What God Desires
Hosea 6:6 NIV
For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.
What is God's Desire?
What is God’s desire for your life? Would it be acceptable to say that God desires every person to come into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? If you look at the second part of this scripture it says that Lord desires that we acknowledge God. Having read the Bible I believe it means far more than saying I acknowledge that there is a God. Be very careful not to take one verse out of the context in which it was written. In Hosea God is telling the Israelites through His prophet that their pretending to worship God, their going through the actions of the sacrificial system that He set up for the Jews to worship Him, was not enough. They had sought after other gods (false gods as the Bible teaches) and had they felt that if they continued the ritual that they had always done before in the temple then all was okay. God on the other hand, saw their hearts and the hypocrisy of their actions in worship and He declared that they were guilty of false worship and had no true knowledge of Him. They said in verse 3, “Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge Him.” They have presumed upon the Lord and He saw through them clearly. Their sin was taking them into exile and yet they still had not turned truly to God and worshiped Him. So God tells them what He desires from them. He wants them to have mercy in their lives toward others like He has mercy and has shown them mercy all these years. He clearly declares that their definition of acknowledgement they have of God is not the same kind of knowledge the Lord desires from them. The Lord did not accept their sacrifices, all He wanted was true acknowledgement of who He is. Their motive for worship was not to get to know Him but to try to placate him with what they did. Have you ever seen that ? God speaks in the Old Testament several times of what He wants from His people. In Deuteronomy 6:3-9 God says,
Deuteronomy 6:3-9 NIV
Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you. Hear, O Israel: The lord our God, the lord is one. Love the lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Love the Lord
The Lord clearly proclaims His desires for the people of Israel that they are not only to obey His commands but to teach them to their children. Which is the one specific command that He desired them to teach? “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”
Psalm 51:16-17 NIV
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.
David's Heart and Spirit
David after having sinned with Bathsheba and planned to kill Uriah, her husband, and lying about all of it and living in deception, God called him on his sin. David declares in this Psalm that God desires a broken heart and a contrite spirit not burnt offerings as a sacrifice to God. Because of his sin David has now come to have a broken heart over what he had done and this Psalm clearly states his broken and contrite heart. One more of God’s desires from the OT - Micah 6:8,
Micah 6:8 NIV
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
It is clear that God desires His children to show mercy to others who are less fortunate. What a great time of the year to show mercy to some who are in desperate need! God calls us to be a just person toward others. This world is full of criminals and crooks of every kind who are not acting justly toward others and who seek to take advantage of others. I think of the fictional character of Scrooge in Dickens, “The Christmas Carol.” Here was a man who lived a life of stinginess and would not act in just ways toward anyone he met. Until the spirit of the real Christmas came into his heart and then he saw life differently. A new heart for all is what God desires for the people He made so that they may recognize the true gift of Christmas, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and the wondrous Gift He gave to the whole world. It is clear that the children of God in the Old Testament were far from learning the true desires of God. So as God had planned from the very beginning He would send His own dear Son to be born in a manger to live out the desire of God in the flesh. Jesus would be the perfect example for His creation to follow that they may live by the desires of the heavenly Father. There are many scriptures in the New Testament that declare God’s desires for His people but I will only call attention to a few.
Matthew 28:18-20 NIV
Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
I start with this very familiar verse particularly as we give to Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and highlighting international missions today. Jesus, now the risen Lord, desires that we first of all go! We go with the authority of God given to us by His Son to share the Gospel of the Kingdom of God with all nations, tribes, and people. We go to make disciples! We don’t just go internationally but God desires that we go everywhere…across the street, at the store, to work or school in play or pleasure; we are to make disciples of all we see. We share so they may believe in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord. Do you share about your Jesus? We are also to baptize those who believe. Have you been baptized? If you believe and are saved and you desire to live for Christ then be baptized! God’s desire is for us to teach what Jesus commanded so that those who have believed will obey that which Jesus taught us to do as disciples of Christ. What a great passage that tells us of God’s desire.
Luke 9:23 NIV
Then he said to them all: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.
Once we have become believers in Christ Jesus desires that we become true disciples of His. In Luke 9:23, Jesus clearly tells us a disciple is one who has to deny him/herself of the things of this world that would entrap them and keep their heart and life upon the thing or the life of the world rather than Jesus. The Webster dictionary says that deny is – to restrict one’s pleasure, to reject, to disown. The Hebrew-Greek Study Bible says that the word deny is denoting a putting away or to remove oneself from something. To follow Christ one has to give up your life for Christ. We reject that which will get in the way of following Christ. Then Jesus says to be a disciple one must be willing to die to you. The cross is a symbol of death. To take up the cross is to die to all that you are and be what God desires. Each of us hold dear our own life but Jesus calls for us to die to that life and yet live to Him. Paul puts it this way, 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20) Christ is to live in the believer in such a way that it is Christ and not ourselves but we live by the faith that we have in Him on a daily basis. Then we can become on our way to being the disciple Jesus is talking about. How do we do that? In Matthew 11:28-30,
Matthew 11:28-30 NIV
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
Jesus once again tells us to come to Him and this time it is for rest and for learning. To really get to know God and have that knowledge that Hosea speaks of and the Bible calls the “fear of the Lord,” we need to go to the source, Jesus, and learn about Lord from Him. We can become better disciples when we learn from Him. We can become better makers of disciples and teachers of the commands of God if we come to Him. The scriptures are the source of the knowledge of God. He has given us the very Words of the Lord God so that we may know Him and follow Him as His disciples. The Old Testament believers had the prophets and at times the miracles of God to learn and follow Him. He would teach them mercy by His very actions to them. Today we have His Word to read and study to know Him. The plan of God was to send His Son into the world He made so that all men would know the Father by knowing the Son. This truth has been revealed to us in His Word. This great Christmas season God has a desire for you and me – show mercy to others who are in the consequences of sin, be Jesus to them who have such great need, be compassionate as Jesus was to others and then you will begin to know the Knowledge of God. Surely this is the time we all need to reach out and tell those around us about the Savior, the One who came as a child in a manger to be born a baby just like you and me were born. He came though to die! He came to give life through His death. If any of you today have come and has not yet given heart and life to this Savior Jesus, now is the time …come! Repent (turn from) of the sin of your life and truly give your life completely to God through Jesus Christ today. To those who need to begin sharing the mercy of God with others, make that decision today! Become more like Jesus; give yourself to others and for others! Tell, show and provide for others to see Jesus in you. Don’t let this season pass you by without doing something to deny self and help others in the name of Jesus. Will you make your commitment to be a learning disciple? Will you commit to begin to read daily the NT with us this next year? Will you commit to following Jesus with all that you are? Will you begin to truly acknowledge God daily in your life so that God can begin changing your heart and life to become more like His Son, Jesus Christ? The invitation includes those who are looking for a place to be a growing disciple for the Lord, to come and join us in this New Testament, Bible loving, welcoming and warm fellowship of believers here at NABC. May the Lord bless you and keep you and may He shine His face upon you this day and forever more. Amen