Wednesday, October 04, 2017

The Inside Matters Most

Today's Reading:
Genesis 50:1 - Exodus 2:10
Luke 11:37-12:7
Psalm 18:7-15
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: Luke 11:37-41
37 When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. 38 But the Pharisee, noticing that Jesus did not first wash before the meal, was surprised.
39 Then the Lord said to him, "Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But give what is inside the dish to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.

The Pharisees were very concerned about holiness, but it had become an external type of holiness. It had also become an end in itself, rather than the means toward participating in the redemptive mission of God. True holiness, the holiness Jesus taught and demonstrated, was not about external appearances and practices, but rather a matter of the inner person.

True holiness is not about physically clean hands as much as about spiritually clean hearts. Holiness begins deep inside a person—our humility, our repentance, our reverence for God, our reason to live, our compassion and love for others, and our desire to serve and be used for God's purpose.

Response and Action:
I must not allow my faith and my religious practice to get lost in a heap of externals. I desire true holiness—to be set apart for a holy purpose. I want more than a religion of behavior modification, I seek the genuine renovation of my heart and the renewal of my mind. I want more than an external Christianity, I seek the transformation of my deepest self.

Practices and disciplines (Bible reading, study, prayer, learning, giving, lifestyle choices, priorities) are not ends in and of themselves. They are the means, the pathways, to the end I seek—my goal to glorify God, to live in truth, and to participate in God's redemptive mission in the world. I will not settle for an external distortion of Christianity. Instead, I will make every effort to pursue the authentic and transforming holiness of the heart. The holiness I seek begins deep within me and works its way out into the externals of my everyday life.

Change my heart, O God. I worship you by offering myself to you as a living sacrifice. Save me from conformity to the world. Transform me, by the power of your Holy Spirit. Renew my mind and renovate my heart. Because I thirst for truth and life, I come to Christ, in faith, to drink in all he has to offer. May Jesus so deeply satisfy and transform me that streams of his living water well up and flow out of my inner being. Make me holy on the inside so that holy words, actions, and attitudes might shape and define my outside. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Romans 14:17-18
17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.

Renovation of the Heart
by Dallas Willard

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