In a recent message I chose to speak on the Old Testament book of Joel chapter two. With a new year upon us it was the perfect reminder that I needed to reset my thinking and my heart to what is most important to God.
“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Rend your heart and not your garments.” Joel 2:12-13
It was customary, even expected for an Israelite to tear their clothing as an expression of the grief, pain or remorse. When the people would listen to the message of a prophet and respond in repentance this outward sign of tearing ones clothes beginning at their heart would be a powerful sign of their remorse. But like any religious traditions or practices even this expression became a hollow routine. The call to repentance that the prophet Joel delivered to Israel included the need for sincere repentance.
Sincere repentance is mostly known for what it is missing such as excuses and rationalization. You never have to tell a repentant person what to do. They already know the seriousness of their sin and the humility that needs to follow. This is what God was and is looking for from each one of us.
The truly repentant person would experience only the grace and mercy of a compassionate God. It is the only way that God receives a repentant sinner. Their is nothing more usable in the hands and plans of God than a broken, humble and repentant person. For those who choose to embrace this grace the potential for internal transformation is limitless. The external circumstances, even the pain of past sin may still remain but we are freed to experience every blessing with sincere gratitude that God may send our way.
Who knows? He may turn and relent and leave behind a blessing grain offerings and drink offerings for the Lord your God. Joel 2:14
The prophet called all the people to the temple including the priests. The people had nothing to bring because their sin had brought devastation to their crops. God called them to bring the only sacrifice that remained, themselves. The priests had nothing to offer in the altar except their tears. Let the priests, who minister before the Lord, weep between the portico and the altar. Joel 2:17 Sometimes the most valuable thing we can bring to God is a broken heart. Before we ask for something new from God in this new year lets stop and offer him what he has been asking for all along. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. Psalm 51:17
For a deeper look at Joel chapter 2 please take the time to listen to my message.