November 2018   
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  "That is why the Lord says, '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. Instead tear your hearts.' "Joel 2:12-13...."The Lord says, 'I will give you back what you lost to the stripping locusts, the cutting locusts, the swarming locusts, and the hopping locusts.' " Joel 2:25......"There can not be repentance without the realization of the gravity of sin. Regret for sin's consequences is not the same as sorrow for sinning against holy God. Confession of sin is not necessarily an indication of repentance. Repentance comes only when we acknowledge that our transgression has come from a heart that is far from God, and we are brokenhearted over our grievous offenses against holy God." Henry Blackaby


I wonder today if we are not living in the midst of a nation that has lost it's strength because of a Church that has lost it's salt?....Many decry the state of our culture, but the Church is meant to be an unending light in the darkness. Savory salt in an unsavory world. Are we really that? Joel spoke to a people who had abandoned their God and were paying a heavy price in the consequences. Please note that he spoke to a people who were still very religious, who still "went to church" regularly. They were close to religious practices but very far from the heart of God. They were grieved over what had happened to the nation, and went through the ritual of showing repentance, the tearing of their garments. Yet it was only ritual. Their hearts remained unchanged. This is why what Blackaby says concerning true repentance desperately needs to be heard, and followed in the Church today. Oh that our prayers would turn to pleas for Him to, as His Word says, "grant us repentance," which is always a response to His great grace.

Some years back I heard a church leader say about a fellowship that had just experienced and practiced a very large amount of sinful behavior, resulting in their mistreating and driving off their pastor. He said it was his hope that by getting a new leader in the church, a new start could then be made. No mention was made of addressing the sin. I am reminded of what Jesus asked Martha and Mary concerning the burial of their brother Lazarus; "Where did you put the body?" That is a question that needs to be put to so many fellowships, families, and individuals concerning their failure to deal with their sin and the devastation that has come about as result of it. Where have we put the bodies?

May it be that on every level and by everyone, pastor, leaders, laypeople, all of us, that we would cease tearing our garments over consequences, and tear our hearts in our grief over what those consequences have wrought. Not only in others, but more, in the heart of a holy God. I believe if we will do so, we will see a restoration of all that the "locusts" of our lives have stripped and cut away. Over all aspects of our lives that have been swarmed by those locusts. It starts in our hearts and not with our "clothes." We know how torn our lives are in this day. What actions and behaviors have torn the heart of the Father? Let us come, and tear our hearts open before Him. He will restore, and the locusts will die.....  If will we come?

Pastor O


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