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Only One Thing Is Wrong, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
March 6, 2024 9:00 am

Only One Thing Is Wrong, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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March 6, 2024 9:00 am

In our series called, Come Back to Me, we’re looking at a part of the Bible you probably haven’t thought much about: the Minor Prophets.

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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, 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 back to Summit Life with pastor, author, and apologist J.D.

Greer. I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. If you're just joining us, we are in a teaching series called Come Back to Me, looking at a part of the Bible you probably haven't thought much about, the Minor Prophets.

And if you missed any of the previous messages, they are available online at jdgreer.com. Well, today we're returning to the book of Joel and a time in Israel's history when they were facing God's judgment over their sin. But as we'll see, even God's punishment of his people is ultimately an expression of his love for them. 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. 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. 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 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 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. 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 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. So what is it that God says to them?

What does he want from them? Chapter two, 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. 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. 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 hurting himself with that hunger, and so I'm going to forgive his sin.

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'm 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? Where does that love come from if you don't have it?

Oh, great question. That's why we started with Hosea 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. 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, returned 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 learn 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 and 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. 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 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 was referring to is all the other things that you feel like you need in life. If you will put him first in your relationships, you will put him first in your career, you will put him 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 is never failed me, not one time. That's what God is saying. I want to bless you.

I'll do it, but you got to come back. You're listening to Summit Life with Pastor JD Greer. You can always learn more about this ministry at our website, jdgreer.com. We'll finish our teaching from the book of Joel in a moment, but I'm so excited to tell you about our brand new featured resource this month. And it pairs perfectly with the teaching series we're working through right now. It shares the same name.

Come back to me. And it's a devotional and 21 day scripture guide through all 12 of the minor prophets. These are books of the Bible that sometimes get overlooked.

But as I think we're all learning from Pastor JD's teaching here on the program, that shouldn't be the case. Each of these books are incredibly rich and applicable to our lives today. The daily reading will help you study, pray and apply the scripture. And it's a perfect supplement to your own personal time with the Lord, or could be used as a guide for small group discussions. Let your life be transformed by the message given to these men of God.

To get your copy, give your gift of $35 or more today by calling us at 866-335-5220, or visit us online at jdgreer.com. Now let's get back to today's teaching here on Summit Life. Once again, here's Pastor JD.

He points to something else though, and this is important. You will be satisfied. Let's call that contentment. 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 than 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 will pour out blessing of these types multiple ways. He goes on in another one of my favorite verses in the Old Testament.

Look at this verse 25. And I will restore to you the years the locusts that the swarming hellocust 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 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 of this is Job in the Bible. Job, after suffering so much, and Job was not suffering for his sin, but he's suffering. 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 going to go back and pay you back for all that suffering that you went through and I'm going to 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't 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 and 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 men will dream dreams. Your 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 him.

Look at him. 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 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? 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 Duke co-workers of yours out.

And all they're thinking, they're just counting down the days to like next year we're going to have redemption and then we're not going to shut up about it. 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.

Isn'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 in that 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 two 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. Tang 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. He looked 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 lapsed 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%. Again not lapsed 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.

We need to take our sin as seriously as we can and then hunger for God's presence as diligently as we're able. That's a challenging message today from Pastor JD Greer here on Summit Life. So Pastor JD since we've got you can you tell us a little bit about this teaching series called Come Back to Me and how it digs into the gospel message through the Minor Prophets?

It was something where you get a glimpse of God's heart in ways that help you understand and appreciate Christ even more than before you go there. When Jesus went through the Old Testament with those disciples on the road to Emmaus he showed him how every single thing in the Old Testament was about him and that means there's stuff in Zechariah and Zephaniah and Haggai and Malachi the only Italian prophet and I'm just kidding Malachi Habakkuk there's all these things in there about Jesus and so one of the things we do here at Summit Life is we try to give you resources that will take you from just being a hearer of the word to also being a studier you know 2 Timothy 2 15 studying to show yourself approved and then also a doer of the word and so that's what this resource is going to do is going to help you understand it more and apply it more we would love to give you a copy of this you can reserve your copy with a donation or you can become a gospel partner at jdgrier.com through any time in the month of March. Get a hold of Come Back to Me when you donate $35 or more today to support this ministry.

Call 866-335-5220 that's 866-335-5220 or you can give online at jdgrier.com. I'm Molly Bidevich inviting you to join us again tomorrow for an unpopular message we all need to hear so come back Thursday ready to be challenged right here on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-06 10:34:55 / 2024-03-06 10:46:01 / 11

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