#5 and final in series: Create in me a clean heart.
Religion. It’s everywhere. And it’s deadly. The argument of some—that religion is a curse, the cause of wars and many other forms of suffering, and that humanity is best rid of it—is understandable. Likewise, it’s no wonder that people are far happier to describe themselves as “Spiritual but not Religious” than to align with any formal religion, let alone any one denomination. It’s appealing to mix and match: a tot of Buddhism and a shot of Reiki, over a bed of crushed Sunday school memories, shaken not stirred; what could possibly go wrong? The problem is that humanity loves religion. Sin loves religion. What the New Testament calls “the flesh” (as opposed to the Spirit) loves religion. Because religion is a fast track to power. Not only do you get to manipulate others, you can claim the authority of ‘god’ to do it! Humanity invented religion and feeds on it. Jesus came to destroy it; indeed, that’s what Easter is all about. So today we hear God’s promise when you are heartbroken by religion
No longer will they teach their neighbour, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord, ’because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” Jeremiah 31:34
REMEMBER THIS WEEK
Religion puts you and your efforts at the centre of your relationship with God; it’s you doing your best for God. The gospel puts Jesus at the centre of your relationship with God; it’s God doing his best for you.
#5 in series: Create in Me a Clean Heart
“Mine.” It’s one of the first words most of us learn to say…and some of the hardest to forget or at least use less. Having a sense of entitlement can easily be mistaken as natural, and even healthy. After all, aren’t we constantly told that “we’re unique”, “we’re special”, and “we’re number one”? And besides...you deserve it. This sense of entitlement is established and upheld by the belief that we are the centre of the universe but as we’ll discover today, that sense of entitlement will break your heart. For once you believe that all you have is a result of all you’ve done, there’s no room left in your heart for the Father who made you for himself, who created you to feel his delight and live from his pleasure at providing everything you need for life here and for eternity. It’s a heart condition that only Jesus can fix and he comes to heal all those who are heartbroken by entitlement today.
Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Mark 10:21
REMEMBER THIS WEEK
Jesus invites you to unburden yourself of whatever entitlements that you are clinging to that stop you from relying on and delighting in God. For when Jesus is your treasure, you will lack nothing.
1. In what areas of your life are you discontent?
2. What do you think you need in order to live an abundant life?
#4 in series: Create in me a clean heart
A school shooting. Combatants hidden among civilians. A vehicle intentionally driven through a crowd of pedestrians. Ethnic cleansing. The killing of the unborn. Family members used, abused or neglected. Is this the face of evil in today's world? The nightly news can break your heart, but so can the lives you see in the homes up and down your street or maybe what you experience in your own life.
Rather than explain evil away, excuse it, rationalize it or blame it on someone else, Jesus takes evil into himself and dies to it so that it can no longer claim this earth as its playground or you as its pawn or punching bag. So today if you are heartbroken by evil, come and meet Jesus in whose presence we are given joy in its fullness, healing toward wholeness, faith that can do the impossible and the power to stand aganist evil in the sure knowledge that "...the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world." 1 Jn 4:4
“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:24
REMEMBER THIS WEEK
There are problems in the world and our lives that are so impossible to control, manage or solve that only God can deal with them. When faith is fragile and desperate know this: you can have an imperfect faith, if you are dependent on a perfect Saviour.
#3 in series: Create in me a clean heart.
Pride. It’s a disease of the heart that presents itself in different forms and to differing degrees and is obvious to everyone but the person who has it. Yet the truth is, pride infects us all. The issue is not if pride exists in your heart; it’s where it exists and how it is being expressed in your life. It's something that we as Christians need to be particularly conscious of as it always leads to a broken heart and tears. Proverbs 16:18 tells us “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” James also reminds us: “God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble” (James 4:6). Pride is a particularly dangerous sin - where other sins lead us further from God, pride attempts to elevate us above God. So today we discover how pride is more strongly rooted in our lives than we ever care to admit. We also discover how to find healing when we get ahead of ourselves and are heartbroken by pride.
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.” Mark 8:34-35
REMEMBER THIS WEEK
Your worth and value will never be measured by what you do or achieve but by what Christ has done for you.
Jesus surrendered his life that you might have life
Jesus became a dis-grace that you may receive grace.
Jesus humbled himself that you might receive the greatest honour.
Because Jesus gave himself wholeheartedly for you, how can you not give up your own agenda, and give yourself wholeheartedly to him?
#2 in series: Create in me a clean heart
Auctions - many perceive them as highly stressful events that lead to spur of the moment decisions based on emotions rather than sensibility. As a Christian, every day of your life is spent in an auction yard, where there are constant, competing bids for your heart. Even if you pass in all the bids because you don't want to sell, there is always someone willing to negotiate and meet your price. The only problem is, you are not the vendor of your heart. So today in the second part of our series "Create in me a clean heart", we discover God's gracious gift of healing and strength when we are heartbroken by temptation.
At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. Mark 1:12-13a
REMEMBER THIS WEEK
Every temptation seeks to encourage you to live outside the identity and toward a different destiny than God has planned for you; to believe that he is absent from your life. It will leave you heartbroken. Jesus gives you, what he has enjoyed from eternity - a relationship with the Father who loves you, is with you and delights in you…always. It's a gift paid for by his own blood that brings strength, healing and wholeness to every heart.