“Therefore behold, I will once again deal marvelously with this people, wondrously marvelous; and their wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of the discerning men shall be concealed” – Isaiah 29:14 (NASB)
Being a Freedom Fighter writer for almost a decade now has given me something more than just an activity to pass my time. It has given me a record of where I once was on this journey known as the Christian Walk. A recent posting from my fellow laborer in the vineyard, Makala Doulos, had a link to something I wrote back in 2012 that caught my attention. I started that day off by quoting verses Isaiah 29:13-14 and went into a slight discourse on idolatry. I also made a plea that we do not become so familiar with the presence of El Shaddai that we reduce Him down to our level and treat Him as common. With that in mind, today I would like to revisit Isaiah 29:13… but maybe in a different light.
“Then the Lord said, ‘Because this people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote.'” I like the lip service part because sometimes we hear things as we go through the motions of doing church that sound so crisp that we almost trip over each other to say “WOW, THAT WAS SO PROPHETIC!!” But ya know something, I kinda like it said like this: “The Master said: ‘These people make a big show of saying the right thing, but their hearts aren’t in it. Because they act like they’re worshiping Me but don’t mean it.'” There is a phrase out there in Secularland that gets used quite often, and I hear it used at where I work all day, but for the sake of keeping a PG rating I’ll just say that these folks talk with a tongue of dung.
We know that there are wolves among the sheep, but I ain’t here to give the wolves any acknowledgement beyond what I just wrote. I’d rather share with you something I recently stumbled on that Ray Stedman wrote in a devotional that I think sheds some light on what can happen to us from time to time. Take a look at the very first word used in the beginning of Isaiah 29…. WOE!! Okay, now remember that and then get your focus back onto verse thirteen. Ray uses a phrase that I think strikes a death blow to the saying we’re “just doing church.” The phrase is “Mechanical Religion” and in short, it’s the “meaningless, external conformity to a performance of religious things.” If you are at this point in your walk, then you are in grave danger.
Now if you feel things have become spiritually dull for you, being kinda mechanical during a church service or a Bible study, that can be a warning sign that says you are heading into the danger zone. However, it is a healthy thing to ask yourself if you have lost your zeal for The Most-High God from time to time. Scripture can sound and appear kinda dull and common place as well and singing “Majesty” or “Amazing Grace” can be just as mundane as walking but don’t ever think that God will leave you hanging there…not if you are really a child of His. Now for your moment of WOE….
“And it shall happen instantly, suddenly. From the LORD of hosts, you will be punished with thunder and earthquake and loud noise, with whirlwind and tempest and the flame of a consuming fire.” (Isaiah 29:5b-6)
And that’s just His tap on your shoulder (just kidding?). Anyway, spiritual complacency is not a good place to be. It leaves you in place where Secularland can begin to cut its groove into you and the next thing you know you’re stuck in its depth. Fortunately, there is a God that will not leave you or forsake you, but that doesn’t mean you’re gonna get something that changes the course of your walk that is covered with complete goodness. I myself am going through an ordeal that I never saw coming and it has me leaning hard on The Cross of Christ. But in the mess of it all God has sent reassurances that He is there and in that I find peace. That peace has rekindled zeal and that zeal feels good…even if my heart is heavy from what has happened.
So, from the pen of Ray Stedman, know this very thing, “God’s love for us does not tolerate pretense and external worship. Do we gratefully acknowledge His wake-up calls as His loving pursuit?” If you have comfortably agreed then I lift an AMEN with you, if not then all I got for you is a…WOE.
Written by Chris Hughes: Chris, a graduate of The Colony of Mercy (11-2003) is married (Kathy) with two adult children (Kevin and Karen) and has been a Freedom Fighter contributor since 2008.
Daily Quote: “At times God will send something that wakes you up suddenly to the drift in your life. This is why He has spoken so helpfully through the prophets and the apostles, warning us of the danger of spiritual drift and the danger of living mechanically as a Christian.”—Ray Stedman
This Week’s Verse to Memorize:
“The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, But the prayer of the upright is His delight.” Proverbs 15:8