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Matthew 23

October 6, 2009 Leave a comment

Whitewashed tombsMatthew 23

Matthew 23 is some pretty heavy stuff. Jesus goes off on the teachers of the law and the Pharisees—the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. Take a moment to read through this chapter again slowly. Be sure to take it all in.

 Jesus is fed up with their façade. They look holy and righteous on the outside, but inside, there is no relationship with God. They do it just to look good to the people. They are only going through the motions, performing rituals without thinking about the God behind the rituals.

In verse 27, Jesus compares them to whitewashed tombs. On the outside they look nice. They’re a clean, bright white color. But that does nothing to change what is on the inside of a tomb: death.

Jesus is more concerned with what is on the inside than what is on the outside (see Matthew 15). He is concerned with your heart and soul—who you are inside—rather than what you do.

You see, we can do good things (go to church, pray, read the Bible, give our money, not have sex before marriage, not cuss, etc.), but not be good on the inside. Our hearts may be full of envy, bitterness, or pride. But if we fill our hearts with Jesus, if we focus on being who he wants us to be, then we will naturally do good things.

What is in your heart? Is it full of death (jealousy, hate, arrogance)? Or is it clean? Take the time to look into your heart and ask God to clean it out.

 

Prayer for Today

Jesus, I want to be clean on the inside. I don’t want to pretend that I am good. I want to be good. I want you to come inside and remove anything that isn’t clean: pride, selfishness, anger, jealousy, etc. Fill me with your Spirit of Holiness. Change me on the inside that I may be who you want me to be. Amen.

 

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51.10

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Matthew 15

September 29, 2009 1 comment

superkidMatthew 15

Do you remember dressing up for Halloween as a kid? Did you ever feel like putting on that costume turned you into that superhero or princess? Maybe you put on that Superman costume, and you really thought you could fly. Or you dress up like Cinderella or Ariel, and you automatically feel like you get to run the show now.

I heard that they actually had to put a warning label on Superman costumes which says that wearing the costume does not give you the ability to fly. I’m guessing some little boy got a Superman costume and then climbed on top of his house. Empowered by this newfound sense of power, he leapt off the roof. It’s kind of funny to think about this kid hurling himself off the roof, until you think about his painful meeting with the ground below.

We know better though. We are old enough to realize that putting on a Superman costume does not make us Superman. Superman’s powers came from something inside, not spandex pajamas and a cape.

But for some reason we struggle with this as Christians. Jesus challenged the religious leaders of his day for their lack of understanding on this idea. They thought that looking good on the outside—by following certain religious rituals—made them alright with God.

We can be guilty of this as well. We may think that being a Christian means going to church, wearing a cross necklace, not cussing, and putting a Jesus fish on our car. But going to church doesn’t make you a Christian anymore than wearing red underwear over blue tights enables you to fly.

Jesus told his followers that they will know that they are truly his follower by the love that flows out of them (John 13.35). We can go to church every week (which we should), but if we don’t love the people around us, we aren’t his followers. We can wear a Christian T-shirt, but if we don’t show compassion by helping people in need, we aren’t being Christ-like. We can never say a cuss word, but if we’re rude to others, are we clean? Or would Jesus say we are unclean?

When we truly allow Christ to take over our lives, we don’t just change a few things like going to church and not having sex before marriage. We allow Jesus to change everything. Then we will see love, compassion, mercy, and justice flowing out of us.

 

Prayer for Today

Dear God, I don’t want to be fake. I don’t want to just look like I am a Christian. I want to be like Christ. I want you to change me completely, so that I am clean on the inside. I don’t want my life to be just about rituals, but I want your goodness to flow out of my mouth and out of my life. I no longer want to go through the motions and just worship you with my lips. I want to completely give you my heart and worship you with my life. I ask this through the power of your Son, Jesus. Amen.

 

“These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.” Isaiah 29.13