17 May 2018
GraceNotes – A Journey of Discovery
Scripture: Matthew 23:25-26 (Click link for scripture in Bible Gateway)
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. (Matthew 23:25–26 NLT)
I feel as if I need to both apologize and explain something to you, friends! I take scripture personally. And I’m always reading scripture to see what it seems to be saying to me. And this year, as we move slowly (and sometimes painfully) through the teachings of Jesus, you can tell by my writing and by the prayers I craft for us to pray together, Jesus’ teaching is hitting me right where it counts! The past few days, as we’ve read the strong rebuke Jesus gives to the “teachers of religious law and Pharisees,” his words have been strong and the message heavy.
Apology: I’m sorry that my “take” on Jesus’ words has been “heavier” than it needs to be! He’s speaking to self-interested hypocrites who will soon conspire to kill him! That’s not us! We’re followers of Jesus whose hearts are teachable, whose wills are submitted to our Savior, and who sincerely desire to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus!
Explanation: Most devotionals I’ve seen and read are inspirational. That is, they’re focused on giving us inspiring thoughts, insights, and quotes to encourage us in the challenges we face in our daily lives. This year’s GraceNotes are focused on discipleship. We’re on a Journey of Discovery to hear and respond to the challenging words of Jesus that move us to learn and grow and change.
Let’s keep moving forward together. And friends, be encouraged! We’re not whitewashing the outside and hiding the nasty stuff inside like the “teachers of religious law and Pharisees” Jesus was rebuking at the top of this page! We’re moving forward heart first into a deeper relationship with Jesus and with our brothers and sisters in God’s family – our fellow citizens in God’s Good Kingdom.
Father, Thanks for Jesus’ words of inspiration and encouragement and thanks for his words of confrontation and challenge. We need both to get where we’re going! Amen!