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Only One Thing Is Wrong, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
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April 23, 2021 9:00 am

Only One Thing Is Wrong, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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April 23, 2021 9:00 am

In the book of Joel, we read about a period in Israel’s history when the Israelites were facing God’s judgment over their sin. But even God’s judgment is an expression of his love!

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Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. What God wants to do is He wants a change of heart that leads to a heartbroken repentance. In those areas where my heart has been broken over how my sin hurt God, how my sin drove out His presence from my life, those are the areas of repentance that really changed me.

The reason some of you can't repent effectively is that you don't really seek or desire or love God. Welcome to Summit Life with pastor, author, and theologian J.D. Greer. I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. We're in a series called Come Back to Me, and we're looking at a part of the Bible that you probably haven't thought much about, the Minor Prophets. If you've missed any of the previous messages, they're available online at Today we're looking at the book of Joel in a time in Israel's history when they were facing God's judgment over their sin. But as we'll see, even God's judgment is an expression of His love. You say, how can that be? Well, pull up a chair and listen in as pastor J.D.

titled this message, Only One Thing is Wrong. Here we go. Verse four, Joel one, what the cutting locust is left, the swarming locust is eaten. What the swarming locust is left, the hopping locust is eaten. And what the hopping locust is left, the destroying locust is eaten. Now we have a record of a modern locust plague that occurred in the region of Palestine around 1915.

Witnesses said that within a few days there was literally nothing living plant-wise left in the region and literally everything is gone. Like the locust plague, the devastating power of sin, Joel explains, is total and it gradually destroys everything in its path progressively. Joel says that unless Israel wakes up, God is going to send in the armies of Babylon into Israel like a horde of locusts. So you notice that for the next two chapters, he's going to describe this coming invasion of Babylon if Israel doesn't change their ways, he's going to describe it in terms of the locust horde.

Watch, I'll get to show you this, for a nation has come up against my land, that's a prophecy about Babylon, powerful and beyond number like the locust, its teeth are like lion's teeth like the locust, it has laid waste my vine and splintered my fig tree, it is stripped off their bark, it has thrown it down, their branches are made white, the fields are destroyed before them, the ground mourns, the land is like the Garden of Eden before they get there, and then behind them is a desperate wilderness, that's just like the locust plague, nothing escapes them as with the rumbling of chariots, that's the sound of the swarms, they leap on the tops of mountains like the crackling of a flame devouring the stubble. What you're seeing there is God saying your sin caused this kind of destruction in your life, I sent the locust as an illustration of that, and if you don't wake up there's going to be a worse one that comes, the armies of Babylon. What you're seeing there, watch this, this is a little nerd moment, what you're seeing there is an illustration of what theologians call the passive and the active dimensions of the wrath of God, and you're seeing how they work together. Here's your definition, the passive wrath of God is God simply allowing us to suffer the natural consequences of our sin. God says okay that's what you chose, I'll let you experience that. The active wrath of God is the lightning bolt of judgment from heaven, and what you see in stories like this one, listen, is that the passive and active wrath of God work together, and the active wrath of God is usually just an affirmation of or an extension of his passive wrath.

It is God simply affirming to you the choice that you've already made for yourself. Nobody has helped me get my mind around the wrath of God as much as C.S. Lewis, and one of the things he explained, he said sin is like a cancer.

One of the things about cancer is it never stops growing, it just keeps multiplying and growing, and as long as you're alive and or until you kill it, it will just keep growing until it consumes the host. He said sin is like that. He said so there's a lot of things in your soul that probably you wouldn't need to worry about if you only were around for 70 or 80 years, but scripture says that God created you to live forever either in heaven or in hell. He says so what is it like when selfishness, jealousy, unchecked lust, materialism, cowardice, what do those things look like when they've grown unchecked in you for a million years?

He said hell is exactly the technical term for what that state would be. In other words, God doesn't destroy, sin destroys, and when you understand that, listen, you'll start to see earthly experiences of God's judgment like this plague of locusts, you'll start to see them as expressions of God's mercy because God is trying to let you see where sin is taking you before it is too late for you to return. Any experience of the painful consequences of our sin, before it is too late, is God in mercy, in love, trying to wake you up. He's not trying to pay you back for your sin. He's trying to bring you back from your sin. So what is it that God says to them?

What does he want from them? Chapter 2 verse 12. Yet even now declares the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning and wren. That means tear. Tear your hearts and not your garments. The thing to notice here is that what he's describing is a repentance that grows out of love.

That's the key thing. He's not talking about changing your behavior. He's talking about a repentance that grows out of a broken heart. See the words with all your heart, fasting, weeping, mourning, tearing your hearts. He's describing repentance that comes from a broken heart. Not just a bent will, but a heart that is heartbroken over what its sin did to God. Because that's the only kind of repentance that actually works. And I tell you that not only do I know that from scripture, I know that from my own life.

Let's say a little something about me. When what bothers me about my sin is that it caused some painful circumstance, or it caused me to be embarrassed, or I felt guilty or ashamed like I wasn't a great Christian, or I wasn't a very good pastor, and then I make a change. When that's the source of my repentance, my resolutions to change are always really short-lived.

They don't go that deep. What God wants to do is He wants a change of heart that leads to a heartbroken repentance. In those areas where my heart has been broken over how my sin hurt God, how my sin drove out His presence from my life, those are the areas of repentance that really changed me. The reason some of you can't repent effectively is that you don't really cherish or seek or desire or love God, which is the connection to fasting. You see a lot of people treat fasting like it's a scheme to earn God's favor. It's like self-inflicted punishment, minor self-inflicted punishment where God will say, oh look at him and he's really hurt himself with that hunger and so I'm going to forgive his sin. Muslims around the world are about to go into a month they call Ramadan in their calendar and that's a month where they will all fast from dawn till dusk and if you ask them what is the motive for your fast they will explain this is a way of getting forgiveness for our sins and and getting the favor of God on our lives.

There are a lot of Christians who think basically the same way. I'm going to fast and I'm going to earn God's approval. If that's how you think you don't understand the Bible at all because the Bible says you don't earn God's forgiveness. God's forgiveness is given freely as a gift. It's something given to you not because you put yourself through hunger but because Jesus put himself on the cross. It's a gift that God's given to you so fasting for the Christian is not an attempt to earn God's favor. God gave that in Christ.

Fasting for the Christian is an expression of longing for the God who has given us his favor already and saying to him I desperately need your presence in my life. I need your power in my life. I need your love to flow through my life. I need it in my family. I need it in my kids.

I need it in our church and I am heartbroken that I don't have it. Things are not okay and what I need God is I don't just need you to fix my marriage. I don't need a little more financial help. I don't need a new boss. I don't need for this person to leave me alone. What I need is your presence and your power in the center of my life and I want that even more than I want food. Or you cry out to God and you say God I'm not okay with my kids growing up and not following Jesus. I'm not okay with that and I want that. I want your presence and power in their lives more than food and I'm expressing that to you or when we as a church say I am not okay with the amount of people in our community who still don't know Jesus. I'm not okay with the families in our church who keep splitting up.

I am not okay with the injustice that still affects people all over our community and I'm not okay with the tragic amount of people around the globe who have yet to even hear about Jesus and God we need your presence and power and your love out working in this church. We want that more than we want food itself. God's presence and his power flow through a repentance that grows out of love for him which may make you ask the million dollar bible question. Well then how do I get that love back? I lost that love and feeling so where do you get it back? Where does that love come from if you don't have it?

Oh great question. That's why we started with Hosea. That's why Hosea is the first book in the minor prophets because Hosea starts with a glorious demonstration of the love of the heavenly father the heavenly husband who came for you again and again and again and again and it is in light of the glorious love of God for you that love for God grows in you. You see where Joel grounds the repentance he says it himself in his own way. Joel 2 13 return to the Lord your God for he is gracious and merciful slow to anger abounding in steadfast love he relents over disaster return to God in repentance because of who you know him to be. It is the love of God for you which produces love for God in you isn't that what the whole new testament teaches first john 4 19 we love we love why do we love we love because it earns God's favor we love because it brings God's blessing no we love because he first loved us which is why we so often tell you around here that the gospel is the core of every dimension every inch of growth in your life the gospel is not an entry right you go through to become a Christian and leave behind it's not the diving board off of which you jump into the pool of Christianity the gospel is the pool itself because every inch of growth in your life comes from being aware of the greatness of the love of God for you you will only be learned to repent of your sin the more that you immerse yourself in the free and the gracious love of God now watch what God promises will happen when they do several things here verse 14 who knows whether he will not relent turn and relent and leave a blessing behind him turn to relent that's what we call mercy mercy is God withholding from us the judgment that we deserve leave a blessing behind him that's called grace grace is God giving us blessing and goodness that we don't deserve mercy withholding what we do deserve grace giving us what we don't deserve if you broke into my house and we're stealing my stuff and I caught you if I said I'm not going to call the cops and send you to jail that's mercy I'm shielding you from the judgment you deserve if I say you tell me you're financing these and you tell me and I say oh and I stroke you a check for ten thousand dollars that's grace I'm giving you what you don't deserve by the way don't try that I'll just call the cops but you see the distinction there between mercy and grace God giving us not just withholding mercy but giving us grace he goes on to describe what that looks like verse 19 the Lord answered and said to his people behold I'm going to send among you grain and wine and oil and you will be satisfied now we think of that as new blessings God's like I'm going to pour blessing back in your life that's what I want to do I really got serious with God the summer before my junior year of high school up until that time I'd been pretty focused on pleasing only myself and doing things my way and like most people who live that way I was pretty unhappy but that summer and that summer I put God back into the center of my life and my mom and dad gave me a verse that became something of a being a function like a life verse for me that I have used I've given to you several different times Matthew 6 33 they told me that Jesus promised if I would seek first his kingdom and his righteousness Jesus said all these things will be added to you and they said all these things Jesus is referring to is all the other things that you feel like you need in life if you will put in first in your relationships you will put in first in your career you will put in first in your finances you will be amazed at how God continues to just pour out blessing on your life and here I am what 25 26 years later and I can tell you that there is not one single area of my life that I can say that I've out given God I look at the quality of friends that God has put in my life I look at the beautiful family that God has given to me I look at the marriage that God has bestowed on me the church that he's allowed me to be part of financially financially I was taught if you will put God first give him the first and the best make sure that he is first in your finances you'll be amazed at how God just in goofy kind of ways will just pour blessing back out on you financially and I can tell you it has never failed me not one time that's what God is saying I will I want to bless you I'll do it but you got to come back he points to something else though and this is important you will be satisfied let's call that contentment what what's the greater gift by the way what's the greater blessing for God to dump stuff on your life or for God to enable you to be happy with what he's given you contentment is probably a greater gift than any of the grain and the wine and the oil because contentment is learning to be happy in him regardless of what you have contentment has more to do with your character than it does with the amount of your possessions so sometimes God will bless you with more stuff sometimes he'll give you greater contentment and the stuff you already have sometimes God will bless you by taking away the pain sometimes he'll give you joy and peace that goes beyond the pain sometimes he'll fix the marriage sometimes he'll give you peace that passes all understanding and the ability to walk on water in a broken marriage he just will point you you will he he will pour out blessing of these types multiple ways he goes on and another one of my favorite verses in the old testament look at this verse 25 and I will restore to you the years the locust that the swarming hell has eaten and I will restore what the hopper the destroyer the cutter my great army all these locusts I will restore what they have taken from you what that means listen y'all it's retroactive restoration has there ever been any other expression of grace like this God will literally take blessing and not just put it into your life presently he'll go back and make up for all the cursing that came in your life through your sinful choices that's how much God wants to bless and restore and and love you sometimes by the way you'll experience that on earth other aspects of that you're not going to experience it until you get to eternity maybe a good example this is job in the bible job after suffering so much and job was not suffering for his sin but he suffered at the very end of job two little verses that are tucked in right at the end that people just read right over and don't notice it says that God multiplied at the very end so that job had seven times more than he did at the beginning so in other words God said I'm gonna go back and pay you back for all that suffering that you went through and I'm gonna multiply it in your life sometimes that'll happen on earth other times you will not experience it until you get to eternity but one thing I can tell you is you will not look back at the end and feel one tear of regret over anything that's happened so here's my question where has sin destroyed your life has divorce destroyed your heart has it destroyed your family have you made decisions that you look back on and say why can I go back and talk to 19 year old version of me why can't I go back to high school version of me why can't I go back to 30 year old version of me and say don't do that and you feel that pain of despair because you feel like you've lost something you're never going to get back return to me says the lord return to me and I will restore the years the locust has eaten translation your life is not over if you return to God his promises that all you went through is going to be swallowed up in goodness and it is a restoration that will last forever and when you've been there 10,000 years and you're bright shining as the sun you have no less days to sing the glories of God's grace than the moments that you first begun that'll free you from despair and it'll free you from bitterness because what will happen is you'll start to realize that nobody has ever taken from you what God will not restore in abundance in eternity a couple other promises he gives here and these are probably the best ones verse 18 verse 28 it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out my spirit on all flesh your sons and your daughters will prophesy your old mental dream dreams young men shall see visions peter picks this verse up in the new testament and the first sermon ever preached after Jesus's resurrection and says what God is promising here when you repent is he's promising his presence a new experience of his presence to come in your life the spirit of the almighty God himself is going to come into you and that is the greatest gift God could give to you because God's presence is more satisfying than pleasures it is more constant than relationships it lasts longer than anything else you will get it is the greatest of all the gifts that he could ever give to you if you are a believer you have the spirit of the almighty God who created the galaxies and raised Jesus from the dead inside of you this morning look at that person next to you right look at them look at them if they're a believer they got the spirit of God inside of them you're like well they don't look like it you don't either okay that's what they're thinking about you but the point is that creator has fused that creator loved that person enough to fuse himself into them permanently the other dimension that he says here that peter talks about your sons and your daughters will prophesy he said that is a promise that God not only had his presence for us he wanted to empower us for mission you see the way that you know you have the holy spirit is not that you feel serene feelings of peace at night when you go to bed the way that you know that you have the holy spirit is that you are empowered for mission what did Jesus say you will receive power when the holy spirit comes on you and then you'll be my witnesses and you'll you you won't be able to shut up about me and let me tell you something when you've been revived and restored when you've experienced what we talked about in Joel 2 you will not be able to keep your mouth shut you're going to have something to say isn't that what happens when you fall in love when you some of you some of you some of you are annoying the heck out of your friends about your new boyfriend they're like would you shut up but you can't help it you just got to talk you just got to talk all the time because you're in love or when your team wins the national championship some of you carolina fans are going to wear those dude co-workers of yours out and all they're thinking they're just counting down the days so like next year we're going to have redemption and then we're not going to shut up about you can't help it you're excited about it you want to talk about it or how about this one listen to this everybody i have ever known who has remodeled their house has people over for dinner immediately when it's done ain't that right why because you want people to see how awesome the additions that you put on your house are when god has remodeled and revived and restored your house you're going to want to tell somebody that's how you know the holy spirit is in you you see god didn't just revive and restore you so that you'd feel better on the inside god wanted him some witnesses and the holy spirit comes on you to help you with that and you're going to find greater joy now than anything else in your life the book of joel opened with god telling joel go tell your children about this and let your children tell their children and their children let them tell another generation some of church is that happening in our church is god's spirit really on this church are you telling your friends that's why we got so much focus on the one who's your one how badly do you want the presence of god how badly do you yearn for it in your family how badly do you yearn for it in our church how badly do we yearn for it in our nation it's actually an easy question here's the answer as seriously as we take sin in our lives and as severely as we hunger for god's presence and those few things are shown by how heartbroken you are over your sin and how much you fast as an expression of your need for god's power in your life one of the greatest revivals ever in church history happened in korea in the early 20th century its beginning always gets traced back to one event early in the 20th century when the korean church was very very small just a few hundred believers in the whole country at a prayer service of several of the leaders of the korean church again only 200 people are believers in the entire country of korea at a prayer service one of the church leaders one of the korean church leaders a mr kang stood up and witnessed to say that he was trembling and he says the holy spirit has told me to stop praying because i have sin in my heart that i haven't dealt with and look at another one of the church leaders mr lee and he said mr lee i've been jealous of you i've talked badly about you i've tried to slander you subtly behind your back and he said truth be told i've hated you he said i need to confess that because it grieves the holy spirit and i need your forgiveness everybody was shocked because especially in that culture at that time you just never drew attention to yourself that way and everybody kind of looked around and looked at mr lee who visibly was very surprised but he stood up very quickly and said of course brother of course i forgive you and they embraced and they prayed and what followed after that was what attenders described as a poignant sense of mental anguish that fell upon the believers because of how their sins had driven out the presence of god and they began to confess hidden sins to weep over them to pray for forgiveness that little prayer meeting which was scheduled to last only an hour or so stretched on until 5 a.m the next morning that and other similar events led to this massive outpouring of god's spirit in the country of korea and in one year one year 50 000 koreans came to faith in christ and that was in a country where before there had only been a few hundred we're not talking about laps christians coming back to church we're talking about people that would identify with a whole different religion that became christians the local college campus in pyongyang which is now of course in the north where this started 90 of its students came to faith in christ 90 percent again not laps christians coming back but the people who weren't christians at all coming to faith in christ today south korea is one of the most thriving missionaries sending hubs in the world and it all went back these believers said to when we took sin seriously and we hungered for god many things are wrong in our lives many things are wrong in this church many things are wrong in our community many things are wrong in our nation but in reality only one thing is wrong we have fallen away from god and we no longer love and pursue him and that's shown by how casually we treat our sin and by how little we yarn and hunger and cry out for god how badly do you want the presence of god we need to take our sin as seriously as we can and then hunger for god's presence as diligently as we're able it's a challenging message from pastor jd greer you're listening to summit life and if you'd like to hear this message again or if there's a friend you think would benefit from it you can find it online at this message is titled only one thing is wrong and it's part of our series called come back to me at summit life our one and only goal is to help you dive deeper into the gospel message we never want this program to be a replacement for your local church instead we pray that you'll put all the things you learn into practice to serve the church and advance the gospel wherever you live like a listener from florida who wrote to us recently i listen daily at 9 a.m and the program has really blessed my life and helped me in extraordinary ways it has challenged my spiritual life and encouraged me to give more and to live closer to god that's what this is all about and as you're learning and growing through this ministry we'd like to invite you to extend that blessing back out to more people by supporting summit life financially when you make a generous one-time donation we'll say thanks by sending you a new 20-day devotional from pastor jd call 866-335-5220 or go to and if you're not signed up for our e-newsletter be sure be sure to do that today you'll get information about new resources blog posts and devotionals from jd it's the best way to stay in touch sign up online at i'm molly vidovich inviting you to join us again next week for an unpopular message we all need to hear right here on summit life with jd greer today's program was produced and sponsored by jd greer ministries
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-17 05:53:44 / 2023-08-17 06:04:23 / 11

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