When we read these verses of the book of Isaiah and reflect on our world today, we have no choice but to conclude that these words are as relevant today as they were when they were written. They are an indictment on the hypocrisy of people of faith.

God, speaking through the prophet, bluntly makes the case that many who want to appear devout go through religious motions just for show. God sees right through their phony acts and their empty prayers. God sees that their lives show no proof of transformation. They beseech God and seem penitent, but they quickly turn around and go back to their daily lives of oppressing their own employees and hurting their own friends.

We do that too. We go to God. We pray and fast. We aim to devote our lives to God. But we go back to our sinful ways and treat our workers unfairly and do violence to our friends.

These verses are a compelling reminder that “faith without deeds is useless” (James 2:20, niv); faith must be lived out, not only through charity but through crossing the boundaries that separate us from one another.

God’s call is not for a faith for show. God’s call is for a revolutionary faith that inevitably makes us take the steps to be involved in the liberation of those who are oppressed; a faith that makes us see the poor, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and welcome them as family, as our own.

Forgiving God, we repent from being worried about showing how religious we are and ignoring those you put in our path for us to befriend. We repent from this sin. We vow before you that we will get involved in their struggle and welcome them into our lives as family. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Luke 4:1-13

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Lectionary Week
March 4–10, 2019
Scripture Overview

As we begin the season of Lent, the readings provide several images of how we might prepare our hearts. Deuteronomy focuses on gratitude with a recitation of the history of God’s faithfulness. The people are instructed to offer their gifts to God as a response to God’s generosity. The psalmist focuses on faithfulness. If we put our confidence in God, God will protect and sustain us. In Romans, Paul emphasizes faith. Our confession of faith from the mouth should come from the heart, and this heart confession saves us. The story of the temptation of Jesus admonishes us to know biblical truth. The devil tempts Jesus with half-truths—even scriptural quotes—but Jesus counters with correct understanding of God’s word and God’s character.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read Deuteronomy 26:1-11. We no longer offer physical sacrifices to God. How do you give the “first fruits” of your labor to God in thanksgiving?
Read Psalm 91:2, 9-16. Recall a time you have felt abandoned or insecure. How did God respond to your call?
Read Romans 10:8b-13. Paul learned to see those he once despised as his equals in Christ. Whom does God call you to learn to love?
Read Luke 4:1-13. How do you follow Jesus’ example to use scripture to resist temptation?

Respond by posting a prayer.