Summary: You must return to the Lord!! Full sermon
We are surrounded today by myriads of “evangelical” organization and our local churches are loaded with programs designed to promote evangelicalism and spiritual growth. Yet, for all this, souls are won in trickles and saints are sadly stunted.
Where is our problem? Are all our endeavors wrong? No, not necessarily. At least not in motive. I believe the problem lies in our methodology and content! O, the fundamental truths are there! There is little or no heresy, per se. It is just our orthodoxy that is often the problem. It is dead. Sometimes we are orthodox “Scofieldites” or “Darbyites” but not orthodox Biblicists.
In some ways we are Pharisees who exchange the commandments of God for the thought sand programs of men. Now, I am a Dispensationalist and I believe Scofield was a godly man, but the concepts of Darby can be misused to the point where we nullify a great part of the book we claim to be verbally inspired. Even Scofield has had to be “refined.” We can lightly discard the version God has used for hundreds of years and them mock those who are more loyal and resistant to “progress.” That is real “spirituality!”
Our problem is that our programs lack the unction of the Spirit and are merely the function of men. The only hope for an end to that fruitlessness is that we must return to the Lord!! Because your planting is in vain. There is no blessing when you have nothing but programs. Israel was in idolatry and just went through the motions of worshiping Jehovah. God has been chastising them on this issue throughout this chapter and now in verse nine He attacks their agriculture. He says I will send a blast and a mildew. He is purposely destroying their labor.
Christian service has been likened to agriculture. You plant and you reap fruit. God will send a blast and a mildew on the service that is not in the power of His Spirit. He cannot and will not bless it.
There is no fruit in carnal labor. Yes, there may be some souls won and some measure of growth. God blesses His Word. Yet, there is no lasting or precious fruit. We see that in this verse. The trees grew but were devoured before the fruit came. The palmerworms of carnality and sin will destroy. Why? Because you have not returned to the Lord!
You must return to the Lord because your power is gone! You have only form. Israel’s army in verse ten looked good and were well trained but they were only form without God’s power behind them. Programs fail. The Spirit wins!
God has taken your programs and made it a stench. You know something is wrong. It is unsatisfying labor. You must return to the Lord because your judgment has begun! Examples have been given you in verse eleven and are around you now. Your leaders have been struck with disease. Many who seemed spiritual are dead! Disease is striking the Church more and more! The prayers of the elders do not work! Return to the Lord!
Those of you who can hear this today, repent! Grace has been given to you! You may be the firebrand! God is giving you the chance to change the trend and have the power of the Spirit! Return to the Lord!
Your day of visitation is near! In verse twelve, God is coming! Prepare to meet thy God! Not the Redeemer, though He is that! Not the Husband, though He is that! Meet thy God!! The authority and power of God and His righteousness is being revealed here! He is coming as God! Return unto Him now and be prepared to meet Him! He is coming as a Warrior! The God of Hosts! The Warrior God who created all and told man all that is coming!
Will He destroy your programs with the sword or give you a medal for your valor? Prepare to meet the God of Hosts! He is coming! How does your service stack up? Is it a fruitful vine; a powerful army? Is it the diseased tree and impotent form of a force?
Will you return to the Lord? Forsake your form and take His power! Why continue in fruitless folly when the glory of service blessed by God awaits you?
Sinner, if you are out there this morning and thinking you have excuse to remain in your sin because Christians are powerless you are wrong! The Christians can expect chastisement from a loving God for their good. All you can expect from a returning God of battles is judgment and Hell! You must come to the Lord now or maybe never. Now is the time for sinner and saint to return unto the Lord! Won’t you come as we sing, “Revive Thy Work?”