God Knows The Heart

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So, the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?” He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites, as it is written: “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain” their teachings are merely human rules.” You have not let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”                                                      Mark 7:5-8

As we read in the book of Mark, Jesus’ opponents which was the Pharisees and scribes from Jerusalem questioned Jesus about why he and his disciples were not living according to the tradition of the elders. Trying to embarrass him and undermine his authority. When with the crowd he had been teaching, they questioned Jesus about eating with ritually of the elders would never do which is to eat with unclean hands.

The tradition of the elders was an oral interpretation of Israel’s ancestral custom. The Pharisees considered this tradition legally binding all Jews, even through not all followed it. Mark’s gospel of the explanation of the purification ritual demonstrate he is not sympathetic towards the tradition.

Jesus first responded to his opponents by quoting from the Prophets and the Law, sources important than the tradition of the elders. He said his adversaries were people who honored God with the lips but not with their hearts. They taught human laws as divine doctrine which can also be found in Isaiah 29:13 which states “These people come near to me with their mouths and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is based on merely human rules they have been taught.”  Finally, Jesus responded directly to their question about the purification regulation. However, he addressed the crowd, not his opponents, thus resuming his position as a teacher with authority. He told the crown that nothing went into a person could defile them. Rather it was the things that comes out of a person’s mouth that defiles them. In other words, things that a person puts into their mouths such as food could not defile them, it is what comes out of a person’s mouth, which truly comes from the heart  Jesus’ new teaching about inner purity calls us to reexamine our tendency to engage in long-held traditions and rituals rather than the transformation of our hearts. It also challenges our tendency to hold on to human traditions as if they were divinely commanded. Finally, it calls us to reexamine the exclusive stance of our faith communities. This last challenge may be the hardest call of all, if our faith is predicated on a versus then understanding. Just as traditions and purity regulations helped preserve ancient Israel’s religious and ethnic identity and faith is a hostile world, so traditions and purity rules help preserve traditional biblical Christian identity. Are we like the crowds following Jesus or are  we like Mark’s first readers, are confronting Jesus. Do we hang on to traditions and rituals remaining exclusive in our thinking in order to protect our traditional faith and identity? Or do we let God open our hearts-even if such action subjects our faith and identify to change?

We need to remember what Jesus tells us as well as his disciple, God is not interested at our human traditions, which is that we come to church on Sunday mornings and sit in the pew, we then feel that we did our Christian duties until next week. We are called Christians because we are followers (disciples) of our Lord Jesus Christ, and we should live our lives according to the teaching of Christ. More important is what God told Samuel in the book of 1 Samuel 16:7 God does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

Eileen

 

 

 

 

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Giving Thanks

1 Chronicles 16.pngLet the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!” Let the sea resound and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them! Let the trees of the forest sing, let them sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever. Cry out, “Save us, God our Savior, gather is and deliver us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name, and glory in your praise.” Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Then all the people said, “Amen” and “Praise the Lord.”                                                       1 Chronicles 16:31-36

Every time you and I take the time to thank the Lord, we acknowledge that he is our Lord and Provider. And every time you receive with thanksgiving, we demonstrate our kinship with God.  Yet even thro we are his children and we know we are suppose to give thanks in all circumstances, sometimes our words ring hollow. We can say them without feeling the least bit thankful. It’s especially hard for either you or me to be grateful in the midst of a difficult time in our lives, when everything seems to be going wrong. God knows what goes on in our hearts far better than we do. He knows when we feel thankful, and when we don’t. However, God can also see in the depths of our heart, a desire to please him by offering thanks even when we truly don’t feel like it. When we struggle to be grateful, we need to stop and remember who he is God, our Creator, and the “Great I Am”, and he is the author of our lives and of our faith. We are utterly dependent on him for everything, including our next breath. Every good gift comes from above. When we thank God during a difficult day or a period in our lives, we are assuming the proper stance for a child of God. If we persevere in this thankfulness, resisting the temptation to grumble, we can find joy and peace in the midst of our struggles.

 

Grace and Peace to You My Friends