Our hearts, not our rituals

Hosea 6:6-7

For it is love that I seek, and not sacrifice; knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. 7  “But like Adam, they broke the covenant; in this they have acted deceitfully against me.

Today I want to share this piece of scripture with everyone.  Even though it is short, it is powerful.  When the Lord was speaking to His people, He was stating that He wanted “their love, not their sacrifices.” I am going to explain why this is so important to understand.  This is not the first nor the last time the Lord states this in the bible.  Here are a few more times:

1 Samuel 15:22-23

Samuel said, “Does the LORD delight as much in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the LORD? Surely, to obey is better than sacrifice, to pay attention is better than the fat of rams. 23  Indeed, rebellion is the sin of divination, and arrogance is iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected this message from the LORD, he has rejected you from being king.”

Psalms 51:16-19

Indeed, you do not delight in sacrifices, or I would give them, nor do you desire burnt offerings. 17  True sacrifice to God is a broken spirit. A broken and chastened heart, God, you will not despise. 18  Show favor to Zion in your good pleasure; and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. 19  Then you will be pleased with right sacrifices, with burnt offerings, and with whole burnt offerings. Then they will offer bulls on your altar.

Jeremiah 7:21-23

This is what the LORD of the Heavenly Armies, the God of Israel, says: “Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices and eat the meat. 22  Indeed, when I brought your ancestors out of the land of Egypt, I didn’t speak or command them about burnt offering and sacrifice, 23  but I did give them this command: ‘Obey me and I’ll be your God, and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways that I command you so it will go well for you.’

Matthew 9:12-13

12  When Jesus heard that, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a physician, but sick people do. 13  Go and learn what this means: ‘I want mercy and not sacrifice,’ because I did not come to call righteous people, but sinners.”

Why am I sharing so many of these verses today?  I am because if it is important to God and repeated so many times in His word, we should understand this important principle and worship Him correctly.  Religious rituals can help people know God and nourish their relationship with Him.  This is why in the Old Testament they had ritual sacrifices for cleansing, praise and other situations.  Even the New Testament has baptisms and the Lord’s supper. However, all of these rituals mean nothing to the Lord when done improperly.  If you are not carrying a “heart of love for obedience” to our Heavenly Father, you are simply mocking Him.  If your heart is away from God, when you do these rituals, you are doing them empty in spirit.You see, the Lord did not want the Israelites rituals, He wanted their hearts.  Just like the multiple scriptures I shared above with everyone, He wants our love too!

Hosea’s life serve as a parable for God’s love and faithfulness to the unfaithful.  So many things can be learned from this book that applies to our lives today.  So I just want to ask everyone some simple questions today to help find out where you are and help you figure out where you should be.

Why do you worship and go to church?

What are your motives for your personal sacrifices?

The Lord wants to give blessings to His people and wants them to be a beacon of light.

Genesis 12:2-3

I’ll make a great nation of your descendants, I’ll bless you, and I’ll make your reputation great, so that you will be a blessing. 3  I’ll bless those who bless you, but I’ll curse the one who curses you, and through you all the people of the earth will be blessed.”

Isaiah 49:6

he says: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Israel and bring back those of Jacob I have preserved. I’ll also make you as a light to the nations, to be my salvation to the ends of the earth.

For God’s people who are faithful in heart and proclaim His word will be rewarded with special blessings.  Those who don’t will be punished severely.  These Israelites broke their covenant and were unfaithful to God.  Have you broken your covenant with God or forget to follow through with your promises to Him?  The reasons why I am asking these questions is to make you think about where your heart is and your motives when conducting yourself in the Lord’s presence.  Remember, if you are not where you should be it’s never too late to repent for your past and current sins.  So please think about today’s lesson and do not be like the Pharisees or the Israelites in Hosea’s time. Seek the Lord with the right intentions and do not do it for show.  He wants our hearts not our rituals, remember that and have a blessed day.

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