Thursday, October 18, 2012

October 18, 2012 … Tradition!

Chronological Bible Reading Plan - Day 292

Blogger’s Note: As I was studying through Matthew 15 and Mark 7 today, I couldn’t help but think of the great song from the Broadway Musical Tradition … from Fiddler on the Roof, linked here for you to hear as I reviewed it for my devotional time this morning -  . Please take a few minutes and hear this famous segment taken from the movie.

Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Matthew, Chapter 15 To study these chapters, go to this link
Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Mark, Chapter 7 To study these chapters, go to this link

Highlight Passage: Matthew 15: 10-20; : [NLT] … {The Pharisees had come from Jerusalem to check Jesus out; and they observed the Lord and His disciples eating in ways that defied their religious traditions. When they confronted Jesus about this He taught them a new “tradition,” which the Pharisees simply could not stomach. } 10 [After being challenged by the Pharisees about religious practices of eating] Then Jesus called to the crowds and said, “Listen to what I say and try to understand. 11 You are not defiled by what you eat; you are defiled by what you say and do.”  12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you realize you offended the Pharisees by what you just said?” 13 Jesus replied, “Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be rooted up, 14 so ignore them. They are blind guides leading the blind, and if one blind person guides another, they will both fall into a ditch.” 15 Then Peter asked Jesus, “Explain what you meant when you said people aren’t defiled by what they eat.” 16 “Don’t you understand?” Jesus asked him. 17 “Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes out of the body. 18 But evil words come from an evil heart and defile the person who says them. 19 For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all other sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. 20 These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands could never defile you and make you unacceptable to God!”
Highlight Passage: Mark 7: 8; 14-23 : [NLT] … {Jesus stood His ground against those religious leaders who had created and added many of their own human traditions to what God had given them in the Law, given through Moses.} 8 [Jesus speaking to the Pharisees] “For you ignore God’s specific laws and substitute your own traditions.” 
{Jesus, confronting the Pharisees and teaching the people teaches that it’s the heart that matters rather than what goes into the stomach.} 14 Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “All of you listen,” he said, “and try to understand. 15You are not defiled by what you eat; you are defiled by what you say and do!” 17 Then Jesus went into a house to get away from the crowds, and his disciples asked him what he meant by the statement he had made. 18 “Don’t you understand either?” He asked. “Can’t you see that what you eat won’t defile you? 19 Food doesn’t come in contact with your heart, but only passes through the stomach and then comes out again.” (By saying this, he showed that every kind of food is acceptable.) 20 And then He added, “It is the thought-life that defiles you. 21 For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, eagerness for lustful pleasure, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. 23 All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you and make you unacceptable to God.” 

Cross Reference Passage: Proverbs 23: 7 : [NKJV] …{Our thought life is revealed by our choices and actions.} As a man thinks in his heart, so is he. 
Cross Reference Passage: Philippians 4: 8 : [NLT] …{Paul reinforces the teachings of Jesus concerning our thought-life leading to our behavioral choices.} 8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, let me say one more thing as I close this letter. Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 

My Journal for Today: In today’s chronological read, Jesus, recorded by Matthew and John Mark in their synoptic gospel accounts, had to confront the Pharisees, who had come from Jerusalem to check out this itinerant Rabbi, who was said to be causing a stir near Capernaum, performing miracles which only God could perform and teaching things which seemingly ignored the Jewish traditions which had been established by hundreds of years of Rabbinical laws. These TRADITIONS established by the Jewish religious teachers were written into laws to give, in their estimation, order to life. And as I read through these passages today, I couldn’t help by think of that great segment from the musical, Fiddler on the Roof, where the lead character sings the song “Tradition!,” to which I’ve link you in a You Tube segment for your review.

And I also thought of two other biblical passages from the Old and New Testaments [see the cross-reference listings above] which are applicable to Jesus’ teaching in today’s reading which confronted the Pharisaical “laws” of the day. I’ll let you read through the passages above, revealing how Jesus taught that it was what was in one’s heart that was the core issue, not necessarily the TRADITIONS of eating or other religious practices, which were emphasized as essential by the Pharisees in order to guide how the people lived.

In Proverbs 23: 7 (NKJV) and Phil. 4: 8 God’s word teaches us, clearly, that our actions are guided and activated by our thought life; and Jesus was saying to the Pharisees and His disciples, that it’s a heart of Godly purity that should guide our lives, not necessarily any law or practice that man has established to keep God’s people in conformity or control.

Oh, I could write volumes here about how mankind loves to establish rules and formulas and laws to control others. TRADITIONS! They can be wonderful and helpful in life, helping us to be able to predict what life is all about. Look at what happens in countries where driving traditions have people ignoring the traffic laws. It creates utter chaos and can be life-threatening! But then there are established man-made legal and moral traditions which have little or nothing to do with what God teaches but are established by people to control people. Think of the “traditions” which led to the Reformation, where Popes had established religious practices – the selling of indulgences – where man-made items were sold under the pretense to give people favor with God in order to gain money for “the church.” This, of courses, led Martin Luther, to rebel against the Roman Catholic church, leading to “The Reformation.”

Today we see many “religious” practices which are legalistically established by “the church” to keep people from doing things which are considered sinful, such as religious TRADITIONS against playing cards, dancing, or wearing certain garments. Jesus came against such MAN-made traditions, confronting the Pharisees with their own behaviors and practices which went against the Book of the Law passed down from Moses to God’s peoples.

Capping off this journaling today, I’ll just say that when we make choices or do certain things … or don’t do certain things, … we must evaluate our hearts, because … again, as it says in Proverbs 23: 7 (NKJV) … “As a man thinks IN HIS HEART, so is he.” That’s why Paul’s admonition in Philippians 4: 8 is so important. We will do what we think; won’t we? So, it’s so very important to choose to think as God would have us think, not necessarily how others – even religious leaders – would have us think. And in this humble Christian’s estimation, the only way for us to control our thought lives is let God’s word guide us in our thinking. Yes, our cultural norms and laws are important, and to some degree necessary. But MAN-made traditions are not, as Jesus taught in these passages today, God’s primary way of protecting His people. Only God’s Word (which is the Christian doctrine of “sole scriptura”) can give us the way to live out of a God-led heart so that we can make Spirit-led choices.

I’ll leave it to you to decide how you can establish your own TRADITIONS, which are based on God’s word, leading us to follow God’s will, and living in His ways.

My Prayer Today: … Lord, may my pursuit of Your truth from Your word lead me to Your will and Your ways. Amen

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