Article: Return to the Almighty God and be blessed! | Jacob Varghese

Job 22:23 says “If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored: If you remove wickedness far from your tent” All sin is departure from God; and repentance is a return to God. Another version says “Agree with God, and be at peace, thereby good will come to you”. Yes, if you return to the Almighty, you will be built up. Here we have an invitation to return to the Lord. If you return to the Almighty, If you remove wickedness far from your tent, if you clean up your life, if you remove injustice far from your lives, If you remove unrighteousness from your lives, if you humble yourself before Almighty God, If you return to God and turn from sin, all will go well for you. You will be restored, you will be blessed, you will be built up, and you will be renewed.
We have wandered from God and by nature we are “far off”; therefore our first need is to return and be reconciled to Him, to be “brought near”. There is only one way back to God. When we look up Isaiah 55:6-7, it says “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.” Having returned to the Lord we must then receive Him and trust Him as our personal Savior. Then we must receive His law and obey His commandments. Only thus shall we really get to know Him, not only as our Savior but as our Friend; our Sanctifier; our Supplier; and our Keeper. We shall get to know Him as our all in all.
Hosea 6:1-3 says “Come; let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us that we may live in his presence. Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him.” The prophet Hosea served God in days similar to our own. First, God’s people were divided and it seemed impossible that they could be united again; second, the population was attracted to alternative lifestyles and were adopting the ideas and practices of the surrounding cultures; and third, those in power were not interested in maintaining God’s laws as the basis of society and there was no concern for the poor and needy. We can see easily that there are similar outlooks today. So here we have an example of the message that we can bring to our society. It is not clear who is speaking in these verses. There are two options: one is that the people are speaking to one another because they have realized their folly and want to repent together; the other is that Hosea, as a preacher, is calling upon the people to repent of their sins and return to the Lord. The latter is more likely because it was the case that the people as a whole did not return to the Lord.
The fact is that we were all sinners who had fallen short of the glory of God. Come let us return to the Lord. Joel 2: 12-13 says ““Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. ” In this scripture the prophet Joel is pleading with the people of Judah to return to the Lord. The book of Joel is a warning to the people about the dangers of turning away from God. This passage is beautiful and reveals the true nature of God, His judgment and His abundant mercy toward His people. God’s heart is that no one turns away from Him, but that all return to Him with all their heart. Let us examine our lives, and determine if are walking with the Lord or are you walking in the footsteps of the people that Prophet Joel is speaking to. We may call ourselves Christians, but are we still walking in the way of the world? There are some signs and indicators in our life that will help us determine this fact. Are you ignoring God’s word and you do not like what God says in His word because it goes against what you want to do in your life. Do you continue to harbor hidden sins in your life and put on an outwardly Christian life? Are you deliberately disobeying God’s word and are you disregarding God’s correction in your life? If you answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then it is time to return to God. To do so it must begin in the heart. Not to show people, but a sincere desire to return to God. Joel 2:12-13 says return to me with all your heart, with fasting, weeping and mourning and rend your heart and not your garments. When you come in this manner, if it is because of a genuine disgust of your sin, it is an expression of your need for a savior. Rather than tearing your garments, tear your heart. Rending your garment is only an outwardly religious act without an actual change of the heart whereas rending your heart is when you genuinely understand the dreadful nature of your sinful flesh and you cry out to God for help and restoration. Deuteronomy 4:29 says “But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.” ‘To seek the Lord is to live’. It is to be free from the clutches of sin and darkness and to enter in to His marvelous light. Amos 5:4 says “This is what the Lord says to Israel: “Seek me and live”. So seek God with all your heart and you will live. Pray to God that he may create in you a clean heart and that He will renew a right spirit with in you as it says in Psalm 51:10.
Friends, God loves you and He desires that you return to Him with a broken heart. We have a merciful God who is slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love. Revelation 3:19 says “those whom I love, I reprove and discipline. So be zealous and repent”. So, if you are walking in the way of the world, return to God with fasting, weeping and mourning. You can do so with full assurance that God is merciful; slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. And He will restore you. Instead, if you continue to choose to sin, Romans 2:8 says “But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.” Nehemiah 1:9 says “but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.”
When should a person turn to God? If you are wise, you will turn right now. Anytime is a good time. We have so much to gain. I have never yet met the man who was sorry for he turned to God. When there is no place else to turn we can turn to God. Unfortunately many wait till then. Better then, than not at all. Better late than never!
How are we to turn to God? We need to turn to God with all our heart. Some only seek a solution to their problem; they do not truly seek God. Once God has rescued them, they say it would have happened anyhow, and they forget God. God said to Jeremiah, “You will find Me when you search with all your heart.” Many come to God with a half-hearted approach. “If He wants to help, that’s cool.” We need to approach God ‘with fasting, weeping and mourning.’ When we get desperate enough, we will do anything. Mourning indicates sorrow and “Godly sorrow will lead to repentance,” and a real change in your life. Rend your hearts and not your garments. To show great grief or emotion, it was the custom of ancient Jewish people (and other nearby cultures) to vigorously tear one’s clothing as a visible sign of deep emotion. Whether it is anger, grief, contrition or any other intense, overwhelming emotion, the rending of your clothes was an outward sign of your inward feelings. God looks on the heart; He would rather see a heart that is torn than your torn garments.
Why should we turn to God? For He is gracious and merciful we should turn to God. It does not matter how unworthy we are. We humans react differently from God. But God is gracious and gives to all that call upon Him alike. Again remember the difference between grace and mercy. They both spring from love. Mercy is not getting what you deserve. Grace is getting what you don’t deserve. “He is of great kindness.” He doesn’t want to use harsh means to draw us to Himself. It is of utmost importance that we come to God. It is a matter of life and death. God, because He is gracious and kind, want to come seeking us by all means to draw us near to Him.
Change your life, not just your clothes. Come back to God. And here is why: God is kind and merciful. He takes a deep breath, puts up with a lot, the most patient God, extravagant in love, always ready to cancel catastrophe. So return by repentance and as a proof of the genuineness of it, yield obedience to the commands of God and continue therein: Repentance is a change in direction. The simple word “turn” shows that to be so. Repentance occurs in the heart. Repentance, to be complete and genuine, must come from a whole heart: a heart of reverence for God, love for God; a heart influenced by the cross of Christ. Repentance is not just a ritual. “So rend your heart and not your garments…” Repentance is made possible by a gracious God. “Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love…” Friends, today is the day, now is the time to decide and come before an awesome God. Make Him your treasure that He may be all that you desire. God bless you all.
JACOB VARGHESE

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