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It’s what comes OUT of a man that matters…

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Do you agree that we often place far too much emphasis on outward appearances? And in doing so, are sometimes guilty of misjudging someone? After all, isn’t it still true that looks can be deceiving?

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Consider this lesson from the gospel of Mark.

One day Jesus was confronted by a group of Pharisees and scribes because they had observed his disciples eating bread with unwashed hands.

You see, the Pharisees were all about maintaining outward appearances, and they used this opportunity to inform Jesus that his little band of followers were now defiled for failing to keep up with tradition.

Then, as now, we humans seem to have this need to elevate ourselves while tearing down others. Why is that?

At any rate the Pharisees were all about outward appearances and traditions, believing that putting on a good external show somehow equates to a healthy inward relationship with God.

NOT.

Hmmm…makes one wonder if not a lot has changed over the space of a couple thousand years. OK….back to the topic at hand.

After Jesus admonished the scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy, He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.”     Mark 7:9 NKJV

In other words, Jesus is telling them that they rejected God’s word and his teachings in favor of their own man made traditions. And this is a snare that all of us must be on guard to avoid. Jesus came to set us free, but I dare say many of us are ensnared in traditions of our own making, thus rendering the word of God of no effect.

traditions of men

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Instead of worrying about and focusing on trivial things that mattered little, if at all, in the grand scheme of things, Jesus went on to explain to them what truly defiles a man.

And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.””
Mark 7:20-23 NKJV

Notice anything missing from this list? None of the things on it are matters of tradition or outward appearance, but matters of the heart!!

What defiles us, what condemns us are the evil, sinful acts born out of an unregenerate heart. That’s what Jesus is saying here. A heart that has resisted the love of Christ and has determined to forge its own path is a heart that is capable of doing the unthinkable.

As lest any of us should be lifted up with pride because we are so good, residing within each of our hearts are the seeds of each of the sins Jesus mentions above. I don’t care who you are, that’s a powerful and sobering thought.

The point is, our good intentions will never be good enough, but instead a life lived apart from God will give way to a heart that is “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it”?   Jer. 17:9

There is but one cure for such a thing; the Lord Jesus. He alone has the cure for what defiles a man. Only Jesus can transform our hearts from one of stone into one that is fully alive in Him. He is the heart mender.

It’s what comes out of a man that matters most, and when Jesus has been given control of our lives we must continually strive to gain control of the flesh that produces the things which defile.

Walking with Jesus is not about keeping church or religious traditions, it’s not about maintaining appearances or your standing in the church. Walking with Jesus is about relationship, one that produces the fruit of the Spirit, not the deeds of the flesh.

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Be blessed,

Ron

 

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Make America Great Again?

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Catchy slogans are just that: slogans.

make America great

They’re words on a billboard,magazine cover,or TV ad.

Oh, and they’re on ball caps too.

Mostly though,slogans are just words that someone thought would provide motivation to accomplish a goal or a task.

Did you know there are companies that employ people to make up slogans? I found that out when I was still working. Go to any trade show or conference and you will see booths plastered with eye catching slogans.

So while the slogan “Make America Great Again” sounds wonderful,we must be careful to understand that it is impossible for a simple slogan to make that happen.

It’s sort of like our paper currency. The slogan “In God We Trust” sounds wonderful. But does it actually encourage people to trust in God? I think you know the answer to that.

You see, patriotism and nationalism aside,and forgive me if I don’t sound like a team player here,but neither hard work,government intervention,or catchy slogans can make America great again. Any more than riots and demonstrations in the streets will make America great again.

I happen to believe that slogans and demonstrations aren’t what is needed in order for America to become great once again. Oh sure,they may effect change at the local level,and they can be effective at rallying the troops.

Our need however,is so much greater than that. For America to become great again she must look beyond herself. Far beyond herself.

Our priorities are out of order. We seem to think that we alone can fix what ails us. Lest we forget, the brightest minds and trillions of dollars combined have failed to right the ship.

This is what happens when a people is lifted up with so much pride that it replaces God with themselves. We cannot see the forest for the trees! We have bought into the lie that we are in control of our own destiny because our collective pride will not permit us to recognize One greater than ourselves.

And if we are brave enough to dig even deeper, what we have in America is a consciousness problem. As in…

“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,” I Timothy 4:1-2   emphasis mine

Paul’s letter to Timothy contained an important message for the church of today. What we have failed to recognize is that as the church goes, so go the nations of the world. Think about that for a few moments.

I will end this post by saying this. A couple of thousand years ago a warning went out to a group of churches located in what we now refer to as Asia Minor.

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“Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.” Revelation 3:17,18

While the verses above were directed to the church of Laodicea, America clearly resembles these words from Revelation almost to a “T”.

Make America Great Again?

The only way for America to become great again is for Americans to make God great again in America.

I’d like to see that on a ball cap.