Saturday, August 11, 2007

Clean on the Outside...

11 August 2007, Saturday

Clean on the Outside…

Matthew 23:25, 26 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.

Many times, I feel like the accused in the above verse. I’m quite good at “playing” Christian, regarding my actions and words when in front of others. Inside, though, am I really any different? Often, it sure doesn’t feel like I’m different. When no one is looking, I indulge my flesh, my selfish thoughts, my unrighteous actions. I don’t conduct myself like one who is redeemed. The fruit of this behavior rots my quiet times spent trying to read the Word. I’m left with poor focus, or even worse, no time spent reading at all. I manage to “get by” from day to day, with little energy actually invested in a meaningful relationship with my Jesus. Do I struggle against this dying flesh? Often, the answer is, “no.” But the example provided me in the Bible is one that continues to persevere in obedience, despite any struggles I have with my corrupt flesh.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

I know the Lord is the Author and finisher, or sanctifier of my faith (Hebrews 12:2), so I find myself here because He has allowed me to be here. During this time of rocky faith, I am called to return to the Lord, in obedience, and to persevere, despite lacking feelings. Since I am one of His children, I can be certain that He will restore me and cause my faith to grow through this. I am not to be driven by my emotions, or lack of them when reading/praying. This is commonly how modern society has encouraged people to act, though, in direct opposition to God’s command.
++If it feels good, do it….
++Let your heart be your guide (Jeremiah 17:9 says my heart is deceitful and wicked, and then asks who can know it)
++Follow your gut instinct…
God never teaches me to be this way! No, during tough times, I am to draw nearer to the Lord, seek to be more dependent on Him, not less.

Matthew 12:34b For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.

O Lord,
You are the Sovereign over all things. The resistance of my heart and my flesh is not stronger than your hand. Please break through my defenses and bring me to humble repentance before you. I undeservingly ask forgiveness for the hardness of my heart, the arrogance with which I stumble through my days, and for the casual manner in which I approach you. Please make me teachable and instruct me by your word in the way I should live. I believe it has all truth concerning profitable conduct before you, and I ask you to mesh the knowledge gained from it with your amazing grace in my life, that I would actually live the way you command everyone to.

Shield me from the constant attack on your word, offered by the world I live in. Instead of harboring doubts ignited by them, help me to seek out definitive answers in your word, and in other historical documents that serve as evidence on which to build a reasonable faith. Give me the ability to formulate logical, honest arguments that defend the reason for the hope I have in you, as you have called me.

Thank you for being bigger than every issue I face. Help me to remember this, and to quietly depend on you, instead of myself, for all provision. All of this I pray by the glorious grace of your perfect son. Amen.


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