Worshipful Wednesday: Lessons from the Past

Photo Credit: cover of book edited by Jon Quinn & Warren Berkley

Photo Credit: cover of book edited by Jon Quinn & Warren Berkley

Psalm 78:2-7

2 I will sing a song that imparts wisdom; I will make insightful observations about the past.  3 What we have heard and learned–that which our ancestors have told us– 4 we will not hide from their descendants. We will tell the next generation about the LORD’s praiseworthy acts, about his strength and the amazing things he has done. 5 He established a rule in Jacob; he set up a law in Israel. He commanded our ancestors to make his deeds known to their descendants, 6 so that the next generation, children yet to be born, might know about them. They will grow up and tell their descendants about them.  7 Then they will place their confidence in God. They will not forget the works of God, and they will obey his commands.  8 They would not be like their ancestors– a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to him.

Romans 1:25-27, 32

25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.  26 For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged the natural sexual relations for unnatural ones, 27 and likewise the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed in their passions for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.  32 Although they fully know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but also approve of those who practice them.

We are living in a historical time – the “un-Christianizing” of our country.  Well, truly this has been ongoing since the beginning of time in every culture; the fight by mankind to suppress the presence of God from our midst.

Leaders of our culture can make laws to justify the demands of their flesh, remove memorials that testify to God’s commandments, but they cannot remove them from our hearts.  His laws are written in our consciences, convincing our souls of what is wrong and right.

All of time testifies to those in the present – beckoning us to not allow the lessons learned by those who have gone before us to be lost.

If today we wonder if it is permissible to practice homosexuality, we have Sodom and Gomorrah to look to as a reminder from God.  If we wonder whether it is alright to pursue racial superiority and denounce another race, we have Hitler’s example of evil extermination and Jesus’ example of righteousness in the New Testament – talking with a Samaritan woman – shameful in that day to those who demeaned that people group and gender.  If we think we have the right to slaughter innocent children, we need only to look at the examples of wicked rulers who did the same to innocent infants and ask ourselves if this is right in the eyes of God.

The Word of God is our mirror and all of history testifies to His sovereignty and wisdom in the precepts and laws He gave to free us.  Boundaries and limits were set to bless us, but man, tempted by the enemy to pridefully think he knew better, supplanted God’s truth and replaced it with lies.  There is nothing new underneath the sun.

Worship God today that He uses the past, adorned with mistakes and triumphs – to instruct us.  We can look to cultures in the past and see what transpired when they denied God’s existence and worshiped the creation instead of the Creator.  We can also see the blessing of God upon those who chose to walk uprightly and established righteous laws for their people.

Whether we were left a legacy of faith or of wickedness in our personal lives to emulate, each day His mercies are new for us to consider how we might spur one another on toward godliness.  We must prove faithful to pass the torch of righteousness to those who come behind us.

God’s purposes are interwoven throughout man’s sins and obedience.  Praise God that we can look to the past not just for our sins and failures, but to be inspired to walk uprightly by the many examples of the faithful who did not bow their knee to the false gods of this world.

Lord, You are so awesome – outside of time and yet you care and are watchful over each of our moments.  Help our nation to fear You and to establish once again a righteous foundation for Your glory.

Worshipful Wednesday: Lessons from the Past

Photo Credit: cover of book edited by Jon Quinn & Warren Berkley

Photo Credit: cover of book edited by Jon Quinn & Warren Berkley

Psalm 78:2-7

2 I will sing a song that imparts wisdom; I will make insightful observations about the past.  3 What we have heard and learned–that which our ancestors have told us– 4 we will not hide from their descendants. We will tell the next generation about the LORD’s praiseworthy acts, about his strength and the amazing things he has done. 5 He established a rule in Jacob; he set up a law in Israel. He commanded our ancestors to make his deeds known to their descendants, 6 so that the next generation, children yet to be born, might know about them. They will grow up and tell their descendants about them.  7 Then they will place their confidence in God. They will not forget the works of God, and they will obey his commands.  8 They would not be like their ancestors– a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to him.

Romans 1:25-27, 32

25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.  26 For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged the natural sexual relations for unnatural ones, 27 and likewise the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed in their passions for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.  32 Although they fully know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but also approve of those who practice them.

We are living in a historical time – the “un-Christianizing” of our country.  Well, truly this has been ongoing since the beginning of time in every culture; the fight by mankind to suppress the presence of God from our midst.

Leaders of our culture can make laws to justify the demands of their flesh, remove memorials that testify to God’s commandments, but they cannot remove them from our hearts.  His laws are written in our consciences, convincing our souls of what is wrong and right.

All of time testifies to those in the present – beckoning us to not allow the lessons learned by those who have gone before us be lost.

If today we wonder if it is permissible to practice homosexuality, we have Sodom and Gomorrah to look to as a reminder from God.  If we wonder whether it is alright to pursue racial superiority and denounce another race, we have Hitler’s example of evil extermination and Jesus’ example of righteousness in the New Testament – talking with a Samaritan woman – shameful in that day to those who demeaned that people group and gender.  If we think we have the right to slaughter innocent children, we need only to look at the examples of wicked rulers who did the same to innocent infants and ask ourselves if this is right in the eyes of God.

The Word of God is our mirror and all of history testifies to His sovereignty and wisdom in the precepts and laws He gave to free us.  Boundaries and limits were set to bless us, but man, tempted by the enemy to pridefully think he knew better, supplanted God’s truth and replaced it with lies.  There is nothing new underneath the sun.

Worship God today that He uses the past, adorned with mistakes and triumphs – to instruct us.  We can look to cultures in the past and see what transpired when they denied God’s existence and worshiped the creation instead of the Creator.  We can also see the blessing of God upon those who chose to walk uprightly and established righteous laws for their people.

Whether we were left a legacy of faith or of wickedness in our personal lives to emulate, each day His mercies are new for us to consider how we might spur one another on toward godliness.  We must prove faithful to pass the torch of righteousness to those who come behind us.

God’s purposes are interwoven throughout man’s sins and obedience.  Praise God that we can look to the past not just for our sins and failures, but to be inspired to walk uprightly by the many examples of the faithful who did not bow their knee to the false gods of this world.

Lord, You are so awesome – outside of time and yet you care and are watchful over each of our moments.  Help our nation to fear You and to establish once again a righteous foundation for Your glory.

Truthful Tuesday: Blessed to Bless

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Sam 5:12

“David realized that the LORD had established him as king over Israel and that he had elevated his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.”

2 Sam 7:8, 18-22

“So now, say this to my servant David: ‘This is what the LORD of hosts says: I took you from the pasture and from your work as a shepherd to make you leader of my people Israel.  18 King David went in, sat before the LORD, and said, “Who am I, O LORD God, and what is my family, that you should have brought me to this point?  19 And you didn’t stop there, O LORD God! You have also spoken about the future of your servant’s family. Is this your usual way of dealing with men, O LORD God?   20 What more can David say to you? You have given your servant special recognition, O LORD God!   21 For the sake of your promise and according to your purpose you have done this great thing in order to reveal it to your servant.  22  Therefore you are great, O LORD God, for there is none like you! There is no God besides you! What we have heard is true!”

Overcome by God’s goodness, David poured out his heart in a moment of beautiful abandon.  He recognized God’s blessings and realized that he was not worthy.  His response was so beautiful – worship in action.  He dedicated to God fully what was given to Him, ruled in humility and righteousness, showing favor and honoring even his former enemy’s crippled son, Mephibosheth.  Ultimately, he saw that God’s blessing was not for Him, but for God’s people, Israel.

He was wealthy and in the highest position of the land, but he chose to identify with and respect the lowly.  Sounds a lot like his Heavenly Father.  Demonstrating kindness and mercy, God honored David further, providing protection, favor and victory everywhere he went.

It’s a funny thing about blessing.  When we give away what we are given, we receive even more because we cannot out give God.  Do we perceive all that He has done for us?  Probably impossible to do so, but contemplate for a minute the gift of life and what He has given us.  Once we begin to see a glimpse of what He has bestowed upon us physically and spiritually, the key is not only in recognizing all of the blessings in our lives, but in not expecting them.

David had already learned the lesson that God was Holy and although He loves us, we should not take for granted His favor and become casual with His requirements.  The ark of God was not a trinket to be handled and God’s presence not something to be casual with, either.

What we have was not ours in the first place, but hanging onto those blessings is where idolatry can slip in if we let it. Each blessing, once acknowledged, becomes even more when it is surrendered back to God to be used how He sees fit.  Along with David, we have an opportunity to see that what we are given is not about us at all, but about those who God brings along our path.

David knew all too well what hardship was, which also produced a sincere gratitude for the tremendous blessings God brought about.  When we remember what we were when He called us, that makes us all the more grateful for each blessing He has bestowed; a beautiful offering given back to the One Who gave it to us in the first place.

The Benchmark for Good Decision Making

Exodus 13:17

When Pharaoh released the people, God did not lead them by the way to the land of the Philistines, although that was nearby, for God said, “Lest the people change their minds and return to Egypt when they experience war.”

Exodus 14:12, 17, 31

12 Isn’t this what we told you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone so that we can serve the Egyptians, because it is better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!'”

17 And as for me, I am going to harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will come after them, that I may be honored because of Pharaoh and his army and his chariots and his horsemen.

31 When Israel saw the great power that the LORD had exercised over the Egyptians, they feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in his servant Moses.”

God’s mighty deliverance would not have been the same story at all had God led the Israelites to cross over the land of the Philistines.  To show that it was the hand of God, it had to be miraculous.  In a man-centered perspective, it made more sense to cross land than a sea.  No boats were readily available.  It was convenient.  Perhaps more comfortable than 40 years in the desert, even though it would have been traveling through enemy territory.

God does not often choose what is convenient, and comfort is not his benchmark for decision making like it is often ours. He is guided by His perfect wisdom and pursues our deliverance, His glory and to win our hearts.  We often desire a problem-free life and our own glory as our goal.

When it seemed that God’s plan was not as pleasant as they envisioned, The Israelites complained and fell back on what they had thought was the better decision – to remain in slavery.  Really?  How would that have been better?  Absence of strife?  Hardly.  Familiar territory and suffering?  Yes.  We, too, can tend to settle for what we know – at least we are not surprised and seem to be in control.  But what we miss by staying in our comfort zone instead of following God against our reason is critical and possibly devastating.

Autopilot is not really more attractive than continually seeking direction from God, despite challenges that arise.  Troubles will occur either direction we go, but knowing we are pursuing God’s will gives us confidence in His divine protection in the journey.

In all the decisions I face, I am taken aback to consider they are not mine, really at all.  Sure, God gave me free will, and I can make a mess of things down here, but His sovereignty will always override man’s will.  He works all things together for good and takes disasters and successes and weaves them all together for His magnificent glory.  When I cannot understand what God is doing is when I need to look at His track record.

His every decision is good.  Good as in righteous.  It is complex for our finite understanding to see why God would incite Pharaoh to chase the very people God was rescuing, but God was demonstrating His awesome Holiness, power and deliverance to His people’s enemies, too.

When we do not know which way to go, we can learn from those who have gone before us and rest assured that He has thought through all of His decisions and will not leave us without direction.  Sometimes we have to be still and wait on Him, but often if we have His glory as our benchmark, His will and direction will become clear.

Lord, lead us.  Help us to rise above our flesh and to seek Your glory in all we do.  Nothing is in vain and we do not want to waste a moment spent on poor decisions.

Intolerable Tolerance

2 Corinthians 11:3-4

11 But I am afraid that just as the serpent deceived Eve by his treacheryyour minds may be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus different from the one we proclaimedor if you receive a different spirit than the one you received, or a different gospel than the one you acceptedyou put up with it well enough!

1 John 4:1

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

Matthew 24:4

“And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you.”
Ephesians 5:6

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.”

One thing that tops the chart for me as something I detest is being lied to.  We can excuse deceptive behavior by calling it a white lie or giving it a righteous spin by saying it protects the one being deceived, but it is far more painful to discover the truth later on than to face the truth from the beginning.

Lies have a way of growing over time and the harm done to the deceived multiplies in intensity, as well.  Deception is evil, yet we can play a role in willingly allow it without noticing and the church can be one of the most affected.

We do not want to be judgmental, but we can be lulled into lies by believing the best in the name of grace – without discernment.  The religion of tolerance has slipped into the church and mouths are silenced by the theme of acceptance to all.  This might at first blush seem exclusive, until we see that there are absolutes in God’s Word.  Living in a relativistic world where anything goes allows evil to thrive silently.

God will grant us wisdom to recognize false doctrines if we ask Him.  Motivation to be purposeful in discernment concerning the newest revelation comes from a desire to maintain a pure devotion to Christ.  To “put up” with false beliefs is to accept them.  Over time the convictions we held can be replaced by whitewashed “enlightened” viewpoints if we aren’t careful to hold on firmly to the true Gospel.

We are not called to be pious, self righteous or judgmental, as we are reminded that we have blind spots, too.  But we are not called to compromise, either, in the name of grace.  Grace is undeserved favor, but it does not placate or permit someone to remain in sin.  Finding balance between abusing grace in the name of liberal freedom and strict adherence to fundamentalism that imposes expectations beyond the written word is challenging, but not impossible.

No one has perfect doctrine, but we all continue to grow in our understanding and relationship with God.  Some beliefs we have held onto need to be debunked if they do not line up with the Word of God and some need to be held onto tenaciously.  God is faithful to speak to us through His Holy Spirit and to guide us into all truth.  We have a choice whether we are going to allow ourselves to be deceived or be like the Bereans, searching out God’s truth.

The church needs to speak the truth with grace.  May we endeavor to do so passionately, but never let go of love in the process.  If the church becomes just like the world in the name of tolerance, we lose our effectiveness and souls, as well.

Lord, forgive us for our lackadaisical compromise.  We are so needful of You to open our eyes to see our own hypocrisy. Wake us up to zealously cling to Your Word and help us to not tolerate sin but to love the sinner.

The Purpose of Giving

Photo Credits: mschristianliving.com

Photo Credits:
mschristianliving.com

2 Corinthians 9:11-12

You will be enriched in every way so that you may be generous on every occasion, which is producing through us thanksgiving to God, 12 because the service of this ministry is not only providing for the needs of the saints but is also overflowing with many thanks to God.

It feels good to give to others. Knowing that we can make a difference in someone else’s life is rewarding, but isn’t the motivation of giving. Nor should guilt over blessings in our lives be a reason, either. No – giving, like every other aspect of our lives, is for God’s glory.

To think that thoughtfulness toward another can result in praise to God humbles me. So many times I have been concerned with self and my own provision and missed opportunities to bring praise to God. When my kids and I were on our own, the need was so strong that it hurt. The sting of being alone and seemingly forgotten while others around us had all they needed began to engulf me. Looking back, God gave grace to be others-centered at first. As time went on and circumstances were dire, however, I began to forget that focusing on other’s needs was where my happiness and joy lay.

Sometimes a shift can happen without our realizing. We might have had a good foundation of generosity, but when troubles abounded, our vision became blurred. Giving can easily become a checklist and a burden instead of a privilege when we forget that our God owns the cattle on a thousand hills and wants to take care of us. His care is not so we will be lavish and spoiled, but so we might help others, too.

When we choose to give despite knowing we have unmet needs, God is glorified. Who knows what our help can mean to another person? It might be their very means of grace for salvation or give them encouragement in a dry season, culminating in thanks and worship to God. That is what the purpose is in giving – helping others, which results in God receiving glory and gratitude.

We each takes turns in this life – helping others and being helped.  Like washing one another’s feet, giving can be a beautiful act of service and a testimony for the world to see.

Lord, help us to see giving as being agents on Your behalf.  May we never forget the generosity of your free gift of salvation and be motivated to serve others from that place of humility, all for Your glory.

Exciting News for the Seeing Deep Blog – Published!

Photo Credits: refe99.com

Photo Credits:
refe99.com

Job 33:3

I write honestly from my heart, seeking to make the truth known.

Psalm 19:14

May my words and my thoughts be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my sheltering rock and my redeemer.

Psalm 45:1

My heart overflows with a captivating theme, for my voice is the pen of a skillful writer.

Gratitude fills my heart when I consider this past year of blogging.  Thank you so much for taking time to stop in and visit. My first blog entry was “Pain, the Beautiful Tutor”  on 5/21/14 and plunged me into the adventure of exploring a deeper walk with God through writing from my devotional time and sharing it with others.  There are many journals I have filled over the years, but this was the first time I would venture to share it with others.  I had no idea how much this blog would help me, too, as I wrote what God spoke to my heart.  It has been one of the biggest blessings in my time with God and also a blessing to meet so many wonderful fellow bloggers and readers, too.

On this one year anniversary week, it is fitting that I should hear some really good news . . . drum roll, please . . . one of my devotions is under contract to be published next year in the Upper Room Devotional!!!!  The most amazing part for me is that the devotion will be translated into more than 39 languages in over 70 editions in over 100 countries around the world, reaching almost three million people. Humbled and overwhelmed.  My hope was to be able to encourage whoever God brought along my path with the kindness and mercy that He has shown me.  If just one person would know God more and see healing in their life, it was worth it.

I am looking forward to exploring this new door for effective ministry which has opened and submitting additional works. Thank you for your encouragement this past year.  Looking forward to writing more in the coming year, all for Jesus’ glory!

Lord, thank You for the privilege of writing about You.  No words could ever sufficiently give You the glory due Your Name, but how I cherish each moment spent with You.  Be glorified here, LORD.  For Your fame alone, Jesus.  Amen.

Thoughtful Thursday: Enigmatic Justice

Job 40:8

“Would you indeed annul my justice?  Would you declare me guilty so that you might be right?”

Proverbs 19:3

“A person’s folly subverts his way, and his heart rages against the LORD.”

Job 1:22

“Through all this Job did not sin or blame God for doing anything wrong.”

“It’s not fair!” is the cry of many today who believe they deserve more than their current lot or did not deserve a particular circumstance.  Innate within each of us is a sense of justice and equality, right and wrong.  When we try to explain what is seemingly unjust to our hurting souls, seared consciences can form in the chasm of bitterness.

We expect that we would receive the upper hand in life, especially if we have chosen to walk uprightly.  That seems just in our eyes.  Likewise, we all tend to side with God when someone has purposefully sinned and reaped the results of those choices.  There is also a sense of injustice that rises up in all of us when we believe we have witnessed something biased or unfair.

This longing is eternal – it is aching for true justice and righteousness.  God placed that longing within each of us and the imperfection around us is a catalyst to long for him.  If this world were perfect, it would be Heaven.  The promises of God are our hope when justice is not our reality.

But what happens when A plus B does not equal C?  Is it truly unjust when we sow righteousness and reap harm?  What is justice?  Our definition of justice is pure when we remove concern for self.  A righteous God would be just to destroy us all, for we transgressed against His law and were enemies of His.  That is justice.  But once we have received blessings in this life, we begin to feel entitled and forget what we really deserve.

Job was an amazing man of God.  Sure, he had flaws like we all do, but he did not blame God for the traumatic events that unfolded in one day.  Stripped of his children and suffering physically, he did not understand, but in the end He knew that God was Holy and when He caught a glimpse of how awesome God was, he was overcome.

I confess that when I have endured severe suffering I have wondered if God has forgotten me.  Until I looked into His perfect word and saw the character of God, then I understood.  God loves us so deeply and difficulties in this world do not take away from that unconditional love one bit.  While we do not value or esteem pain, we do not see our need of it, either.  God uses the injustices of this world for good, to reveal and remove sin.

The most insidious injustice today – people slaughtered for believing in God – is the hardest for me to understand.  I want God to come and rescue each one, to defend and show Himself strong.  I want the enemy vanquished.  That seems just. But God is long suffering that none would perish eternally.  Though it seems God is silent, in the end, all evil will be judged.

The free will which God has given man does not mean God is an absentee deity.  He longs to be gracious to us and be our Healer.  We want to be with God, removed from all suffering, but He wants to use us to bring His grace and salvation to those around us.

When this world’s injustice threatens to steal our joy, we can turn to God’s promises and run to Him.  We, the vile, can enter into the presence of our Holy God – not justice at all.  When things do not make sense to us, God is able to give us a glimpse of His glory and suddenly what concerned us is lost in the greatness of our God.  Suddenly wanting to be favored before, we are changed to servants to be used how He sees fit.

Lord, thank You so much for covering our sins and not giving us what we really deserve.  Help us to grant mercy to others, as well, and seek Your glory in the midst of injustice and in times of undeserved favor.

Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing

Photo Credits: halepringle.com

Photo Credits:
halepringle.com

Exodus 13:9

It will be a sign for you on your hand and a memorial on your forehead, so that the law of the LORD may be in your mouth, for with a mighty hand the LORD brought you out of Egypt. 17 When Pharaoh released the people, God did not lead them by the way to the land of the Philistines, although that was nearby, for God said, “Lest the people change their minds and return to Egypt when they experience war.”

Exodus 14:4

“I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will chase after them. I will gain honor because of Pharaoh and because of all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD.” So this is what they did.

Exodus 16:3-4

The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this desert to kill this whole assembly with hunger!” 4 Then the LORD said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people will go out and gather the amount for each day, so that I may test them. Will they walk in my law or not?

With a mighty hand God delivered His people, yet three days after many miracles, including parting a sea, granting favor to the Israelites so they plundered their enemies and prophesying and fulfilling 10 plagues, they doubted God.  They replaced the faith they had learned to have in God quickly with fear and doubted God’s goodness and character.

God’s people did not understand His purposes and looked at their circumstances of discomfort and misinterpreted them.  A good God would never have them wonder if God would faithfully provide, would he?  Why would He test them?  Because He knew their tendency was toward the superficial.  They wanted to be provided for, but did not expect that a relationship with God would mean they would have to go without to make them see their need of Him.

God knew them and their tendencies to go astray, but they were not acquainted with God’s nature.  We often displace our own character flaws on others, but God has none.  The LORD wanted them to know Him.  He wanted even their enemies, the Egyptians, to know Him.  He wanted them to learn to walk faithfully with Him.

The Israelites had forgotten their purpose.  The main thing for them became their happiness.  They became self-focused and disillusioned when trials came.  They began to think that the grass was greener on the other side, but forgot that the other side was slavery.  Suddenly the “feast” they used to eat while there was embellished to be something they missed.

We might think this happened only in Old Testament times, or with an unintelligent people who were ignorant of God’s plan, but we, too, are easily distracted and forget what we have been saved from.  We forget our purpose, our mission.

We become enchanted by the world or begin to be lulled into thinking this world system and the here and now are the most important.  Eternity hangs in the balance for all those around us, yet we are often preoccupied with worries of this world and distracted with trivial things.

The Israelites thought God’s deliverance was all about them.  They focused on their freedom or on the comforts they wanted. God’s purposes always run far deeper than ours.  He chose us and wants to use us for His glory.  He loves the world and does not want any to perish.  God help us to keep the main thing the main thing . . . knowing Jesus and making Him known.

Lord, help us to remember daily Your promises and to fulfill the mission You have called us to.  Help us to keep You at the center of our lives and your salvation as the main purpose of our lives.

Tradition’s Grip

Photo Credits: othejoys.blogspot.com

Photo Credits:
othejoys.blogspot.com

Mark 7:5-9

5 The Pharisees and the experts in the law asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with unwashed hands?” 6 He said to them, “Isaiah prophesied correctly about you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. 7 They worship me in vain, teaching as doctrine the commandments of men.’ 8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.” 9 And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! 13 Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”

Isaiah 29:13

The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.

“Traditions are the guideposts driven deep in our subconscious minds. The most powerful ones are those we can’t even describe, aren’t even aware of.” – author unknown

Traditions can be precious when they are founded on the word of God and there is genuine understanding in keeping them.  They can also be a hindrance to our faith that pulls away from sincere love of God if we are not careful.  Bound to them by duty and not conviction is a prison which does not inspire ardent joy that we can have in Christ.  Imposing convictions as duty on others is also once again vain tradition.

That does not mean that some traditions are not worth keeping, but it is a personal decision that must be made by each soul wandering through this adventure called life.

When I was first saved, my eyes were opened to many traditions I had been following, blindly.  We do not have to be a religious person to live according to traditions.  We might not even recognize the control certain belief systems have over us and that we are ascribing mental ascent to them.

The Pharisees probably get a bad rap because of their religiosity, but I wonder how they got there.  It frightens me to think that I could drift away from a simple life hidden in Christ and become religious, instead.  Yet, it I am honest, that is the natural progression if we are not mindful.  The Pharisees were upset when they saw that the disciples were not subscribing to the ritual washing before eating.  It was shocking to them.  But where did this ritual washing come from?

At the root of the purpose of ritual washing was holiness.  Sounds good.  But was it mandated by God?  There were prescribed methods of cleansing after someone had been made unclean in the Old Testament, but no example of the exact application the pharisees were insisting on was ever commanded by God.  Their intent might have been self righteousness or religiosity, or it might have been as devout as wanting to be pure in God’s sight.  But God did not command it.  Going beyond what God has said is not being a super Christian – it is disobedience to God.  He commands us in several Scriptures to not add or subtract from His word.

It might seem silly to us today that such a rule as ritual washing was ever made, but the same spirit behind those traditions is at work today in the body of Christ.  Members of a church subscribe to certain beliefs that are based on traditions rather than God’s word. They might even be worthy traditions based on wise principles, but man-made, nonetheless.  The danger is in judging others who do not participate in the same liturgy as another.

I personally did not feel led by God to participate in a certain ministry at a church I attended.  Most other parents did.  The persecution was real.  If we are not careful, we can spin our wheels worrying about all of our traditions in the church while the unsaved all around us will perish, not wanting to get involved in our circus of religious confusion and traditions.

God has impressed upon me certain convictions that the Holy Spirit within me inspires me to follow.  They are not blind leadings, but clear impressions from the LORD.  The difference between tradition and conviction is relationship.  But even convictions can become a stumbling block if we impose them on others or put them above God’s word.  Following Christian fads is not our holiness – God is.

Lord, thank You for relating with us – sinful mankind – so that we might know You!  Thank You for not having commands which are burdensome, but a light ad a guide to us.  How amazing it is that you speak to us!  Help us to recognize when we begin to idolize traditions and to walk in purity and genuine faith in You.  I love You, LORD!