JOEL 2:15-16: “Blow the ram’s horn in Zion. Schedule a time to fast. Call for an assembly. Gather the people. Prepare them for a holy meeting. Assemble the leaders. Gather the children, even the nursing infants. Grooms leave their rooms. Brides leave their chambers.” (GW)
OBSERVATION: Will God’s people pray? Will we fast before the Lord? Will we lay down everything we are doing to gather together for a holy meeting – leaders, children, nursing infants, even grooms and brides? Or – will we continue to complain about the conditions in our lives and nation, while we simply go on with our lives, business as usual? Our future hangs in the balance. What will we do?
We are no different than Israel and Judah. We see the storm clouds rising, we pontificate about the coming storm, and when it is time to pray our churches are empty. The business of life, and the general sense of apathy seem to have stolen our hearts.
What is on the Lord’s heart? Why does He call us to return to Him, to call a solemn assembly, and to pray?
- “But even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart— with fasting, crying, and mourning.” Tear your hearts, not your clothes. Return to the LORD your God. He is merciful and compassionate, patient, and always ready to forgive and to change his plans about disaster. Who knows? He may reconsider and change his plan and leave a blessing for you. Then you could give grain offerings and wine offerings to the LORD your God.” (Joel 2:12-14 GW)
This is not the heart of God from the past. This is the heart of God for our present. God never changes! Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever! It is always God’s heart to be merciful and compassionate, to forgive and to change, to bless and restore. He only asks us to return to Him with all our heart, with fasting, crying, and mourning! He only asks for humility and a singleness of worship and devotion. When we fail to return, when we fail to fast, cry, mourn, and humble ourselves before Him, we reveal our true affection and devotion. A heart that is proud will be judged. A heart that is humble will be restored.
- “But God shows us even more kindness. Scripture says, “God opposes arrogant people, but he is kind to humble people.” So place yourselves under God’s authority. Resist the devil, and he will run away from you. Come close to God, and he will come close to you. Clean up your lives, you sinners, and clear your minds, you doubters. Be miserable, mourn, and cry. Turn your laughter into mourning and your joy into gloom. Humble yourselves in the Lord’s presence. Then he will give you a high position.” (James 4:6-10 GW)
There is no shortcut to salvation and deliverance. Jesus willingly and humbly submitted to a horrible death on the cross so that God’s rivers of mercy and compassion could flow freely to the humble and repentant heart. God does not delight in the judgment of a person or a nation. God rejoices in finding hearts that are turned toward Him in humility and repentance so that He can pour out his mercy and compassion. If there is judgment upon America, it will only be because His people, who are called by His name, did not respond to the ram’s horn in Zion – the call to return to the Lord with their whole heart.
Lord, open up our ears to Your call to pray! Give us grace to obey! May we run to the holy assembly, and may we continue to position ourselves in repentance and prayer, until the heavens open up with an outburst of Your mercy and compassion.
In Jesus Name!