With All Your Heart

Joel 2:1-2, 11b ESV

“Blow a trumpet in Zion;
sound an alarm on my holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble,
for the day of the Lord is coming; it is near,
a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and thick darkness!
Like blackness there is spread upon the mountains
a great and powerful people;
their like has never been before,
nor will be again after them
through the years of all generations.”

“For the day of the Lord is great and very awesome;
who can endure it?”

Just in case you haven’t noticed, let me tell you that we are living in very troubled times on the earth. Many people are haters and liars who are doing evil to other people just because they can, and/or just for the sake of power and control, and/or just for the sake of accumulated wealth.

And the church has largely gone the way of the world, at least here in America, and they are uniting (partnering) with the government, and with big business, and with the culture of the world. And they are using worldly means and methods to draw the world into their gatherings, too.

Thus, they have also diluted the gospel of Jesus Christ to make it more appealing to the people of the world, and to human flesh. Some do in order to deceive and to lead people astray, and others for the love of power, and others do so naively because they trust those in authority over them.

Still others, or perhaps all who are adulterating the gospel are doing so because it gives permission for the “believer” to continue living in his sin, in deliberate and habitual sin against Almighty God. And thus a large number of Christian men are addicted to pornography and to sensuality, including many pastors, and many women and children, too.

The church at large (not including all congregations) is on a massive spiritual decline, and she is so caught up in the pleasures of the world and in the world of entertainment, that she is not being the light of the world or the salt of the earth in taking the gospel to the regions beyond.

So, we are under the judgment of God, and God is allowing us to go through some difficult times because he wants to bring his wayward people to repentance and back to surrender of their lives to him as their only God. And things are going to get much worse, I believe, because the Lord wants his people to call on him in truth and to desire him above all else.

Joel 2:12-14 ESV

“’Yet even now,’ declares the Lord,
‘return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
and rend your hearts and not your garments.’
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
and he relents over disaster.
Who knows whether he will not turn and relent,
and leave a blessing behind him,
a grain offering and a drink offering
for the Lord your God?”

Jesus Christ did not die on that cross just to forgive us our sins so that we could go to heaven when we die. He died on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave his life up for us (1 Pet 2:24; 2 Co 5:15).

“Faith” in Jesus Christ is not some emotional experience we had at one time in our lives, nor is it an intellectual assent to who Jesus is and to what he did for us on that cross. It is also not a mere accepting of his love, grace, and forgiveness of our sins, especially if we did not die with him to sin.

Many Christians in America are followers of a man named Max Lucado who writes books and devotionals. But Max doesn’t teach the true gospel of grace. He teaches our salvation as though it is “fire insurance” so that we can keep on living in sin and still go to heaven when we die (1).

But he isn’t the only one teaching the adulterated gospel. It appears that most preachers today, at least here in America, are diluting the gospel to make it more acceptable to human flesh. For many are teaching that all we have to do to be saved and to have eternal life is to make a confession of Jesus or to pray a prayer, but Jesus says we have to die to our sin.

Many, in fact, are saying that we don’t have to repent of our sins or obey our Lord or submit to Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives. They say that is “works-based salvation” which we are to avoid. But Jesus said we must deny self, die daily to sin, and follow him in obedience (Lu 9:23-26).

Paul taught that when we believe in Jesus that we are crucified with Christ in death to sin so that we are no longer enslaved to sin but now we are to be enslaved to God and to his righteousness. And he said we are slaves to the one we obey, and if it be sin, it ends in death, but if it be obedience, then that leads to righteousness, and it ends in eternal life (Rom 6:1-23).

So many professers of faith in Jesus Christ are living not much different from the people who make no profession of faith in Jesus. It is indistinguishable between the church and the world now, at least in the case of the majority. So many Christians act just like non-Christians, and that is bad.

A Call of God

So, this is a call of God to return to him, to return to Jesus Christ as your only Lord and Savior. It is a call to repentance, which is a spiritual U-turn in your life. It is the forsaking of your former life of living in sin and for self to now follow Jesus Christ in obedience to his will and to his commands.

And this is no light affair. This is serious business. This is giving it all to Jesus, all of it! It is death to your old way of life, and it is now living to God and to his righteousness in the power of God’s Spirit, going wherever the Lord sends you and doing whatever he commands you to do and to say.

For, when Jesus shed his blood for us on that cross, it was to buy us back for God (to redeem us) so that we would now honor God with our lives. And his grace trains us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we wait for our Lord’s return (1 Co 6:19-20; Titus 2:11-14).

So, if you are walking in the ways of the flesh, and if you are making sin your practice all the while you are claiming Jesus as your Savior, and heaven as your eternal destiny, please know that the Scriptures teach that you will die in your sins because you refused to die to your sins. You will not inherit eternal life with God no matter who tells you that you will.

So, repent of your sins, turn from them, and walk in obedience to your Lord. Submit to Jesus as your only Lord (master) and let him lead you in the way he would have you to go. And you will have the hope of salvation from sin and eternal life with God, as long as you continue in that.

[Lu 9:23-26; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:7; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10]

Draw Me Close To You

Donnie McClurkin

Draw me close to You
Never let me go
I lay it all down again
To hear You say that I’m Your friend

You are my desire
And no one else will do
‘Cause nothing else can take Your place
To feel the warmth of Your embrace

Help me find a way
Bring me back to You

You’re all I want
You’re all I’ve ever needed
You’re all I want
Help me know You are near

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(1) http://www.sermonillustrator.org/illustrator/sermon6/cancelled_insurance.htm

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