Feb 8, 2011 - Monday Meditation (Fit to Worship!) What makes a person unclean or unfit to offer God acceptable worship? If we listen to God's word with faith and reverence, it will both enlighten our mind ands purify the hearts – thus enabling us to better understand how he wants us to love and obey him. The Lord invites us to draw near to him and to feast at his banquet table. Do you approach with a clean heart and mind? Ask the Lord to cleanse and renew you with the purifying fire of his Holy Spirit. Monday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time Genesis 1:20-2:4a Psalm 8:4-5, 6-7, 8-9 Mark 7:1-13 Now when the Pharisees gathered together to him, with some of the scribes, who had come from Jerusalem, 2 they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands defiled, that is, unwashed. 3 (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they wash their hands, observing the tradition of the elders; 4 and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they purify themselves; and there are many other traditions which they observe, the washing of cups and pots and vessels of bronze.) 5 And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, "Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with hands defiled?" 6 And he said to them, "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, `This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 7 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.' 8 You leave the commandment of God, and hold fast the tradition of men." 9 And he said to them, "You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God, in order to keep your tradition! 10 For Moses said, `Honor your father and your mother'; and, `He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him surely die'; 11 but you say, `If a man tells his father or his mother, What you would have gained from me is Corban' (that is, given to God) — 12 then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, 13 thus making void the word of God through your tradition which you hand on. And many such things you do." Meditation by Don Schwager What makes a person unclean or unfit to offer God acceptable worship? The Jews went to great pains to ensure that their worship would conform to the instructions which God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai . God's call to his people was a call to holiness: "be holy, for I am holy" (Leviticus 11:44; 19:2). In their zeal for holiness many elders developed elaborate traditions which became a burden for the people to carry out in their everyday lives. The Scribes and Pharisees were upset with Jesus because he allowed his disciples to break with their ritual traditions by eating with unclean hands. They sent a delegation all the way from Jerusalem to Galilee to bring their accusation in a face-to-face confrontation with Jesus. Jesus dealt with their accusation by going to the heart of the matter – by looking at God's intention and purpose for the commandments. Jesus gave an example of how their use of ritual tradition excused them from fulfilling the commandment to honor one's father and mother. If someone wanted to avoid the duty of financially providing for their parents in old age or sickness they could say that their money or goods were an offering "given over to God" and thus exempt from any claim of charity or duty to help others. They broke God's law to fulfull a law of their own making. Jesus explained that they void God's command because they allowed their hearts and minds to be clouded by their own notions of religion. Jesus accused them specifically of two things. First of hypocrisy. Like actors, who put on a show, they appear to obey God's word in their external practices while they inwardly harbor evil desires and intentions. Secondly, he accused them of abandoning God's word by substituting their own arguments and ingenious interpretations for what God requires. They listened to clever arguments rather than to God's word. Jesus refers them to the prophecy of Isaiah (29:31) where the prophet accuses the people of his day for honoring God with their lips while their hearts went astray because of disobedience to God's laws. If we listen to God's word with faith and reverence, it will both enlighten our mind ands purify the hearts – thus enabling us to better understand how he wants us to love and obey him. The Lord invites us to draw near to him and to feast at his banquet table. Do you approach with a clean heart and mind? Ask the Lord to cleanse and renew you with the purifying fire of his Holy Spirit. "Lord Jesus, let the fire of your Holy Spirit cleanse my mind and my heart that I may love you purely and serve you worthily." Supplementary Reading Trust Requires Risk Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. - Hebrews 10:35-36 Having faith can be difficult, can’t it? If you ask yourself if you truly believe what you say you do, it can sometimes create a tension inside of you. The reason for that is the world today says that you should live your life for the here and now and certainly not for something you can’t physically see. I think there’s a misperception in the church today that having a strong faith means that there’s never a sliver of doubt that comes. But true biblical faith is one that perseveres even when doubt does arise. You see, the difference between belief and trust is that trust requires a risk. But it’s only when you risk something that you can see God come through! We need men and women of such faith today that they persevere in trusting even when their faith is challenged. We need people who keep obeying even through the doubt! Endurance is more than just believing more. It’s persistence in both trusting and obeying when you don’t see the outcome ahead of you. Though it may sound contradictory, it’s so important to have faith in God even in the midst of doubt. So when disbelief rears its ugly head, kill it by trusting God and by obeying his call on your life! PERSEVERE THROUGH DOUBT BY TRUSTING IN GOD AND OBEYING HIM.
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