“’Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body?  But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.  For out of the heart come evil thoughts — murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.  These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.’”  (Matthew 15:17-20, NIV)

At the time Jesus spoke these words, his audience was keenly interested in maintaining ritual purity.  Eating with unwashed hands was a violation of the rules of ritual purity.  In a way, it was a kind of “spiritual etiquette.”  In other words, if you had good “spiritual manners,” you were deemed to be a good person.  Even today, there is a kind of etiquette that confers acceptance on the consumption of the right foods, the wearing of the right clothes, residence at the right address, and friendship with the right kind of people.

Jesus’ words serve to remind us that it is not what we put into our mouth that makes us impure or unclean; but it is what we allow to come out of our mouth, since that is indicative of what is in our heart.  As important as it may be to our physical health for us to watch what we eat; it is as important to our spiritual and physical health for us to watch what we say, both to others and about others.  Only the latter — the condition of the heart — is of eternal consequence.  – Luther

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“When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter.  For God said, ‘If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.’  So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea.  The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle.”  (Exodus 13:17-18, NIV)

Sometimes, God chooses for us the longer path, not because He wants to inconvenience us or to delay our progress, but because of perils unseen, unknown, or unappreciated.  In the case of the Israelites, they “went up out of Egypt ready for battle,” but they were in no way ready to take-on the mighty Philistines.

So, do not fret the fact that the path to your desired goal may be lengthened; or the fact that your many preparations may go untapped.  However, be sure of your relationship with your heavenly Father and always trust in His all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful nature.  These qualities benefit us when we walk with God.  – Luther

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Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.  (Romans 14:19, NIV)

Is your and my ambition to do the things that lead to peace?  In our interactions with others, do we aspire to build-up the other as we seek to become better ourselves?

These are simple tasks, and within reach of each one of us.  Through obedience to God in these two things, we can change — for good — the nature of our personal relationships, our business relationships; and the atmosphere in our homes, churches, and schools.  – Luther

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