Archive for Matthew

Anger and Bitterness part 7- Words of Encouragement

“Yes, if you forgive others for their sins, your Father in heaven will also forgive you for your sins.” Matthew 6:14

The bible says that we forgive others, even when they have really wronged us, God will forgive us when we have really wronged him. See how that works? Be treated how you want to be treated. If you put aside such anger and the harsh feelings, God will put aside his anger when it comes to the bad things you have done. It can help to make you right with God again.

“Patience is better than strength. Controlling your temper is better than capturing a city.” Proverbs 16:32

You want to know why patience is better than strength, much better than capturing a city? Because being patient is so difficult! This verse is saying that it is such a triumph to develop patience with people and with the Lord, because in reality, it’s hard to be patient. We all want things, we want God to listen to us and do the things we want him to do, at the time we want him to do it. But one really hard lesson I am learning is that God won’t work that way. He will put you in situations that make you wait for him to move; that make you completely trust him. I really feel that way in my life right now: like I can’t get anywhere or do anything or really live at all if God doesn’t act first. He is teaching me to be more patient. Sometimes, we get so angry at God when he doesn’t listen to us, but he is teaching us to be patient, teaching us that he does things when he is ready, and not necessarily when we feel ready.

“My friends, do not try to punish others when they wrong you, but wait for God to punish them with his anger. It is written: ‘I will punish those who do wrong; I will repay them,’ says the Lord.” Romans 12:19

Guys, this is true. When people treat us badly and act horribly towards us, we don’t need to go out of our way to punish them. God sees the things that they do; he sees the things everyone does. We can’t hide anything from him, he knows all that is in our hearts. And he will judge those guilty as guilty. He knows who walks with him, who lives for him. The bible also says,

“They are blessed who realize their spiritual poverty, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them. They are blessed who grieve, for God will comfort them. They are blessed who are humble, for the whole earth will be theirs. They are blessed who hunger and thirst after justice, for they will be satisfied. They are blessed who show mercy to others, for God will show mercy to them. They are blessed whose thoughts are pure, for they will see God. They are blessed who work for peace, for they will be called God’s children. They are blessed who are persecuted for doing good, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them. People will insult you and hurt you. They will lie and say all kinds of evil things about you because you follow me. But when they do, you will be blessed. Rejoice and be glad, because you have a great reward waiting for you in heaven.” Matthew 5:2-12

God will reward those who work hard for him. If we trust in the Lord, when we grieve, God will ultimately comfort us. A lot of times, it’s not instant comfort, but if we keep trusting in him, he will bring us that comfort. When we are humble and put others before ourselves and look out for others, God will lift us up. He will make the proud last, and the humble first. God does opposite things like that. If we seek out justice, God will satisfy us. If we seek out evil, things will not go well for us. God knows when we have pure thoughts, like I said, he knows what is in our hearts. When we work for peace in the world, while holding on to our faith strongly, we truly are the children of God. God loves it when we work for the good of others. And in many different ways, he will let us know that he loves it. People will persecute us. People will say bad things about us.

But if we pursue God even when our worlds seem to be crumbling (which they often do), God will reward us, and we will be a blessing to others, rewarding others with the good that is in our hearts. I try my best to live like this every day; pursuing God, even when my world seems endlessly difficult. Jesus says we don’t need to worry because in this world, bad things will happen, but we should have faith because he has overcome the world. He has overcome all of our problems, before we even have them. He has overcome all of our struggles and worries, before we even begin to struggle or worry. He has overcome all of our sins, before we even begin to desire the sin in our hearts. Trust in God because he is bigger than you, and he can easily handle things that are impossible for us to handle.

Holding on to bitterness and anger prevents God from using us in his awesome and mighty plan. We come to a screeching halt in our relationship with God. We hold on to past things that have happened, and we stop loving and refuse to care for certain people, and then it’s like a ripple effect in our lives. It effects the things we do, how we view the world, what’s in our hearts, and ultimately, how we decide to live our lives. Be encouraged by knowing that Jesus has already overcome the world! He has overcome your world, my world, his world, her world, their worlds, every one’s. We just have to begin to trust that, and then he can reveal that to us!

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

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On Excellence part 3

Why is striving for and committing to excellence so important? Well, at work, it’s so we don’t get yelled at and that we keep our jobs! But seriously, even at work, the boss says that people can take the skills they learn there, like being a leader, and use them for whatever the workers do in life. This is so true! If I didn’t get a job at Chick-fil-A, I wouldn’t be able to compare this to how we need to go about achieving excellence for Christ. Thank you, Holmes!

But committing to excellence in Christ through everything we do is to show that we love the Lord with all our hearts. God the Father didn’t keep his one and only precious on from us. He offered up his very best and only that, not his 2nd best. He didn’t send down some mediocre angel, he sent his very joy, the center of his heart: his perfect son Jesus Christ. He loved us, and gave us his best for our sake, therefore we are called to make him priority, put him first and give him our best for his sake and the sake of others. We are called to love like he did, and that means going up and beyond for him.

“’A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’” John 13:34-35

It’s true. Others will know we are his disciples when we love one another. They will see the love. I am hard on myself about singing because when I sing for him, I want it to be the best it can be. This may mean many hours of practice and rehearsal and growing through criticism. I deal with people I don’t like. I take crap from people I can’t stand because I adhere to this standard.

Sometimes the job at Chick-fil-A is really hard! Don’t get me wrong, we all get tired, all have problems. At work, sometimes it drives me crazy to go to school and then go to work right afterward, and then stay until we close. We have personal problems and sometimes don’t feel cheery or feel like smiling. One of my managers had a family member who had a stroke.

I was so amazed by her humility because even though this was true, she was still smiling, and she was talking to me and some other girls, saying it was not easy to do when you feel down like that, but it is still part of the job. She said if she can do it, so can we. It was so cool how she was putting the happiness of the customers above her happiness. She’s paid to do it, but that doesn’t make it easy.

This reminds me of a Christian parallel. As Christians, sometimes we find it hard to deal with people who are radically against our faith and they are hard to deal with. I know I deal with people like that! Like no matter what you say, they basically hate it. We get so frustrated! Yet and still, I remember my manager putting up with people despite her pain, and so I am learning to look deep inside myself and find strength and grace to put up with people, loving them, despite how they make me feel. At work, we get paid for it, and with Christ, we get his many blessings that blow us away. We get more joy than we could imagine.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. ‘Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.’” Matthew 5:10-12

Jesus had grace when he was persecuted, and he still loved his persecutors. The people who ended up killing him, the Jews he had grown up with, Pilate, a bunch of people who blamed him for doing no wrong, who had tried to stone him and finally succeeded in killing him- he died for them! He died to rescue everyone who spit on him and rescue the ones who put nails in him. He died to rescue all of us who have done wrong on earth, which is… all of us. So Christ had mercy on me, and so I have mercy on others. I know that by being persistent and fighting to win people’s heart to the name of Christ, their hard hearts eventually will be softened a little.

I attempt to be graceful like that manager, and graceful like Christ. A worker pursuing excellence is someone who has their own problems behind the scenes, but you can’t tell because they are trying to stay in ‘work mode’. A disciple pursuing excellence is someone who may get fed up with others and with the hardships in following Jesus, but push on, even when difficult.

Valentine’s Day Love

My friend Kayla and I did something very special for valentine’s Day. We bought all different kinds of flowers and a bunch of vases. We had about 41 vases, and decorated each vase with a curly ribbon. Then we put 3 flowers in each vase. We went to a nursing home and handed them out to the people there. There were only about 30 old people, and then workers. So we handed them out to the elderly. It was so incredible, watching their faces light up, and listening to them talk about how pretty the flowers were and how it made them feel happy and special.

The flowers were expensive, and no one told us to do it, we just decided to on our own. We had also made Valentine’s cards- Kayle made about 12 and I made 8 and sent them to people at Hospice. We put things in them like “someone cares, stay strong, Jesus loves you.” We also gave them the rest of the flowers we had left. There were 16 people living in Hospice, so we had plenty. 🙂

We weren’t allowed to go into the rooms to hand them out like we did at the nursing home because of the rules, but the lady at the front desk told us she would certainly hand them out for us. We wanted people to feel special, feel loved, know we care, that Jesus cares. If there were more Christians who could be selfless and love other people like Jesus loves, this world would be a better place. There would be less broken hearts, less pain, more people falling in love with Christ and the freedom and redemption and hope he offers.

A big problem is that there are lots of greedy Christians who are focused on themselves, and only care about what God has to offer them. That prevents God’s love from reaching people, the people who truly need his love most: the down-trodden, the weak, those left behind.

This is a reason Christ is so grounded in humility and so strongly desires to see it in us. It’s because being humble and selfless allows us to stop obsessing about ourselves and all the things we ‘need’ and don’t have, and allows us to take care of people who truly have need. Christ did not say “No, I’m not going to die for anyone, I want to live my life and be happy”; he did not refuse to die for us. He humbly accepted his fate, even though it meant he would suffer. He put someone else above his self.

“When you do things, do not let selfishness or pride be your guide. Instead, be humble and give more honor to others than to yourselves. Do not be interested only in your own life, but be interested in the lives of others.” Philippians 2:3-4

“Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:26-29

Jesus was perfect, deserved everything, and he was not self-centered. He placed other people above himself, event though it caused him pain. That’s because we needed him desperately. We are supposed to be like him, put others before ourselves, because others need us- and Christ through us- desperately.

I don’t want people walking around thinking Christians are hypocrites and liars, and that they try to act good but they are actually heartless. I want them to feel love and compassion and hope, I want them to see how headstrong we are in changing the world. That is who we are meant to be. But we have to be Christlike in the way we live, doing for others before we do for ourselves. That is how the world may know him, through us. This is the truth they were meant to see.

Improving our Weaknesses

Sometimes, I have a horribly hard time opening up to people. I can come across as distantand uncaring, maybe stuck up or heartless. None of these things are true, though. I love people, love spending time with people. I love making friends, I love talking, but I struggle because there has always been this piece of my heart that is outrageously introverted.

I remember in high school, I had friends that I really loved, but I was called quiet, and I would sit in class and do my best, but some piece of me always didn’t care, didn’t want to be there. I often felt isolated and like I didn’t know how to relate to anyone. I was always in my own little world, dreaming big dreams, thinking of what I would do after school, etc. maybe I didn’t trust people.

Anyway, I am partially a loner, I guess, but this is not good for the sake of God’s kingdom. I was in my bible class one day, and my teacher was talking about how God has presented his message of hope to the world in a general way, so even people in different cultures who haven’t had the chance to hear it will go to hell.

The problem isn’t because God is mean and cruel, but because he has placed the burden of responsibility on his own people. If people aren’t changing because of the Gospel, it’s because we aren’t doing our job to the best of our ability, simply put. God has told us to go and make disciples:

“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'” Matthew 28:18-20

So when people aren’t getting saved and changed, it’s because we’re not doing good at all about telling people about Christ. This apathetic world who looks at Christianity as just some random theory is because we have been seriously slacking. So when my teacher reminded me of this, I felt such a sense of urgency to tell the world, spread the message, save a soul, change a mind, and most importantly, change a heart.

I have to get over my introversion to make room for God. Someone took time out of their day to show me how important God was, and I am so thankful for that, because I accepted Christ because of it. The genuine change in my heart, the strength I have found, it is all amazing. So who am I to keep that from somebody else?

I am learning to get over myself and my weakness for the sake of God’s kingdom. Some days I really don’t feel like posting, but I do, because it forces me to face my challenges. I try to talk to people about God try to be friendlier, try to open up more. It’s not easy, but I see drastic improvement from where I used to be.

I am stretching myself for God. A lot of times, Christians don’t realize that they get in the way of their own progress. We have so many weaknesses we need to work on. Some need to stop being greedy, stop putting themselves first, and learn to serve others. Some need to share more, some need to spend more time with God, pray more, etc. (In fact, literally every Christian can still improve in these areas! Because we are never perfect.) There are always things to improve on.

If that wasn’t true, more people would be changed, we would have reached more people by now. But it is okay to have weakness because we have Christ. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to make our weak points stronger. I need to talk more to tell people about Jesus, so little by little, I talk to more and more people to improve. If I needed to pray more, I would make sure I prayed for 1 or a few people each day.

We have to realize our weaknesses if we are ever going to be able to change them.

It’s good to surround ourselves with godly people, who can hold us accountable and keep us on track. We should help to build each other up; set goals and then work hard at them to improve and achieve them. We need each other, we depend on each other:

“Two people are better than one, because they get more done by working together. If one falls down, he other can help him up. But it is bad for the person who is alone and falls, because no one is there to help.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Then we can get out of our own way and God can do what he needs to do. It’s not God not doing his job. God works through us to get his will done. We have to start doing our job. We have to learn where we fall short, so we can improve and be able to do what God wants us to do. Embrace humility, be willing to change. When we get ourselves out of the way, then we may truly change the world!!

*Poetry Corner- “Ego”, greed

Ego

If there’s not time today
There will never be time

How come we’re the richest
Acting like we’re poorest?
Our egos are the biggest
And the sorest

Won’t open up our wallets
Because we are afraid
Having EVERYTHING is not enough
To make a change

How come we’re the richest
Acting like we’re poorest?
Our egos are the biggest
And the sorest

And the acidic greed inside our hearts
Burns away at our souls
Devouring everything it sees, it feeds
Until all that’s left are holes

Some people have what’s very small
Some have nothing at all
Very few are filthy rich like us
Have EVERYTHING and not enough
People suffer
And we wanna see change
But we ourselves are the problem
Standing in the way!

Making the world feel small
We have to have it all
And the bigger we are
The harder we fall
Why is the world
Callous and unfair?
‘Cause we don’t see greed in the mirror
But that doesn’t mean it isn’t there

If times are hard today,
They will never be easy
If there’s no money today
There will never be enough money

Can’t set broken hearts free
Starving and empty
While our endless greed
Only feeds and feeds
Can’t look them in the eyes
And see all their pain
If we keep living only for us
Then there will never be change

How come we’re the richest
Acting like w’re poorest?
Our egos are the biggest
And the sorest

-Jennifer Clayton
—————————-
I get so frustrated with countries like America. It’s not just us, but we definitely are super guilty of this. We hit hard times, like when the economy is going crazy and we’re afraid we will lose our jobs and houses and everything. But even at our worse, we are so much better off than other countries. Billions of people around the world live off less than $2 a day. And we are upset? I guarantee those people would take living in our difficult economy any day over living the way they live. At our worse, we are living better than most of the world. Our worse is better than their best.

Perry Noble once said that “only in America can you be obese and poor at the same time.” And he’s so right! People act like they broke, but they still have means of getting the things they need. I recognize that even when times are hard here, it doesn’t change the fact that we are born with silver spoons in our mouths. Perry also was talking about how we have storage houses for our cars. People in other countries could live with their whole family in one of our car garages. We have houses and then houses for our cars.

Only in America will we complain about how hard times are getting, and then you still see all these commercials about getting your dogs the best food and grooming them and treating them like they are just like people. It’s like, “yeah, these are hard times, but we still somehow have money for this stuff” It’s ridiculous! We’re struggling but we can take care of ourselves and our pets… when people in others places don’t have anything to feed their families, and they wouldn’t even think about pets!

We get so blinded by how much stuff we have. The poem is saying that we have big and sore egos. They are big because we constantly want more and more stuff, and sore because we sit and complain about everything we don’t have, even though we have everything. “If there’s no money today, there will never be enough money” means that if we have so much stuff, but still can’t find it in our hearts to give, because we feel that we don’t have enough, then we will never find it in our hearts to give.

There won’t be enough for everyone if we only want more. There will only ever be enough for everyone if we realize that we do have everything, and others desperately need our help and our generosity, so that they can survive, too.

This is why we need humility. Why Christ calls us to be humble and to give to the poor.

“But God gives us even more grace, as the Scripture says, ‘God is against the proud, but he gives grace to the humble.'” James 4:6

“Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’” Matthew 19:21

Humility and serving others gets rid of our blindness, pushes away our greed. And this is what we need. Loving people like this by giving and serving shows the world that Christ is real, because acts such as these truly show how he loves. When we are greedy, nobody can see Christ in us. People think we are liars and fake. Don’t put on an act. Get out there and do your job, show genuine love, and I guarantee people will change, and ultimately the world will change.

Paradox: Become Greater By Becoming Less

We, as human beings, want to be treated like we are the greatest people ever. In our own sinful, selfish nature, we naturally want to put ourselves before others, be taken care of first, put everyone else second. We say “my life is about ME, ME, ME.” In our walk with Christ, our own evil heart wants to be the center of attention, we want to make decisions for OUR lives, we don’t want Jesus to make them for us. WE want to lead. WE always have the answers.

But that’s an interesting paradox when it comes to living for Jesus:

“Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 10:26-28

We must put ourselves last to become first. To Christ, humility shows much greater strength and deserves much more honor than pride does. A proud man in God’s sight is a wicked man, he is about himself, not concerned with the wellbeing of others, so long as he gets what he desires.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:3-11

So essentially, because Christ, who in his nature is God, decided to humble himself and be a servant and serve others, rather than trying to be equal with God the Father, God made him the greatest person, ruling over all the others. Because of his complete humility and obedience and willingness to be beneath others, God honored him and gave him glory and gave him everything.

Strange paradox, but true. When we fight the desire in our heart to be first, and instead truly desire to serve others, help them when they are in need, show them how to live upright lives for God, and take care of their needs before we worry about our own, God will take care of us. When we make ourselves like nothing, we will bring him glory and he will honor us, and we will be the most blessed.

It’s because God admires humility so much. When we put others first, he puts us first. He loves humility because when we are humble, he really gets to be in charge of our lives, and we help others more, love others more, are more compassionate, caring, and we can change the world with such love. Humility means we stop being arrogant and recognize that others have needs, too. We serve others, and these other people we serve are God’s children, and he sees how we help them. To become great in God’s sight, we have to become less. We have to be second, instead of being first.

“Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.” Proverbs 18:12

“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Proverbs 11:2

“In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’” 1 Peter 5:5

Jesus was abused, cursed at, spit on, died on a cross for us. He was obedient to his father to the point of death. He could have called angels to kill all the people who hurt him, who caused him nothing but pain and misery. He is God! But he did not. He loved them, he still prayed for them, still died for them. Humility. Serving others. Obedient. And God sees his son denying himself for the sake of others, and now Jesus is the greatest one ever, and it is impossible to get to heaven with out him. He is the greatest one in our lives, the most important, most significant.

When you want a position like that, and you aim for that, being proud and depending on yourself and being all about yourself, trying to exalt yourself, God makes you last and the least among men, and you will never achieve such greatness.

A lot of people don’t understand the paradox. When others are trying to make their names great, they get caught up in sin and really aren’t great. When I am trying to make Jesus’s name great, and I am serving others for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven, he sees that, and I will achieve more than the selfish person.

Embrace the paradox. Or face the frustration of constantly trying to succeed and only finding failure. Make Jesus’s name greater. When it comes to yourself, become less.