March 21, 2015

Clean Hearts

Written by Tripp Prince

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – March 21, 2015

Guest Writer: Meet my son-in-law Tripp Prince. We are blessed to have him write our Lenten devotionals for seven consecutive Saturdays. Today’s is the 5th. Thank the Lord for you, Tripp!

No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more. Jeremiah 31:34

When you think about the Christian faith, do you primarily think of it in relational terms? In other words, is your faith simply a belief system or moral compass, or is it truly a dynamic and living relationship with the triune God?

If our relationship with God is nothing more than a set of religious beliefs, then we will view our sin as nothing more than the breaking of abstract and impersonal rules. However, if we truly know God, then we must view sin as a failure of relationship, not rules.

In many ways, we as human beings like rules. They are black and white, easy to understand. Relationships, on the other hand, are messy and complicated. They demand the whole of our being, not simply outward conformity. You aren’t a good husband or wife simply by following the “rules” of your marriage. A marriage isn’t a contractual agreement but the mystery of two people committed to living in a deep, meaningful relationship with one another. Likewise, as a son or daughter of God, you aren’t simply signing up for a never-ending list of “dos” and “don’ts” but are, in fact, opening yourself up to a dynamic and personal relationship with the God who made you, knows you, and loves you.

The story of Scripture is a story of relationship. The God of the Bible is a God who desires to know his people and to be known by them. Every form of Christian living flows from this relational connection. For this reason, the forgiveness of sins that God speaks of in Jeremiah 31 is rooted in relationship.

God’s forgiveness is always relational. He is primarily concerned with the renewal and restoration of our entire being, not just our external actions. He knows the temptation we have to fall into a rules-based religion, where we do the things we’re supposed to do but our hearts remain unchanged.

For this reason, when we sin and fail to live out our faith, we must always return our focus to our relationship with the Lord. Yes, God does want us to live holy and faithful lives, but the holiness we seek in our actions will never progress beyond the depth of our relationship with the living God. As such, let us join our hearts with the prayer of Psalm 51 and find renewal and strength today in the presence of our good and loving God.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” Psalm 51:10-12

Prayer: Father, thank you for the gift of your presence. Help me to be aware of your work in my life and for my faith to always flow from a living relationship with you.

Related Readings: Psalm 61:4; Luke 10:27; John 14:18-23; Hebrews 10:22

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