Call on the Lord – Joel

Call on the Lord – Joel

Good morning. I am John Shields, the music ministry fellow here at Stonebrook. This week we will continue our sermon series in the books known as the Minor Prophets. 

B. Note on the subject

Before we dig in, I want to make a note so that when we get into this text, you have a sense of what you’re getting yourself into. At Stonebrook, the way we preach through the Bible (most of the time) is something called expository preaching. What this means is that the main point of the text in the Bible that we’re looking at is the main point of the sermon. That means that if the text we are looking at preaches judgement, we will preach judgement. If the text preaches warning, we will preach warning. If the text is meant to make you feel uncomfortable, I’m going to make you feel uncomfortable insofar as I remain faithful to the message of the Bible.

It would be easier for me to ignore the distressing messages in the Bible. However, the message of the Bible is not that we should live lives that are just comfortable, safe, positive, and uplifting, but rather that we live in the midst of an epic battle between sin and destruction on the one hand, and goodness and obedience to God on the other. It demands that we stand up and fight against the forces of evil both in our own hearts and in this world, and run to Savior Jesus, pointing others to Him like a bright shining light. It isn’t always comfortable, but nothing will ultimately bring you greater comfort than being at peace with God and living life in such a way that God will say “well done, good and faithful servant.”

I. Joel Introduction

A. Overall Setting and Purpose 

The Old Testament is the first big piece of the Bible, and it’s organized into four major sections: 

  1. the Law/Pentateuch
  2. the Historical Books 
  3. Poetry
  4. Prophets (major & minor)

The 4 major prophets (such as Isaiah, Jeremiah…)  are the longer books, and the minor prophets are simply shorter; their message was just as major. It is helpful to think of all the prophets and the message they brought as a unit. They served a particular purpose: not to bring new teaching/laws, but to challenge the commitment of the people of Israel/Judah to God’s covenantal requirements in the Mosaic law. They guarded the relationship between God and his people and applied the blessings and curses of the covenants that we find in the Law. Some theologians have described the prophets as “covenant enforcement mediators.” They sort of had a sit-down with the people, to say “okay, let’s get real here.” It was an intervention of sorts. 

Prophets were God’s messengers warning his people when they were straying from him, and inviting them to turn back to him before it was too  late.

Brad put this well last week, that prophets brought the message of:

  • Blessing for obedience
  • Cursing for disobedience
  • Restoration for repentance [Repeat] 

B. Open to Joel

Open your Bibles to the book of Joel. If you start in the middle and flip to the right, you’ll get to Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel.

It’s helpful to know that Joel was a prophet speaking the message in this book specifically to Jews in a region/nation known as Judah, which was the southern kingdom, where Jerusalem was. This is several hundred years before Jesus walked on the earth as a human man. Let’s look at Joel’s message, starting in verse 1:

II. Locust Invasion – Judgement (1:1-12)

A. Warning of locust plague

The word of the LORD that came to Joel, the son of Pethuel:

  Hear this, you elders;
    give ear, all inhabitants of the land!
  Has such a thing happened in your days,
    or in the days of your fathers?
  Tell your children of it,
    and let your children tell their children,
    and their children to another generation.
  What the cutting locust left,
    the swarming locust has eaten.
  What the swarming locust left,
    the hopping locust has eaten,
  and what the hopping locust left,
    the destroying locust has eaten.
  Awake, you drunkards, and weep,
    and wail, all you drinkers of wine,
  because of the sweet wine,
    for it is cut off from your mouth.
  For a nation has come up against my land,
    powerful and beyond number;
  its teeth are lions’ teeth,
    and it has the fangs of a lioness.
  It has laid waste my vine
    and splintered my fig tree;
  it has stripped off their bark and thrown it down;
    their branches are made white.
  Lament like a young woman wearing sackcloth
    for the bridegroom of her youth.
11  Be ashamed, O tillers of the soil;
    wail, O vinedressers,
    all the trees of the field are dried up,
  and gladness dries up
    from the children of man.

So what we see from Joel the prophet is a message from God, and this message is a warning, it is a prophecy of a future event, an event of judgement. This judgement will come in the form of an actual locust plague — it’s clear that it’s not a metaphor for something else. The form this message takes is a lot like a movie cutscene. Joel is speaking of something that will happen to the nation of Judah in the future, but he’s speaking as if it is happening and has happened, going backwards and forwards. He wants to speak from the perspective of someone in the midst of this to give his hearers a sense that they are inside this tragic event, to make it real for them and give them the full effect of the warning.

As I mentioned, it will become clear as we continue to read that this locust plague is an act of judgement on the people of Judah, and it’s a judgement from God. 

What’s interesting is that what exactly these people were being judged for is not specified in this book. What we have here is a “you know what you did” situation. Have you ever received a look from your mom that just says “you know what you did?” You got caught with your hand in the cookie jar or whatever. She does’t need to tell you what you did, because you already know it. That’s what we’re working with here in Joel.

Being in the USA, I imagine most of us have never experience anything quite like a locust plague. But these sorts of locust plagues can happen with some regularity in the region surrounding Jerusalem. Now, prepare to  be creeped out a bit by the images you’re going to see.

A locust is just a very special kind of grasshopper, and this one looks cute enough, doesn’t she? Well, behind those eyes is a diabolical scheme and a ravenous appetite that can obliterate a food source of an entire region. You see, most of the time, locusts exist in a “grasshopper phase” in which they lead solitary lives, where they are green and pretty much don’t cause any problems.  

However, when environmental conditions are just right, the locusts undergo a physiological transformation in which their brain changes, their color changes, their body size changes, and instead of repelling one another, they become attracted to one another. If environmental conditions persist, they start to march together in coordinated formations across the  landscape. They swarm in giant masses that can be in the tens of billions, over 25 miles long and wide, and devour just about any plant life they come across. They also move rapidly, traveling over 60 miles per day, so they can arrive without warning. 

The photos you’ve seen are from 2020. These next ones are from a locust   invasion in Jerusalem (the area that Joel is addressing) in 1915. You can see the absolute destruction that the locusts bring. 

This destruction would be fearful, and it would arrive swiftly. But God doesn’t just deliver this message that “judgement is coming, so good luck  and peace out.” He tells them to do a number of things:

  1. Listen (“Hear this” 1:2)
  2. Wake up (“Awake and weep and wail” 1:5)
  3. Lament (1:8)
  4. Be ashamed (and wail 1:11)

This is a part of a thread that we will continue to trace as we go through the next sections.

III. A Call to Repentance (1:13-14)

  Put on sackcloth and lament, O priests;
    wail, O ministers of the altar.
  Go in, pass the night in sackcloth,
    O ministers of my God!
  Because grain offering and drink offering
    are withheld from the house of your God.
  Consecrate a fast;
    call a solemn assembly.
  Gather the elders
    and all the inhabitants of the land
  to the house of the LORD your God,
    and cry out to the LORD. 

In the first section, Joel gave them a wake-up call. In this section, he invites them to respond.

  1. Lament/Cry (1:13)
  • God wanted them to experience sadness and sorrow over their sins
  1. Gather the people (1:14)
  • God didn’t want them to do this alone, he wanted to do this together
  1. Fast and cry out to God together (1:14)
  • God didn’t just want them to feel the sorrow of their sins, but also to feel their need for God, and to cry out to Him for help

So, God gave a warning of judgement,
then a call to respond.

This next section is one of the longer chunks of the book, but it’s helpful to read it all together, so listen in to this.

IV. The Day of the Lord (1:15-2:11)

  Alas for the day!
  For the day of the LORD is near,
    and as destruction from the Almighty it comes.
  Is not the food cut off
    before our eyes,
  joy and gladness
    from the house of our God?
  The seed shrivels under the clods;
    the storehouses are desolate;
  the granaries are torn down
    because the grain has dried up.
  How the beasts groan!
    The herds of cattle are perplexed
  because there is no pasture for them;
    even the flocks of sheep suffer.
  To you, O LORD, I call.
  For fire has devoured
    the pastures of the wilderness,
  and flame has burned
    all the trees of the field.
  Even the beasts of the field pant for you
    because the water brooks are dried up,
  and fire has devoured
    the pastures of the wilderness.

Blow a trumpet in Zion;
    sound an alarm on my holy mountain!
  Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble,
    for the day of the LORD is coming; it is near,
  a day of darkness and gloom,
    a day of clouds and thick darkness!
  Like blackness there is spread upon the mountains
    a great and powerful people;
  their like has never been before,
    nor will be again after them
    through the years of all generations.
6 Before them peoples are in anguish;
    all faces grow pale.
9 They leap upon the city,
    they run upon the walls,
  they climb up into the houses,
    they enter through the windows like a thief.
  The earth quakes before them;
    the heavens tremble.
  The sun and the moon are darkened,
    and the stars withdraw their shining.
  The LORD utters his voice
    before his army,
  for his camp is exceedingly great;
    he who executes his word is powerful.
  For the day of the LORD is great and very awesome;
    who can endure it?

So, before this section we had
a warning of judgement,
then a call to respond.
and now another warning of judgement.

Here, God warns of something called “the Day of the Lord.” This day will be further described as we read more, but here we see that the Day of the Lord will include:

  • Destruction like a fire (1:15, 2:3)
  • Cutting off of food sources (1:16-20)
  • Darkness and gloom unlike anything else (2:2)
  • Anguish, fear, terror, and dread (2:6)
  • Judgement at the hand of God (2:11 “his army”) 

This would be a great and terrible day. And in this section Joel warns the people to:

  1. Call on the Lord (1:19)
  • These people were not going to be calling on God from a place of joy, but from a place of need. It would be a call for help.
  1. Warn others (2:1)
  • Sound the alarm! Let everyone know this is coming.

Before God gives any more detail on the Day of the Lord, he does something surprising.

He pauses and speaks to a people that would have felt afraid and helpless, a people that had turned from him and rejected him. Instead of a tone of harshness, he offers a gentle invitation — an invitation to return to him. In returning to him, God’s people could receive mercy instead of judgement. They could receive joy instead of sorrow. They could receive blessing instead of the curse that they deserved. They could receive restoration out of repentance.

V. Return to the Lord (2:12-17) 

A. God is Gracious and Merciful (2:12-13)

  “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.

Have you ever thought of Old Testament God as mean, judgmental, unforgiving, hostile, and New Testament God as kind, caring, warm, inviting, gracious? Honestly, I have. But it’s just not true. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb 13:8), and if we will take the time to look, we will see that God has revealed himself to be loving, gracious, and merciful from before the beginning of time. That doesn’t mean that we won’t face judgement — we will — but it does mean that God invites us in to receive his grace. How do we do that?

Look at verse 12:

“return to me with all your heart…and rend (or tear) your hearts.”

I like the way the NLT states this:

“Don’t tear your clothing in grief, 
             but tear your hearts instead.”

We continue this thread we’re tracing, seeing that God is calling the  people to:

  1. Tear your hearts (2:13)
  2. Return to God (2:13)

God was telling people to turn from what they were doing — from living life their own way — back to God — to his way of doing things. Just as the heart is the central organ that feeds the rest of our body with oxygen moment-by-moment, God was inviting them to center their lives on him with every part of their lives flowing from his strength, his commands, his purposes: 

  • every thought flowing from a mind renewed by the promises of God,
  • every breath an outpouring of lungs filled with the praises of God, 
  • every action a faith-filled response to the instruction of God.

A life with the heart-beat of God looks nothing like the life of the average person. It is a life made new, made different, made beautiful. This is no small calling; it’s a calling of great difficulty. But it is also so incredibly fulfilling and good and life-giving.  

Jesus put it this way:

“If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will find it.” – Matthew 16:24-25 (CSB)

He’s talking about something radical: giving up your desires, giving up your hopes and dreams and ambitions, giving up your possessions, giving up your comfort, giving up your esteem from the world. You have to give that all up to follow Jesus; that’s what he told us. I want to say that if you call yourself a Christian, but that doesn’t seem to describe your life at all, you probably have some serious thinking and praying to do. It may be that  you are not a Christian. It may be that you are not a Christian. 

Consider the words of 2 Corinthians 13:5 –  “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith. Examine yourselves. Or do you yourselves not recognize that Jesus Christ is in you? ​— ​unless you fail the test.” (CSB)

Ultimately, the warning of judgement that Joel gave to the kingdom of Judah is the same one that is given to us: that we will one day, and soon, stand under judgement for the things that we have done – for our sins against God and others.

But the invitation they received is also the invitation to you: an invitation to return to God, to turn your hearts to him and receive the mercy and forgiveness, now through Jesus Christ. We will stumble and fall, but if Jesus is the center of our lives, if he is our heartbeat, we will be safe because we can claim Christ’s righteousness as our own. 

B. Return to the Lord (2:14-17)

15 Blow the trumpet in Zion;
    consecrate a fast;
  call a solemn assembly;
    gather the people.
17 Between the vestibule and the altar
    let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep
  and say, “Spare your people, O LORD,
    and make not your heritage a reproach,
    a byword among the nations. 

Now we see God inviting the people to:

  1. Gather the people (2:16)
  • Once again, we see God calling his people not to turn to him alone, but to do it together, to link arms with those around them
  1. Call on God (2:17)
  • There is no one else who could save them. God and God alone is the one who could provide a rescue.

So, we’ve now seen 
a warning of judgement, (locust invasion)
then a call to respond. (lament & fast)
another warning of judgement. (the Day of the Lord)
another call to respond (return to the Lord)

Now we will see God respond 

VI. God’s Response (2:18-32)

A. God’s pity on his people (2:18-27) 

18 Then the LORD became jealous for his land
    and had pity on his people.
  The LORD answered and said to his people,
  “Behold, I am sending to you
    grain, wine, and oil,
    and you will be satisfied;
  and I will no more make you
    a reproach among the nations.
21“Fear not, O land;
    be glad and rejoice,
    for the LORD has done great things!
  Fear not, you beasts of the field,
    for the pastures of the wilderness are green;
  the tree bears its fruit;
    the fig tree and vine give their full yield.
  “Be glad, O children of Zion,
    and rejoice in the LORD your God,
25 I will restore to you the years
    that the swarming locust has eaten,
  the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter,
    my great army, which I sent among you.
  “You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
    and praise the name of the LORD your God,
    who has dealt wondrously with you.
  And my people shall never again be put to shame.
  You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel,
    and that I am the LORD your God and there is none else.
  And my people shall never again be put to shame.

We see here that God has pity on his people. When they return to the Lord and call out to him, he will respond by rescuing them. He tells them to “fear not” – to the land, the animals, and the people, showing that his restoration will not just heal the people, but the full extent of their lives and surroundings. This actually foreshadows way forward to the second coming of Christ, when all the earth, animals, and God’s people will be restored and made new, when God’s people will “never again be put to shame.” This would all be a part of the Day of the Lord.

We also see something very important here in verse 25, where God calls the locusts “my great army, which I sent among you.” What is made clear here is that God used the locust plague to enact judgement on the people of Judah for their sins. 

This begs the question: does God bring judgement on us as individuals and nations, and does he do it through natural disasters? When a natural disaster happens, should we consider that a judgement from God, and turn and repent and invite others to turn and repent? Is COVID-19, which resulted in the death of over 500,000 Americans, a judgement on our nation? Was the destructive warpath of the derecho the work of God as a judgement on the sins of Ames and the state of Iowa? If someone develops cancer, was it due to a lack of faith and obedience?

I think many of us would be naturally inclined to answer that with a “no, of course not; of course God does’t judge people through natural disasters. That would be wrong. Isn’t God too loving for that?” By the way, right about now, I have a feeling a number of us may be starting to feel a bit uncomfortable. Is it getting hot in here? 

Often when we approach questions like this, we tend to want to answer them in the way that seems good to us. But it’s important for us to consider what God’s answer would actually be, no matter how uncomfortable it may seem to us. Thankfully, Jesus actually sheds some  light on this question for us. Let’s look at Luke 13:1-5

There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. [Translation: Pilate had killed a bunch of people] And Jesus answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 

Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

So, Pilate had a number of people killed, but Jesus says that they weren’t really worse sinners to receive this sort of judgement. And when a tower fell and killed 18 people, was that God judging them? Jesus says that no, they weren’t worse offenders/sinners than others in Jerusalem. 

In John 9, Jesus encounters a blind man, and his disciples ask Jesus if the man sinned or his parents, causing him to be born blind. Jesus responds, “It was not this man who sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” So, this disability was not a judgement from God.

Jesus also taught in Matthew 5 that God “sends rain on the just and the unjust.” On the other hand, we see in Joel a plague that is a judgement from God, and we see that sort of thing elsewhere, which is why the disciples had that way of thinking. Remember that we see a pattern that God gives blessing for obedience, curse for disobedience, and restoration for repentance.

But Jesus tells us how to think of calamities and illnesses: he doesn’t tell us to determine whether it is a judgement from God, but he does tell the disciples “unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Jesus wants us to look at calamities and illnesses and respond by reflecting on our sins, and our own need for repentance. 

When Adam sinned at the Fall, this resulted in far-reaching consequences for the whole earth and all of humanity as the entire earth was cursed. You and I experience many ill-effects of the fall, of no fault of our own. And yet, isn’t that a reminder of the far-reaching consequences of our own sin, many of which we never end up seeing? None of us has clean hands. We’re all in this same spot as Adam, causing destruction through our sin and standing condemned before God. But Romans 8:23 teaches that “the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus  our Lord.” 

When you see death and calamity and illnesses, remember the brokenness that you have caused, but find hope in Jesus, who is “gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love,” and turn to Him in repentance and faith. 

B. God’s Spirit poured out (2:28-29)

  “And it shall come to pass afterward,
    that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;

Now, if you’re familiar with church history, you will recognize that what is being talked about here would happen several hundred years later, after Jesus had been resurrected. This pouring out of the Spirit is known as Pentecost, which we read about in Acts 2.

Something remarkable about this is the extent of the pouring out of the Spirit that is prophesied. He emphasizes the outpouring of the Spirit to young and old (grandparents and children), male and female, poor and rich (lower class and upper class). And when he speaks of the Spirit being poured out on servants, that word would have certainly included foreign servants, so it was a nod to the fact that even Gentiles would be included. In other words, the outpouring of the Spirit would not be given to people based on their abilities, status, or any other marker other than those who call on the name of the Lord, and those whom he calls.

We’ll read more about that in this next section:   

C. Call on the Name of the Lord (2:30-32)

“And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls.

Joel is describing the Day of the Lord, which included the judgement of locusts on Judah followed by its restoration, but also somehow includes the Pentecost, which would be hundreds of years later, and now somehow it includes what seems to be the second coming of Christ, which will arrive after a number of earthly calamities followed by the judgement of all people and the salvation of those who call on the name of the Lord, which hasn’t happened yet, around 2000 years after the Pentecost. How is that all possible? I mean, it’s called the Day of the Lord, not the millennia of the Lord.

Well, I sat down to talk to Matt about this a bit, so if I’m wrong on this, you can blame him. When God revealed future events to the prophets, he showed them many things, and those things were completely and fully true, but they were not comprehensive. A good metaphor for this is when you are driving toward the mountains. When they are off in the distance, they look a bit like clouds. Then as you drive closer, you start to see some definition, the mountains start to separate. What first looked like one or two mountains now turns out to be peak after peak after peak, and as you get closer, you start to see more and more detail. 

Does that mean that when you were at a distance, what you saw and described as one mountain was incorrect? Does it mean that what you saw was not actually real or true? No, not at all; it’s just that you didn’t see everything. 

What we see as we look across the Scriptures at the Day of the Lord is this concept of multiple fulfillments that were all a part of the single truth intention of the author. The locust plague was a part of the day of the Lord, but only a partial fulfillment. Pentecost was a part of the day of the Lord, but was a partial fulfillment. The second coming of Christ, which will include the judgement of all peoples, the salvation of God’s people, and the restoration of the heavens and the earth, making all things new, will be the ultimate and final fulfillment of the Day of the Lord. 

We see a parallel to this when Jesus said “It is finished, it is done” on the cross. The work of bearing the wrath of the Father for the sins of his people, and securing salvation for those who call on the name of Jesus was completely done. And yet, there was still more to be done. We are still on this earth, and God is still doing the work of drawing people to himself. It was a partial fulfillment that will have its ultimate finality on the Day of Judgement.

I wish we had time to read through chapter 3 of Joel, but what we see there is a prophecy that God will judge His enemies while being a refuge to his people, and it ends on a hopeful note in verses 17-21, in which God describes how he will bless his people.

VII. Conclusion

A. Our Preparation for the Day of the Lord

So, what do we do with all of this? How should we prepare for the Day of the Lord? Thankfully, we have an answer to that, and to wrap things up,  let’s go to 2 Peter 3:…

10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

14 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the  patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. 

  1. Be found without spot or blemish, and at peace with God

How do we do that? Repentance and faith in Jesus, that we are counted  righteous. It’s as simple as that. It’s not easy, but it is simple.

  1. Consider the patience of God as a blessing

Do you ever get frustrated that God allows evil to continue, that Jesus doesn’t just come back right away to make all things right? This is actually patience and kindness; God is holding off on his final judgement of people to give them an opportunity to turn back and be saved. We can grieve the evil in this world, but we should rejoice at God’s patience with others, just  as he was patient with us who have trusted in Jesus.

  1. Stay the course, walk in godliness, grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus, and bring him glory through how you live your life

Check yourself on this: think about where you were at 6 months ago, a year ago, five years ago. Do you know a lot more about Jesus than you did then?

  • If you can quote every episode of the Office (or whatever it is you watch or read), but you can’t quote the words of Jesus, you might not be growing in the knowledge of Jesus
  • If you scroll through your Facebook, Twitter, or Insta feed more than you scroll through the words of the only one worthy to open the Scroll, you might not be growing in the knowledge of Jesus
  • If you’re filling up your feed with pics of your life but you’re not feeding on the words of life from Christ, you might not be growing in the knowledge of Jesus
  • If you know every statistic of your favorite team, every formation that they run, but don’t know your Bible statistics, or don’t have a strong formulation of core doctrines, you might not be growing in the knowledge of Jesus
  • If you can describe every detail of your friend’s favorite foods, activities, habits, likes, and dislikes, but you can’t describe in detail what God desires or opposes, you might not be growing in the knowledge of Jesus
  • If you await the arrival of the final episode of Wandavision, but don’t excitedly await the arrival of your Savior, you might not be growing in the knowledge of Jesus

Growing in the knowledge of Jesus will not happen by accident, but drifting away from him can. This is why the message the Scriptures keep bringing us back to is to return to God. That’s why God calls us to gather regularly with other believers for worship, prayer, hearing from the Word, and fellowship. 

We’re not always going to grow at the same rate. We’re not always going to feel the same way about growing in this knowledge. Sometimes it will feel smooth and fulfilling like we’re on those moving sidewalks at the airports, and every little step feels like five steps. Shoom, shoom, shoom, I don’t know why they don’t put those everywhere. Other times it will feel like we’re climbing a sand dune — for every two steps you take forward, you slide back one, and the sun is beating down on you and the sand is rough and it takes everything you have just to stay on your feet and keep going. Sometimes growing in the knowledge of Jesus will just feel like work, and you will often feel like it’s not worth it, like you’re not getting anything out of it. 

But it is worth it. It will be worth it. One day you will stand before God, and those who have turned to him will experience the greatest joy of our lives. Let’s look forward to that day, pressing on toward it as we grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus.

B. Prayer


You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.