Memory Verse: September 17
Mark 7:6-7 "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written 'This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'"
When I get ready for work, every morning I have a little ritual of getting different vitamins and stuff from a little turntable in my cupboard. They are all arranged in a certain pattern, and I am used to picking them out that way.
Today I started going a different way and felt a little uneasy doing it. And it made me think.
We get a certain comfort from rituals, major or minor. I do the vitamin ritual so I don't forget one, yet I felt uneasy when I changed, almost as if I were doing something wrong.
Some people have a ritual in how they dress, how they prepare for the day, before they sleep, etc. It really happens to lots of people in big sports events. Sometimes you see your team doing well, and have this crazy notion that if you get up for any reason, or even change your position that the tide will turn for the worse.
The weird thing to me was the uneasiness I felt. It made me think that rituals in spiritual things may do the same thing – that if you do not read so much of your Bible per day, or if you don't pray at least 15 minutes, if you don't say the right phrase, etc, you feel like you are in a state of disobedience, and fear consequences.
In other words, your rituals are like magic formulas to keep you on right standing with God, and that you feel that you better do them just right or else.
I think the root of this is that we think our works are what make us right with God; that we still live a life of do's and don'ts, and not a life of faith.
It is not easy depending upon God. We like to have formulas to assure us instead of trusting in God. We don't believe Jesus when He says: "Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him." The main purpose of prayer is to understand the will of God better, not to satisfy our desires.
Churches do this all the time. They have distinct rituals that they identify with; using vague or contextually questionable Scriptural references to force their congregation to follow, and if they are not followed they are shunned or castigated by their peers, and in some instances no longer accepted in the church body.
I think that Jesus was pointing this out with the leaders of that day, how they boxed God into a pack of rituals and formulas instead of actually serving God Himself.
Instead of mercy, forgiveness, and love, they were filled with rules, regulations and self-righteousness, so that people served them instead of God.
With this in mind, in order to break that mold of discomfort, I decided to pray and thank God for His work in my life, so that I don't have to be bogged down by unnecessary rituals and can trust Him for everything.
And I deliberately changed my pattern to break that silly uneasiness. I need to depend on God, not on rituals.
Today if you hear His voice, harden not your heart.