The Good District

The Misfortune of Talking Too Much when Making Commitments to Others

Milagros Joye BrownComment

Matthew 5: 34-37 (NRSV)

[34] But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, [35] or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. [36] And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. [37] Let your word be 'Yes, Yes' or 'No, No'; anything more than this comes from the evil one.

This passage of scripture should have a subtitle called "The Misfortune of Talking Too Much when Making Commitments to Others."

Words have power. They can educate, inform, uplift, or get us into trouble. Like that one time when you swore to your neighbor that you would water their beloved plants for a week, when you already had a million other commitments, and then it slipped your mind during the busiest week of your year, and the plants died, and you were desperately trying to figure out how to replace their favorite fern before your neighbor returned from their vacation... Remember that commitment?

Commitments are important. Being a person who keeps their word is important. It is a defining character trait to be a person whose intention matches their actions, and yet time and time again I find myself trapped in commitments I should have never made, and am struggling to keep.

Rather than just saying "Yes", when I can do something, and "No", when I cannot, I am prone to making emotional commitments, which leads to feelings of guilt, and then frustration, as I try to think of ways to get out of the very commitments I should have never made in the first place.

In the future, I will take this lesson from the Bible, and adhere to less is more. "Yes" or "No" to stay out of trouble and walking in His will.

ALL DAY EVERYDAY

Milagros Joye BrownComment

Matthew 5: 7-9 (NRSV)

[7] Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. [8] Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. [9] Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

There are many instances in the Bible where God clearly spells out the character of the people He would like us to be.

In this instance Jesus is giving instruction to his disciples, and what He said then remains true for us today.

He calls us to be merciful, to be pure in heart, and to be peacemakers, and He does not say to be these things some of the time.

This passage of scripture does not say "Blessed are those who are occasionally merciful... Blessed are those who try to be pure in heart... Blessed are those who are peacemakers when things are peaceful, but fall to anger when someone disrespects them..."  It calls for us to be merciful, pure, and full of peace all of the time.

God wants the very best from us, so that we can receive His best, and our lives can be a living testimony to others. When He gives us instruction, it isn't on our terms, when these actions are easy or convenient, He asks us to hold ourselves to a higher standard all the time.

PUTTING GOD FIRST.

Milagros Joye BrownComment

Matthew 4:10 (NRSV)

[10] Jesus said to him, "Away with you Satan!" for it is written, 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve only Him.'"

It is good to be in service to the Lord.

There are so many things that are meant to distract you and bring you down. Life is filled with dinners, meetings, sales, conference calls, bills, events, and the list goes on and on. Once you wake up in the morning, and go about your routine, it is easy to forget that we are meant to serve the Lord, not ourselves.

I know I can get distracted surfing the web, day dreaming about a vacation, or imagining a Pinterest worthy redecorated apartment.  It becomes so easy to let my mind start serving my own wishlist, that I forget to focus on how God can use me.

But today God gently reminded me that He is the boss, and my time, my heart, my energy, and my spirit should only remain in service to Him. He knows best, He will use me, and He will fill my life with peace and surround me with His angels. No Pinterest board is going to beat that.

YOU TRIED IT.

Milagros Joye BrownComment

Matthew 4:7 (NRSV)

[7] Jesus said to him, "Again it is written, 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'"

How many times have I tried it with God? Too many to count. I know the right direction to go in, but I go left. I know the right thing to do, but I procrastinate. I know the right thing to say, but I miss the moment, or I let my emotions get the best of me.

There are so many times when I put God to the test, and then ask Him to solve the very mess I have gotten myself into.

God is loving, forgiving, kind, gracious, merciful, and more, but why do we insist on testing Him time and time again? Part of this instinct is our humanity, flawed and imperfect, but imagine how much more grace we would experience if we didn't test God quite so much.

Well Pleased.

Milagros Joye BrownComment

Matthew 3: 17 (NRSV)

[17] And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased."

What is keeping you from feeling how pleased God is with you?

He sees you everyday. He sees how hard you work, the challenges you face, and the strength of your faith.

He sees your heart, and He is well pleased with the person that you are, and the person you try to be. Take time to celebrate today to celebrate His love for you. Just as you are.

Let's Be Brave

Milagros Joye BrownComment

Matthew 2:14-15 (NRSV)

[14] Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, [15] and remained there until the death of Her'od. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, "Out of Egypt I have called my son."

What has been prophesied over your life? 

What dreams do you have that have been buried deep, but are the true calling and purpose that God has for you? 

And what small action would it take to fulfill that prophesy?

Would it take movement? Would it take prayer? Would it take obedience?

By leaving for Egypt, Joseph took a small and brave action that fulfilled a prophesy. What would it take for you to do the same? 

Won't He Do It.

Milagros Joye BrownComment

Exodus 1:12 (NRSV)

[12] But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread...

I love this passage of scripture. It really should just say #WontHEDoIt

The back story is that the "they" in this passage of scripture were the Israelites who were living in Egypt at the time. They were the children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren of Jacob, who were growing strong, just as God had promised Jacob that they would. The Egyptians saw how strong the Israelites were, and how quickly they were growing in number, and they became afraid. Their fear lead them to oppress and enslave the Israelites. Yet, despite their best efforts to suppress and oppress, they could not keep God's favor from Israel.

You have God's favor over your life. You may not feel it, you may not see it, but God is working to grow your influence. You may feel like the more empowered you become, the more negativity, burdens, and stress you face. But that just means that you have blessings on you and over you. Instead of feeding your faith with doubt when obstacles arise, fill your spirit with the affirmation that what God has for you is for you, and no one can take that away.

Stay uplifted. Remember that the more the Israelites were oppressed the more they multiplied. Let that carry you. Let that lift you. Let that bless you. Till next week #WontHEDoIt

Forgiveness.

Milagros Joye BrownComment

Genesis 47:11 (NRSV)

[11] Joseph settled his father and his brothers, and granted them a holding in the land of Egypt, in the best part of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had instructed.

To err is human; to forgive, divine. Isn't that the phrase?

Sure, people make mistakes, it is a pretty easy thing to do. You make a bad joke, you forget a birthday, you don't return a phone call. We have all made them, and if you have never made a mistake, don't worry, your time is coming, a mistake is just around the corner.

But what about forgiveness. When someone forgets your birthday, tells a bad joke at your expense, or doesn't return your call, is it as easy to forgive as it is to make the mistake in the first place?

And what about Joseph? His brothers didn't just accidentally mess up and sell him and then tell their father that he had been killed. Their actions were thought out, planned, and pretty downright awful. And yet Joseph forgave his family. And he not only forgave them, but he settled them in some of the best land in Egypt.

Now, if Joseph were my friend, and called me on the phone and asked for advice, I don't know if I would be as quick to forgive. But that is why the Bible is great, because we can lean not on our own understanding. Despite the actions of Joseph's brothers, he still manifested his destiny. So why carry the weight of anger and resentment towards his family? He chose to forgive them, bless them, and walk in his purpose.

Now if Joseph can forgive for all of that, surely we can forgive too. Let it go. Walk in your purpose. Forgive.

You're so vain.

Milagros Joye BrownComment

Genesis 45:8 (NRSV)

[8]So it was not you who sent me here, but God; he has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.

You know that one friend, one co-worker, one sibling, or even one parent who seems to hold you back from your purpose? They know just what to say to make you feel small, unimportant, and drain you of the energy you need to follow your dreams. Just when you finally start to feel like you are moving your life forward, here they come to kick you back in place, and at times, they even seem to enjoy it. Typical hater behavior.

But have you ever stopped to think that maybe you are giving that person too much credit? Maybe the challenges you face have nothing to with a negative person or challenging situation, but have everything to do with God.

If there was anyone to ever get it, it was Joseph. His own brothers sold him, and then told his father that Joseph had been killed. They started a series of seemingly unfortunate events that eventually lead to Joseph becoming a ruler over Egypt. So perhaps the unfortunate events of Joseph's life weren't so unfortunate after all. 

And maybe it wasn't Joseph's brothers who get the credit for beating him down, so God could build him up, but maybe it was God all along. In fact, that is exactly what Joseph says in this verse: "It was not you who sent me here, but God..."

So know that your haters, the people who dismiss you, the very ones who make you doubt your dreams won't get to take credit when you fulfill your purpose, but God will.

He is setting you up.  He has a plan for your future.  He is preparing you for your destiny.

Do not be afraid.

Milagros Joye BrownComment

Genesis 46:3 (NRSV)

[3] Then he said, "I am God, the God of your father; do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there..."

Fear. Even as I am typing this post I am trying to fight it. I am not sure how many times the Bible says "Do not be afraid," but I am pretty certain it is A LOT. Fear is part of the human condition, something that we all have to battle and face in our own ways everyday.

Some people thrive from facing and overcoming their fears, and some of us (me) would rather play games on their phone than deal with anything that seems remotely scary.

Sometimes it isn't even the action of facing your fear that seems scary, but what happens after. What happens when God keeps his word and makes something great out of the simple action you took of facing your fear. Talk about scary. We have a big God, and sometimes His big promises can be intimidating.

But God tells us time and time again, "Do not be afraid." He knows you are a scaredy cat. He knows you are anxious, you are nervous, and you are a normal human, and all of those things make you super lovable in His eyes. Take a deep breath, take the first step, and let Him guide you.

VERSE OF THE DAY

Milagros Joye BrownComment

GENESIS 41: 39-40 (NRSV)

[39] So Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Since God has shown you all this, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. [40] You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command; only with regard to the throne will I be greater than you."

There are moments in life when we are tried and tested. Sometimes those moments seem to extend past a few minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, to years and years.

In Joseph's case he suffered setback upon setback when he shared his dreams of greatness with his brothers. He was sold, cast away from his family, and even ended up in prison. But in one moment, everything changed. 

In one instant, with a few words, Joseph's life transformed. He went from prisoner to second only to Pharaoh in Egypt. In a split second his dreams became realized.

Stay the course, have faith, believe in your dreams. God is setting you up for greatness.

 

 

20 UNDER $20: THE KATE SPADE EDITION

Milagros Joye BrownComment

20 under $20 is back! (Well, at least for today.)

I was doing a little online window shopping / wishing / hoping / dreaming at Kate Spade and I decided to check out what the options were for a lady on a budget.  Here are a some fun items from Kate Spade and Kate Spade Saturday that I thought seemed worthy of their own list.  (Click the photo to be taken directly to the website!)

Enjoy!  XO.

VERSE OF THE DAY

Milagros Joye BrownComment

Genesis 26: 4-5 (NRSV)

[4] "I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven, and will give to your offspring all these lands; and all the nations of the earth shall gain blessings for themselves through your offspring, [5] because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws."
 

It is amazing what you can hear when you are quiet.

In this passage Isaac is hearing from the Lord that he will be blessed because of the obedience of his father Abraham. The scripture says that Abraham obeyed His voice - which means that he was quiet enough to hear what God intended for his life and he was obedient when called to action. 

Are you being quiet enough?  Are you listening? 

There are so many distractions out there, but when we take the time to listen we are able to create a legacy of blessings for ourselves and our families.
 


VERSE OF THE DAY

Milagros Joye BrownComment

MATTHEW 5: 26 (NRSV)

[26] Truly I will tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

Are you in debt? 

All of us are. If it is not financial obligations, we are in debt to a friend for staying up late talking us through a difficult time. We are in debt to a parent for sacrificing for our benefit. We are in debt to our spouse or best friend for their unconditional support and love. We are all in debt to someone for something.

I know I am often guilty of focusing on my life, my issues, and the timing of my blessings, but God reminded me this morning that first I must pay my debts, and pour back into others what they given me.


VERSE OF THE DAY

Milagros Joye BrownComment

Genesis 8: 22 (NRSV)

[22] As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.

What can you count on? Day and night, cold and heat, and your taxes?

What God has promised is there will be times of labor and times of harvest, and that He is not going anywhere. The seasons may change, but God never does. So when you need Him, He will always be here.


VERSE OF THE DAY

Milagros Joye BrownComment

GENESIS 8:17 (NRSV)

[17] Bring out with you every living thing that is with you of all flesh -- birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth -- so that they may abound on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.

What is your good fruit? How are you blessing others? Are you artistic? Are you generous? Are you practical? Are you kind? Are you compassionate? Are you loving?

Even if you think you are none of these things, you have something that makes you uniquely special, and that uniqueness makes someone else on this earth happy. So do more of that. Be more of that. Be fruitful and multiply. 

[Did I mention this is a theme in the Bible? Catch this same line repeated over and over again in Genesis 9.]


VERSE OF THE DAY

Milagros Joye BrownComment

Genesis 7:6, 11 (NRSV)

[6] Noah was six hundred years old when the flood waters came on the earth... [11] In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of heaven were opened.

I have no idea how to even conceptualize being alive for 600 years, other than to assume that I would be pretty tired and more than a little bit cranky. 

But not Noah.

God put Noah to work by having him build an ark when there was NO evidence to suggest that there would even be a flood. And just when there was plenty of room to doubt that what God said would happen would actually come to pass, the windows of heaven were opened.

Do the work.  Trust God.  Watch the windows of Heaven open in your life.