Clean Cup

Coffee cup and beans on a white background.Every morning I have a routine of rolling out of bed, grateful to the Lord for a new day. I have become a bit of a coffee snob, because I grind fresh beans to make the coffee. While the coffee is brewing, I’m grabbing a quick shave & shower. My coffee cups are on a “cup tree” on the counter as well as in the cabinet above. If they are in there, I know they are clean. If they are in the sink, I realize that they need to be washed. A clean cup with a fresh cup of coffee is a great part of my morning routine of waking up to take on the day ahead.

Jesus really calls out the Pharisees and teachers of the law in Matthew 23. He calls them hypocrites because they teach the law, but don’t live it out. He uses cups to make His point. Check this out….

25 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! 26 You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too.

 28 Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness. (Matthew 23:25-26,28 NLT)

I want to be a “clean cup” inside and out before the Lord. He knows my inward most thoughts. He knows I’m human, and He is there with me when temptations come my way. His Presence in me (His Spirit), prompts me and leads me. Today, we have dishwashers that wash the cup for us. If I’m washing the cup by hand, I usually wash the inside of the cup first, then the outside. Jesus was reminding us that if we only clean up our behavior, but not our heart, we really haven’t done anything. Our behavior follows our heart. I want to spend way more time seeking forgiveness for my sin that no one else sees rather than to keep polishing my image as a Christian in the community. I can fake others out, but I can’t fake the Lord out. I’ve been faked out by others too. I’m not responsible for other hearts, but it’s CRITICALLY IMPORTANT for me to keep check on my heart. I believe my heart is where the Lord really changes everything about me. My actions and activities of my life come from my heart; if it’s clean, my actions will reflect that.

My time in the Word points out any dirt or filth on the inside of my cup (aka my heart) and then I must take action to allow my heart to be cleaned by the Lord so that I can honor Him with my words and actions.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Soul Food

Food for body and soulI live in the south and soul food is a menu of good tasting food that is really not very healthy. For example, I would call Bacon, Biscuits, Gravy & Grits breakfast soul food. Other “soul food” selections might be mashed potatoes, gravy, collard greens, pork chops and fried squash. I believe that lots of “soul food” is fried or cooked with lots of butter! I’m not an expert by any means, but I do enjoy good food. I admit that I have a tough time with boundaries on portions of good soul food.

The Jews had a strict diet. They couldn’t eat just any food. They also couldn’t eat certain foods in combination with other foods. Jesus was asked by the Pharisees and teachers of the law why His disciples didn’t follow their Jewish traditions when it came to ceremonial washing and eating. Jesus called out their hypocrisy with a passage from Isaiah. Check this out…

‘These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship is a farce,
    for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’ (Mark 7:6-7 Isaiah 29:13 NLT)

He then went further in explanation to His disciples. He talked about purity of our heart. The law implied that behavior modification was all that was necessary to follow the Lord. Jesus makes it clear that your behavior simply reveals what is going on inside the heart. Check this out…

14 Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “All of you listen,” he said, “and try to understand. 15 It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart.”

19 Food doesn’t go into your heart, but only passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer.” (By saying this, he declared that every kind of food is acceptable in God’s eyes.)

20 And then he added, “It is what comes from inside 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, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. 23 All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.” (Mark 7:14, 19-23 NLT)

I believe that Jesus was teaching something profound that we still struggle with today. We make a judgement upon people by their behavior. I do believe that behavior often reveals what’s going on inside the heart. Jesus was teaching that we need to feed our soul from the Word of God. I believe that if we spend our time working on our heart, our habits and activities will follow the heart.  Our behavior is a symptom of a diseased heart. The Lord wants to change us from the inside out and it begins in my heart. The Word of God is food for my soul – “soul food”, if you will. I want to make sure that I’m digesting the Word of God every day before I eat any physical food. This “soul food” does have eternal implications.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Behavior Doesn’t Lie

short noteI heard this particular quote not long ago in from Richard Flint (http://richardflint.com) in reference to work ethic. I think that the statement is true on many levels. I’ve been learning recently that behavior is not necessarily the problem. Behavior is a symptom of the real problem – my heart. The things going on in my heart are revealed by my behavior. There’s a proverb that says: “As a man thinks in his heart – so is he” (Proverbs 23:7)

The king of Jerusalem was a young man when he became king yet he chose to not follow the Lord. Check this out…

1 Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. His mother’s name was Hamutal daughter of Jeremiah; she was from Libnah. 2 He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, just as Jehoiakim had done. 3 It was because of the Lord’s anger that all this happened to Jerusalem and Judah, and in the end he thrust them from his presence.

Now Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon. (Jeremiah 52:1-3 NIV)

I want my heart to be reflected in the things I do and say. (It really happens already.) I want to be intentional in what I pour into my heart and soul. I want to consistently renew my heart and fill my heart with nutritious nuggets from the Word of God. I believe that when I spend time in the Word of God, He uses the Word to shape my heart to reflect Him more.

I still struggle with sin, but the struggle is not as significant because the Lord gives me strength for the struggle after spending time with Him in His Word. My behavior reflects my heart and reveals my heart. I want to have a heart like His every day – a loving heart and a forgiving heart – like the Lord.

Pressing On!

Dwayne