Matthew 16 – A Time to Celebrate!

Mercy and love will heal our country

Time to celebrate!  Parades, games, water fun and fireworks.  Family, neighbours and strangers together to celebrate.  Red and white everywhere.

And food!  Everything of the red and white variety, everything of the barbecued variety, everything of the Canadian variety – maple, Nanaimo, butter tart and poutine…

This celebration came just in time for me to be reminded of everything good in my country.  Facebook was filled with 150 reasons to celebrate our great country.  So much to be thankful for!

Happy 150th birthday, Canada!

It came just in time, because lately I’ve been looking at my country and getting discouraged by what I see.  I turn on the news and learn something new about my country that makes my heart sad.

Matthew 16 is both a rebuke and a reminder.

‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.  Mt 16:3

I see the signs and I’m filled with sadness, but Jesus rebukes me and reminds me that I’m forgetting something.

Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? Mt 16:9

Looking at history and all the miraculous things that have happened in our beauty filled country remind me that God has been present along the way, and is still at work today. From the first missionary who set foot in our land and erected that first cross, to the present day Bishops, so many care about the people of this land.

On this day, the 150th birthday of Canada, from sea to shining sea, our Bishops stepped up to altars in every diocese in our country and consecrated our land and our people to the loving heart of Mary.  They also see the pain and suffering of our people, and they are seeking a solution from Heaven.  A miracle just like the five loaves for the five thousand.  It happened then and it will happen now, with Mary bringing people to the loving heart of her Son Jesus.

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”  Mt 16:15

The solution comes down to individuals like you and me.  Each heart that is turned to Jesus, the Son of God, will be filled with mercy and love.  And mercy and love will heal our country.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  Mt 16:24

Action.  Jesus is asking us to reach out to our neighbours.  Share His mercy and love, and speak of Him, so that He can bring them also to His loving Heart.

Jesus’ love for us is so great that it is limitless.  His Heart is so big that it has room for every person.  We can turn to Jesus and find the love and the healing that we need in our lives.  His mercy and love flow from His Heart and cover our whole land.

Can you picture it?  I can.  Healing rays coming from the Heart of Jesus and covering our whole land.

If each person in this great country of ours is touched by the Heart of Jesus and guided by His mother Mary, we will not only be healed, but we will be strong and whole and a witness to the power of prayer.

So fall to your knees and join the Bishops and faithful of our country, and pray, just as I am.  Pray for love and mercy and healing, and ask how YOU can make a difference.  For His sake tell your neighbours the good things that God has done for you.  For Jesus will win the battle for our country, and He will do it one heart at a time.

It is, and will be, a time to celebrate!

For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.  Mt 16:27

YOUR TURN:  Read Matthew 16.  Take out your Bible and read it or read it online here. Read the scripture and listen with your heart to what God’s Spirit is saying to you.  Then write it down in your journal.  You will enjoy being able to see God at work in your life.

ABC BIBLE SHARING:  A great way to read your scriptures.  Follow the ABC Bible Sharing Method here.

PRAY:  Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.  This prayer is short but powerful.  Repeat it to yourself over and over, asking Jesus to reveal His Heart to you.

 

Matthew 15 – Mercy and Summer Prayers

Matthew - a journey through Matthew

Hi!  I’m Melina, Catholic homeschooling mother of 11 and Grandmelina to 2!

Dear Jesus, I come before you today.  Open my heart and my mind as I read Matthew. Help me to understand what You are trying to say to me, and to see what You are trying to show me.  I love You.

Amen.

This devotion is following a similar format to the ABC Bible Sharing Method.  I encourage you to not only read this devotion, but read Matthew 15 yourself, and see what God has to speak to YOUR heart.  You can do that while following along with us, or even better – get together weekly with a group of friends and share with each other how God is working in your lives.

How to follow the ABC Bible Sharing Method.

You can read your own Bible or read an online version like the one below.  I like to use my own Bible so I can highlight, circle and underline those things that stand out for me.

You can find Matthew 15 here.

LAST WEEK:

My challenge from last week’s devotion was to spend my first hour at adoration doing just that – adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.  We have adoration at our Parish only on the First Friday of the month, and now that the kids are all older and don’t need me at home all of the time, I try to go for more than one hour.  I make this time my monthly retreat.  The Blessed Sacrament is exposed for 5 hours, and sometimes I am able to go for all 5 hours, but I go for at least 2 hours.  I take the time to adore, but I also spend the time praying my rosary, reading my Bible, and writing down in my journal what God has been doing in my life lately and what He is speaking to me during my adoration time.

That being said, I don’t think I have ever taken a whole hour to just gaze on the Blessed Sacrament and to sit and kneel in quiet adoration with no other distractions.  Even though my mind did try to wander at times, I always brought it back to the task at hand – the task of adoring Jesus for who He is, for what He has done, for what He is and for what He has done in MY life.

This hour reminded me of the pure awesomeness of Jesus, and was an hour of pure peace.  I will definitely be starting all of my monthly adoration retreats in exactly the same way.

Now on to today’s devotion…

BEST VERSE:

It is not what goes into a man’s mouth that makes him impure; it is what comes out of his mouth.  What comes out of the mouth originates in the mind.  verses 11 and 18

Again, this whole idea of impure words is speaking to me, probably because this is a weakness of mine.  The more often I pray my rosary, the more often I have good thought and speak good words.  As you can imagine, that is a great incentive for me to pray my rosary, and I pray anywhere from 5 to 20 decades each day, with 20 being my daily goal.

So praying the rosary daily, as well as spending time in monthly Adoration, fills my mind with good things.  It helps me to guard my thoughts and speak good words.  It is a real struggle at times for me to think good thoughts, especially after I’ve been hurt.  But daily I lift those struggles up and allow God to fill me so that the words I speak hopefully will be from Him, full of love and mercy.

Already my life is filled with challenges in living a faith filled life, but God is still calling me to more.

Now on to this week’s challenge for me.

CHALLENGE VERSE:

Lord, Son of David, have pity on me!    Verses 22

My Bible uses the word “pity” in verse 22 while many other translations use the word “mercy.”  Mercy is not a new theme for me to be meditating on, but it is certainly what God is bringing to my mind over and over these days.

The Jesus Prayer says “LORD JESUS CHRIST, SON OF GOD, HAVE MERCY ON ME, A SINNER.”  It is short, and it is simple, but it is filled with much truth and insight.  It is meant to be repeated over and over, a form of unceasing prayer as mentioned by the Apostle Paul.

It is called a Prayer of the Heart.  The very act of repeating these words turns our heart towards the love of God, lays open our heart with all the ugliness of sin, and bring us to the healing Heart of Jesus.

All of this in 12 little, but very powerful words.  Our whole faith is summed up in these words.  And the act of repeating these words and allowing them to transform our lives, brings us to the MERCY of Jesus and fills us with mercy towards others.

The Jesus Prayer

I was first introduced to the Jesus Prayer in the Russian spiritual classic “The Way of a Pilgrim.”  I spent years praying and being changed by this little prayer without realizing the importance of this prayer in the Orthodox churches.  I only knew what I gained from this prayer.  I grew in the awareness of mercy.

I just finished praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet Novena for a couple of special intentions, and I saw God already starting to work in those relationships.  The Novena brought me through the Feasts of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  When I started the Novena, I didn’t realize it would, but praying the Mercy Chaplet while meditating on the Heart of Jesus brought me to an even deeper appreciation and understanding of the His Mercy and of Our Lady of His Mercy.

I want to continue meditating on the Mercy of Jesus, and I will do that by praying the Jesus Prayer daily for at least 15 minutes, as well as meditating on Mercy while praying my rosary.  Summer is the perfect time to do this.  I look forward to taking daily walks and praying.  I’m anxious to see what more God has to teach me.

It may look like I’m spending a lot of time in prayer, but after I get used to spending a certain amount of time in prayer, and it becomes a part of my daily schedule, it always feels like there is time for more.  But I started off small, and it has grown over the years. Instead of being overwhelmed by prayer, I encourage you to look at your schedule and to see when is the best time to schedule it in.  You will never regret it!

 

 

Matthew 14 – PRAYER, FAITH & ACTION

Matthew - a journey through Matthew

Hi!  I’m Melina, homeschooling mother of 11 and Grandmelina to 2!

Dear Jesus, I come before you today.  Open my heart and my mind as I read Matthew. Help me to understand what You are trying to say to me, and to see what You are trying to show me.  I love You.

Amen.

ABC Bible Sharing Method with blue heart

How to follow the ABC Bible Sharing Method.

You can read your own Bible or read an online version like the one below.  I like to use my own Bible so I can highlight, circle and underline those things that stand out for me.

You can find Matthew 14 here.

BEST VERSE:

That was because John had told him, “It is not right for you to live with her.”

Matthew 14:4

This isn’t really a favourite verse of mine in the good sense, and it always fill me with discouragement.  John was killed because he boldly spoke the truth.  It’s really kind of scary, for we also are called to speak the truth.  Sometimes.  This particular truth – “It is not right for you to live with her” – seems to be particularly hard for people to hear.  They’ve already convinced themselves that there is nothing wrong with it.  But if this is you, you really do need to change your lifestyle at some point to be able to hear and accept God’s truth.

CHALLENGE VERSE:

When Jesus heard this, He withdrew by boat from there to a deserted place by himself.

Matthew 14:13

I read the book Poustinia by Catherine Doherty recently.  In there, she talks about taking yourself to a secluded place (your poustinia) to pray.  She shows that the prayers offered there are for the community and if the community needs you, you leave the poustinia to serve. Afterwards, you return to prayer and the poustinia.  So the service is a prayer and the silence is a prayer.

Even though both is a prayer, my challenge today is to find some quiet prayer at adoration –  to spend a good hour just adoring before my “busy” prayer of rosary and scripture reading and journal writing.

YOUR TURN!  What has God spoken to your heart today?

Matthew 13 – STORIES TO CURE SLUGGISH HEARTS

Matthew - a journey through MatthewHi!  I’m Melina, homeschooling mother of 11 and Grandmelina to 2!

Dear Jesus, I come before you today.  Open my heart and my mind as I read Matthew. Help me to understand what You are trying to say to me, and to see what You are trying to show me.  I love You.

Amen.

ABC Bible Sharing Method with blue heart

How to follow the ABC Bible Sharing Method.

You can read your own Bible or read an online version like the one below.  Different versions can sometimes bring greater clarification.  I like to use my own Bible so I can highlight, circle and underline those things that stand out for me.

You can find Matthew 13 online here.

BEST VERSE:

Sluggish indeed is this people’s heart; otherwise they might see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn back to me, and I should heal them.

Matthew 13:15

First we become as little children (Matthew 11:25) then we change our hearts (Matthew 12), then we can become true disciples of Jesus.  We will see, hear, understand, turn back and be healed.

A sluggish heart is the last thing that we want when we’re following Jesus.  We want our heart to flutter when we hear His name spoken.  We want our pulse to quicken when we know we’ll be seeing Him.  We want our time with Jesus to be special.

What if…Jesus was the love of our life?  How different would our life look?

Then our whole world would revolve around Jesus.  We would talk about Him in that voice reserved for those in love.  We would get lost in thought, in the middle of a busy day, just thinking of our love.  He would be our first thought upon waking in the morning and our last thought before falling asleep at night.  We would re-arrange our schedule just so we could spend time together.

Now THAT is what we want.  To fall so deeply in love with Jesus that our hearts change, not because we are told to, but because we WANT to.

Now THAT is what we want - 2

CHALLENGE VERSE:

“Why do you speak to them in parables?”  He answered:  “To you has been given a knowledge of the mysteries of the reign of God, but it has no been given to the others.

Matthew 13:10-11

 

 

Jesus spoke in stories so that people could understand what He was speaking of.  The disciples understood more, but the stories helped to clarify things for them too.

I will take time this week to think back to when God revealed certain truths to me and share that story.  My kids LOVE to hear stories of my past.  This week I will focus on stories about learning from Jesus – the what and the how.

YOUR TURN!  What has God spoken to your heart today?

Matthew 12 – CHANGE MY HEART O GOD

Matthew - a journey through MatthewHi!  I’m Melina, homeschooling mother of 11 and Grandmelina to 2!

Dear Jesus, I come before you today.  Open my heart and my mind as I read Matthew. Help me to understand what You are trying to say to me, and to see what You are trying to show me.  I love You.

Amen.

ABC Bible Sharing Method with blue heart

How to follow the ABC Bible Sharing Method.

You can read your own Bible or read an online version like the one below.  I like to use my own Bible so I can highlight, circle and underline those things that stand out for me.

Find Matthew 12 online here.

BEST VERSE:

It is mercy I desire and not sacrifice.

Matthew 12:7

 

Sometimes we are burdened by the laws of the Church and even by the busy-ness of doing things for God.  We need to remember WHY we are doing these things and WHY the Church asks certain things of us.  The fruit of sacrifice should be mercy, and if it is not it is a good indication that WE are doing something wrong.  ALWAYS we need to pray to have the heart of Jesus.  When we are changed inside, our actions will reflect that change – MERCY.

CHALLENGE VERSE:

The mouth speaks whatever fills the mind.  A good man produces good from his store of goodness, and evil man produces evil from his evil store.

Matthew 12:34-35

Have you ever met someone who recently fell in love?  The person they love is all they talk about, because that is what is filling their mind.  Same thing with someone with a passion.  And if your passion is Jesus Christ, He will fill your mind and you will speak of Him.

I had recently allowed bitterness to fill my heart, and I realized just how much it had when my words, and facial expressions, were very negative and filled with anger.  It surprised me just how much it had consumed me, and I decided it was time to make a change.

My challenge is to pray all 20 mysteries of the rosary as often as possible to change my thoughts, and as a result, my words.  This is something I was doing several times a week, but I find I haven’t been doing it as often lately, and I’m noticing the difference in me.  Prayer, meditation and contemplation is a sure path to healing and happiness.

YOUR TURN!  What has God spoken to your heart today?

Matthew 11 – PRAISE AND TRUST

Hi!  I’m Melina, homeschooling mother of 11 and Grandmelina to 2!

Dear Jesus, I come before you today.  Open my heart and my mind as I read Matthew. Help me to understand what You are trying to say to me, and to see what You are trying to show me.  I love You.

Amen.

ABC Bible Sharing Method with blue heart

How to follow the ABC Bible Sharing Method.

You can read your own Bible or read an online version like the one below.  I like to use my own Bible so I can highlight, circle and underline those things that stand out for me.

You can find Matthew 11 online here.

BEST VERSE:

Father, Lord of heaven and earth, to you I offer praise; for what you have hidden from the learned and the clever you have revealed to the merest children.

Matthew 11:25

I recently read how as we grown up we lose the wonder we had as children.  The learned and the clever, or us as adults, are able to explain away any wonder that is presented to us by God, yet what we are called to do is to look on in wonder and offer God praise.  We can praise Him for the small everyday wonders as well as the big wonders.  When we do, we will regain that awe that we had as children.  My husband has this awe, and when I see it in him it is a reminder to me.

CHALLENGE VERSE:

Come to me all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you.

Matthew 11:28

Life isn’t meant to be lived without God.  He created us and He calls us to Himself.  We are called to praise Him, but also to trust Him.  It is only when I try to do things on my own that life becomes weary and burdensome.  When there is no one else to lean on, God is always there to turn to.  Trust.  And allow God in.  That’s my challenge.  To let God in so He can take over.  I need to step back so that God can once again by center of my life.  It’s amazing how often I let him slip from the center…

YOUR TURN!  What has God spoken to your heart today?

Matthew 10 – MISSION

Matthew - a journey through MatthewHi!  I’m Melina, homeschooling mother of 11 and Grandmelina to 2!

Dear Jesus, I come before you today.  Open my heart and my mind as I read Matthew. Help me to understand what You are trying to say to me, and to see what You are trying to show me.  I love You.

Amen.

ABC Bible Sharing Method with blue heart

How to follow the ABC Bible Sharing Method.

You can read your own Bible or read an online version like the one below.  I like to use my own Bible so I can highlight, circle and underline those things that stand out for me.

You can find Matthew 10 online here.

BEST VERSE:

What I am doing is sending you out like sheep among wolves.

Matthew 10:16

Even though we are WOLF – Women of Laughter and Faith – God is calling us to be like sheep. Sheep gather together for protection, they listen to the voice of their shepherd, they trust their shepherd, they follow their shepherd, they are gentle towards others, their wool keeps them warm or cool and protects them from rain and injury, and they are just so soft and cuddly looking!  If we are called to go out like sheep among wolves, then Jesus is calling us to witness to others by our very lives and to stand true to the truths that we learn from Jesus.  He will protect us.

CHALLENGE VERSE:

Go instead after the lost sheep of Israel.  As you go make this announcement:  “The reign of God is at hand!”

Matthew 10:6-7

Our mission is to find other sheep among those wolves.  Yes, we need to witness with our life and stand firm with God, but we also need to witness to others with our words.  We need to announce that the reign of God is at hand.  So many people want God in their lives and don’t know how to do it!  And sometimes they don’t realize even what it is that they are searching for.

My challenge is to look at my life and see what I am doing to witness.  Writing it down will help me to see what I am doing, and how God wants me to grow or change those areas.  I’m being called to do less, but do it more effectively.

YOUR TURN!  What has God spoken to your heart today?