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January 18 Genesis 43-48 & Mark 7:1-23

When we find ourselves in stressful situations, it is so easy to lose our balance between our emotions and our reasoning. Both need attention and expression they are both gifts from God. You can hear the heart ack in Israel's concern for his youngest son. He does not want to lose another one. You can hear Judah's frustration with his father. How do you keep your balance or get it back when you are out of control or over controlling? A short prayer phrase can be helpful in opening your heart and mind to God. Something like: "Jesus Mercy," "Have mercy on my Lord Jesus," a short line of God's Holy Word can help give you the grace you need to focus more clearly on the need before you. God is near. God wants to be your true strength and guide. Just as Joseph was thankful that his brothers had come to him so too is God grateful we turn to him. We hear Joseph say,"It was really for the sake of saving lives that God sent me here ahead of you." God wants all our actions to be lifegiving, not life-taking. Turn to him the next time life overwhelms you.

The traditions of which Mark is writing about here that the Pharisees were keeping are not bad in and of themselves. We can see the good sense in them. The problem is that the traditions became more important than loving God, neighbor and self. Jesus quotes Isaiah, "This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts." Where is your heart today? Take the time you need for your heart to guide you in your relationships - God, Neighbor, Self. Jesus also says, "“Hear me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person, but the things that come out from within are what defile.” We always have a choice. May I choose to have blessings come from me today. May my words and actions reflect the heart of Christ.

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