Friday, May 30, 2008

Turn back your hearts

"And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."

Luke 1:16,17

Modern Jews still await the return of Elijah. They set out a place for him to eat during their holidays to show that they await his return. But Isaiah and Malachi’s prophecies have already been fulfilled through John the Baptist. Although he is not Elijah returned in the flesh he comes “in the spirit and power of Elijah.” John’s message was similar to that of Elijah in that it was a message of repentance.
1 Kings 18:21 says:

                “Elijah came near to all the people and said, "How long will you hesitate                         between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow                         him." But the people did not answer him a word.”

That was the jist of Elijah’s message. Choose sides. There is no in between. He is saying if the Lord is the true God then follow Him. But if Baal really is the true god then follow him. But there is only one conclusion; the Lord is God. So repent now and follow him. The result that Elijah desired and the same reaction that John wanted from the Jews of his time is found in 1 Kings 18:39 after God’s fire comes down from heaven and consumes the offerings:

                “When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said,                                 ‘The Lord, He is God; The Lord, He is God.’ ”

That is John’s message. It is straightforward. No if ands or buts. Make a choice now or else God will make it for you. He knows that nobody can be perfect but the verse says “attitude of righteousness, so as to make a people prepared for the Lord.”

Are we doing our job? John came as a forerunner and we must take the baton and finish out the race. As ambassadors of Christ are we demanding an attitude of righteousness from our flock? The bible says that in the end times men will seek out false prophets in order to hear messages that they enjoy and want to hear. They effectively make the scriptures submit to them. And indeed the bible has a very joyful message of salvation and the love of God. But if we are to be teachers of this book then we must be teachers of this whole book. We are to challenge our flock to change their attitudes to one of righteousness. What kind of message are we preaching? Yes the love of God draws people close to Him but it is the holiness of God in all His attributes that create dedicated followers. It is His entirety that causes his children to be obedient. My favorite meat is beef. I love beef. I love the toughness and texture. The work that goes into cutting through a thick prime rib. Sometimes my arm starts to hurt because it’s so tough. Sometimes I have to chew on a piece for so long that my jaws start to ache.

Am I feeding myself with spiritual beef? The call to repentance is a basic teaching, but to me it’s beef. It hurts. Revelations reveals to us letters from Christ himself to churches that are lukewarm. It says that He will spit them out of his mouth. That is one of the worst things that I could ever hear from God. That he wants to spit me out of his mouth. That He is so repulsed by my mediocrity and lukewarmness that he wants to gag and spit me out. I know that I know that I know that I love God and that I am willing to pray the hard prayer that He would root out anything in me that makes me lukewarm. Anything that I hold as more important than Him. I know that it is easy to say that everything is His and that I would freely give it all but am I? Where do I draw the line? How much of my heart is set apart as holy like the land of Israel as told in Ezekiel today? Would I give up my car? Yes. It’s a piece of junk? Would I give up my money? Sure I don’t have much. Would I give up my life…my family…my everything? If called, what would I be willing to give away to remain close to my Lord. Zaccheus came down form the tree and sold everything that he had to follow Jesus. Would I?

Heavenly Father,
I pray God that you would help me to live with an attitude of righteousness. Help me to stay on fire, to stay close to you. I pray the you would open up my eyes to areas in my life where I need repentance. Areas that need to be given up. I am willing Lord.

In Jesus name,