Matthew 15:15 Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.” 16 “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. 17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”
Par·a·ble: a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson, as told by Jesus in the Gospels.
“The things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them” is a red-letter Biblical truth from Jesus. We need to believe it and let it change us. Without a doubt we’ve all spoken words and done things that defiled us. Is that flaw part of the muscle memory stored in all hearts since Adam and Eve decided they should figure out the difference between good and evil for themselves? Was that where we began to depend on “rules” to erase what defiled us?
Long before medical science had proof of how central the heart is to the healthy functioning of the body Jesus knew the heart he’d helped create. The muscle memory of God was still there and could be remembered, renewed and redeemed by his truth.
2 Peter 2:1 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—
9 if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment.
17 These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them.
19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.”
Once again our nation has been rocked by the violence that happened in Charlottesville, VA. Last Sunday our pastor gave us this heartbreaking reminder; “hate is LOUD and love, by it’s very nature is soft. We’ve come to be a society that responds more to rebellion and violence than we do to the Good News of the Gospel.” His words were not a condemnation for others but a challenge to us that we need to love loudly.
That made it hard to read this chapter about the destruction of those who’s doctrine is hate and deception and discover my hope was for the judgment God has reserved for them. Hate IS loud. But…I swear by God’s name, rather than enjoy Peter’s words that God will wipe them off the face of the earth, I will not let the circumstances of broken people in a broken world make my faith unproductive and ineffective!
I am going to follow Jesus’ teaching from Luke 11. “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.”
“Shameless udacity” in prayer is the only way I can LOVE LOUDLY.
JESUS, DEAR FRIEND, GIVE THESE HATEFUL, DECEPTIVE PEOPLE BREAD THAT CAN CHANGE THEIR HEARTS AND MINDS SO THEY CAN BE SAVED AND BE BLESSED…too! Can you hear me Lord?
I Peter 5:8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
There it is again…”Be alert and of sober mind.”
1. So you may pray AND
2. Because your enemy the devil prowls around looking for someone to devour and you don’t want to be a target.
While the words of the Lord’s Prayer are familiar it’s much more difficult to plug my personal prayers into it than I would have thought. It’s going to take some practice and thought. Practice makes perfect.
I. Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name…
A. Your name is a holy and spoken prayer in itself. You have chosen to intervene in the life of your creation…my life.
1. I’m grateful for your persuasion
2. I’m thankful for your instruction
3. I’m aware of your blessing
II. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…
A. I have one foot in each of the two kingdoms you’ve created but I live in this one right now. Give me evidence of your will being done on earth to encourage me to keep heaven in sight.
1. Remember the evidence
III. Give us this day our daily bread…
A. Give me the desire to prepare a healthy spiritual diet that’s well balanced with truth AND wisdom.
1. Remember today’s bread
a. Is it just another serving of manna or a full-course meal?
b. Is it nourishment or just food?
IV. Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others…
A. My only understanding of the relationship between deserving and forgiveness is what I know you’ve given me.
1. Don’t let my flawed mind and unforgiving heart create a barrier between us.
2. Teach me to forgive in a way that is not limited by my own understanding.
V. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil:
A. Lead us and deliver us, Lord, from the traps of our own making the devil has lined up for us.
1. What are the traps?
VI. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever…
A. This may not be heaven but it is your kingdom
1. Help me find your glory in it.
B. Your Word has power
1. Strengthen my prayers
C. Unite my today with your forever.
A. May it come to pass every day and all tomorrows Lord.
I Peter 3:9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. 11 They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
I wish I was writing about something else today. I read this chapter over and over looking for something other than this passage but it was stuck in my mind in light of current events. The airways and print media are filled this week with reports of the very public loss of the ability to keep the “tongue from evil” and “lips from deceitful speech.” It’s impossible to watch, listen and read about them and believe there are “good days” ahead.
These scripture verses are obvious and absolute truths that seem so contrary to those events that all I could think was “They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. ” That’s absolutely true but they don’t care, and I can’t change them. The shocker is with all my highly sensitized awareness of a truth that’s so needed for “them,” I haven’t been willing to do the one thing the Lord’s watching and listening for from me that can help.
“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer…”
Current events make our country seem like an x-rated, made-for-TV production but God promises a something very different if we will watch, listen AND pray for his reality.
I Peter 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
I once had someone ask me “what does born again mean anyway? I didn’t know quite how to answer except using some analogy I’d heard about an airplane and a pilot that I can’t even remember. I could tell my response made no sense to the one who asked and now I understand why. I was trying to explain what someone else understood. It gets more complicated because it’s so personal.
Stories of what God has taught others are good but they are only meant to be a small cell the Holy Spirit plants in you with the possibility what “they” understood might become something more for you…spiritual curiosity. That’s spiritual conception.
It’s the work of the Holy Spirit that leads you to something more over a period of time. Spiritual curiosity develops the desire to “search and find” spiritual answers. That the period of your spiritual gestational development.
Finally curiosity, conceived and developed, gives birth to your own praise to “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” knowing with complete certainty that “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” the Holy Spirit has personally taught you spiritual truths you’d never known before.
That dear friends is your “new birth into a living hope” and an inheritance “that can never perish, spoil or fade.”
NIV Philippians 3:7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.
Thankfully most of us would never have to say we’ve “lost all things” to gain Christ. It’s likely we weren’t as successful as Paul was at keeping the rules in our old life, either, but we were certainly trying. Many of us would say we just “went along to get along” confused about the relationship of success and righteousness. That same confusion that left us unsure what to put our faith in was there back in Paul’s day too. Was righteousness only about right behavior and obeying the right rules?
Paul came to consider his list of successes as “garbage” but it was that old confusion that became our “garbage.” Christ became the contrast that showed us this reality; trying to figure out what we could make of ourselves was “garbage” compared to what God had in mind for us; “the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.”
Phil 1:27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel…
“Whatever happens” and “for the faith of the gospel” are two phrases in this one verse that caught my attention. I’m convinced “attention” is one of the schoolroom tools the Holy Spirit uses to let me know class is in session.
1. How am I doing in my life with “whatever happens?”
Remember this story from Matthew 21 about the two sons? “What do you think? A man had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ The boy answered, ‘I will not.’ But later he had a change of heart and went.” That plan of rebell, resist and repent is familiar to me. It’s my schedule, my effort and my decision. NOT! It’s a personality of rights issue of faith. After all these years and a lot of tutoring that mindset still competes with the gospel of Christ. So I have to ask…
2. What does “the faith of the gospel of Christ” mean?
Paul could have said “striving together as one for the faith IN the gospel.” That seems easier somehow, like investing in the gospel outside myself. I believe in investing in that gospel but Paul uses a different preposition, “of” that makes it far more personal. The truth is my faith from God came with his core package to get me started, the “faith OF the gospel.” That core of faith is my best hope my answer to question one can be changed.