Reaping a Valued Heart

Vol. 8-21 – 05-14-2023 – Reaping a Valued Heart

“Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and He relents over disaster. –Joel 2:12-13

The couple attended our church in the northeast. He came just a few times. She was fairly regular. She began to have seizures. After the second 911 call, Donna took an intentional and pointed interest in helping her. Her seizures were from abuse by her husband. He went as far as picking her up and throwing her to the floor on her back. He was a large man, about 290 pounds. She was just slightly over 100 pounds. The seizures quickly followed.

We got her to go to a major hospital for evaluation; one that had specialists in brain injuries.

The abuse had been going on for years. Awful abuse. Physically and mentally. He most often would say he was sorry, but it was her fault. I do not know about you, but in my heart, I cannot imagine any reason for a woman to be treated so. It tore my heart. It tore my wide Donna’s heart. This lady was so abused mentally that she would plead for his forgiveness for “causing” him to mistreat her.

There came a time when we picked her up and took her to a women’s abuse shelter. He did not know where she was, but he found out. He would pace up and down the sidewalk yelling for her to come home. She had come to faith in Christ. He had not. The damage to her caused her to not trust very many people.

What would you do? How would your heart respond? God does not ignore, but often chooses, to have His own involved doing ministry to those in need. It takes a spiritual awareness, being ready, continuous learning from the Scriptures, and a heart that is rendered at the condition of others. How are you doing with those things?

Heartrending is a proper response to sin—particularly as God sees that sin. People caught in their sin need to humble themselves; confess and repent. The introductory Scripture reads return to the Lord your God (Joel 2:13). That is what God says to His own. He is 1) gracious, 2) merciful (compassionate), 3) slow to anger, and 4) abounds in steadfast love.

For the believer, this is not a restoration of salvation, because Jesus, the Christ’s atoning work on the cross settled that forever. It is a restoration of fellowship and joy with the Almighty God before our sin interrupted our relationship.

I pass a number of churches on the way to the church where Donna and I are members (there are many; several are the result of splits). I see signs inviting people to come to “revival meetings.” Folks invite others to their revival meetings hoping that they will come to the Savior for salvation. You do not “revive” the dead. That is not what revival meetings are all about. Revival meetings are for those already saved who are not doing well with their walk in Christ. To have that sweet fellowship with the Savior and get up off their rusty dusty and get busy in the ministry of reaching others for Christ, exactly what He tells us in Matthew 28.

Not only did we reach out to the young lady I described, but we also reached out to her husband who shows no inclination toward accountability to our holy God; rather had no evidence of having any relationship with the Savior. Thus, he also rendered our hearts.

When Sinners Go Free

Thus says the Lord: “For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because they have threshed Gilead with threshing sledges of iron. –Amos 1:3

That husband showed no mercy. He kept on abusing his wife. The police would not arrest him due to the wife not filing a complaint. What is wrong with our country that the enforcers of law and those who make law would not have a process of protecting this young lady and holding the husband accountable for his crimes against her?

We live in a country where justice is adjusted. By adjectives. Social justice. Racial justice. Immigrant justice. Gender justice. Etc. When you get wrapped up in the adjectives, justice loses. It is not justice, but preferences. If we are to be a nation of laws, justice demands that perpetrators be accountable for their crimes against society and individuals.

As I pondered Amos, I was keenly aware of the verses that led me to surrender to the ministry (Amos 7:14). However, a number of verses in Amos (he was a prophet) were written regarding what God had him speak to those involved in sin.

He gives the list of sins. I do not think he gave a checkbox list so that the perpetrators could check them off, then evaluate to see if they were better than their neighbor or co-worker. There is no evidence he passed out a form for this endeavor. He does, in the book, not only list the sins of the Northern Kingdom (Israel), but also lists the sins of Judah (the Southern Kingdom). Plus, he lists the sins of the surrounding nations (Amos 1:3, 6, 9).

When he speaks regarding sin, where does he get the list? From God (he is giving what the Author, God, gave). It is tied to the covenants (Abrahamic and Mosaic). God had said for every sin, and crime, He would not relent from punishing that sin (Amos 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 13; 2:1, 4, 6). God did judge/punish each, including His people. The punishment did not all come immediately. Because God loves those He creates and does not want them to perish, but to come to Him in repentance and faith (2 Peter 3:9).

Seek good, and not evil, that you may live; and so, the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you, as you have said. Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph (Amos 5:14-15).

Do we want our justice, with all its adjectives, or is God’s justice much better? Do we want justice at all, except for our own?

God does not turn a blind eye. He does not look the other way to simply appease our emotions and cater to our whims of justice. God sees. Cares. Has a rendered heart. No nation or individual will go free from unsatisfied sin. Jesus is the only satisfaction; His sacrifice is complete and valid for any individual who comes to Him in repentance. Individuals make up nations. Thus, nations are also culpable for sin.

And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. and the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. –Revelation 20:12

How many Israelis who believed in Almighty God, who neither worshipped Him nor obeyed His covenants, died with those who practiced abominations toward Almighty God?

How many Christians who believe in Almighty God, who worship Him, and who live under the teachings of the Scriptures, support leaders they know little about except for their political party affiliation? Then whine about what they have to suffer through as a result. Are they any different than the disobedient Israelis?

Life Application

It is a long trip in this blog, from a husband that abuses his wife, to an individual that is even irresponsible in their voting. However, the Scripture passages touch on our responses to what God expects in our lives.

The application is to contemplate the Who life is for. Just us? Or does our life matter to God and others?

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. for our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).

Who are the reconciled? The new creation? Who is the ambassador? Who has the message? Who paid the price for our individual sin?

What is Christ’s expectation of us? Because?

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Written by Dr. Larry Lightner

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