DATE WRITTEN: Tuesday, 2021-02-23
WRITTEN AT: Okeechobee, FL
BIBLE REFERENCE: Matthew 15:15-20
TRANSLATION: Contemporary English Version (CEV)
BIBLE TEXT: 16 Jesus then said: …. 17 Don’t you know that the food you put into your mouth goes into your stomach and then out of your body? 18 But the words that come out of your mouth come from your heart. And they are what make you unfit to worship God. 19 Out of your heart come evil thoughts, murder, unfaithfulness in marriage, vulgar deeds, stealing, telling lies, and insulting others. 20 These are what make you unclean. Eating without washing your hands will not make you unfit to worship God.
OBSERVATION: Isn’t it interesting how Satan distracts us from worship to our God by placing small petty things in our way to get our attention? The Pharisees, who were the leaders of the church in Jesus’ day, were keenly aware of the disciples not washing their hands before meals, but they were blinded to the sins that kept them from a right relationship with God. Unfortunately this may apply to us still today, more than we would care to recognize. Oh that the Word of God might open our eyes today as we meditate on our Lord.
APPLICATION: As a teenager, I remember a situation where two sons of a prominent church member came to worship services one Sunday. One of the ushers immediately ridiculed the young men about their dress code not being appropriate for God’s house. There’s no telling how long parents and friends had prayed for these young men to return to church, but the ridicule pushed them further away from the church than they ever were before. How on earth would dress code prevent a person from hearing the Gospel or worshiping their Lord? If you have relatives who live by certain dietary restrictions, especially if they feel there are Biblical reasons, then you have probably been preached at for sinfully eating the wrong things. No doubt there are many other examples where people are considered ruthless sinners because they do not adhere to all of the church rules created for their ‘guidance’. Jesus found the opportunity to speak to religious leaders over an issue very similar to what we experience today. As a child I was trained to always wash my hands before coming to the table to eat, but the Pharisees took this to the extreme by making it a sin if you didn’t wash before eating. But just as in the case of the Pharisees, Jesus is very aware of what the real sin is in our lives also. Furthermore, He is teaching us in the Scriptures today, that sin against God has a serious adverse effect on our worship to the only holy and righteous God. But where does sin originate? As I read this teaching by Jesus, my mind immediately went on to think about what a person does when his heart is continually topped off with anger over certain things that he feels strongly about. I believe it would be virtually impossible for that person to respond in love, in happiness, in kindness and in a spirit of helpfulness. An angry heart invokes angry actions. You will note that Jesus used several other descriptors to help remind us that we will speak or react based on the mode of our heart. Unless we fill our hearts with the attitude and character of Jesus Christ, then we cannot except to respond like He would. Take ‘love’ for example – Jesus went willingly to the cross for you and me, even while we were still steeped in sin. When we love like Jesus did, we can do it regardless of the circumstances around us, or on what may have impacted us up to that very moment. To worship God in spirit and in truth, means that we can stand honestly before the King with no regrets, or worries, about what may have provoked us into temptation. The Psalmist asked God to create in me a clean and upright heart. Perhaps we should seek God’s face in similar fashion so that we may stand before Him in all honesty and truth, with a clean and contrite heart.
PRAYER: I believe that the only heart that is clean when it comes into the presence of our Holy God, is a heart that has been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb, and one that has sought the face of Jesus for a renewed cleansing from the battle scars of this old world. So Lord, I beg of You to cleanse my heart and renew within me a right spirit, so that I may stand before You in worship without the distractions of this sinful world. Please also touch the heart of my readers so that they also might find peace in knowing You, and may they desire a renewed cleansing that would present them faultless before the King of all kings. Forgive us Lord for trying to worship You through our distractions and our sin. May we not only come face-to-face with You in holiness, but may our lives be more usable by You when clothed in Your righteousness. AMEN!
FOOTNOTE: There are two more pages on my blog that will provide you with additional information, one of them being ‘To Know Jesus’. If you have been challenged to make a decision today after reading this devotional, please click on the above page, or speak with a local Bible Teaching Pastor, or contact me at NuggetsFromGodsWord@outlook.com. Please allow someone to pray with you and give you help and/or encouragement as you begin, or continue your walk with Jesus. Words underlined in my blog might indicate a link to a song that came to mind as I wrote the devotional. Feel free to click on the link and listen as you continue to read or pray. If this devotional was forwarded to you and you would like to see more, please go to Nuggets From God’s Word and read more, or you may freely subscribe for a daily email conveniently containing each day’s devotional. I would encourage you to find a church home near by your home, and attend as frequently as you could. Get to know God, and allow His people to encourage and strengthen you in your Christian walk, while making every effort to be a blessing to them. God is at work among His people! Please consider growing in your faith, as you worship with fellow believers!