Jim Burns Homeword Daily Devotional for Parenting and Christian Family

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HomeWord - May 23, 2007

"God Wants your Heart 
This devotional was written by Mike DeVries

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 mere human rules they have been taught.” --Isaiah 29:13


Steve Chalke, in his book The Lost Message of Jesus, shares this story:  

An old Jewish joke tells the story of Judgment Day at the end of history. God summons all the people who have ever lived. "Here's what we're going to do," He explains. "Gabriel will read out the Ten Commandments, one by one. As he does, those who have broken them will have to depart into everlasting darkness." Commandment number one is read out and a number of people are led off. The same thing happens with each of the commandments until, having read eight of the ten, only a small crowd remains. God looks up to see this handful of stern, smug, grim-faced, self-righteous, joyless miseries staring back at Him. He pauses and contemplates the prospect of spending eternity with this lot. "All right!" He shouts, "Everyone come back; I've changed my mind."[1]

I remember growing up in a church not too far from my house. Even though we went to church “religiously” (funny how we use that word, is it not?), I can still remember hating church. It was boring, and long – filled with people whom I didn’t know and who looked, well... so serious.

One day, a well-meaning lady in our church came to me and said, “Son, do you like church?” Exactly how I was going to answer that I did not quite know yet. She continued, unaffected by my silence, “I sure hope so, because this is what heaven is going to be like – church, eternally.”

I’m guessing I had a pretty typical reaction to this for a nine-year-old boy, thinking, “If heaven is like an eternal church service, do I really want to go there?”

Now that I’m older, I’ve been doing some thinking lately. Is it possible to do the very things that please God, yet be so far from the spirit of it, that we miss the point completely?

The more and more I read the Scriptures lately, I keep finding these places where God appears to be saying, “I know you think you’re doing the right things, even things I’ve told you to do, but... you’re missing the point altogether.” It’s as if we are doing the right “things,” but our hearts, the very things God actually wants, are essentially somewhere else.

Time and again, God says, “I don’t want your sacrifices. I don’t want your religious festivals. In fact, I’m beginning to hate them. What I want is your heart.” In other words, I don’t want your “religion” -- your going through the motions to please me – I want your heart passionately longing for me, says God.

It’s as if He is saying, “If your heart is not in it, I don’t want it.”

Your heart is what God is looking for, not your religion. Today, as you go about your day, consider this question: Does God have my heart, or just my “religiously-driven” obedience? Perhaps you need to stop doing some things in order to make sure you are doing the right things.

[1] Steve Chalke. The Lost Message of Jesus. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003. pp. 50-51. 

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Does God have your heart, or just your “religiously-driven” obedience?


Isaiah 29:13-16

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