i desire mercy, not sacrifice

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A few years ago a local church decided to close its doors for just one Sunday. The reason? For the church to be the church. To be living out the great commission. To be the hands and feet of Jesus. It was a controversial topic for those that heard of it, even more so for those who attended. How could the church just close? No corporate worship? No fellowship? Of course, it is a great idea. People are out in the community changing lives with their presence all in the name of Jesus. But isn't that what you are doing six other days of the week? I completely agree with both sides of the debate, which leads me to this verse. 
I desire mercy, not sacrifice. Hosea 6:6

This verse has been tumbling around in my head the past month. What does it mean? What does it look like lived out? Jesus quotes this several times in Matthew, words that were first spoken by God to Hosea during a time when the Israelites had turned from God, once again. 

God wants mercy NOT sacrifice. He wants to see love over religion. He wants to see actions from a changed heart, not routine worship. He wants to see forgiveness lived out, not idle words. 

When you accept Jesus as your Savior you start learning new things, the lingo and the bible stories to go with it. You get a little more grounded in the teachings. You learn the ins and outs. The church becomes a familiar place with familiar people and worship can become commonplace. 

The Pharisees had religion down to a T, yet they did not have the heart for it. They looked down on others. Judged them. Lifted themselves above them. Had distinguished clothes. Prayed louder and longer. But their hearts were the furthest from God. And their actions? They lead people away from God.  

They lead people away from God. The people who are suppose to be set apart to lead others and teach them about the God of the universe, where actually keeping others from wanting to know him.

I pray that if you have professed your need for Jesus and have been changed by his grace, that you would not be merely offering sacrifices - offerings of monetary donations or time -  but that you would show mercy to others. I pray that if you have been praying for change that you would allow God to truly change you and allow you to give mercy in abundance.

I pray that you would give mercy to the mama whose child is being rambunctious. To the car who just cut you off on the freeway. To the co-worker who keeps giving you work to finish. I pray that you would have eyes to see and ears to hear and mercy to give. 

I pray that you would not be so caught up in growing and healthy Christian living that you lose your focus of God. I pray that you would be aware of the lives he wants you to touch. The relationships he wants to bless you with. The peace he wants to give to you to pass on to others. The gifts he wants to reveal to you to use for his glory. 

Here's to mercy over sacrifice. 
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