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Divine Note #39: Which do you prefer? Religion or Relationship? Mark 7:1-23 (NLT)

Divine Note #39 – September 29, 2009

Which do you prefer? Religion or Relationship? Mark 7:1-23 (NLT)

Jesus Teaches about Inner Purity
1 One day some Pharisees and teachers of religious law arrived from Jerusalem to see Jesus. 2 They noticed that some of his disciples failed to follow the Jewish ritual of hand washing before eating. 3 (The Jews, especially the Pharisees, do not eat until they have poured water over their cupped hands,[a] as required by their ancient traditions. 4 Similarly, they don’t eat anything from the market until they immerse their hands[b] in water. This is but one of many traditions they have clung to—such as their ceremonial washing of cups, pitchers, and kettles.[c])
5 So the Pharisees and teachers of religious law asked him, “Why don’t your disciples follow our age-old tradition? They eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony.”

6 Jesus replied, “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote,

‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
7 Their worship is a farce,
for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’[d]

8 For you ignore God’s law and substitute your own tradition.”

9 Then he said, “You skillfully sidestep God’s law in order to hold on to your own tradition. 10 For instance, Moses gave you this law from God: ‘Honor your father and mother,’[e] and ‘Anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death.’[f] 11 But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.’[g] 12 In this way, you let them disregard their needy parents. 13 And so you cancel the word of God in order to hand down your own tradition. And this is only one example among many others.”
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.[h]”
16 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!”
17 Then Jesus went into a house to get away from the crowd, and his disciples asked him what he meant by the parable he had just used. 18 “Don’t you understand either?” he asked. “Can’t you see that the food you put into your body cannot defile you? 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.”

Dear friends,
Please read the entire Scripture before you read these words. Whenever God puts messages before me several times, I really have to listen. A few weeks ago, I was asked about food restrictions in the Old Testament.  I learned how Leviticus 11 sets up criteria for determining clean and unclean animals in the Old Testament. But in Mark 7:15-16 Jesus declares all foods clean and Peter gets the message that Gentiles are God’s people, too! Our pastor preached a sermon that included that very topic. I love the way God makes sure that I get it! I’m sharing three great points from the sermon:

1. God doesn’t allow loopholes - Don’t rationalize not giving God what belongs to Him! All our material possessions belong to him!
2. Don’t major in the minors! Make sure your rituals and traditions make sense and are Biblically based. Rituals having nothing to do with relationship.
3. Inner purity trumps outward expressions of our faith. Bottom line, it doesn’t matter how many good things you do or say, if your heart isn’t right – God knows.

I spent many years being mad at the church because I didn’t like “religion.” Of course, I was walking very comfortably because I justified my sinful life, and I never saw that I was using "religion" to excuse my lack of relationship with Jesus Christ! Before you and I pass judgment on others, we should check verses 21 and 22, to see if we need to reorder our own lives.

Friends if you don’t know Jesus Christ as the savior of your soul, you are missing out on the relationship if your life! He wants one-on-one relationships. He wants to hang with you 24/7 – not just on Sundays or when you decide to talk to him – or worse - only when you are in a bind/sick/worried/at the end of your rope! He’s not about ritual, He’s about relationship!

If you're in church all the time, make sure you know Jesus and that you have the personal relationship! Let Him touch your heart today!

Also, follow me on Twitter - - as I share my love for Christ in 140 characters or less! It’s a great way to share your faith with the world!

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