If I were to ask you to bring your dog or cat to church on Sunday, you'd probably look at me sideways. Especially if you knew we were going to stand in a line and wait for the pastor to say some special words over it, then we were going to offer it as a sacrifice for the sins we committed that week. YIKES!
Thank God for grace... literally!
I mean, if Jesus had never paid the price for our sins, that's what we'd still have to do to stay in right relationship with God. Which is why today's verse is so significant.
Take words with you
and return to the Lord.
Say to him:
“Forgive all our sins
and receive us graciously,
that we may offer the fruit of our lips.
Hosea 14:2 NIV
Now for us, it doesn't seem odd to pray words to God. But for the people of Hosea's day, to only 'take words' to God, would mean coming empty handed... without the required sacrifice or payment required by the law. So I bet they were wondering, 'How could God forgive me?'
But oftentimes what we do repeatedly, becomes routine. And as such it can lose it's meaning. God saw that these people brought their sacrifices but they continued in the same sins. They didn't fully turn their hearts toward Him during the in-between times. So the sacrifices meant nothing to them. They were just like 'box-checking' church goers. As if somehow that was going to make God happy.
But God is going to be God, no matter whether we show up to church or not... no matter whether these people sacrificed or not. You see, the system of sacrifice was never set up for God to grow. It was never designed so that He would change, or fulfill His purpose. The sacrifice was intended for the people to realize their sin and how it was actually hurting them. But God saw that the system of sacrifice wasn't working.
All God really wants is our hearts.
So He told them to forget the animal... leave it at home and just bring sincere words. Instead of a burnt offering for your sins... bring Me a burning and humble heart. And instead of morning and evening offering of thanksgiving... bring Me a perpetual heart of praise.
So let us renew our hearts in prayer
considering the attitude of our heart.
It takes focus to set our mind on Him,
practice to stay in the moment,
and dedication to make it a habit.
But what a change this sacrifice makes
when the Lord brings blessings of peace.
Blessed is the one
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one
whose sin the Lord does not count against them
and in whose spirit is no deceit.
Psalm 32:1-2 NIV
Check out more: