Monday, May 19, 2008
The following is by Steve Troxel of God's Daily Word Ministries.

During the week before He was crucified, Jesus was asked many questions by the religious leaders. However, their questions were never asked for the purpose of education or to satisfy their true curiosity, they were asked with the intent of finding fault; "The Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap Him in His words" (Matthew 22:15). Jesus answered each of their questions, but then He warned the crowds about the hypocrisy of those who were trying to trap Him.

Matthew 23:5-6
"Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues."

The phylactery was a small box containing scripture, worn on the forehead or arm to fulfill the command of God as given through Moses; "Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads" (Deuteronomy 11:18).

The Pharisees strictly followed God's commands, but they also followed many self-created rules and "enhanced" God's commands to make themselves feel more righteous. Jesus never rebuked them for following rules, but He greatly questioned the motivation of their heart. The Pharisees had forgotten that the purpose of everything they did was to worship God and glorify His name. Instead, they began to focus on their outward appearance as they sought to look holy and obtain the approval of others: "You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self indulgence" (Matthew 23:25).

This problem was definitely not new. Over 700 years earlier, God's children had lost their heart for worship: "These people come near to Me with their mouth and honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. Their worship of Me is made up only of rules taught by men"
(Isaiah 29:13).

Unfortunately, this problem is still with us today. We've created a list of rules and religious activities which somehow define our relationship with God. We define our "Godliness" by our church attendance, our acts of service, or even our time spent reading His Word. But all these good and worthwhile actions do not define our relationship - they do not define our love. Our love is, and always has been, defined by the condition of our heart; "Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7). All our actions simply flow as an outward expression of the condition of our heart.

EVERYTHING we do must be motivated by a desire to praise and honor our Heavenly Father. Our religious acts mean absolutely nothing if not accompanied by a heart full of love and thanksgiving. Let's become true worshipers who express our love for God in all we do and say! Let's never allow our lives to be driven by the look of holiness.

  posted at 5:48 AM  


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