldn't imagine telling a group of grown men that they would go through that!

The other point I want to make about this chapter is Abraham's laughter.  I've heard heavy criticism for Abraham for laughing at God, but I am not sure he really laughed at God.  We rejoice with laughter all the time.  I wonder if maybe he was just laughing because he was happy and thought the situation was funny.  I don't think he laughed to be disrespectful.

Until tomorrow...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Matthew 15 Genesis 16

Happy Monday to everyone!
Matthew 15 is split into three stories.  In our first story, the Pharisees and teachers of the law confront Jesus by asking him why he allows his followers to eat without washing their hands.  The law of the day said that this would make them "unclean."  Jesus' reply was that it is not what you put into your mouths, but what comes out of your mouths that makes you unclean.  First of all, I believe I sound like a Pharisee in my classroom constantly telling my students to go wash their hands!  Secondly, Jesus explains that what we put into our bodies leaves our bodies.  What comes out of our mouths comes from our hearts.  This passage makes me wish I could use the Bible to teach in a public school.  I would pull out this passage each time my students said something nasty.

The second story tells the faith of a Canaanite woman.  She is a Gentile, and Jesus was ignoring her.  He told his disciples that he was only sent to save those who were Jewish.  She begs for the "crumbs," and he heals her daughter.  This section shows that Jesus' reign is not just with the descendants of David.  He came to save us all.

The final story of Matthew 15 is another miracle of feeding a massive crowd.  This time Jesus feeds 4 thousand men plus the women and children.

Genesis 16
Once again, I am glad I live in the world I live in today rather than in biblical times.  Sarai is frustrated that she can't have kids.  Abram keeps saying that God wants him to have children.  Sarai's solution is to give her servant, Hagar, to Abram to be his wife.  That would allow Abram to have children.  Let me tell you folks, that wouldn't happen in this house!  We would adopt!

Hagar wasn't too happy about it either.  She ran away.  An angel come to her and told her to return.  He also told her that her son would have a terrible life of always being against others.  This doesn't sound like cheery encounter with an angel to me!  Regardless, Hagar returns and Ishmael was born.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Matthew 14 Genesis 15

Good morning!  Happy Sunday to you all!
Matthew 14 is quite the sad chapter.  We see Herod, a spineless man, behead John the Baptist without a trial.  This was against the law, but he was overwhelmed after watching the dance by Salome, Herodias' daughter.  Basically he could not lay aside his lust for either of these women and think clearly. 

Many times throughout the Bible we see cases where events occured simply because of the laws regarding women.  Women were treated like property at the time.  However, two women sure did have a lot of power over Herod!

This chapter also tells the familiar stories of feeding the five thousand with only five loaves of bread and two fish.  It also tells of Jesus walking on the water to the boat holding his disciples.  Peter shows great faith until he takes his eyes off of Jesus. 

Today, I pray you all are able to keep your eyes on Jesus and walk with faith!

Genesis 15 describes God's promise to Abram to give him descendants.  Abram explains that he has not children and his possessions will be left to a servant.  God tells Abram that his descendants will equal the number of stars in the sky. 
God then appeared to Abram in a dream and explained that Abram's people would be enslaved for years, but that nation would be punished for it.

Have a wonderful day!  I hope you are all seeing signs of spring!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Matthew 13 Genesis 14

Matthew 13

Opposition was growing all around Jesus.  He knew his life was in danger, but would be protected until he had fulfilled his duty.  His followers, however, didn't have that luxury.  Because of those against Jesus, he began teaching in parables.  This chapter is full of parables that warn us and teach us.  The parable of the sower tells us that many of those who hear the Word of God will either turn away when life gets difficult or get too wrapped up in wealth and lies.  We are to hear the Word of God, understand it, and apply it to our lives.
The parable of the weeds explains that the good crop and the weeds will grow together to be separated at harvest time.  I assumed this meant the Godly men and women live with those who will not enter heaven.  He tells the parable of the mustard seed and of the yeast.  Then we hear an explanation of the parable of the weeds. 
The parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl tell us to give up everything we have so we can receive the kingdom of God.  If anything is holding us back from God, get rid of it.  The parable of the net tells us that when Christ returns, all will be gathered like fish in a net.  The bad will be thrown back.

Jesus ends this chapter by saying, "Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor."  It is difficult sometimes to explain our feelings or share our ideas with our families.  Sometimes it is much easier to share with the world than to face those who know us the best.  This may be because they will hold us accountable, or perhaps because we care what they think more than strangers.  In Jesus' case, perhaps they simply didn't think he was as great as he was because they thought he was one of them.

Genesis chapter 14
As we move back into the Old Testament we come to one of my biggest challenges last time I tried to read the entire Bible.  This chapter begins with background information of which king ruled which place, and who was at war with each other.  I get lost because I can't pronouce their names, and I have no idea where some of these places are since they no longer exist.

Basically, I think, the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, and a few more kings went to war against some other kings.  They lost.  When they lost, Lot was captured.  Abram found out and gathered his own little army from his household.  They attacked and rescued Lot and all of Lot's possessions.  The king of Sodom was all happy that Abram won, so he came and offered gifts to him.  Abram refused them saying that all he needed were the gifts from God.  He didn't want the king to be able to say it was because of him that Abram was rich, rather than God.

Until tomorrow....

Friday, March 4, 2011

Matthew 12 Genesis 13

Matthew 12 begins with Jesus defending his disciples as they gathered grain on the Sabbath.  Jesus clearly tells us that keeping the day Holy doesn't mean that you have to sit around doing nothing.  It's a good thing too since so many of us work on Sunday.  I don't know many moms who don't have to cook and clean on Sunday.  My husband has to work some Sundays. 

Jesus also defends himself in this chapter.  He is called a servant of Beelzebub because he drives out demons.  Jesus tells the crowd that he is a servant of God because a servant of Beelzebub would be dividing its kingdom by driving out demons. 

Jesus then tells us that anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, and anyone who is not with him is against him. 

Now we get to our question for the day.  Who is the Queen of the South?  Jesus says that he will be in the heart of the earth for three days like Jonah was in the belly of the fish.  He then says that the Queen of the South will rise at judgement.  I don't know who he is talking about.

Genesis 13
This chapter tells us the story of Lot separating from Abram.  Lot is portrayed as a bit selfish, and he ended up near Sodom.  We all know what is about to occur there!

Until tomorrow...

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Matthew 11 Genesis 12

Matthew 11 Genesis 12
Okay! I’m confused.  I am sitting here on my couch at almost 6:30 am, trying to do this before I have to rush off to work in thirty minutes.  I read Mathew 11, but I don’t get much of it.  I understand that John the Baptist is a fulfillment of prophesies.  He is the one who would make the way for Christ.  What I don’t get is verse 12.  From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.  Is that talking about Christ or not?  Is this a good thing or bad?
                Judging by what I read today, people of the time must have thought John the Baptist was a weirdo.  There aren’t many nice things said about him, and it seems like Jesus is trying to defend John’s honor a bit.
                Jesus continues by fussing at the cities that didn’t repent after seeing his miracles.  He tells them that judgment day will be bad for them, and they will go down to the depths.
                This chapter ends with Jesus invited all who are weary to come and rest in him.  He tells us that he will give us rest.  This section is the focus of many songs and the verses that get many of us through our days!
Genesis chapter 12 begins with God calling Abram to pack his belongings and go to the land God has promised him.  Because of the famine, he goes to Egypt after building alters on the new land.  When entering Egypt he tells Sarai to pretend to be his sister.  He hopes this will spare his life.  Abram doesn’t have enough faith to trust that God will keep him safe, even after all those promises were made to him.  When he lies, Sarai becomes a “wife” of the pharaoh.  God then strikes the pharaoh and his household with diseases.  Lucky for Abram, he is allowed to leave with his with wife and belongings.  Ladies, we won’t get into the customs of submissive wives of the time.  However, let me say this about my husband.  If he sat back and watched while I became a concubine for some pharaoh, I would probably be wishing for God to strike him with the disease too!  That is all I will say about that issue today!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Matthew 9-10 Genesis 9-11

Matthew 9-10 Genesis 9-11
I apologize for not posting this yesterday.  Life got ahead of me, and I fell behind.  I will post two today to make up for it.
I realized when I opened my reading plan this morning that I was supposed to do the readings with the New Testament first and then read the Old Testament each day.  I’m not sure if it will make a difference, but I will try it and see.
Matthew 9 is a continuance of Jesus healing the masses.  I love that he reads the minds of the teachers of the law and heals a man who is paralyzed just to show his power. 
Then Jesus calls Matthew into discipleship and eats with sinners.  This is when he tells us, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”  I don’t know about you guys, but I feel like one of the sick today.
The fasting issue resurfaces, but Jesus tells them that his disciples will fast when they are in mourning, not while he is there with them. 
The section that I had never really thought about before is when Jesus asks his disciples to pray for his cause.  He looks at the helpless crowds and turns to this group.  17 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  18  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
He doesn’t want us to just sit back and enjoy the party of life.  Jesus calls us to pray on behalf of his mission on Earth.
Matthew 10
Jesus sends out his disciples to heal others.  He tells them to “Be shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves!  Be on your guard.”
This passage has some heavy duty directions on how to minister to others.  It would benefit any servant of God to read this chapter.
Genesis 9
God makes his covenant with Noah to never destroy the land again.  After God sends the rainbow, Noah goes to plant a vineyard!  What a smart man!  Unfortunately, he gets drunk.  Two sons care for him and are blessed.  The one who leaves him unclothed, is cursed.
We end with Noah dying at 950 years old!

Genesis 10 gives us the lineage of Noah’s sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.  Their descendants were the Japhethites,  the Hamites, and the Semites.  They spread throughout the land as God had instructed. 
Genesis 11 begins with the story of the Tower of Babel.  The only thing that I question here is the translation in my Bible.  My version, NIV, quotes God as saying “Let us” go confuse their language.  I’m not sure who the “us” would be. 
We then skip back again to Shem, son of Noah, to look closer at his lineage.  This, of course, takes us down to Abram, Sarai, and Lot.  I do remember from past Bible readings that these characters will control much of my next few days’ worth of exploration of Genesis. 
Again, I am sorry to cram so much into one day.  I hope this wasn’t too confusing!