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.

You can find Matthew 14 here.

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.

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:  Read Matthew 14 and listen with your heart to what God’s Spirit is saying to you.  Then write down what you hear and feel, or what stands out for you in your journal.  You will enjoy being able to see God at work in your life.  If you’re unsure what to write, you can follow the method listed below.

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

PRAYER:  Thank you God for sending Your Son, Jesus, to lead us and guide us in the Gospels close to Your loving heart.  Help me to listen to Your Word with my heart and allow Your Word to draw me closer to You.  Amen.

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.

You can find Matthew 11 online here.

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.

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:  Read Matthew 11 and listen with your heart to what God’s Spirit is saying to you.  Then write down what you hear and feel, or what stands out for you in your journal.  You will enjoy being able to see God at work in your life.  If you’re unsure what to write, you can follow the method listed below.

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

PRAYER:  Thank you God for sending Your Son, Jesus, to lead us and guide us in the Gospels close to Your loving heart.  Help me to listen to Your Word with my heart and allow Your Word to draw me closer to You.  Amen.

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.

You can find Matthew 10 online here.

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.

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:  Read Matthew 10 and listen with your heart to what God’s Spirit is saying to you.  Then write down what you hear and feel, or what stands out for you in your journal.  You will enjoy being able to see God at work in your life.  If you’re unsure what to write, you can follow the method listed below.

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

PRAYER:  Thank you God for sending Your Son, Jesus, to lead us and guide us in the Gospels close to Your loving heart.  Help me to listen to Your Word with my heart and allow Your Word to draw me closer to You.  Amen.

Matthew 9 – STEPPING FORTH IN COURAGE

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.

You can find Matthew 9 online here.

When Jesus saw their faith He said to the paralytic,  “Have courage, son, your sins are forgiven.”

Matthew 9:2

 

But of course Jesus does much more than heal our hurts, He forgives our sins.  Jesus is God, one part of the Holy Trinity:  God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. He is so much more than a teacher and a preacher and a healer:  He is God.  And He speaks of courage again, the courage to face life and whatever trials come our way, knowing that Jesus is not only with us, but that He has forgiven our sins and make us worthy to approach God the Father.

The harvest is good but labourers are scarce.  Beg the harvest master to send out labourers to gather His harvest.

Matthew 9:37

God is calling us to labour for Him.  It is us who needs to respond to His call.

I started jotting down all the ways that God has helped me to grow – through people, through situations, through books, through opportunities, through scripture, through prayer… – and just the act of thinking about this journey with God has filled me with so much gratitude.  My heart actually feels like it has swelled in my chest.  Who am I, that my Lord has come to me?  Or my Saviour, that He is mindful of me?  I am nobody.  Yet God has touched me and wishes to use me.

The summer is always a great time to look back on what the Lord has done, and also to plan for the next year.  I look to see what ministries I can serve in, what books I can read and study, how to arrange my personal schedule for bible study and prayer.  So that’s my challenge again this year – to take time to pray and take time to plan.

YOUR TURN:  Read Matthew 9 and listen with your heart to what God’s Spirit is saying to you.  Then write down what you hear and feel, or what stands out for you in your journal.  You will enjoy being able to see God at work in your life.  If you’re unsure what to write, you can follow the method listed below.

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

PRAYER:  Thank you God for sending Your Son, Jesus, to lead us and guide us in the Gospels close to Your loving heart.  Help me to listen to Your Word with my heart and allow Your Word to draw me closer to You.  Amen.

Matthew 8 – GRATEFULNESS AND COURAGE

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.

You can find Matthew 8 online here.

Where is your courage?…complete calm ensued.

Matthew 8:26

Courage – when faced with illness or storms or attacks by evil spirits – brings calm.  And not just any courage, but the courage to trust that Jesus will act.  And not just any calm, but complete calm.

Jesus took her by the hand and the fever left her.  She got up at once and began to wait on Him.

Matthew 8:15

“Jesus took her by the hand.”  That’s how close Jesus is to us when we’re suffering.  We are not going through it alone.  And when the time comes that we are healed – of physical, emotional or spiritual pain – we shouldn’t waste any time acting.  It’s Jesus who healed us, people!  We are HEALED!  Now is the time to show Jesus how grateful we are. By how we treat others.

Building on my challenge from yesterday, I will make small acts towards those who’ve hurt me – keeping the truth behind my actions a secret.  Just because Jesus has healed me of my hurt (and I trust that He has!), doesn’t mean that the relationship still doesn’t need healing.  For my part I can begin this process of healing the relationship with kindness and serving.  This too takes courage, because there’s always the danger that I’ll be treated the same way again, but without the past hurt still there, I can now react differently and take the new situation to prayer.  And really, if someone does hurt me, it should be their problem and not mine.

YOUR TURN:  Read Matthew 8 and listen with your heart to what God’s Spirit is saying to you.  Then write down what you hear and feel, or what stands out for you in your journal.  You will enjoy being able to see God at work in your life.  If you’re unsure what to write, you can follow the method listed below.

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

PRAYER:  Thank you God for sending Your Son, Jesus, to lead us and guide us in the Gospels close to Your loving heart.  Help me to listen to Your Word with my heart and allow Your Word to draw me closer to You.  Amen.

Matthew 7 – WISDOM AND FREEDOM

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.

You can find Matthew 7 online here.

Anyone who hears my words and puts them into practice is like the wise (woman) who built (her) house on rock.

Matthew 7:24

The challenges we take after reading or hearing Jesus’ words in the gospels is what Jesus is talking about here.  Wisdom is recognizing Jesus as our Lord and Saviour and becoming His disciple:  allowing Him to teach us and mold us.  Then it doesn’t matter what storms will come, because our wisdom comes from God and will keep us strong.

Your verdict on others will be the verdict passed on to you.

Matthew 7:1

This verse, as well as verse 15 of chapter 6:  “If you do not forgive others neither will your Father forgive you,” really speak to me.  Keeping our thoughts pure is just as important as keeping our actions pure.  Even if nobody knows what we’re thinking, God does.  But eventually our negative thoughts come out in our words or actions.  There are a few people I need to forgive more wholeheartedly.  So what if they hurt me?  I can walk away from the hurt, and if they continue to hurt me, I can walk away from them.  I need to pray for their hidden hurts, the ones very few people know about, because there is a reason why they hurt me.  They probably have no idea that I’m still hurting, or even the extent of the hurt they caused, which I also have hidden.  Releasing that hurt, and the resulting anger and resentment, will bring freedom!

YOUR TURN:  Read Matthew 7 and listen with your heart to what God’s Spirit is saying to you.  Then write down what you hear and feel, or what stands out for you in your journal.  You will enjoy being able to see God at work in your life.  If you’re unsure what to write, you can follow the method listed below.

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

PRAYER:  Thank you God for sending Your Son, Jesus, to lead us and guide us in the Gospels close to Your loving heart.  Help me to listen to Your Word with my heart and allow Your Word to draw me closer to You.  Amen.

Taking a Prayer Walk in the Morning

Taking a prayer walk in the morning

What better way to start the morning than taking a walk?  But let’s not lose this opportunity to pray!

My favourite prayer to pray while walking is the rosary.  It lends itself very well to the repetitiveness of the sound of footsteps on the ground.  I often contemplate a specific scripture or Word from the Lord while meditating on the mysteries of the rosary.

At least once a week, I like to pray the Jesus Prayer while walking around town.  As I walk by each house, I pray for the people in those houses – for their needs and their intentions.  I usually walk very early in the morning before anybody is out and about, but if I walk a little later, I’ll stop and pass the time of day with anyone who is looking to chat.

I live in a very small town and it takes less than 1/2 hour to cover all of the houses, but your neighbourhood is probably just the right size for you.

But don’t stop there, you can also take a similar walk around your home.

Going from room to room, pray for your family members who occupy those rooms.  As you wash the dishes, pray for the people who ate off those dishes.  As you fold the clothes, pray for the people who wore those clothes.

Prayer is an important ministry.  Miracles happen because of prayer.

So spread the love, and pray for your neighbours.

 

The ABC’s of Bible Sharing

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

I have to admit, I’m pretty excited about starting this Bible study with you.  God has been calling me to read and study scripture more, and I thought, why not do it here, with you? Scripture comes so much more alive for me when I have someone to share it with, and I’m looking forward to seeing how God is working in your lives.

First, take the time to read the chapter through quickly, as a story.  Sometimes I read it through a second time historically, looking at the setting and seeing the people as they would have been affected by the events unfolding, trying to see a theme.  Before reading the chapter through a final time, I sit still before God.  I ask Him to open the eyes of my heart and to reveal to me which verses He wants to bring to my attention.  Which verse is my favourite, and why?  Which verse(s) challenge me, and why? And what practical steps can I take to live this out?  Is there a verse, or a whole section that confuses me?  I take the time now to research it a little, then just let it rest in my heart, knowing that even if I don’t understand it now, I may someday in the future. There is plenty that God can speak to me in the verses that I do understand.  I take time to meditate on His Word, and contemplate what it means in my life.

In a nutshell, this is a rundown of the steps for reading each chapter.  When it comes to sharing it here, I will focus on one verse from each chapter that spoke to me in a special way. And I hope you will do the same.  I look forward to reading your comments. Remember, this is what God is speaking to you, and it can be as individual as you are.

GRAB YOUR BIBLE AND START READING!  GOD HAS SOME AMAZING THINGS TO SHARE WITH YOU!

So pull out your Bible and your journal, and start recording what God’s Spirit is speaking to your heart and your life.

ABC Bible Sharing Method with blue heart

I like to use this method with a whole chapter of my Bible, usually from the New Testament, but any length of reading from the New or Old Testament can be used.

A – A Title :  Choosing a title is straight forward (although harder for some than others).  Some people find it so easy to be inventive, and come up with such catchy titles, others are just functional.  You’re looking for a theme here, some recurring thought, or something that is speaking to your heart.  Try limiting your title to 5 or less words…but remember…you aren’t being graded here, you’re delving into the Word of God.  Write whatever works for you.

B – Best Verse :  Now we’re getting into the heart of what God is speaking to us.  Is there a verse you like?  Is there a verse that you’ve heard before that stands out for you?  Why?  Sometimes my “best verse” is a verse that has meaning for me, but isn’t always a “feel good” verse, but you know, God is speaking to ME and I write and share as honestly as I can.

C – Challenge Verse :  Now this, this is where things get serious.  Because now we’re choosing a verse (or a passage) that God is calling US to put into action THIS WEEK.  Of course, some challenges take longer than a week to achieve, but I am writing down WHAT STEPS I will take this week to start to implement this growth that God is calling me to.  Sometimes, week after week, I get the same challenge from different verses, because God is still working on a certain area of my life (you know, like deep cleaning my life).  Other times, I get a new and exciting challenge to work on.

D – Difficulties :  We all come across scripture that leaves us confused.  Sometimes research will bring us the answers.  Sometimes bringing it up with friends or our pastor can enlighten us.  Other times, we can just leave it, because really this study/sharing is about what God IS saying to US personally, and He probably isn’t speaking to us through these confusing verses anyways.

TRY USING THIS STUDY METHOD IN A SMALL GROUP!  DON’T KEEP ALL THE FUN TO YOURSELF!

For the more adventurous, try this in a small group setting.  This method works best when you do one chapter a week, but can be done daily as we are doing.  The Gospels work especially well with this format.

Everyone needs to prepare their sharings ahead of time.  To start, usually the challenges from the previous week are discussed.  How well were they lived out?  Next, the verses in the chapter are divided equally among the participants and each person takes a turn reading.  Different translations of the Bible make this interesting, sometimes clearing up difficulties right away.  Starting with “A” – a title – each person takes a turn sharing.  Continue with “B” – best verse, “C” – challenge verse, and, finally, “D” – difficulties, each person taking their turn.  If someone is in need of prayers, take the time to pray with them.  A snack to start or end the sharing time is appropriate.

Sharing this way builds bonds within the group.  It is important to keep all sharings confidential and to listen carefully when someone is speaking.  There should be an appointed leader of the group to keep everyone on track.

I’ve seen this format used with groups of couples and groups of women. I’ve even used it with my children.  It’s a good way to get them to think about Scripture and learn to implement it in their lives.  But of course, you can used this Bible sharing method with any group of people, with a group of 4-6 being the ideal so that everyone gets a chance to share as much as they need to.

But with others or alone, sit with your scripture and write down what God’s Spirit is speaking to you.  Then you can look back over the years and see how God has been moving in your life.  You’ll never regret it!

 

 

 

 

 

7 (oops 8!) Ways We Celebrate the True Meaning of Easter

8 ways we celebrate the true meaning of Easter

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

So many things to do with the kids for Easter to celebrate the true meaning of the holiday!  These are in addition to our church’s services.

1. The Tradition of Resurrection Eggs

Our set has 12 plastic eggs, and each egg contains a trinket and the corresponding scripture to take us through the Passion of Christ until His resurrection.  For example, we have a plastic donkey to represent the donkey Jesus rode on into Jerusalem.  We also have a dime to represent the silver coins paid to Judas for betraying Jesus.  A toothpick represents the spear used to pierce the side of Jesus.  You can read more about our resurrection eggs in this earlier post.

2.  Divine Mercy Novena

This novena, which lasts 9 days, begins on Good Friday and finishes on the Feast of Divine Mercy which is the Sunday after Easter.  The Mercy Chaplet is a set of prayers prayed with your rosary beads.  There is also an intention for each day of the Novena.  It is never too early to introduce your kids to this wonderful prayer!  Here’s a link to the Novena and Chaplet prayers.

3.  Family Time by Candlelight 

Good Friday is a great time to turn the lights off as evening comes, stay off of your computers, phones and devices, and spend the evening playing games by candlelight. We actually did this on Sundays during Lent, and plan to do this when we get home from our church’s Stations of the Cross on Good Friday.

4.  Decorate Hard Boiled Eggs for the Egg Cracking Ceremony

We usually boil and decorate our eggs on the Saturday of Easter weekend.  There are so many wonderful ideas to be found on Pinterest!  Our ceremony takes place at the beginning of our Easter meal.  We each take a decorated hard boiled egg and we turn to the person next to us.  When everyone is ready, one of the two people exclaims, “He is risen!” and the other answers, “Truly He is risen!”  Now we smash those two eggs together.  The person whose egg is still intact finds a new partner with an egg still intact and the fun continues until there is only one person left with an intact egg.  It’s a lot of fun!

5.  Write a Thank You Letter to Jesus

We haven’t done this one yet, but I’m anxious to do it this year.  Everyone writes a letter to Jesus, thanking Him for His Love and His Sacrifice.  After dinner, we all share what we’ve written.  If you haven’t written letters, you can still take time near the end of the meal for everyone to share.

6.  Easter Egg Hunt

What do eggs have to do with Easter?  The shell represents the tomb where Jesus was laid after His death, and a cracked shell represents the empty tomb after Jesus’ resurrection.  Easter is not Easter without chocolate.  One or two of our older kids is in charge of hiding small wrapped chocolate eggs around our yard.  When they’re all hidden,  the younger ones race to find them.  The person with the most eggs gets a special treat, while all of the eggs are pooled together and evenly distributed.  We usually find the odd chocolate egg here and there for weeks after Easter.

7.  Empty Tomb Rolls

We take large marshmallows, roll them first in melted butter, then in a cinnamon/sugar mixture.  Now we wrap the marshmallow completely with Pillsbury Crescent roll dough. Sometimes two of the crescent roll triangles are needed to cover one marshmallow. Now we bake them according to the package directions and the result is an empty crescent roll!  We serve these at our Easter meal.

8.  Hot Cross Buns

Good Friday wouldn’t be the same in our house without hot cross buns!  These buns are cut with a cross to represent the crucifixion of Jesus and are spiced to represent the spices used to embalm Him.  This is the only day of the year that I make hot cross buns, and we eat nothing during the day before they are served.  We serve our hot cross buns after the Mercy Chaplet which we pray together as a family at 3pm – the hour of Jesus’ death.  The kids often invite their friends to join us for the buns, and as an added bonus they also join us for the Mercy Chaplet. Our church gathers for the Way of the Cross in the evening, and it is led by our youth – including some of our kids.  Check out my hot cross bun recipe.

How to Pray the Rosary

how-to-pray-the-rosaryThe rosary is my favourite prayer.  It is a time to meditate on the life of Jesus and refocus the priorities in your life.  There won’t be a time that you pray the rosary that you don’t learn something new, something that God speaks to your heart.  It is a personal retreat in days filled with turmoil.  It is Mary showing us the way through her Son Jesus.  It is simply… awesome.  Don’t be afraid to start slowly and build on it.  There’s plenty of time.

Prayers Used in Praying the Rosary

Mysteries of the Rosary – can be prayed daily in their entirety or broken down into days

You can also pray a rosary with special meditations for our priests: