Monday, November 17, 2014

NTDS (18): Where is Your Heart?

Matt 15:8

This scripture, spoken by Jesus was a quote from Isaiah 29:13. Who was Jesus speaking to and what caused Him to utter such a judgment?

Jesus was in the area known as Gennesaret. Many who were sick, had been coming to Him and they were being healed. Some Pharisees and scribes from Jerusalem approached Him. Once again, they were condemning His disciples (and therefore Jesus Himself). What was their complaint this time? The disciples were not performing the ceremonial washing of their hands before they ate. “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders,” they complain.

Notice what it is that they are saying. It is not the breaking of “law “that is bothering them, but breaking the “tradition of elders.” This is an important distinction and it leads Jesus deliver a stinging rebuke. He begins by asking them why they, the so-called leaders of Israel, break “the command of God.” He gives an example of how they break a command to honor their fathers and mothers and then points out exactly how they break that command. Jesus then points out their hypocrisy with this statement. “Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition.”
 Matt 15:6-7 (NIV)
It is then that He quotes the scripture from Isaiah.

What an important message Jesus has for us today in these few words. It is not just the hypocrisy that He is chastising them about. It is the fact that their hearts are far from God! They cared more about following the traditions of men than following the actual Law of God! In verse 9, Jesus says that they are teaching the precepts of men as if they were doctrines of God. Not only that but because their hearts are far from Him, their worship is in vain, it is worthless.

We can look around today and see the very same thing. There are many “religious” people, who follow traditions of men, thinking they are Godly, but those traditions are only worthless ritual. Think about the fact that these men interrupted the healing of people’s illnesses in order to complain about hand washing! How far their hearts truly were form God’s heart! Jesus made it clear to His disciples these men were not of God and that they would be judged. He says in verse 14 to leave them, because they are blind guides. Traditions of men always end up getting in the way of God wants to accomplish in people’s lives.

These rebukes from Jesus should be an exhortation to us as well. We need to examine our own hearts and ask ourselves some questions. “Where is my heart today, ”am I truly desiring to be close to God, or just going through some religious rituals?” Do I have God’s heart for people, desiring for them to be healed or do I condemn them because they do not follow some man-made rules or expectations that I have?”

It can be easy to fall into the trap of being religious. The question is, once we recognize that in ourselves, how do we change it? We certainly don’t want our worship to “be in vain.” There is only one answer to this question. Sit at the feet of Jesus. Spend time with Him. Build your “personal relationship” with Him. John 15:5 says,”
"I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

When we abide in Him, we are led by the Holy Spirit and are hearts stay close to Him. He fills us up with “living water” and makes us realize the emptiness of religious ritual.
I urge you, if your heart has been wandering away from Him, turn back to Him now. Like the prodigal father, He desires you to come home and rejoices in your return. Let’s all honor Him with our hearts and not just our lips! Amen

God Bless you


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