Hosea 6-10, Psalm 123
So important is Hosea 6:6, “For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings”, that Jesus quotes this twice in the book of Matthew (Matthew 9:13,12:7). God knew then, and Jesus reiterated during His ministry, that religion destroys any true relationship with Him. No matter what denomination one ascribes to, religion can creep in. For it is the individual who decides to give God his/her heart, not the institution. It’s easy to miss the truth when God accuses His people of worshiping the various pagan gods (Baal, Molech, Asherah, etc), they were still going to the local synagogue on Saturdays to give God His due. Is that much different than now, when even those who go to church weekly, give God their due, only to forget or disregard Him the remainder of the week. He desires our heart so that He can use us and enjoy fellowship with us. He doesn’t need our religious, half-hearted acts. Even serving in various church ministries without a pure heart and desire to serve Him is religious.
It’s easy to look back in history or even now to other groups and feel that this message pertains to others. But Jesus in His letters to the churches in Revelation, spoke of this time. Revelation 3:15-16 says, “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are luke-warm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.” Interestingly, if you are on fire for God it makes others, even within the church, uncomfortable. You might be labeled a fanatic or a Jesus-freak. But this is the one God can use. Jesus says in Luke 9:26, “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.’ We just finished Isaiah, where in chapter 64, it said that our own “righteous acts” were as filthy rags, and if we were to be used of God we were to be clay in the potter’s hands.
The amazing thing is whatever we have done or continue to do apart from God, we have a God who is full of mercy and grace, and is willing to forgive and forget whatever the repentant individual brings forth with all one’s heart. The result may be a little painful before their is healing, but healing will take place. In Hosea 6:1, the prophet describes this, “Come, and let us return to the Lord; For He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but will bind us up.” As a physician I see this constantly. Surgery and medication (for example chemotherapy) often hurts before it heals. God loves us unconditionally (the theme of Hosea), if we come to Him, His mercy is never-ending.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: