Monday, August 29, 2011

Journal Notes, Matthew 15-18

Reminder:  Homework due Wednesday, August 31......Read and journal Matthew 15-28

A number of Matthew passages stood out and spoke directly to me, all of which shared the same the central theme. Faith.

I'm sure I've been through other periods like this in my life......times when everything seemed to go wrong. Vehicles, health issues, home repair issues, kid issues....big and small. In the past few months a new problem revealed itself nearly every week.

Grace is present, yes. And blessing. But problems piled upon problems lead to discouragement. For anyone.

Does a new dedication to prayer and Bible reading make me Satan's target? Hmm.

My husband prayed regularly for weeks about a specific problem.....getting the van registered for another year. He even set an alarm to remind himself to pray at intervals. Despite his dedication, we must go in tomorrow to get another thirty-day extension (the last one allowed) on smog repairs we still can't quite afford. So instead of putting this intensely frustrating problem behind us, we have to pray for another month. Other things are needed for school and for winter prep and for home repairs, that also must wait. And it's no small matter that the adults here lose health insurance at the end of September, frustrating a very moody peri-menopausal woman, hoping to seek treatment for increasingly debilitating migraines.

The Matthew passages reminded me, as did the church sermon today, that problems are only frustrating when we lack faith.

Matthew 15:25-28

25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
 26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
 27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
 28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

Matthew 16:5-11
5 When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. 6 “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
 7 They discussed this among themselves and said, “It is because we didn’t bring any bread.”
 8 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? 9 Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 11 How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

Matthew 17:14-20
14 When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. 16 I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.”
   17 “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” 18 Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment.
 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
 20 He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, 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.”

Matthew 18:1-4
1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
 2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

My husband has to work hard to maintain faith about our vehicles. I have to work hard to maintain faith about our children's futures. Are either of us being like little children, trusting God effortlessly? Isn't our discouragement a lack of faith?

My Bible study is like daily manna. It gives me a simple soul task....a task that nourishes and fixes me.

When I'm heavy laden, I know what the answer is. Believe like a little child and keep my joy. Get out of the way so my mustard-seed faith can move mountains.

A side note of gratitude:  Sometimes when there's no money and we all suffer, I wonder if I should be in the workforce. But God always replies "No. Not you. Be a keeper at home." Today was our second visit to a 3-year-old, non-denominational church that meets in the local elementary school. The pastor mentioned that a local boy (not from the church) accidentally killed himself by hanging. Apparently a lot of kids are trying to get a temporary high by limiting their oxygen levels.

The state of things has never been more shocking. Hearing these things, it's hard not to feel physically sick. There's never been a better time to be a keeper at home....and to homeschool. No matter what my physical circumstances are, I'm blessed that my kids are safe from a culture of destruction. I pray that God blesses them with bold, abiding faith, enabling them to go out into the world and change it for Christ.

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