October 4 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“The Lord says: ‘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 based on merely human rules they have been taught.’” ~Isaiah 29:13

OLD TESTAMENT

If Isaiah’s message sounds harsh, remember that the people he is preaching to have become hardened. “They are like rebellious, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the Lord’s instruction. “They say to the seers, ‘See no more visions!’ and to the prophets, ‘Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions’”(Is. 30:10-11).

I’m sure you’ve met people much like the ancient Israelites. They go to church, give their offerings, and glad-hand their friends, but they don’t get it. They want to hear platitudes and niceties in sermons, not hard truths or real teaching. A man who had been in church for decades once accosted me over my commitment to expository preaching (preaching through every passage in a Bible book). He said “You need to just stick to preaching the gospel. When you cover all these verses it just confuses people.” In reality, he was getting uncomfortable—very uncomfortable. He was one of the meanest religious persons I had ever met.

Isaiah had this to say about religion that sounds good but isn’t: “The Lord says: ‘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’” (Is. 29:13-14). Religion was a bunch of talk. People were not truly in love with God nor did love for others characterize their lives.

How can we avoid being people whose religion never goes deeper than our throats? “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength” (Is. 30:15). The prophet is not calling for perfection; he is calling for repentance. We must allow ourselves to be confronted with the Holy One of Israel and welcome His Word to truly do its work in our lives (Is. 30:11). We must NOT be like the religious people who “would have none of it” or like those who try to get rid of the preacher because they don’t like his preaching (Is. 30:15)! We must instead let the preaching of the Word change us! When our hearts are repentant and we can quietly listen to God, that’s when we find rest and strength. Let the Holy One of Israel give you those things. Call upon Him for forgiveness and let your heart take in His Word.

NEW TESTAMENT

The instructions on living like chosen people continue in this section. Children who want a good, long life obey and honor their parents. Parents, fathers in particular, ready their children for life by providing discipline that guides them toward wise decision-making and counsel that points them in the right direction. Employees submit to the authority of their supervisors and do what they say. This is, first and foremost, an act of worship that is pleasing to the Lord. You are working before the Audience of One. Supervisors and bosses must keep the same thing in mind. The Audience of One is watching. Be kind. Be fair. Finally, all people must remember that the Evil One is doing his best to keep us from living out these commands. We have to take a stand against him by staying committed to the truth, doing what is right, and holding tight to the good news that we have been accepted by Christ.


Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.