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Today’s readings in Mark are about "Clean and Unclean" and we read about Jesus confronting the Pharisees about their "own traditions". I read in NIV Study Bible and OYB Companion commentaries that after the Babylonian exile, Jewish rabbis began to make meticulous rules and regulations governing the daily life of people. And that these rules were added to God's law and essentially elevated to the same sacred status by the Pharisees. In 200 A.D. these traditions of the elders were put into writing in the Mishnah. I think what Jesus gets at here in this chapter is that the Pharisees were allowing the "rules & regs" to overshadow the spirit of God's law. They were not honoring their parents because of the practice of Corban - giving $ to the temple. Which is a good thing... but at the expense of a great thing of caring for your parents? I know we all could probably go round and round on what is the greatest good - how should we spend our time and our money and our lives. I like that Jesus basically takes us to the heart. What is the heart of the matter? No matter what the matter is - taking care of your parents, giving to your church, following God's laws, receiving God's grace - what is the heart of the matter? One thing that I have been so blessed to learn over the past few years is that the condition of our hearts matters. Immensely. The motives of why we do something - anything - matters. Immensely. We are called in Proverbs to "guard our hearts, for it is the wellspring of life." If we do not care for the state of our hearts, we can become very regimented or insensitive in our thinking and doing. We might even get to the point in verse 8 of this chapter where Jesus quotes from Isaiah - "`These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far away." How is the state of your heart today? Is it close to God?
Jesus continues to speak about the importance of what is in our hearts in verses 20-23 today - "It is the thought-life that defiles you. For from within, out of a person's heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, eagerness for lustful pleasure, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you and make you unacceptable to God." I think this takes us back again to the Sermon on the Mount - where Jesus teaches us in one example that yes, it is wrong to commit adultery. But, if you commit adultery in your heart, it is just as wrong. Because if you commit adultery in the heart, you have essentially defiled your own heart. And from the heart could come the actual act of committing adultery - which would then shatter several lives. But it all starts in the heart.... So - the good news? Jesus can heal our hearts! Jesus is in the business of heart-healing! Maybe in your life, you might need to refocus a little bit less on some external actions and start focusing on the state of your heart? Maybe by focusing on what's going no inside your heart, the external actions will ultimately change? Maybe allow Jesus to heal your heart - and then your external life will be healed as well? I'm not sure you can go about this the other way - trying to work from the outside back in... I think you may need to start on the inside first and work your way out. But don't do this alone - let Jesus walk this healing path with you.
Worship Video: Today's readings reminded me of the song "Be Thou My Vision." Here's a great live version by Shane & Shane:
Who or what is your vision? Click here for your eternal vision!
Please join us in memorizing and meditating on four verses of Scripture today: "He (Jesus) went on: "What comes out of a man is what makes him 'unclean.' For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man 'unclean.'" Mark 7:20-23 NIV
Prayer Point: Pray that your heart is clean. Clean of all evil thoughts, sexual immorality and folly.
Comments from You - What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!
Love, Trust, and Obey Jesus,
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