We need a change in our heart for greater transformation to take place! We need to have a new heart created in us that will transform us from the inside out! We need to invite Jesus into our hearts and allow Him to help us become new! From the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks so we need to make we have things right on the inside or else what comes out may not be good!
With such a transformation, we can love others like God loves us! With such a change, we can move from selfishness to selflessness! With such a decision we open ourselves up to be used by God in the world around us!
We can love people more and better! We can forgive people more and better! We can see people thru God’s eyes and love them like He does! For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but will have everlasting life! We become a new creation where the old is gone and the new has come! We can start bearing the fruits of love!
When we are transformed on the inside by our relationship with Jesus, we can be satisfied! That empty spot, that needy spot, that hole we had felt in our heart gets filled with Jesus!
Devotional, Psalm 42:1-6, Luke 11:33-54, Deuteronomy 6, Deuteronomy 7, Deuteronomy 8
1. Inner thirst … Psalm 42:1-6a
1As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. 2My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? 3My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” 4These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng. 5Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. 6My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar. –from Psalm 42
When we start to feel that sense of being downcast, let’s remember and reflect on all that God has done in the past in order to feel that hope of knowing He will never leave us nor abandon us and so we can have hope for His plan to come to fruition of giving us a hope and a future!
2. Inner light … Luke 11:33-54
33 “No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light. 34Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness. 35See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. 36Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you.”
Woes on the Pharisees and the Experts in the Law
37When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. 38But the Pharisee was surprised when he noticed that Jesus did not first wash before the meal.
39Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 41But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.
42 “Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.
43 “Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and respectful greetings in the marketplaces.
44 “Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which people walk over without knowing it.”
45One of the experts in the law answered him, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also.”
46Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.
47 “Woe to you, because you build tombs for the prophets, and it was your ancestors who killed them. 48So you testify that you approve of what your ancestors did; they killed the prophets, and you build their tombs. 49Because of this, God in his wisdom said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute.’ 50Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, 51from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all.
52 “Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.”
53When Jesus went outside, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began to oppose him fiercely and to besiege him with questions, 54waiting to catch him in something he might say.
–from Luke 11
Consider the state of your heart and conscience – the inside is more important that the outside! It’s not what goes into your mouth that makes you unclean, but what comes out of it! So we need to have a clean heart so that the words that come out of our mouths into the world around us, they are words that build up and strength, words that instruct and correct, words that are spoken in love and truth!
Today’s devotional speaks to our reading reminding us the following…
Jesus warns these religious leaders about wrong attitudes of the heart into which we can so easily fall. These words are a challenge to those of us in any kind of leadership. Jesus warns against:
‘You love the most important seats’ (v.43).
Love of recognition
‘Greetings in the marketplace’ (v.43).
There is a danger of teaching a standard that we ourselves fail to live up to: ‘You load people down with burdens they can hardly carry and you will not lift one finger to help them’ (v.46).
Jesus was not afraid to confront people about their inner lives. He was not afraid of confrontation nor was he afraid of making enemies. It is not surprising that the object of his attack, the religious leaders, began to oppose him fiercely (v.54).
3. Inner love … Deuteronomy 6:1-8:20
Today’s devotional speaks to our reading from Deuteronomy with the following…
At the heart of the Old Testament, as of the New Testament, is love. ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength’ (6:5). The Hebrew words here are much broader than any translation can fully capture, something that is probably reflected in the New Testament using a fourfold translation (heart, soul, strength, mind). The phrase is meant to sum up the whole of life, including both mind and will.
God always intended that the law of love should be internal – in the heart: ‘Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children’ (v.6, MSG).
Your love for God flows out of his love for you. His love for you is not dependent on any innate moral quality that you possess. It is the grace of God – loving us in spite of our sins, weaknesses and failures. ‘The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loves you’ (7:7–8a).
God showers his love upon you because of his loving character and his faithfulness: ‘The Lord your God will keep his covenant of love with you… He will love you and bless you and increase your numbers’ (vv.12–13).
You are called to this intimate and loving relationship with God. However, there are three warnings given in chapter six:
The danger of abandoning God because of the surrounding idolatry – ‘do not follow other gods’ (6:14)
There is the temptation to fit in with the surrounding culture and adopt the beliefs of the people around us. However, God wants you to remain faithful to him rather than merely seeking to fit in with those around you. (Deuteronomy chapter 7 expands on this.)
The danger of doubting God because of hardship – ‘do not test the Lord’ (6:16)
When hardship comes, the temptation is to think that God no longer cares about you, but you need to hold on to the faithfulness and word of God. (Deuteronomy 8:1–5 unpacks this challenge further.)
God allows you to go through tests and trials so you can learn by experience that doing things his way is the best way. If you will not serve and worship him in the hard times of life (the valleys), you may not consistently serve and worship him in the good times (the mountain tops). Remember that mountain tops encourage you, but valleys mature you.
The danger of forgetting God because of affluence – ‘do not forget the Lord’ (6:12)
In the enjoyment of the gift, you can sometimes forget the giver. (Deuteronomy 8:6–20 expands on this.)
Underlying these three warnings is the realisation that material things alone – whether personal possessions or ‘idols’ – do not satisfy: ‘Human beings do not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord’ (8:3).
Jesus quoted this verse when he was being tempted in the desert by the devil to satisfy his physical hunger in the wrong way. His response to the devil was that it is the inner life – the inner hunger – that is far more important than the material things. This inner hunger can only be satisfied by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
Whether you are materially well-off or not, the focus of your life should be on the inner life which alone can satisfy the deep inner longing which God has put in every human heart.
Today’s reading concludes with the following from Deuteronomy…
Love the Lord Your God
1These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, 2so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. 3Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you.
4Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.4 Or The Lord our God is one Lord; or The Lord is our God, the Lord is one; or The Lord is our God, the Lord alone 5Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
10When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, 11houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, 12be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
13Fear the Lord your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. 14Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you; 15for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a jealous God and his anger will burn against you, and he will destroy you from the face of the land. 16Do not put the Lord your God to the test as you did at Massah. 17Be sure to keep the commands of the Lord your God and the stipulations and decrees he has given you. 18Do what is right and good in the Lord’s sight, so that it may go well with you and you may go in and take over the good land the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors, 19thrusting out all your enemies before you, as the Lord said.
20In the future, when your son asks you, “What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the Lord our God has commanded you?” 21tell him: “We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. 22Before our eyes the Lord sent signs and wonders—great and terrible—on Egypt and Pharaoh and his whole household. 23But he brought us out from there to bring us in and give us the land he promised on oath to our ancestors. 24The Lord commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear the Lord our God, so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today. 25And if we are careful to obey all this law before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness.”
–from Deuteronomy 6
Driving Out the Nations
1When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations—the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you— 2and when the Lord your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. 3Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, 4for they will turn your children away from following me to serve other gods, and the Lord’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you. 5This is what you are to do to them: Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones, cut down their Asherah poles and burn their idols in the fire. 6For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.
7The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. 8But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 9Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. 10But
those who hate him he will repay to their face by destruction;
he will not be slow to repay to their face those who hate him.
11Therefore, take care to follow the commands, decrees and laws I give you today.
12If you pay attention to these laws and are careful to follow them, then the Lord your God will keep his covenant of love with you, as he swore to your ancestors. 13He will love you and bless you and increase your numbers. He will bless the fruit of your womb, the crops of your land—your grain, new wine and olive oil—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you. 14You will be blessed more than any other people; none of your men or women will be childless, nor will any of your livestock be without young. 15The Lord will keep you free from every disease. He will not inflict on you the horrible diseases you knew in Egypt, but he will inflict them on all who hate you. 16You must destroy all the peoples the Lord your God gives over to you. Do not look on them with pity and do not serve their gods, for that will be a snare to you.
17You may say to yourselves, “These nations are stronger than we are. How can we drive them out?” 18But do not be afraid of them; remember well what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt. 19You saw with your own eyes the great trials, the signs and wonders, the mighty hand and outstretched arm, with which the Lord your God brought you out. The Lord your God will do the same to all the peoples you now fear. 20Moreover, the Lord your God will send the hornet among them until even the survivors who hide from you have perished. 21Do not be terrified by them, for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a great and awesome God. 22The Lord your God will drive out those nations before you, little by little. You will not be allowed to eliminate them all at once, or the wild animals will multiply around you. 23But the Lord your God will deliver them over to you, throwing them into great confusion until they are destroyed. 24He will give their kings into your hand, and you will wipe out their names from under heaven. No one will be able to stand up against you; you will destroy them. 25The images of their gods you are to burn in the fire. Do not covet the silver and gold on them, and do not take it for yourselves, or you will be ensnared by it, for it is detestable to the Lord your God. 26Do not bring a detestable thing into your house or you, like it, will be set apart for destruction. Regard it as vile and utterly detest it, for it is set apart for destruction.
–from Deuteronomy 7
Do Not Forget the Lord
1Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors. 2Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. 3He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. 4Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. 5Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you.
6Observe the commands of the Lord your God, walking in obedience to him and revering him. 7For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills; 8a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; 9a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills.
10When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. 11Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. 12Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, 13and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, 14then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 15He led you through the vast and dreadful wilderness, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. 16He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known, to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you. 17You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” 18But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.
19If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. 20Like the nations the Lord destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the Lord your God.
–from Deuteronomy 8