What Comes Out Of the Mouth

“Any legalistic distortion of the gospel erects a protective screen of piety between the worshiper and that life-changing encounter. It ensures that the Word of God no longer rustles like refreshing rain on the parched ground of our souls.” ~~Brennan Manning

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Good morning. It is post-Monday, November 25, 2014. For this week, it is also “Hump Day.”

Did you know that 1 Gb of storage cost in the neighborhood of $300,000 in 1981? Today, 1 Gb of storage can be had for less than a dime.

Today is Shopping Reminder Day. As if you needed that. I think I have a record number of “Black Friday” emails in my inbox.

Not a whole lot happened, yesterday, unless you consider that the Boston Red Sox managed to sign both Hanley Ramirez AND Pablo Sandoval. Goodness gracious. I haven’t seen the Rangers doing anything, yet, other than throwing more money down the black hole that is Japan. I don’t know when these MLB teams will stop that nonsense.

Work was okay, yesterday, and afterward, I finally got the Chinese Buffet fix I’ve been craving for the past couple of weeks. Then we watched last night’s episode of The Voice. As usual, there are some incredible singers on there. My favorite performance last night was Matt McAndrew’s rendition of Coldplay’s “Fix You.”

He’s got some really tough competition, though. I’m not calling a winner, yet. It could be Damien, it could be DaNica Shirley, it could be Craig Wayne Boyd.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From The Divine Hours)

God has gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm!
God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne.

Psalm 47:5-8
May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you! May those who love your salvation say evermore, “God is great!”
Psalm 70:4
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth.
Psalm 50:2
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
Psalm 14:1
The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry.
The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.
He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.

Psalm 34:15-20
Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be,
world without end. Alleluia. Amen.
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought me in safety to this new day: Preserve me with your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.
Proverbs 16:3
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,
Colossians 3:23

I needed those reminders, this morning.

Today’s Gospel Reading

And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.” And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”
Matthew 15:10-20

This passage continues from the episode with the Pharisees in yesterday’s passage. Jesus “tweaks” the common understanding of what defiles a person, which is completely based on what one consumes or touches. No, Jesus says, it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles a person, because it is based on what is in the heart. These are very troubling words for us all, I should imagine, because I catch myself spouting out words, on a daily basis, that come from a very dark place in my heart. Only God can change my heart, so it is with great humility that I implore him to do so, and to give me the grace to filter those words through his grace and through the Gospel.

When the disciples asked Jesus, “Hey, do you know you offended the Pharisees?” Jesus said, “Tough cookies.” Well, not exactly, but if you read between the lines . . . 😀

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “Distancing Ourselves From the Gospel.”

“Any legalistic distortion of the gospel erects a protective screen of piety between the worshiper and that life-changing encounter. It ensures that the Word of God no longer rustles like refreshing rain on the parched ground of our souls.” I really like that second sentence; it is so descriptive. If we are not careful, though, adding that legalistic piece to the Gospel makes it nothing more than “a pattering of pious platitudes.”

Consider the first words of Jesus’s first great speech, his “inaugural address,” if you will. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3) “This spells out the game plan for a radically different lifestyle of constant prayer, total unselfishness, buoyant, creative goodness, and unbridled involvement in the material and spiritual well-being of God’s children.”

Then consider the words of Jesus in the passage above, concerning the Pharisees and the legalistic leanings. “Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”

Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the LORD!
Lamentations 3:40

Father, keep me away from the sin of adding legalism to the Gospel. Mold my heart, so that only good things come out of my mouth. Let me not be blind like the Pharisees, but, rather, let me be poor in spirit, like the tax collector in the other parable of Jesus. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!! Teach me your ways, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name! May your Gospel be “like refreshing rain on the parched ground of” my soul! There is not one of us who does not need a daily dose of the glorious truth of the Gospel. We get trapped into thinking that, once we are saved, we don’t need the Gospel anymore, that it is only for the “lost sheep.” That thinking could not be further from the truth. Lord, I need the Gospel every day. Show me the glorious truth and ingrain it deeply into my soul, that I might be “poor in spirit.”

I pray for this day, that our trip to work be smooth and safe. Give us a good work day. I pray that our work load not require us to work late this evening, and that tomorrow’s would be light enough for us to get off on time for the holidays, as well. Nevertheless, your will be done on earth as in heaven. I pray for Stephanie today, that your grace would find her and be lavished upon her. Show her your truth and your path for her.

I pray for the people of Ferguson, Missouri. May your peace fall on them, Father.

Consider, today, what comes out of your mouth. This is what defiles, not what you touch or eat.

Grace and peace, friends.

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