30 for 30
Our Father in Heaven, Hallowed be your name. This morning let’s spend the first few moments of our devotional hallowing the name of God. Tell Him how much you love Him, and tell Him what you love about Him.
Read Matthew 23. Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you. You may want to make notes, underline in your bible or journal all that God is saying.
Thought of the day
Matthew 23: 4 They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.
Jesus was controversial. He was never afraid of dealing with powerful people and confronting injustice.
In this passage Jesus pronounces 7 ‘woes’ upon the scribes and the Pharisees who embody all that is wrong with man-made religion.
Here are the accusations Jesus makes of them.
- They taught about God, but did not love God – they did not enter the kingdom of heaven themselves, nor did they let others enter.
- They preached God, but converted people to dead religion.
- They taught that an oath sworn by the temple or altar was not binding, but that if sworn by the gold ornamentation of the temple, or by a sacrificial gift on the altar, it was binding. The gold and gifts, however, were not sacred in themselves as the temple and altar were, but derived a measure of lesser sacredness by being connected to the temple or altar. The teachers and Pharisees worshiped at the temple and offered sacrifices at the altar because they knew that the temple and altar were sacred. How then could they deny oath-binding value to what was truly sacred and accord it to objects of trivial and derived sacredness?
- They taught the law, but did not practice some of the most important parts of the law – justice, mercy, faithfulness to God. They obeyed the minutiae of the law such as tithing spices, but not the weightier matters of the law.
- They presented an appearance of being ‘clean’ (self-restrained, not involved in carnal matters), but they were dirty inside: they seethed with hidden worldly desires, carnality. They were full of greed and self-indulgence.
- They exhibited themselves as righteous on account of being scrupulous keepers of the law but were, in fact, not righteous: their mask of righteousness hid a secret inner world of ungodly thoughts and feelings. They were full of wickedness. They were like whitewashed tombs, beautiful on the outside, but full of dead men’s bones.
- They professed a high regard for the dead prophets of old and claimed that they would never have persecuted and murdered prophets when, in fact, they were cut from the same cloth as the persecutors and murderers: they too had murderous blood in their veins.
In essence – they looked good from the outside, but on the inside, they were far from God.
This is another reminder that God is most concerned about the state and position of our hearts, not how good we look.
In 1 Samuel 16:7 it says: For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.
God sees our hearts and, if our hearts are pure, we will see God.
May we be a people who prioritise being close to Jesus over looking good. May we drop any sense of pretence and religion and step into the abundant life that Jesus offers; a life of being with Jesus, becoming like Jesus and doing what Jesus did.
Today, spend some time praying for our church family. Pray for those that are struggling in this season, pray for the children, youth, and students. Pray for families and those living alone. Pray for those affected financially by the crisis, pray for those affected physically and mentally. Pray for God’s healing and blessing on our community.
Spend some time today re-reading the seven woes. It can be easy to think that these don’t apply to us. Ask the Lord to speak and reveal if there is any dead religion in you. Then repent and give it to the Lord.