Many Christians simply go through religious motions while ignoring that God demands true loyalty & faithfulness to Him.
Hosea 6:1-3 says this:
"Come, let us return to the Lord. For He has torn us, and He will heal us; He has wounded us, and He will bind up our wounds. He will revive us after two days, and on the third day, He will raise us up so we can live in His presence. Let us strive to know the Lord. His appearance is as sure as the dawn. He will come to us like the rain, like the spring showers that water the land."
Because the people had not remained loyal to the Lord, He declared, "I will depart...until they recognize their guilt and seek My face; they will search for Me in their distress." Hosea 5:15.
Have you noticed that straying from the Lord brings you great distress? What personal distress have you experienced as a result of turning away from the Lord?
The purpose of distress is to lead us back to the Lord. Hosea 6:1-3 speaks of the attitude with which straying people should return to Him. The verses above show the confidence we have in the Lord when we repent (or "return" to God). When we repent and return to the Lord, He wants us to do so on His terms, not ours. We are to abandon our willful and wicked ways and to recommit ourselves to walking with the Lord. When we do, "He will heal us...and He will bind up our wounds."
This healing doesn't mean we won't bear the scars of our sin's wounds, for sin always has a destructive impact. But it does mean that we will be forgiven and restored to His fellowship and to useful service.
Hosea 6:4-6 says this:
"What am I going to do with you? Your loyalty is like the morning mist and like the early dew that vanishes. This is why I have used the prophets to cut them down; I have killed them with the words of My mouth. My judgment strikes like lightning. For I desire loyalty and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burn offerings."
Most of us are far from perfect in our Christian walk. We have strayed off of the straight path more than once. Those who readily declare their repentance but quickly return to their false gods and wicked practices are "as the early dew that vanishes," so, too, their loyalty to the Lord evaporates in their day-to-day living. Loyalty to God cannot be empty words. You must have a sincere and honest heart.
You claim Jesus as your Lord...but do you do what He says to do (as well as what he says not to do)? Do you help others? Do you lead others to His saving grace? Do you follow the 10 commandments? Jesus used Hosea 6:6 to expose hypocrisy.
God spoke...and still speaks to us...through the prophets. Are you listening?! The prophets declared God's devastating judgment on His disloyal people. Yes, they piled up sacrifices and burnt offerings to the Lord...but they withheld their loyalty and stood condemned. Our religious activities are meaningful only when they express our heart's devotion to the Lord. We live out our devotion in prayer, Bible study, public worship, and in our daily lives. God expects this kind of loyalty from His people.
*taken from LifeLessons Bible Studies for Life, "The Roads Less Traveled," learner guide for Winter 2010 - 2011.
Questions and Answers to Share with Your KoTH Partner:
- Why do you think many people choose to live with their spiritual pain rather than return to the Lord?
- How are you striving to know the Lord better?
- When you repent and return to the Lord, does your repentance last?
- What threatens to push aside your loyalty to the Lord?
- Could you be depending on your religious activities to please God rather than your personal commitment to Him?
- The term "loyalty" comes from the Hebrew word "chesed." Chesed represents the commitment two parties have to a covenant relationship. Please locate the Webster's dictionary meaning for the term "loyalty" and write it down.
- How can your KoTH partner pray for you this week?