Isaiah 29:1–2, 13:
“Woe O Ariel, Ariel the city where David once camped! Add year to year, observe
your feasts on schedule. I will bring distress to Ariel, and she will be a city
of lamenting and mourning. . . . This people draw near with their words and
honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me.”

Ariel is another name for Jerusalem.
The prophet Isaiah is here describing the people of Jerusalem who were very good at their rituals.
They kept all the feasts on schedule, they performed all the sacrifices, but
God says He will destroy them and cause the city to be filled with lamenting
and mourning in place of ritual.

Application: Some things never change! For over 2,000 years
God has been condemning ritual, yet still I persist. Why do I think I can come
up with my own ways of pleasing God, rather than simply yielding to Him in all

My methods, the things I have tried, are not only fruitless,
but they are exhausting! How many times have I found
myself just going through the motions of loving Him, yet found nothing but
dryness within?
Why O why would I ever foolishly think my way could be
better than His? There is nothing, absolutely nothing,
I bring to the table that He values other than obedience.
God looks at
the substance of my life, at its fruit, and His evaluation of me begins and
ends there. 

He sees how I spend my time. He watches what I invest in. And
He calls me constantly to turn away from my attempts to look good outwardly. A
heart fixed firmly upon Him is the only thing He takes pleasure in. James 1
calls us to endure in the things of God, and in verse 4 says, “Let endurance
have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in

Prayer: Lord
Jesus, help me today to endure in the right things, in
those things that draw me closer to You.
Sift me, Lord; examine my
heart; look at what I spend my time doing, and speak to me about its eternal
value.  Evaluate what I spend money on,
and let me hear what You conclude, Lord. Keep me from ritual and pretense; give
me Your life instead.