Thursday, February 28, 2013

Give God Your Heart

12 That is why the Lord says, "Turn to Me now, while there is time. Give Me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. 13 Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the Lord your God, for He is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish. 14 Who knows? Perhaps He will give you a reprieve, sending you a blessing instead of this curse. …"  Joel 2:12-14 (NLT), see also 2 Chronicles 7:14.

Book of Joel warned the people of God’s approaching judgment and crisis if they did not turn from their sins and turn their whole hearts to God. God told the people through the prophet Joel to turn to Him and away from sin and evil while there was still time. Destruction would soon come upon them. When they turned against God, God’s judgment would soon follow (see also Amos 5:18–27). God’s judgments are real. The Holy Bible is straightforward about God’s wrath against evil and sin. God hates evil (Psalm 45:7) and ultimately He will do away with sin (Revelation 21:4–5). Sin breaks God’s heart.

Yet, warnings of God’s judgment and wrath always leave room for repentance. God wants no one to see His judgment and wrath (2 Peter 3:9) because He is full mercy, slow to anger, and filled with great kindness (Joel 2:13). Even in the midst of extreme circumstances, God wants everyone to turn their whole hearts to Him and find His help and salvation. The Holy Bible is clear that we must never be afraid to come to God in sincere honesty and humility of heart. “Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved…” (Joel 2:32).

The Lord God wants everyone to genuinely repent (2 Corinthians 7:10). He does not want an outward display of repentance, sorrow, and religious acts without a genuine heart repentance from within (1 Samuel 16:7; Matthew 23:1-36; Hebrews 4:12). In ancient Israel, public expression of grief or sorrow for sin meant tearing or rending one’s clothes. Often these outward actions meant nothing more than a religious ritual without any genuine heart repentance, confession, and sorry for sin. God wants our hearts that are torn with grief and genuine confession of sins. He does not look at just our outside actions and words. Instead, God looks at our whole hearts (1 Samuel 16:7) and judges us by our inward faith, humility, and character (Psalm 51:17).

God longs to fill us with His love, grace, and heavenly blessings. Genuine heart love for God brings hope, joy, and restoration (Joel 2:18-27). God's blessings come to those who faithfully and lovingly follow Him “for He is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love” (Joel 2:13). Echoes of God’s love, grace, and forgiveness are also found at Exodus 34:6-7; Numbers 14:18; Nehemiah 9:17; Psalm 86:15, Psalm103:8, Psalm 145:8; and Jonah 4:2.

Sadly, some people spend hours each week keeping up their outward appearance without building up their inward heart and love for God. Even worse, some people look around at their problems and situation and never look up to God for their true help and blessings. We must all let God come into our hearts by turning to Him in total faith and love. God promises us to meet our deepest needs as we turn our whole hearts to Him. As we turn our whole hearts to God, He sends us His Holy Spirit to help us live a victorious and pleasing life (John 14 – 16; Galatians 5:22-23). So, let everyone turn to the Lord God of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ now (Matthew 15:8-9)!

King James Version Study Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1988.
Life Application Study Bible. Carol Streams, IL: Tyndale House Pub., 2005.
NLT Study Bible. Carol Streams, IL: Tyndale House Pub., 2008.
Word in Life Study Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1996.
Wiersbe, Warren W. Bible Exposition Commentary. Victor Books, 1989.

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