Summary: We will never be all that God has for us until we give our entire selves to God.

Open Heart Surgery

Text: Joel 2:12-17


1. Illustration: "Tomorrow morning I'll open up your heart" the surgeon said to the 8 year-old-boy. "You'll find Jesus there," the boy said. The surgeon continued, "I'll open your heart and check the damage." "You'll find Jesus there," the boy said. "When I see the damage, I will suture you back up and then think about the next step," said the surgeon.

"You will find Jesus in my heart because my Sunday school teacher told me so. She said it says so in the Bible. Besides that, our Sunday school songs say He lives there," said the boy. The surgery took place the next day. After the surgery the surgeon began to make notes of what he found. In his mind there was no hope and no cure. The little boy would die within a matter of months. The thought began to get to the doctor and all of a sudden the doctor shouted to God, "Why did you do this to the boy? Why can't he live a normal life?" God spoke to the surgeon's heart and said, "The boy is a part of my flock and will always be a part of my flock. When he is with me there will be no more suffering and pain. He will have comfort and peace. One day his parents as well as you will join him and my flock will continue to grow." The next day the surgeon went to the boy's room and sat down with the parents beside the bed. In a moment or two, the boy opened his eyes and asked very quietly, "What did you find in my heart?" With tears flowing down his cheeks, the surgeon said, "I found Jesus there."

2. If they were to open up your heart today what would they find? Would they find Jesus there?

3. To allow Jesus to operate on our hearts requires that we...

A. Let God Have All Of You

B. Let God Have Your Worship

4. Let's stand together as we read Joel 2:12-17.

Proposition: We will never be all that God has for us until we give our entire selves to God.

Transition: First we have to...

I. Let God Have All Of You (12-14).

A. Give Me Your Hearts

1. Previously, Joel had called the people to blow the alarm that judgment was coming. He took their hope and shattered it. Now he turns their despair back into hope if they will repent and turn back to God.

2. He begins in v. 12 with, "That is why the LORD says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning."

A. The appropriate response to the devastation brought by God is repentance.

B. Triple transition indicators mark it. "While" and "now" indicate a new, sequential element to what precedes it.

C. It allows a brief window of opportunity to respond in the face of the rapidly approaching Day of Yahweh.

D. The direct discourse indicator ("That is why the LORD SAYS") identifies the exhortation to repent as originating from Yahweh himself.

E. Yahweh does not wait for the people to turn to him; he initiates the discussion.

F. The new word directed to the audience is an imperative, "turn/repent", which forms a repetition of a related word (return) in Joel 2:13b.

G. Joel follows this up with the manner of repentance: It must be total, accompanied not only by the traditional outward signs of grief, but also with a true, inner reflection of sorrow ("with all your heart") (Baker, The NIV Application Commentary – Joel, Obadiah, Malachi: From biblical contemporary life, 65).

H. He tells them to turn to God with all their hearts.

I. "Heart" often refers to one's "inner self." It is here that one's moods and conscience are centered (The Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary – Kaph-Mem, Under: "3949").

3. Then Joel gives specific instructions regarding their hearts. He says, "Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish."

A. Verse 13 contrasts what is customary but unwanted, tearing one's clothes, with a desired response, the metaphorical tearing of the heart.

B. The tearing of one's clothes was a common practice in times of grief or contrition. It symbolized a broken and torn spirit. Here Joel is calling for Judah to actually experience what this symbolism portrays: hearts that are torn with grief and confession of sins (New Spirit-Filled Life Study Bible, 1082).

C. The verb "return" is applied also in the case of the second, desired action. The target toward which one is to turn is indicated first as Yahweh as speaker ("to me," 2:12) and then in the third person as "the LORD your God" (2:13).

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