Topic: From the Heart [October 18, 2016]
Read: Joel 2:12–17, Bible in a Year: Isaiah 53–55; 2 Thessalonians 1
Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate. Joel 2:13
In many cultures, loud weeping, wailing, and the tearing of clothing are accepted ways of lamenting personal sorrow or a great national calamity. For the people of Old Testament Israel, similar outward actions expressed deep mourning and repentance for turning away from the Lord.
An outward demonstration of repentance can be a powerful process when it comes from our heart. But without a sincere inward response to God, we may simply be going through the motions, even in our communities of faith.
After a plague of locusts devastated the land of Judah, God, through the prophet Joel, called the people to sincere repentance to avoid His further judgment. “ ‘Even now,’ declares the Lord, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning’ ” (Joel 2:12).
Then Joel called for a response from deep inside: “Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity” (v. 13). True repentance comes from the heart.
The Lord longs for us to confess our sins to Him and receive His forgiveness so we can love and serve Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Whatever you need to tell the Lord today, just say it—from the heart.
Prayer: Lord, please give me a heart of repentance to see myself as You do. Give me the grace to respond to Your merciful call for change.
God wants to hear your heart.
In today’s reading we find remarkable insights on the theme of repentance. Key phrases punctuate this exhortation. “Even now” (Joel 2:12): Despite a pattern of disobedience that has merited the righteous judgment of God, He extends grace to a repentant heart. “Return to me with all your heart” (v. 12): The repentance God is calling for is not lukewarm but rather a full commitment of the heart. “Declare a holy fast” (vv. 15–17): The act of fasting does not carry a meritorious element but is a means of self-denial and sets the foundation for turning from selfishness to God. In the spiritual life of Israel both a national and individual repentance were keenly related.
This message was written by David McCasland [Our Daily Bread Ministries.]