January 23: “The Heart of a Jesus-Follower”

Today’s Bible Reading:

Genesis 46:1-47:31
Matthew 15:1-28
Psalm 19:1-14
Proverbs 4:14-19

Today’s Bible Verse(s):

Matthew 15:8-9 (NLT): “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.”

Reflections on Today’s Bible Verse(s):

Why does God find it so appalling when we honor Him with our lips without a heart that agrees? Why does He find it abhorrent to observe our worship if we teach man-made rules rather than His commands?

Stated simply, He wants us to be passionate about what He has initiated. He knows that this response will give God the greatest glory and be in our best interest.

One observation we could make about humanity is that we are innately religious. Yet, we tend to enjoy religious rituals without genuinely being passionate about our God.

Go to virtually any church, and you’ll see this. People are singing, praying, or listening to a sermon, but they look bored. I suspect that this is true for just about every other religion, too. Even those whose religion is secularism also appear apathetic.

Our God loves passion. He wants us to be either passionately hot or cold (Revelation 3:15-16). He wants us to be excited!

Matthew 15:8 (NLT): “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”

So live a life of worship to the Lord. Don’t limit your worship to church time. Honor Him and enjoy Him every moment of your day. Ensure that you aren’t merely going through the motions; let your heart, which is excited about the Lord, lead you.

But Jesus didn’t just call us to honor the Lord with a passionate heart. He also made it clear that our passion should be directed by God’s Word.

Matthew 15:8-9 (NLT): “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.”

There is no shortage of rules that people feel compelled to obey that didn’t come from God. In fact, I think one of the worst kinds of preachers is the man who can stand behind the pulpit and with an open Bible spout off his own opinions as if they were from God. 

Matthew 15:9 (NLT): “Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.”

One of the problems with “teach(ing) man-made ideas as commands from God” is that we will end up with a works-oriented, legalistic religion. Further, our own rules will tend to draw our attention away from God rather than move us toward Him.

So, my friend, be passionate about chasing after Jesus. But realize that your passion has to be directed. Make sure that it is informed by the Word of God and not man-made rules. Spend regular time reading and studying God’s Word, getting it internalized. Then get excited about it and the God who wrote it.

This is the “religion” that pleases the Lord.

Photo by Alex Guillaume on Unsplash

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I have an incredible wife that God gave to me on May 10, 1997. Since then, the Lord has blessed us with three wonderful boys. I am also the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Polk City, Florida.

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