Thoughts for the Week

Archive for December, 2015

Traditions vs. The Heart

Around Christmastime, most people look forward to the traditions their families have set up. Having these traditions (especially around the holidays) can be a wonderful thing that helps build memories and bring a family closer together.

However, it can be very easy to fall into the traditions and forget the heart behind the holiday.

In Matthew chapter 15, the Pharisees rebuked Jesus because his disciples were not washing their hands before they ate, which was a cultural and spiritual taboo at the time. The spiritual leaders of the day were intent that no one”break the tradition of the elders” (v.2 NIV).

But Jesus retorted, pointing out spiritual laws that the Pharisees had not been honoring (v.3-9). The question was, why does it matter if your hands are clean, if your heart is not?

Any one can follow all the “rules” and appear to be a good person on the outside. But according to this passage, that doesn’t mean much to Jesus. He cares about the heart.

This Christmas, it’s okay to get wrapped up in traditions, as long as you keep your heart in the right place and aim to honor the reason that you are celebrating Christmas traditions.

Copyright 2015 by Molly Farnsley. Use by permission only.

The Mustard Tree and The Miracle

Most of us are familiar with the parable of the mustard seed in Luke 13:18-19.

However, very few could recall the miracle that occurred just before the parable and the significance it holds.

It was the miracle when Jesus healed the crippled woman on the Sabbath (13:10-17). The text indicates that she had been bent over and hobbling for eighteen years (v.11). In society’s eyes, she had very little value and was most likely overlooked.

However, Jesus called her up front in the synagogue and healed her instantly and she began giving praises to God (v.13).

When Jesus transitions to his parable of the mustard seed, this miracle must have fresh in everyone’s mind. He compares the Kingdom of Heaven as being like a mustard seed which grows into large tree.

Since most people today don’t have their own herb gardens, the dramatic comparison Jesus was making is not obvious. At a quick glance, it seems that Jesus is only saying that the Kingdom of Heaven can sometimes start out small, and then become something powerful just like the mustard tree.

But mustard seeds don’t grow into trees. The type of plant Jesus was talking about was most likely the White Mustard or Sinapis alba which grows in the Middle East. Like in the picture above, they only grow into shrubs or bushes at the most.

A modern-day version for Northern Americans would be to say that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a Queen Ann’s lace seed, which was planted and grew into a large tree.

The miraculous part of the parable is not that a small thing became big. It is that a small thing became impossible.

Just like the crippled woman who had been healed. She had been insignificant in the society’s eyes. But Jesus healed her, and she praised God because of this impossible miracle.

Copyright 2015 by Molly Farnsley. Use by permission only.

Incomparably Great Power

A while back, I had a friend struggling with difficult issues.

She shared how she wished she had the strength to deal with the pain she was feeling, but said she felt weak and helpless. I found a few verses in Ephesians that I wrote down on an index card and gave to her. The text is:

“[We have] his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms” (Eph 17:19-20, NIV).

I wanted to remind her that she wasn’t facing her troubles on her own. God was willing to give her the same power he used to raise Jesus from the dead. It doesn’t get more powerful than that!

When you feel like you’re struggling, you don’t have to reply on your own strength; ask God for some of his incomparably great power.

Copyright 2015 by Molly Farnsley. Use by permission only.

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