From Pastor May:

 Matthew 16: 1-12

                 I went to an ice cream place in a town where I previously lived.  I went there once, and only once.  It was really popular where I was living (though, like with Imo’s pizza, a few people had some strong feelings the other way…).  To be fair, I probably asked for the wrong thing… or I simply ordered it wrong.  But I asked for mint ice cream.  I also wanted crushed Oreos.  And I wanted some chocolate syrup.  To my horror, I witnessed the undeserved beating of a perfectly good dessert.  The rubber-looking ice cream was (literally) slapped onto the counter.  The perfectly-crushed cookies were shoved into the ice cream and pummeled into black dust.  Then, the syrup was added.  It was not drizzled into the cup, on top of everything.  No, it was deep-tissue-massaged into the rest of the mixture.  The whole mess was flopped into a bowl and I was cheerfully handed a slimy, cold blob.

                 Mint ice cream: my hands-down favorite.  Oreo cookies: great!  Chocolate syrup: one of God’s reminders that heaven is coming.  Mushed and blended all together into a uniform ball: not so very appetizing. 

                 In these verses, Jesus reminds his followers that evil influences are kind of like that.  Like yeast, the false teachings of the Pharisees threatened to work their way into everything that God’s people believed.  As the dough was kneaded and the baking process continued, their evil would become worked into the whole.  And we too, if we’re not careful, find ourselves under the sway of rejecting influences.  Some are subtle… a comment here and there.  Some are more overt… actual verbal (or physical) attacks against people who talk about a faith in Jesus.  But all are capable working their way into our hearts and minds, changing the way we think, until we’ve stumbled into doubting Jesus and what he has done.

 When Christ came into this world, he directly defeated everything separating us from God.  Because of his blood, his Spirit takes hold of us, cleans us up, and removes even the smallest contamination.  And, of course, God’s Word can help as well.  The more we read His Word, the more we hear His promises.  When we spend time with Him, we remember constantly all that Jesus’ death and resurrection did for us!

 Dear Jesus, forgive me.  Wash me and make me clean, for the stain is too much for me.  Keep me firm in my trust in you.  And help me share my hope with others.  In your name I pray.  Amen.