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Weekly Devotion with Beckyjohn -MIGHT HOW YOU FILL THE PERCEPTION GAPS DETERMINE WHAT YOU KNOW AND CONSEQUENTLY YOUR ACTIONS?

MIGHT HOW YOU FILL THE PERCEPTION GAPS DETERMINE WHAT YOU KNOW AND CONSEQUENTLY YOUR ACTIONS?

  • It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, it is why he does it. The motive is everything. Let a man sanctify the Lord God in his heart and he can thereafter do no common act (A. W. Tozer).
  • God never gives us discernment so that we may criticize, but that we may intercede (Oswald Chambers )
  • A genuine Gospel will always be concerned with human justice rather than with the mere cultivation of a warm inner glow (Elton Trueblood) 
  • Our faith is not a religion we must practice, but a relationship we experience (Jim Denison)
  • It does not matter how good your praise, preaching, programs or property are. If your disciples are passive, needy, consumeristic, and not moving in the direction of radical obedience, your church is not good ( Neil Cole).
  • When your will is God's will, you will have your will (Charles Spurgeon).

TEXT: Matthew 15: 10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” 12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?” 13 He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” 15 Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.” 16 “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. 17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”

The ministry of Jesus began by engaging people in the synagogue as a public teacher. This teaching was an activity open to any layman who was willing to be taught. Teaching is providing an organized, logical way of learning and knowing about our social world.  I recall a particular Christian leader who was one of the participants in a learning environment when I raised the obvious question – ‘How many wise men/ kings went to see baby Jesus?’  The response was in chorus’ three’. The next question was, ‘How did you get to know’? When I doubted the response, the Christian leader wondered because that was obvious. He said it was in the bible and went on to search.  The lesson was on understanding the power of culture.  You see three kings or wise men even though it is not written in the bible. The Christian leader said he got the information from his Sunday school teacher. The next question was how the Sunday school teacher got to know information that is not in the bible. It was a song ‘We three kings of Oriental . . . ‘.  The point is, it is possible to act on information that one feels sure of, yet cannot verify its source.  The message from Jesus Christ is to verify the validity of the information that guides our behavior. ‘Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”’ (Matthew 15:10).

WHAT DETERMINES WHAT COMES OUT OF THE MOUTH?

Perception filling-in – The human brain fills in the gaps by inferring or deducing from what is already known. That act of the brain filling in missing pieces of information is called restoration. Without questioning what we think we know to be true, we may wind up believing things that are actually false. This is most likely to occur when an authority tells us that something is so.  An authority is a socially defined source of knowledge e.g. parents, teachers, pastors, doctors, etc. These are people that shape people’s belief about what is true and what is not true.  That was one of the main challenges in Jesus' time. The teachers of the law had assumed the information they used to fill gaps was the reality. For example, the interpretation of keeping the Sabbath holy must have misdirected the people to where the reason given was lost.  “Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27).

What is familiar is secure – Prior knowledge is what is used to attach meaning to anything unfamiliar. The tendency is to look for what makes sense because one has seen it before. That is what leads to selective observation by noticing only the patterns that are familiar. That makes one see what he/she wants to see instead of what there is.  The mind is reading history into the present rather than reading the present.

            The concern is, if the normal thing is to see only those patterns that one wants and also the assumption that only the patterns we have experienced directly exist, how then can one gain new knowledge?

UNDERSTANDING HOW WE ATTACH MEANING IS WHAT DISTINGUISHES US AS CHRISTIANS

Source of information– In Genesis 3, God’s second question to man was, “Who told you that you were naked?”  (The first question is ‘Where are you?). To be a Christian is to choose to replace the information one has with the word of God.  That is the only way the patterned beliefs, attitudes, values, and behavior learned and shared become renewed by the word of God. “It is dangerous to have zeal without knowledge, and the one who acts hastily makes poor choices” (Proverbs 19:2). How sad it would be if what is called ministry or work of God could be filling in the perception gap with what people assume is what God wants.

Formation of the self-frame – People form their identities from the influences of their cultures. That becomes the encyclopedia from which one examines the values regarding what is right and what is wrong. That must be the reason Joshua was told that the book of law was not to depart out of his mouth and he was to meditate on it day and night (Joshua 1:8).  The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14). That is the word that replaces the word we had before and becomes the deposit from which we speak. 

 DANGERS OF CHRISTIANS NOT EXAMINING WHAT IS ABUNDANT IN THE HEART

 Inaccurate understanding of self – “Who am I?” is developed based on what is reflected back from other people.  Parents, friends, teachers, and the media help shape the sense of self.  Think of the meaning of the concept of ‘a Christian in the market place’.  This may imply that there are the professional Christians and the ordinary Christians. From such belief, the Christian faith is made as an object that is compartmentalized, giving people a false sense of self.  Someone has said, “Where the church officials (pastors, deacons, church elders) are held in high esteem and erroneously viewed as God’s voice among the people, there is likely to be syncretism.” The void within remains and so people start looking for idols. Think of Jesus' life that was a demonstration of what is expected of those who are his disciples. Whether in the Synagogue, the Temple, the road where the blind would be waiting for alms from passers-by, or in the boat moving from one location to the other, he was the same person.

Heirs of the kingdom of God – Think about the difference between being a son/daughter and being an employee. An employee has a transactional relationship with the employer.  Their relationship is based on the contract which means one is useful as long as one is productive otherwise you are discarded. The employees’ compensation is connected to one’s contribution. Might that be the thinking behind phrases like sowing of seeds, working for God and even ‘ministry’? A son or daughter’s place is dependent, not on performance but a relationship that is intrinsic it is not transactional. One’s security is assured and one enjoys knowing the Father’s plans. It is unusual for one who is a member of the family to not work hard in order to be applauded or approved. It is a joy to see the Father’s estate expand and that motivates.

There is a need to listen carefully to Jesus Christ’s teaching on the importance of understanding what is within because it is what you use to give meaning and value to what is taking place. To be effective witnesses of Jesus Christ (Acts 1:8), we need to move from a culture whose real driver is the worldview of the people. Without that awareness, it is possible to be very active, feel right while remaining stone deaf and blind to all information that contradicts what Jesus Christ taught. Bill Hulls says that discipleship is the only hope for this world and “it hasn´t worked because it hasn´t been done-it hasn´t been done because we are distracted, we are an impatient lot who have been more interested in ourselves and our kingdoms than Christ and His. Only when a person submits to a community of serious Christ-followers can they learn to do all that Christ commanded.” Taking time to be with Jesus Christ, reading and meditating on the word, fellowshipping with others who share in the same beliefs is what changes what is within. Would you say that the Spirit of God has so filled you that out of the abundance in the heart your mouth speaks righteousness?

‘The church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became man for no other purpose’ (C.S. Lewis)

Ps/ Resent-This message was sent three weeks ago but there were technical issues that made somepeople not receive it.  It is meant for those who did not receive.

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