4/2/12 Isaiah 58:1-14
S: Isaiah 58:3-6 "Why have we fasted, and you have not taken notice? Why have we humbled our souls, and you have not acknowledged it?" Behold, in the day of your fasting, your own will is found, and you petition for payment from all your debtors. Behold, you fast with strife and contention, and you strike with the fist impiously. Do not choose to fast as you have done even to this day. Then your outcry will be heard on high. Is this a fast such as I have chosen: for a man to afflict his soul for a day, to contort his head in a circle, and to spread sackcloth and ashes? Should you call this a fast and a day acceptable to the Lord? Is not this, instead, the kind of fast that I have chosen? Release the constraints of impiety; relieve the burdens that oppress; freely forgive those who are broken; and break apart every burden.
O: There is no point going through all the outward observations of religiosity if you're not going to follow what true religion is all about. James 1:27 This is religion, clean and undefiled before God the Father: to visit orphans and widows in their tribulations, and to keep yourself immaculate, apart from this age. This is why Jesus criticized the Scribes & Pharisees: Matthew 23:23-24 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! For you collect tithes on mint and dill and cumin, but you have abandoned the weightier things of the law: judgment and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, while not omitting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat, while swallowing a camel!
A: As human beings, we naturally want to look good to others. But what God is more concerned about is what's inside our hearts. Mark 7:18-23 And he said to them: "So, are you also without prudence? Do you not understand that everything entering to a man from outside is not able to pollute him? For it does not enter into his heart, but into the gut, and it exits into the sewer, purging all foods. But," he said, "the things which go out from a man, these pollute a man. For from within, from the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, avarice, wickedness, deceitfulness, homosexuality, an evil eye, blasphemy, self-exaltation, foolishness. All these evils proceed from within and pollute a man."
P: Father, I confess that sometimes I do "religious things" just to look good to other Christians. Purify my heart, and bring it into conformity with You. In Jesus' name, amen.
Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)