Monday, January 25, 2010


I was doing my reading this morning out of Matthew 9 when I came across this verse, which Jesus quoted from Hosea 6:6; "I desire mercy, not sacrifice." Wanting to take this verse in context, I flipped back to Hosea to read and found this;

1 "Come, let us return to the LORD.
He has torn us to pieces
but he will heal us;
he has injured us
but he will bind up our wounds.

2 After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will restore us,
that we may live in his presence.

3 Let us acknowledge the LORD;
let us press on to acknowledge him.
As surely as the sun rises,
he will appear;
he will come to us like the winter rains,
like the spring rains that water the earth."

4 "What can I do with you, Ephraim?
What can I do with you, Judah?
Your love is like the morning mist,
like the early dew that disappears.

5 Therefore I cut you in pieces with my prophets,
I killed you with the words of my mouth;
my judgments flashed like lightning upon you.

6 For I desire mercy, not sacrifice,
and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings."

A few things jumped out at me.  First, verse 1 says "let us return to the Lord."  This reveals something that I've found true in my life...whenever I feel distant from God, I find that it is I who have moved away from Him, and never He who has moved away from me.  And when I do "return" to Him, He is always there.  Also, the rest of verse 1 seems to say something else I've found true; God will allow and use tests, trials, and pain, to form us into the people He wants us to be.  Just as a Father disciplines those He loves, so it is with our Father.

Verse 2 is one of those prophecies that was ultimately fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ.  What jumped off the page here, is the end of this verse...the purpose of the reviving and restoring is so that we may "live in His presence."

Verse 3 again puts the onus on us - to acknowledge the Lord.  That word "acknowledge" is tricky; what it actually means doesn't translate quite the same...but it literally means "to know" or "to be known" by God and implies an "intimacy."  Let us "acknowledge" God would more accurately be "Let us 'know' [intimately] God."  When you look at it that way, the only way to do that is through a personal relationship with Him.

Verses 4-5 outline God's "warning" to his people, that they are missing the mark.  How?  God gives the answer in verse 6; it's "mercy" that He desires, not "sacrifice."  In other words, relying on the outward expressions of faith, the things you do, rather than a love of God and love of fellow man, is not going to get you any closer to Him. What He most desires from us is a heart that is recklessly pursuing Him.  He desires us to show mercy to our fellow man, to look after the orphan, the widow, and those in need.  Ultimately, someone who is "broken" before Him.

King David "got this" as evidenced in Psalm 51.  This Psalm is his confession to God over his sin and here, he writes these words;

17  "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
       a broken and contrite heart,
       O God, you will not despise."

Does God desire sacrifices? long as their done with the proper heart...a broken heart, a mold-able heart, a heart that is seeking Him.  The moment we rely on our outward actions to gain us favor with Him, that is the moment we step out of His desires.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Glory...ours or God's?

There's a worship song that's one of my favorites called "Everything Glorious."  The idea behind the song is that somehow, in a mysterious way, God has passed on His glory to us.  This is an astounding thought, since most of us believers grow up in the faith thinking, rightly so, that our ultimate goal is to bring glory to God.  Still, check out these three verses in Scripture;

Psalm 3:3:  "But you are a shield around me, O LORD; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head."

John 17:22-23 [Jesus]: "I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me."

John 1:14: "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only,[d] who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."

2 Cor 3:16-18: "But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."

So what's going on here, exactly?  Who's glory is it anyways?  

Webster's defines it this way;

1 a : praise, honor, or distinction extended by common consent : renown b : worshipful praise, honor, and thanksgiving (giving glory to God)
2 a : something that secures praise or renown (the glory of a brilliant career) b : a distinguished quality or asset

3 a (1) : great beauty and splendor : magnificence (the glory that was Greece and the grandeur that was Rome — E. A. Poe) (2) : something marked by beauty or resplendence (a perfect glory of a day) b : the splendor and beatific happiness of heaven; broadly : eternity

Another great article on the Biblical meanings of the word can found here (click on link);

Now it would be extremely presumptuous of me to think that I have the answers to these questions.  There are men and women far more qualified to answer the questions as to what some of these verses mean.  However, clearly, there is something mysterious going on here.  So let me make some points...

1. Do you ever take time in your life to STOP and think about God?  He is mysterious...and a part of worship is just that - thinking, pondering, observing, wondering...I heard someone once say that "wonder" is the beginning of worship.  My point?  Reading these verses about God's glory leads to something; a type of worship that has at its root, wonder and mystery.  I don't know about you, but I want a God I can't fully understand.

2. When it comes to glory, for sure, there is a part of God's glory that we will never touch.

3. However, it is also clear that He has, at least in some part, bestowed His glory in us/on us.  Think back to the very beginning - man and woman were created in the image of His very likeness.  That alone is amazing.  And Jesus makes it pretty clear when He's praying for us that in some way, He's given us "glory."

4. As we come to Christ, He begins to transform us and shape us to be more like Him...and I think it's in this sense that Paul writes that it's with ever-increasing "glory" that this happens.

5. Jesus is the true reflection of God's glory.  Jesus, after all, is fully God.  His name "Immanuel" - "God With Us" alludes to this truth...want to see God?  Look at Jesus.

In the end, my brain cannot fully wrap around the implications of all these verses...but man, it sure is fun to think about it, and wonder...and that is worship.

Monday, January 4, 2010

It's all in the Name

Before we leave Christmas behind, I want to leave us with this post.  I preached a short message at our Christmas Eve Services on the Names of Christ...specifically, on how these names reveal why Jesus came.

Jesus = Savior (from the Hebrew name "Joshua" which means "Jehovah is salvation").
Christ = Anointed (the Greek equivalent of the name "Messiah").
Immanuel = God With Us (first given to Jesus by the prophet Isaiah some 700 years prior to His birth).

Savior, Anointed, God With Us.  Three names for Jesus, which reveal why He came.  A name, a title, and a description.  Take a look at these Scriptures below;

25The woman said, "I know that Messiah" (called Christ) "is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us."
 26Then Jesus declared, "I who speak to you am he." (John 4:25-26)

21She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
 22All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23"The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"—which means, "God with us." (Matthew 1:21-22)

Jesus came as God's son, his "anointed"
Jesus came to save us from our sins
Jesus came to show us the true nature of God, and to live with us forever

Before you pack away all the Christmas decorations, presents, etc. take a moment to pause and remember why Jesus came.  Pause, consider, and then worship Him.  Or look at it another way...what if He hadn't come?

soli deo gloria - To God Alone be the Glory