Sunday, July 23, 2017

Things that Come from the Heart

Today's Reading:
Ezekiel 27:1-28:26
Matthew 15:1-28
Proverbs 15:11-20
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Focus Verses: Matthew 15:10-11, 17-20 
10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, "Listen and understand. 11 What goes into a man's mouth does not make him 'unclean,' but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him 'unclean.' " - - - 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 the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean.' 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what make a man 'unclean'; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him 'unclean.' "

A life lived for God must flow out of a heart devoted to God. The regulations that accompany tradition and ritual are not able to transform the heart. Humility, surrender, reverence, and love for God are essential to being shaped by him.

Meaningful tradition and the observance of rituals must flow out of a heart that desires to honor and worship God. Jesus consistently warns against confusing rule-keeping with true righteousness. Those who are truly righteous don't even need rules because their hearts are already inclined to honor God in word, thought, and deed.

Response and Action:
I want to honor God in my thoughts, speech, attitudes, and actions. This "want" is absolutely necessary to such a life. God wants me to want Him. When I genuinely surrender my heart to God, seeking to be shaped by Him, my life will increasingly reflect His righteousness. When my heart is surrendered to his will, my life and habits will be directed by it.

I must never confuse adherence to rules with reverence for God. True discipline, self-control, and righteousness are only possible with God's transforming power and grace. If I seek Him first and love him best, a disciplined and righteous life will follow.

O God, help me to turn away from what is wrong and do what is right. Help me to love you with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. By the power and grace of your Holy Spirit, lead me, teach me, and shape me. Give me a heart that is devoted to you, and a life that flows from your presence and your transforming work in me. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses:  2 Corinthians 3:17-18
17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Renovation of the Heart
by Dallas Willard

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