Lesson 11 -- third quarter 2003
August 10, 2003
© Copyright 2003, Christian Light Publications
Listen to the warnings!
God is merciful as well as just. His people had once again turned their hearts away from His heart and His ways. Their sin and rebellion demanded judgment and punishment from the Judge of all the earth. Their frail human condition required mercy and help from their Shepherd. So in mercy He warned His people that His judgment was coming, calling them to save themselves by repenting and turning back to Him.
Did they listen and amend their ways? Did repentance find room in their hearts? Did they respond positively to God's call: "Turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning" (Joel 2:12)? The terrible things that came upon God's people show conclusively that they ignored Him, His warning, and His call to repentance.
As we stand at this viewpoint and gaze out on the panorama of history, we shake our heads in wonder at the stubborn blindness and evil disobedience of those people long ago. We point in judgment at the flaws in their character and their decisions. We nod our heads in agreement with God's mercy and judgment.
But what about our own selves? It seems to me that God's people still have a way of missing the warnings that God has for them. I think it is quite likely that we have our own areas of blindness, neglect, and outright disobedience. Are we so different from those people long ago? I am determined that I will be different and I imagine that you have a similar determination. So let's humble ourselves before God and one another, and let's open our eyes and hearts to what He is saying to us. Listen!
"Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth" (Luke 12:15). Most of the time I think I do fairly well at rejecting covetousness and discontentment. But I do have my struggles and moments of forgetfulness. I would like to drive a better rig and have my own (nicer) place to live, you know. But like I say, I tend to forget (at times) that God clearly warns me against temporal values and laying up treasures on earth (Matthew 6:19). But I ask you this: In saying all that, am I excusing my own failings and disobedience? I suspect that's one way the people in Joel's time marched to their own doom. So I'm not so different from them. Are you?
"But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (Matthew 6:15). Oh ouch! Another hard one for me! Less than a day ago (or was it less than an hour ago?) I found myself dealing again with almost-ten-year-old stirrings of disgust and sourness (anger and bitterness?). I think it was 1993 when a "certain thing" happened to me at the hands of some in the church. I still go through those infrequent moments when I have to forgive them all over again. But why does it still have to be such a struggle?! Hmmm. Maybe Joel's contemporaries weren't so strange and abnormal after all.
"Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation" (Romans 13:2). Well, I zeroed in on myself for two warnings, so I'll turn the spotlight on you for just a little. How is your submission? How conscientious are you about the laws, guidelines, and expectations of those in authority over you? Remember, no excuses!
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