August 15 – August 21, 2017

WORD

10Then he called the crowd to him and said to them, “Listen and understand: 11it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.”  12Then the disciples approached and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?”  13He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted.  14Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.”  15But Peter said to him, “Explain this parable to us.”  16Then he said, “Are you also still without understanding?  17Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?  18But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles.  19For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander.  20These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.”

21Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon.  22Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.”  23But he did not answer her at all.  And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.”  24He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”  25But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.”  26He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.”  27She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”  28Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.”  And her daughter was healed instantly.

Matthew 15:10-28

Reading Scripture to Know:

  • What is happening/being said? (Observation)
  • Why is this happening/being said? (Interpretation)
  • What does the rest of Scripture say about it? (Evaluation)
  • What does it mean? (Understanding)
  • What does it mean for us? (Application)

Reading Scripture to Grow:

  • What words or phrases stand out to you? Why?
  • Where do you hear the voice of God in this Scripture?
  • How do you see the character of God reflected in this Scripture?
  • How does this Scripture reveal God?
  • How does this Scripture expose humanity and its need for God?
  • How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in your life?
  • How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in our world?
  • What might God want to communicate to you (us) this week through this Scripture?

Scripture Reads Me:

  • This passage makes me feel…
  • This passage makes me think about…
  • This passage reminds me of…
  • This passage teaches me that God is…
  • This passages teaches me that I am…
  • This passage challenges me to…

Reflection: Jesus said to them, “Listen and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.”

The Christian faith would be so much easier if it were just a list of dos and don’ts.  We might find ourselves transgressing those boundaries, but at least we would know where we stand (and where everyone else stood!).  There is much more, though, to our faith than that, because the Christian faith is not a religion, per se, but a relationship.  And relationships are about more than just doing things rightly or wrongly.  Relationships are about the will to act and trust and sacrifice and love – all of those intangibles that cannot be measured by a behavior chart.

God is not seeking a bunch of automatons to just do his will mindlessly and heartlessly. One of God’s most valuable gifts to us is the gift of freedom.  Freedom can only be exercised by a person’s will.  In ancient cultures, like the culture in which Jesus lived, the heart was the source of one’s will, not necessarily of their emotions (as we would think of it today).

God is looking for people who want to love and follow and trust.  No amount of outward obedience will satisfy God if that obedience is done with clinched teeth and fists.  God does want obedience, but obedience that finds its source in our free will.  So the questions for us all is not so much, “Am I living as God wants me to live?” but “Do I want to live the way God wants me to live?”  God has freely chosen us and desires for us to freely choose God.  That is the only way love can work and the only way faith can truly be faith.

 

SPIRIT

Prayer Focus: What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles.  For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander.  These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.

This week, pray that Jesus will purify you from those desires within that bring about unwanted actions.  Identify the ways in which your behavior is not reflective of the love and grace of God.  Then ask God to get at the “heart” of the problem and transform your attitudes and will.  Trust in the Holy Spirit to work within you to bring forgiveness, healing, and wholeness that will overflow in your actions.

Meditation Focus: Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.

Imagine your heart as a large field.  What is planted there?  What has been planted by God?  Ask God to guide you through that field and show you what is planted by God and what is planted by others.  Listen to Jesus’s words from this passage again as you identify what has been planted within you by someone other than God: “Let them alone.”  Do not allow others to plant things within you that are not of God.  Do not concern yourself with those things that will not produce the fruit of the Spirit.  Allow God to remove those plants in your heart that are not of his planting.  Let God guide you in planting the field of your heart, not the spiritually blind guides of this world.

Journaling Focus: Jesus answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.”

This is one of the most difficult statements in all of the Scriptures.  Jesus’s words seem terribly harsh.  Yet when we look at this passage as a whole, it appears that Jesus is trying to prove his earlier point.  He is testing the heart of the woman and showing her to be purer than the Pharisees who would consider her, as an unclean Gentile, no better than a dog.  The ones whom society looks at disparagingly, Jesus sees for who they are.  How does this affect the way you see people?  Do you ever judge someone based on an unfair evaluation?  How might God heal us of our prejudices?

Holy Action: 

Learn about a people group that is different from you.  Listen to their stories and hear about their struggles.  Try to understand some that is not like you.

Breath Prayer: Father, purify us.

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