"You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you." Matthew 12:34-37 (NLT)
These verses hit me right in the eyes; how about you? At first glance it seems that Jesus is simply lashing out at the Pharisees once again. They were always saying and doing things that got Him riled up. They expected everyone to live by a religious code that they themselves had twisted into something that God had never intended His Law to be.
The Law was created to convict man of sin. "God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant." Romans 5:20 (NLT) Did you read "all people" in there? That would be you and me as well as the Pharisees, wouldn't it?
So, our words belie our hearts. Seems to me that the only way to say good and upright things is to have a good and upright heart. And that can only be done by the work of the Holy Spirit as He creates new hearts within us. (Ezekiel 36:26)
It's the first day of a new year. Are you ready for it? What can you do to make this year a better one than the last? My prayer is that each of you, as you muddle through this world on your way to the perfect and holy one, will develop that new heart.
Reading the Scriptures is important to the Christian walk. If I don't have a road map before me, I can easily stray from the "path." Every year I read through the Bible. I have followed different plans to help me keep organized and reach my goal. Some years I use the daily reading plan in Our Daily Bread devotionals (RBC Ministries). Other years I find reading plans off the internet. Still other years I just start at Genesis 1:1 and read every day until I want to stop. That plan is the hardest to regulate because I either reach the end of Revelation very early or I don't finish by December 31.
This year, I'm excited! I am starting a new Bible plan with God Sightings: The One Year Bible. I also have the companion guide to use along with my daily readings. This Bible is in the New Living Translation (Tyndale). Today, I'll begin with January 1 and read from Genesis, Matthew, Psalms and Proverbs.
Lest you think that reading through the Bible every year for the past nine years has become boring or repetitious, think again. "They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:23 (NIV)
Happy New Year!