Everything starts somewhere. What’s the old saying, a journey of a thousand miles starts with one step. That is true for good things. Life changes. New routines. New events in your life. Sometimes the hardest part of change, good change … Continue reading
Wednesday we looked at the concept of tradition we found in Mark 7:1-23, today we’ll look at some of the specifics of what happens in this text:
The Tradition of the Elders
7 Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, 2 they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. 3 (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; 4 and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles. 5 So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” 6 He said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written,
‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
7 in vain do they worship me,
teaching human precepts as doctrines.’
8 You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”
9 Then he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.’ 11 But you say that if anyone tells father or mother, ‘Whatever support you might have had from me is Corban’ (that is, an offering to God — 12 then you no longer permit doing anything for a father or mother, 13 thus making void the word of God through your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many things like this.”
14 Then he called the crowd again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: 15 there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.”
17 When he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about the parable. 18 He said to them, “Then do you also fail to understand? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile, 19 since it enters, not the heart but the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 And he said, “It is what comes out of a person that defiles. 21 For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, 22 adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
Jesus point in all of this is this. It’s what on the inside that causes the outward action to happen. Our faith, at its heart, is a matter of the heart. We are an inside out religion. What happens in the heart, what happens in our faith that will show itself in our actions.
Here’s the thing, like I like to tell my church, if Jesus has your heart, He will have your actions. He just will. If He is Lord of your heart, He will become Lord of your actions.
But you can “do” right, and not “be” right. And if you are not right, in time, you will stop acting right. Because our heart always determines our actions. For us, as Christians, it starts internally. And it shows itself externally.
In this passage, He is saying that the people are honoring God with their words, but their hearts are far away. And in time, their words will move as well. Their words and their actions will follow their heart.
So, the first, and the main question is this. Where is our heart? That question truly does determine everything else. That question answers all the other issues that we will face.
We are an inside out religion. Never forget that. Never put the cart before the horse. If Jesus is Lord of our heart, He will become Lord of every area of our life.
Today, may that be so.
Monday we’ll look at Mark 7:24-30.
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One of the things that I love about the Christian faith is this. Actions start with the heart. What is on the outside starts with what is on the inside.
Our hearts shape our actions.
If you want to “act” right, you need to “get” right. For what is done/thought/believed in the heart will show it’s self in our actions.
Listen what is said this morning in Deuteronomy 30:4-6:
If your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there he will take you. And the Lord your God will bring you into the land that your fathers possessed, that you may possess it. And he will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers. And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.
In Deuteronomy God is giving the law for the second time. In this book, He is giving the law to the children of Israelites that left Egypt. The parents had disobeyed God, and because of that, they were not allowed into the promised land.
Now, the children are getting ready to cross the Jordan River and take possession of the land. But before, God gives them the Law. And tells them that there will come a time when God will not just mark them outwardly, but He will circumcise their hearts.
He will change their hearts. And when their hearts are changed, it will change their actions, it will change their lives. It will start from the inside. And what starts on the inside will change the outside.
We are an inside out religion. What happens on the inside changes the outside.
So, if your actions are not what you’d like them to be, or what God would like them to be, let me ask you a question. How’s your heart?
If He has your heart, He will have your actions. That’s the way that it works.
Today, for our lives, our families, our everything, how is your heart. Your heart will determine your actions. In that, that’s the way it flows.
Today, may God make our hearts in new. And in that, may we live the life of grace that He wants us to live!
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My ringtone is a song by Hillsong United called “From the Inside Out.” Every time someone calls me, it’s the song that I hear. It’s also my alarm sound for my alarm in the morning, so it’s the first thing I hear in the mornings, normally several times as I keep hitting snooze 🙂
That song is one of my favorites and it has a foundation in what we read here in Jeremiah 31:31-33. Listen to what this text says:
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
In this passage, the God is speaking through the prophet about the days that are to come. In the Old Testament, there is so much emphasis placed on the covenant. Israel is to keep it. They are to be obedient. They are to follow. They are to to obey.
Over and over in scripture, God tells the people, if you do your part, I’ll do my. (Or course we read over and over again in scripture, that God is faithful, in spite of how unfaithful the people are). But, in spite of God’s faithfulness, the people never keep the covenant. They always wander away. They always choose wrong. They always do wrong. They always choose their way instead of God’s way.
So, God says this. There will come a time when instead of giving you laws to command, I am going to write the law on your heart. Instead of it being about your actions, it will be about your heart.
Not that your actions won’t be important. Because they will. We will still have “stuff” we are supposed to be doing (loving, serving, caring, and so many others) but these things come because of the change that God has made on our heart.
We are an inside out religion. God changes our hearts. And that in turn changes our lives. We are changed from the inside out.
So, today, when the question is ask, does God have your actions, the first question asked is this. Does He have your heart?
Today, may we be obedient, from the inside out
When you do something you shouldn’t have done, something you knew better than to do, you may have heard the phrase – where’s your head at? What where you thinking? What was happening?
That phrase is true, because our mind so often determines our actions. Our thoughts determine what we do, so many times. That’s one of the reasons why the Bible says submit your thoughts to Christ. Where our mind is will determine what we do.
So, today, where’s you head at? As we start this new day, where’s your head at? What are you thinking? What’s going on up there? What are you thinking about?
Listen to what Paul says in Colossians about where our head should be at:
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
Today, set you mind on things above. Set your mind on the stuff of heaven, not the stuff of earth. It’s easy in life to get bogged down with the things of this world.
With the worries of this world and this day.
With our stresses.
With our to do lists.
With our temptations.
With our pride.
Today, where’s your head at? What are you thinking about? What are you focusing on? Where your head is at will determine what you do today.
Today, keep you thoughts on the things of God. And in that, may we find the strength and hope that we need to be faithful to God in all things.
What are Christians to do?
That’s a big, important question. What are we to do?
Well Scripture tells us a lot – Jesus gives us the great command – Love the Lord with all your heart, your mind, your soul, your strength, and your neighbor as yourself.
He gives us the great commission – go into all the world, making disciples and baptizing them in my name.
We are told by the prophets to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.
But what are supposed to do first? It all, every last bit of it, starts today with what Paul writes in Romans 4:
For the Scriptures tell us, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.”
Abraham literally left everything that he had to follow God. He left his home, his people, his family, his very life to follow God to a place that he did not even know. He was obedient. He did stuff for God!
But, for him, and for us, it all starts with this. Faith. It all starts with faith in God. It all starts with belief. Everything.
Ever act of goodness, mercy, justice, truth. All these things – they are all birthed in faith.
For the Christian, for our lives, it all starts with faith. We are in an “inside-out” religion. The first thing that God wants to change is our hearts. As He changes our hearts, He will have our actions and our lives.
What is the sacrifice God desires? A broken and a contrite heart. God wants our hearts. He wants our faith. He wants our belief. He wants our love.
And if He has that, He will have our actions.
What are we to do? Place our full faith and hope in Jesus Christ. And in doing that, God will have all our lives and all our actions.