Friday, April 14, 2017

Morning Moments with God: Day 65

                              Image result for Book of Matthew
Day 65: The Law or Grace?

Please read the Bible verses for today:
Matthew 15: 1-20

That Which Defiles

15 Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”
Jesus replied, And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:
“‘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.’”
10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, Listen and understand.11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” (Matthew 15:10-11) This Scripture reminds me of a time when I was in college. I attended a college in Queens, New York that had a high population of Jewish students. At that time I was a new, joyous believer in Jesus who read the Bible endlessly. As a student minoring in English Literature I found Jesus in everything I read. Whenever the teacher asked us students what we thought of the story we just read or to interpret a poem I would share my insights on Scriptures. One day, after class, a Jewish student, (Hasidic Jew) followed me. I was heading for the library when I noticed her. We walked along together and we found a table in a secluded part of the library. (She was afraid to be seen with me). She asked me to tell her more about Jesus. I was overjoyed! First, I told her all about Him and then I came to this passage:  Listen and understand.11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” (Matthew 15:10-20) She took the Bible from me and read it over and over again. I had grown up in a Jewish community and knew of their ceremonial cleaning and preparation of food- two sinks, one for dairy and one for meat. Two sets of dishes..etc. I knew the burden that she carried in following the Jewish Law and what a freedom it might be if she read this Scripture. When she looked up from the Bible her face was shining. There was freedom in her eyes. She asked if we could meet some time so she could read more about Jesus- we did. The Law weighs down ones spirit, but Jesus sets us free- He gives us His yoke to carry, which is easy and light. (Matthew 11:30) 
12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?” (Matthew 15:12)
I know if I were one of the disciples I would have asked Jesus the same question. I would have been afraid of offending 'authority' for fear of what they could do to Jesus or the disciples. I'll admit it, I struggle with fear of authority and the power they hold over me and what they can do to me. But I know that if I am living according to Jesus, I need not be afraid. If I live in obedience to Him and the 'authority' over me doesn't like it, God is with me. (I know it in my head, I just have to get it down in my heart). 
13 He replied, Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” 
15 Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.”
16 Are you still so dull? Jesus asked them. 17 Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.” (Matthew 15:13-20) 
I love it! I love how Jesus can take a heavy law, a chain that is around their necks and simple throw it off. I also love how Jesus is always concerned about where our heart is. Are we more concerned about following the religious 'to do list' or getting our heart and lives to line up with Scripture? 

Pray with me:
Father, I confess to you my fear of authority. Forgive me. Help me to see you as my authority and fear you, not man. Help me to live according to what you have called me to. Help me to get my heart to line up with the Scriptures. Jesus, thank you for throwing off the yoke of the Law and putting on us the yoke of Grace. In Jesus' Name, Amen. 

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