January 30
Mercy, not sacrifice
Pastor Mark Jeske

Counterfeiting is not dead. The digital age we live in has made faking currency easier, and so governments have to resort to special tricks in paper and ink to foil counterfeiters. You know, you can fake a relationship with God too, at least to casual observers. It’s not particularly hard to perform religious rituals, but they are meaningless and worthless before God if your heart isn’t in it.

God’s prophet Hosea was his spokesman to Israelites who thought religious performance was an acceptable substitute for real faith and love in action: “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. For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgement of God rather than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:4,6).

Real faith comes from a painful awareness of the human evil that lives within you. It comes from hearing the gospel of God’s merciful atoning sacrifice in your place and on your behalf and believing in his precious forgiveness. Real faith expresses itself not only in the performance of religious ceremonies, which may bring real value, but also in daily works of service and kindness to people around you.

Attending worship services, placing religious art around your house, and contributing money to religious organizations and their ministries are all good, as long as they flow from real faith in Christ and are validated by the way you treat other people.


Grow spiritually stronger by building your faith one day at a time

Your spiritual growth doesn’t happen all at once. It happens over time as you study God’s Word. That’s why we’d love to send you this 365-day devotional called Growing Stronger as thanks for your support today.

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