Week of September 13, 2021
SERIES: Return Back to God
TITLE: Week 2 – “Return to God”
This weekend, Pastor Brian continued our series Return Back to God with a message titled, “Return to God.” He shared from Joel 2:1-17 as we continue to see what God has to say to us through the experiences and words of this Old Testament prophet. Here is a preview of the message.
- We are living in a time that is unique to say the least. The pandemic we are facing has shifted the course of history, nations, kings, and cultures. Everyone (globally) has been affected.
- Who is God is all of this? What is our response?
- Illustration: Lachish. When Sennacharib invaded, Yahwistic families suffered alongside syncretist families.
- The pandemic does not discriminate.
- Chapter 1 looks at the very recent past (locust plague).
- Chapter 2 looks to the future. Joel uses the recently experienced locust plague to shape the picture of the invading army. A coming reckoning. A coming day of the Lord for Israel.
- Let’s look at some important truths we can learn from these verses.
THE FEAR OF THE LORD IS EVIDENT ON THE DAY OF THE LORD (2:1-11)
- Joel 2:1 ESV “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.”
- Where is our fear?
- There is a tension between “fear” and “fear not”.
- Psalm 33:8 ESV “Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!”
- Psalm 111:10 ESV “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!”
- Luke 12:4-5 ESV “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!”
- It is your “fear” of the Lord that allows you to “fear not”.
- Isaiah 43:5 ESV “Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you.”
- Luke 12:31 ESV “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
- 2 Timothy 1:7 ESV “…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
RETURN TO THE LORD YOUR GOD (2:12-13)
- How can I return to God?
- Joel 2:12-13a ESV “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.”
- Whatever is outward (fasting, weeping, mourning) should be a result of rendering your hearts.
- It is possible to appear repentant as if you are returning to the Lord on the outside without rendering your heart to God.
- This is a moment we return “with all our heat.” It’s from the inside out.
- What will God be like when I return?
- Joel 2:13b ESV “…for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.”
- Lamentations 3:22-24 ESV “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
- Illustration: Luke 15:11-32 – Jesus telling the story of the “prodigal son.” Watch the father in the story.
WE RETURN TO GOD TO RETURN TO GOD, NOT TO MANIPULATE HIS WILL (2:14)
- Who knows…
- We trust His character and his promises. We can’t manipulate Him.
- Will He turn, relent, leave a blessing behind Him?
- Romans 9:15-16 ESV “For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.”
- Romans 5:6-11 ESV “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”
- Jesus took God’s wrath for your personal sin. This is true. And no matter what you go through, all the promises of God affords to you as a child of God are true. You have an eternal hope!
- That does not mean that you won’t experience, as a person who is part of a nation, a culture, a people group, and a planet, the effects of God’s wrath (passive or active) on the earth. Remember Lachish. We go through it and are delivered.
- Even in his wrath and judgement, His use of suffering can be an act of His grace.
- Romans 9:22-23 ESV “What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory.”
- God is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. Even when His wrath comes, it is driven by love.
ICEBREAKER QUESTIONS & DISCUSSION
OPENING DISCUSSION: GOD MOMENTS
Take time as you begin this week to encourage one another through sharing God moments and through prayer. We are bombarded with so much news, information, and challenges that can be discouraging. It’s important to find God working in and through our lives. It’s encouraging to share this with others. Take some time to share this week.
- What are the “God moments” from this past week? How have you seen God at work that is unmistakably Him?
- How has He been working not just in your life personally, but in the lives of your family (spouse, kids, grandkids)?
- How did God speak to you through His Word this past week?
- How are you hearing and obeying?
- How can we specifically pray for you this week?
Pray as a group – thanking God for how He is at work and asking Him to answer the requests that were mentioned.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Ask and discuss the following questions.
Q: Read Joel 2:1-11. Why do the people have fear?
Q: Based on the Scriptures, what does it mean to have a healthy fear of God? What does this look like in our lives?
Q: How does having a healthy “fear” of God help us to “fear not” in our lives?
Q: What does it mean to “return to God?”
Q: Read Joel 2:12-13. Why was it important for the people to “rend your hearts and not your garments”? What does this mean? How should we do the same?
Q: How does Joel describe the Lord in verse 13? How would this have given the people hope?
Q: Read Luke 15:11-22. What does this parable teach us about the steadfast love of God?
Q: Read Romans 5:6-11. How has Jesus saved us from the wrath of God? How does this bring us eternal hope no matter our current circumstances?
Q: How do we need to return to God today?
No matter our circumstances or our wandering from God, we can always return to God. When we do, we find a perfect Father, one who is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. Do you need to return to God?
As you wrap-up your gathering this week, use these closing questions to encourage your group to share what they are hearing and how they plan to obey.
- What did you hear?
- What is your one “take-away” from this week? How did God speak specifically to you through this week’s passage and study?
- What do you think?
- How did this passage and study affirm, challenge, or change the way you think about gathering in big and small ways?
- What will you do?
- What is your next step? How will you take the truth of God’s Word and apply it to your life this week?
Close with prayer.
SCRIPTURES FROM THIS WEEK’S MESSAGE:
- Joel 2:1-17, Psalm 33:8, Psalm 111:10, Luke 12:4-5, Isaiah 43:5, Luke 12:31, 2 Timothy 1:7, Lamentations 3:22-24, Luke 15:11-32, Romans 9:15-16, Romans 5:6-11, Romans 9:22-23.
UPCOMING MESSAGES: “Return: Back to God”
- September 12 – “Return to God” (Joel 2:1-17)
- September 19 – “God will Restore (Joel 2:18-30)
- September 26 – “A Glorious Future” (Joel 3:17-21)