Give Me Your Hearts.
“Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. 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.” – Joel 2:12-13 NLT
Judgment was coming, in the form of a mighty army, that would destroy the people of Judah much like the locusts had destroyed all the vegetation in its path. Yet God balances His judgment with mercy. He invites the people to repent and return to Him. He pleads with them to turn while there is still time. He reminds them that He is “merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish. (Joel 2:13 NLT). But their repentance must be real and heartfelt. He doesn’t want outward signs of remorse and regret, but true inner repentance – where their hearts reflect a humble attitude that understands their guilt and relies on God’s unfailing love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness.
The key is that the people must return to God. Not return to a list of ritualistic and religious observances. God wants their hearts, not their service. The very fact that God commands them to return to Him illustrates that they have strayed. Even while going about the sacrifices that God had commanded, they had let their hearts stray from Him. They were just going through the motions. Their hearts were not in it. Their affections were elsewhere. But the key to restoration is always repentance. God would not relent unless they repented. God would not restore them unless they repented. They would not experience renewal and revival without repentance. But if they truly humble themselves, God will restore them. “Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14 NLT). Repentance includes a heart of humility that reveals itself in God-dependent prayer, a desire to see God, and a willingness to turn away from behavior that offends God. God wants our hearts. He desires our affections. And nothing less will do.
Father, You want my heart, not just my activities. You want me to want You. You want me to turn to You and away from all the other things I have allowed to replace You in my life. Through the power of Your Holy Spirit, give me the strength to turn away from everything else and return to You in humility and dependence. I can’t live this life without You. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men