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Connect the Testaments

August 8: Distortion
Isaiah 14:24–16:14; Luke 6:1–49; Job 4:12–21
If attending church and small group or even reading the Bible and praying become activities that we do out of obligation, then we have a bigger problem than we might realize. If our hearts are disengaged, our religious motions and listless obedience serve only as a security blanket—something that makes us feel safe and good.
The Pharisees faced this dilemma, but they took the error one step further. They took the Sabbath—a practice intended to point people toward God—and twisted it into a heavy burden. So when Jesus wanted to do good on the Sabbath, it’s no surprise that they seized the opportunity to trap Him.
Jesus responded to the Pharisees’ accusation by telling them He is “Lord of the Sabbath” (Luke 6:5). But He also showed them the true purpose of Sabbath while at the same time exposing their hearts: “And Jesus said to them, ‘I ask you whether it is permitted on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save a life or to destroy it?’ ” (Luke 6:9).
Caught up in their religious observance, the Pharisees misunderstood the heart of God’s commands. Not only this, but they used the Sabbath to do harm—the polar opposite of Jesus’ life-giving actions.
Ultimately, the actions of the Pharisees appeared holy and righteous, but underneath they were lifeless. They were like the lukewarm waters described in Revelation, for which Jesus feels utter contempt: “Thus, because you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I am about to vomit you out of my mouth!” (Rev 3:16).
Nothing displeases God more than when our hearts and our actions don’t match up. If this is the case for us, we need to let Scripture examine our hearts as we pray for wisdom and the Spirit. Nothing can make us right with God unless we know why we are wrong with Him—and where our hope really lies. Our outward actions need to be infused with the desire to follow Him.
What are the motives behind your motions?
Rebecca Van Noord


 Barry, John D., and Rebecca Kruyswijk. Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012. Print.

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