Date: 18 April, 2017
Text: Joel 2:12-13
Title: The Truth to Turn us to God
Proposition: Today is the day to turn to God. Are you REALLY following God?
The Prophet Joel is writing in a time period where it is obvious that Judah and Israel have turned their back on God and they are suffering His judgment instead of His blessing.
Joel 1:4 That which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpiller eaten.
5 Awake, ye drunkards, and weep; and howl, all ye drinkers of wine, because of the new wine; for it is cut off from your mouth.
6 For a nation is come up upon my land, strong, and without number, whose teeth are the teeth of a lion, and he hath the cheek teeth of a great lion.
7 He hath laid my vine waste, and barked my fig tree: he hath made it clean bare, and cast it away; the branches thereof are made white.
exp. In chapter 2 Joel calls upon the priests to weep - because the people of God no longer look like the people of God.
17 Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?
note: We have reason to weep today as believers - sin has conquered our communities, many believers have turned away, few are being saved, and often sin has crept into our lives.
IT IS AS GOOD A DAY AS JOEL'S FOR US TO STUDY HIS PASSAGE ON TURNING BACK TO GOD.
Joel 2:12-13 is our text this morning. The message is "Today is the day to turn to God." Have you really turned to follow God?
2:12 Therefore also now, saith the LORD,
I. How men turn to God.
... turn ye even to me
exp. Turning is repentance - It is turning from sin, disobedience, rebellion and turning to God.
notice - The command demands immediate obedience. "turn ye even to me"
ill. Patch the Pirate song - "To delay is to disobey."
ill. Parents counting before disciplining a child for not obeying immediately - usually slow down and add decimals - because they don't want to deal with their child's disobedience.
question: What if that child's life depended upon immediate obedience? Little Johnny is playing in the road and a car is coming. He shouldn't have been in the street - but when his mom yells at him to get out of the road - he had best listen because immediate obedience ALONE will save him.
app. Sinner here me today - God is trying to get you to turn to Him before it is too late. Your eternity depends upon your IMMEDIATE OBEDIENCE.
2Co 6:2 (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)
Isa 55:6 Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:
ill. Israel just before the Babylonian captivity REFUSED TO TURN IMMEDIATELY TO GOD.
2 Chronicles 36:15 And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place:
16 But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy.
app. While there is life there is hope. Don't delay - turn now.
transition: Men need to turn to God immediately.
... with all your heart,
exp. Our heart is controlled by our will. It isn't a feeling - it is a passionate decision that will take discipline and resolve.
ill. The Apostle Paul put his whole heart into following God.
I Corinthians 9:26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:
27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
exp. God doesn't want a partial heart - he wants ALL YOUR HEART.
question: I could ask, "Have you turned to God with all your heart?" You may not know how to respond. So, let's consider what with all your heart looks like.
ill. Michael Phelps has put his whole heart into swimming.
Michael Phelps swimming workout and 12,000 calorie diet are one of the most physically demanding around. His training routine and meal plan are astonishing for someone who is only 6’4 and weighs 165 lbs.
In peak training phases, Phelps swims minimum 80,000 meters a week, which is nearly 50 miles. He practices twice a day, sometimes more if he’s training at altitude. Phelps trains for around five to six hours a day at six days a week.
exp. Phelps doesn't just get in the pool when he feels like it.... or when it is convenient....or when it is easy. Nobody would doubt the heart of Michael Phelps for swimming.
app. Are you following God when it is convenient? (dealing with sin, attending church, obeying His Word, praying) When it is easy? When you feel like it? Or have you turned to Him with all your heart?
Transition: Men need to turn to God immediately, completely, ....
... and with fasting,
exp. The word fasting is in our Bible 26 times.
ill. If I asked today - how many of you regularly read your Bible? Pray? Fast? I wouldn't be suprised if none fasted - and yet God expects us to fast.
Matthew 6:16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;
18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.
exp. It seems that the Lord wasted his time on the modern church by giving us regulations on fasting. You only need to know how to fast if YOU FAST.
note: Perhaps that is why we have such powerless Christianity, weak prayers, weak evangelism, and sadly weak preaching.
ill. The Disciples failure to cast the demon out of the demon possessed boy.
Mar 9:29 And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.
note: You may think - good thing we don't have to command any demons to depart.
Ephesians 6:1111 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God
Rom 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
app. If we fully understood our need, our family need, our church need, our community need, our government need - we would fast naturally - because we would have no desire to eat because we would realize HOW GREATLY WE NEED THE POWER OF GOD.
Transition: Men need to turn to God immediately, completely, sacrificially....
... and with weeping,
ill. Getting to do the five minutes with column - answering a bunch of random question - one was, "When is the last time you cried and why?"
question: What makes you cry? When is the last time you turned to God in prayer with weeping?
note: God is not asking men to pinch themselves, or put onions under their eyes? But - he has connected our tear ducts to our hearts - when is the last time you wept?
ill. Some men may claim that weeping is not manly.
Joh 11:35 Jesus wept.
Heb 5:7 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;
ill. James Stewart - man who couldn't weep - told him you don't have to weep to be saved - he bowed his head to invite Jesus into his heart and suprised himself with tears as his heart broke - AS HE SURRENDERED HIS WILL.
app. Perhaps pride is keeping you from tears. Maybe a little bit of sincerity before God would bring you to tears.
Transition: Men need to turn to God immediately, completely, sacrificially, sorrowfully....
... and with mourning:
ill. Most of us have lost loved ones. There is something very sobering about a time of mourning. As believers we sorrow not as others which have no hope - but there is still a deep sadness.
exp. Did you know that there OUGHT TO BE REGRET OVER SIN. Do you have any sense of deep sadness over your sin?
ill. Paul rebuked the church of Corinth for not mourning over sexual sin in the church.
I Corinthians 5:1 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife.
2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.
question: We live in a shameless society.
1.) Dress naked and don't care.
Pro 7:10 And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart.
2.) Speak filthy and don't care.
3.) Drink and not only don't care but brag
4.) Sleep around - unmarried - don't care
5.) Watch ungodly things - and don't care.
6.) Listen to ungodly things and don't care.
Jer 6:15 Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD.
app. God awaken our conscience and the conscience of those in our communities - we ought to turn to God with mourning over sin.
Transition: Men need to turn to God immediately, completely, sacrificially, sorrowfully, regretfully,...
... And rend your heart, and not your garments,
ill. Statue at Biblical Gardens at Yad Hoshmana
exp. The Jews were great at appearing to mourn - but not really BECAUSE IT WAS EXTERNAL RENDING AND NOT INTERNAL.
exp. God doesn't want you to appear to repent - but not repent INSIDE.
ill. United Airways - said sorry for dragging screaming passenger from plane - no one believed them until they changed their policies that led to that.
app. Have you changed your policies and pracitices - do you mean sorry from your heart?
Pro 28:13 He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.
exp. Do you want mercy - get rid of the sin!
Romans 6:1-2 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
question: How can those who have been baptised into the death of Jesus by God's Spirit live in sin?
2Ti 2:19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.
app. Have you departed from iniquity? Are you living in sin? Have you covered up sin? Tears and sorrow are meaningless IF YOU DON'T GET RID OF THE SIN.
Transition: Men need to turn to God immediately, completely, sacrificially, sorrowfully, regretfully, seriously, ....
G. Submissively. "LORD your GOD"
... and turn unto the LORD your God:
note: Believer/ Unbeliever - HE IS THE LORD OUR GOD. He created us. He sustains us. Our breath is in his hands. We would be wise today TO SUBMIT OURSELVES TO HIM.
app. He is the reason men turn to Him.
II. Why men turn to God.
... for he is
Exp. Because of Who God IS.
ill. Moses desire to see God.
Exodus 34:5-8 And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation. And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped.
note: God doesn't say sin is ok - he will judge it - but notice how many wonderful truths come first in the declaration of WHO GOD IS.
A. A God of grace.
question: Why should God allow you into heaven? He shouldn't. You don't deserve and will never deserve the gift of everlasting life. Only God's graciousness could bring salvation TO MEN WHO DO NOT DESERVE IT.
Tit 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
exp. You can't get right with God today without the grace of God. It is His undeserved favor.
Rom 2:4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
app. You may feel today - like you don't deserve God's forgiveness - and the answer is YOU DON'T. But, because of God's grace you can TURN TO HIM - HE IS GRACIOUS.
B. A God of mercy.
... and merciful,
question: Why should God not cast everyone into hell right now? Answer - he should.
Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
exp. Mercy is God withholding from us the punishment which we deserve.
ill. Duncan Campbell revival on the Isle of Lewis "Is there mercy for Me?"
app. You may feel like THERE IS NO WAY GOD CAN FORGIVE YOU - and there would not be if God wasn't merciful. But his mercy made a way for forgiveness to you through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
C. A God of patience.
... slow to anger,
question: How can mankind be so wicked against a Holy God and not immediately be judged? Because he is slow to anger.
ill. The church of Thyatira had commited spiritual adultery against God - (idolatry, fornication)
Tit 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
Revelation 2:21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.
ill. Imagine you were fool enough to work a gold mine in a canyon known for flash floods. You were my friend and I pleaded with you to give up your folly and repent. To help you have time to make up your mind and to spare your life - I build a damn and work hard to hold back the waters that will take you to the grave - BUT I CAN ONLY HOLD BACK THE JUDGMENT OF YOUR DECISION FOR SO LONG.
app. Are you in sin and lightning hasn't struck? It is only because He is slow to anger - He gives time to repent - but you have not a moment to lose - because you know not when His anger will come and His patience will depart. GOD IN LOVE IS HOLDING BACK THE JUDGMENT.
D. A God of pleasentness.
and of great kindness,
question: Does Satan treat you that well then? Is your home happy with our cigarretes, your alcohol, your pornography, your lies, your deceit, your anger, your blasphemy, your wicked music and movies, your self righteous pride ....
Jas 1:15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
note: Christianity isn't a crutch - IT IS A CROSS - but you get to carry it with someone WHO IS EXCEEDINGLY KIND TO HIS OWN. There is nothing better in life than being an obedient beleiver WHO GETS TO TASTE OF THE GREAT KINDNESS OF GOD.
Psa 34:8 O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.
app. Have you tasted and seen that the Lord is good? Satan DOES NOT TREAT YOU WELL - GOD WILL GIVE YOU GREAT KINDNESS.
E. A God of pardon.
and repenteth him of the evil.
ill. I didn't see why - but saw a headline that some executions in the States were stopped. For a brief time the evil that was to come to those individuals is stopped. If it is fully stopped and they are set free - it is called a pardon.
note: Someone who has not taken Jesus as their Saviour is not going to be condemned - they are condemned - Joh 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
app. The unsaved ought to feel the fires of hell lapping at their feet - they are only a breath away from eternal judgment in the lake of fire. But God is a God who is willing to pardon you. Believer - you can be under God's chastening as well - but have his judgment removed.
transition: God is every reason you need today to turn to Him. He is a God of
Grace, Mercy, Patience, pleasentness, pardon.
Why don't you turn to Him for His blessing?
Joel 2:18 Then will the LORD be jealous for his land, and pity his people.
19 Yea, the LORD will answer and say unto his people, Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith: and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen:
Have you turned to follow God? He is God - why don't you submit yourself to Him?
Transition: Men need to turn to God
immediately, "Turn ye even to me."
completely, "with all your heart"
sacrificially, "and with fasting"
sorrowfully, "and with weeping"
regretfully, "and with mournging"
seriously, "and rend your heart and not your garment."