What’s inside?…

Calm after the storms…life goes on…we pick up the pieces and begin again.  We are not defeated but victorious, not beaten down but given new life, energy to start anew.  God’s word is alive and active in us…

 Matthew 23:25-28

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.

26Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

27“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.

28In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

 Pasted from <http://niv.scripturetext.com/matthew/23.htm>

Clean and righteous appearing on the outside, dirty and dead on the inside.  This is what practiced religious ritual looks like when the spirit is not  involved.  And so the questions come… 

Is what we believe really real?  Do we live it?  Or are we guilty as well of the practiced words and deeds done and spoken without love, without life?  Are we expressing and living a life that leads others to Christ?  Or are we guilty of religious talk and no walk? 

Is God’s Word alive and active within us?  Are we real?

Upon examination will the inside of our cup and dish be found clean, washed in the cleansing blood of the Lamb?  Does God’s love shine with radiance on the outside, like the lovely gardens in which the tombs are found, but the grave is empty because we are alive and risen with Christ?  Christ came to bring life and that more abundantly.  Does His joy shine outward from us or are we burdened with the stuff of everyday problems and the inability to let Him carry them for us?  How can God be manifest when we spend so much time bewailing what is wrong rather than speak what is right?  

If I say do not think of the white elephant, you will find it difficult to not do so.  In those words lie the power to change the mind and so the feelings and actions.  Rather than speak what is wrong, don’t walk on the grass, speak what is right, walk on the sidewalk.  Rather than say the church is failing us, speak the church will fall to its knees, pray and be revived, beginning with me, for you and I are the church…

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Don’t be a hypocrite…

Matthew 23:13-15

13But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, pretenders (hypocrites)! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces; for you neither enter yourselves, nor do you allow those who are about to go in to do so.

    14[e]Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, pretenders (hypocrites)! For you swallow up widows’ houses and for a pretense to cover it up make long prayers; therefore you will receive the greater condemnation and the heavier sentence.

    15Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, pretenders (hypocrites)! For you travel over sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes one [a proselyte], you make him doubly as much a child of hell (Gehenna) as you are. Amplified Version 

Pasted from <http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%2023&version=AMP>

 This version and a few others include the statement about taking widows’ houses and covering it up with religiosity.  Some versions leave it out completely.  Not sure why.  Will research it later.

Scribes are also called teachers.  Hypocrites are those who teach one thing but practice another.

 So in essence the students/followers of these teachers are taught the letter of the law but not the life.  They are given the Words but kept from turning the words to acts.

When we go to God’s Word do we just receive words?  Are we able to receive the instruction of the Holy Spirit as we read?  Do we turn the Words into actions?  Is God’s Word alive and active in us?

Who do we honor?…

I’ve been walking through Matthew in a study of the words of Christ.  It has been a stroll, reading, praying and listening for the voice of the Holy Spirit within to bring understanding as promised.  It has been done intentionally without research.  I will be returning to points that need further explanation later, perhaps in the light of culture during Jesus’ time,  to research and delve deeper into what is said.  For now it has been a delightful stroll. 

Matthew 23:1-14

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples,

The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses. So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach. They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden. “Everything they do is for show. On their arms they wear extra wide prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside, and they wear robes with extra long tassels.  And they love to sit at the head table at banquets and in the seats of honor in the synagogues. They love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi.’

Don’t let anyone call you ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one teacher, and all of you are equal as brothers and sisters.

And don’t address anyone here on earth as ‘Father,’ for only God in heaven is your spiritual Father.

And don’t let anyone call you ‘Teacher,’ for you have only one teacher, the Messiah.

The greatest among you must be a servant. But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

 Pasted from <http://nlt.scripturetext.com/matthew/23.htm>

Who do we honor?  Who do we give names of respect?  Who do we look to for direction, teaching, guiding?

We emulate Him, but do not take His place.  We follow His example, become His hands, feet, mouth, but never take His position, His name.

We teach, we guide and build up, but never become the source.  We are trained, equipped to continue His work through our study of His Word, prayer, the wise counsel of others who follow Him with His help, His example always before us.  But He receives the glory, it is all done in His name, , His strength, His power, not ours.

We provide leadership, under His direction – we provide instruction, under His administration – we stand beside one another, giving what is needed when it is needed, provision and guidance, but He is our source of provision.

Three points of service to one another; Rabbi – leadership, Teacher – instruction and understanding, Father – provider and guide.  He is who He says He is, and we are who He says we are.