Mark 7:1-23 – What’s Inside Counts

Read Mark 7:1-23

Jesus is getting exasperated here! Is that because he is man, or does God get exasperated with us? Did you notice the “edge” in Jesus’ words, even to his disciples?

Jesus even had to leave, walk away from those who were frustrating him. That is a good model for us to follow when our buttons are being pushed. It is always better to retreat so as to avoid saying something in anger that is unkind or not constructive.

What’s happening here? The “churchy” folks are focusing on the wrong law, a tradition set by the people about washing. A “ceremony” they called it. Jesus was upset that the religious leaders were promoting such reliance on tradition, ignoring God’s law. That can be a temptation for us, too. God’s law should always come first.

Can you think of an example in present day? It could certainly be said that the idol of work and money often crowd out God in our life. We all know one of the Commandments is to honor God having no other gods before him. Are you honoring God first? I know I can do a better job of this.

Jesus goes on to get the heart of the matter, literally. He tells us that what we put into our bodies is not what makes us impure or sinful (as they were being taught). It is what comes out of our mouths, our evil thoughts and desires that makes us sinful or unclean. When you think about it, it makes perfect sense to us. Now. We haven’t been brainwashed to think that we need to wash this or avoid that kind of food to be holy. This must have rocked their world.

Today’s reading really personifies Jesus as a “real” person. He showed us a variety of emotions. He also showed us how to deal with them. Keep calm. Retreat to avoid serious confrontation. Explain rationally.

Have you encountered a situation where you were frustrated? How do you react when people insist they are right when you know they are totally off base? Pray and seek God’s peace as you enter these situations.

Let’s pray. Father God, thank you for this lesson today. There are so many times when I encounter opposition. It was helpful to me to see how Jesus handled this circumstance. Help me to be more like him, to watch my tongue and to speak the truth in love. I will rely on you and your wisdom to know when confrontation is going to be helpful and when retreat is the better option. Thank you for the glorious opportunities you have put before me this day. May my heart be cleansed and pure. Replace my sinful tendencies with your grace. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

 

Hosea 4:1-19 – Charges Against Us

Read Hosea 4:1-19

In this Chapter we are hearing of God’s case against Israel. If brought to trial, what has Israel done to break God’s law and his heart. How are they destroying themselves like a forest fire devours?

I might take this a step further. What have we done to break God’s law and his heart? I don’t know one person who is sinless (other than Jesus, of course). I know many who would like you to think they are. Really, though, deep down, we are all sinners in need of a Savior. What’s sad are the many people who don’t know what they need. Look at verse 6, My people are being destroyed because they don’t know me.” We are called to help get the word out.

As I read through the charges here against Israel, I couldn’t help but think of our crumbling world today. Something eerie about some of the similarities. Do we need a Hosea to come speak to us? I’m not sure people would listen any better today than they did in Hosea’s day. The job of a prophet was difficult. People pleasers, like me, would never survive being a prophet.

Let’s look at verse 4, “Don’t point your finger at someone else and try to pass the blame! My complaint, you priests, is with you.” Sobering. The priests were trying to point fingers! I think many of us can remember our own childhood sibling rivalry, or even in our own children. Imagine standing over a shattered vase of great importance. What child would put up their hand and say, “it was me”. More often fingers get pointed, and blame passed around before the real truth comes out.

If we feel like we are better than others, like the priests must have been thinking, we need to stop. We are not better. We may not even be all that good. But we are good enough. God loves us no matter what we have done, what we are thinking, etc.

God’s love knows no boundaries. That’s a good thing when I think of some of the not so wonderful things I’ve done in my life. I’m sure you’ve got things too, if you were honest with yourself. But those less savory choices have made me who I am today. I learned from those mistakes. God did not waste those hurts at all. Now, if I can turn and help someone else get through their time of trial, I am equipped. I am ready.

Was there a verse in today’s charges that spoke to your heart? Think through how Hosea’s message came alive for you today.

Let’s pray:  Lord, I pray for those who don’t know you. Their lives are crumbling around them and they don’t know it. They don’t know the power you give, the love you pour out, the forgiveness and peace. Lord help me to see with your eyes and help me bring them back to you. Show me how you want to use me. I stand ready, willing and able to be your soldier of peace. Give me wisdom. Thank you for the peace that fills my heart. Thank you for your great sacrifice and what that means for me. You are so welcome in my heart, and I love the joy of having you there. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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