Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, & Micah: Day 3

God’s Call for Repentance

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Today's Text: Joel 2:12-17, Zephaniah 1:7, Romans 5:18-21

Scripture Reading: Joel 2:12-17, Zephaniah 1:7, Romans 5:18-21

“Repent and believe.”

These are the words Christ uses in the Gospel of Mark to begin His earthly ministry (Mark 1:15). But isn’t it funny how quickly we skate past that first part? Believing is beautiful, but repentance is less glamorous. Yet, right out of the gate, Jesus’ ministry began with a call for us to repent of our sin and believe He came to save us.

If we skip repentance, what do we believe He saves us from?

I spent thirty years hearing the story of the prodigal son one way: a young foolish son squandering his inheritance, only to crawl back home when he had nowhere else to turn. To me, the story was always more about the father. I assumed the lesson here was that I should be as forgiving of foolish people as he was. Years passed, and now when I read that same story, I realize I’m not the father in this scenario. I’m the young fool. The story is as much about repentance as it is about forgiveness.

Scripture tells us the son came to his senses. He found clear eyes to look around and see the mess he’d made, then delivered a simple yet profound confession and repentance to his father: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I’m no longer worthy to be called your son” (Luke 15:21).

Repentance wasn’t easy. The son wasn’t even sure if his father would take him back. But the father received him with open arms as a beloved son.

If Christ calls us to repent and believe, let’s not skip the first step. In doing so, we miss the fullness of the gospel. Let’s listen closely and hear the call to repentance spoken by the prophet Joel on behalf of God Himself:

“Even now—this is the Lᴏʀᴅ’ declaration—turn to me with all your heart, with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Tear your hearts, not just your clothes, and return to the Lᴏʀᴅ your God. For he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, rich in faithful love, and he relents in sending disaster.”
- Joel 2:12-13

Let’s rend our hearts, like the prophet Joel said. But let’s do so with the confidence that we are returning to a Father who will receive us with open arms and forgive us. He will rejoice over us with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17). As my pastor sometimes says, when our repentance is at its deepest, the joy of our salvation is at its highest.  

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  • Corina Cast

    There’s so much that I’ve excluded Him from…as if he doesn’t know or wasn’t there. When I acknowledge that he saw and knew me at my lowest point, I feel such thankfulness that he still invites me to turn to him with my whole heart, my whole sinful heart because he offers restoration. That sweet justification that leads to eternal life through Jesus.

  • Just downloaded this app and this is my first study. So glad to be here!

  • I loved this reading. And I have to say, I never saw the story of the prodigal son in the way initially described: I always saw myself as the son, but what a perspective change and an opportunity for me understand the story another way! ❤️

  • nancy smith

    The message from times of Jesus’s ministry to the Jews and from the resurrected Christ Jesus is
    repentance -salvation to salvation -repentance. When we come to the truth on resurrection ground we have had our hearts opened by God.Before ,there was an Israel economy of baptism of sin,the forgiveness of sins. God said that all Israel were to be Priests and they had to wash /be baptised .
    Save that to memory when we read the four gospels,they are in fact a continuation of the old testament,and Acts is the transitional book right into the letters of Paul who was given direction from the risen Christ. We come by faith .We are saved by grace,and then what follows is salvation.So point being we can not change until out heart is changed. We can not repent til the heart is opened.

  • Stephanie Todd

    Most have heard the story of the Prodigal Son and while it isnt mentioned in this study, I often wonder what God wanted us to learn from the Older Son. The one who was faithful to his father. Obviously, he had a point to be upset that his father to bring the younger into the fold again. His story isnt emotional, like we feel towards the younger when he returned, it was a joyous time filled with tears and joy and all the aspects of a good story, a tear jerker at the end. But, that doesnt mean that the older son didnt play a part. I would like to know what other’s perspectives are about the older son. what would God have us to learn from him?

    • nancy smith

      The correction I believe is the point. The older brother was corrected. He had jealousy ,and it is so human ,that situation and all. The bible leaves it right there ,we can not even pretend to know if the son
      had a change of heart that I can find anyway. Let me know if you find out ,maybe I missed it.

    • "Other" Karen

      My church Bible study was on Mark last year and we had a long discussion about this story. We discussed that we are either the lost son or the brother, but either way we are sinners in need of repentance and forgiveness. Some of us sin in rebellious, obvious ways. Others have sin in their hearts, going through the motions of obedience, rather than really loving the Father.

  • Courtney Stoops

    17 Let the priests, the Lord’s ministers,
    weep between the portico and the altar.
    Let them say:
    “Have pity on your people, Lord,
    and do not make your inheritance a disgrace,
    an object of scorn among the nations.
    Why should it be said among the peoples,
    ‘Where is their God? ’ ”

    Lord, our nation needs you now! Let the USA repent and turn to you, so the nations no longer question who we are serving!

  • Such a timely lesson! Repentance is key to receive forgiveness in full measure; but also to be able to truly forgive others. The parable of the prodigal son can be read both ways, we can each place ourselves in the shoes of both the father and the son. Withholding forgiveness from someone who has hurt us only hinders us from fully receiving all the Lord wants us receive from Him.

  • Update from Monday if anyone is reading. I have been offered the job! Now the dreaded salary negotiations….but God is in this, I am really sure. ❤️ Blessing upon blessing to you all reading this.

  • Cristina

    You have no idea how much I needed this. Thank you, God, for always welcoming me back with open arms after I turn away from you. I am a wretched sinner who needs your grace and guidance.

  • This study is so timely right now. We often think of repentance of personal sins, but God was so clearly speaking to the people here about their neglect of doing justice. My pastor and I are wearing black for 40 days, rending our hearts and our garments, in mourning for our country and the countless racial injustices that have been perpetrated. We’re depriving ourselves of the pretty fall colors we’d otherwise be excited to wear, and weeping and mourning and repenting of injustice. We’re gathering the people humbly and asking God to heal our land. This is what God asked then and what He asks now, and the Scriptures show us that He who promised is faithful to respond to our obedience with grace.

  • Christina D.

    It’s easy to rend our garments, but our hearts? It’s so easy for me to repent of my obvious sins. The ones I’m familiar with. The ones I’m already “working on.” But really tearing open my heart and lying it all in the open? That’s painful, shameful, scary, heavy. I’m feeling convicted today to ask God to help me rend my heart and search it to the depths, unearthing the less acceptable sins. Because the truth is, those sins are the ones creating most of the damage anyway. Those are the locusts leaving destruction behind. Those are the tools that the devil uses to do great work. Lord, thank You for Your call to repent. Thank You that even in our repentance you provide the “grain and drink offering” in our unfit state. There is an ocean of sin but You have not let it separate us. Search my heart today. Reveal the deepest darkest hidden sins so that I will be made clean again.

    • Melanie

      Well said, Christina! Tearing our hearts open and digging through for each bit of sin is as painful and uncomfortable as it sounds. Praise God for his grace and faithfulness in putting us back together and making us whole!

    • Emily B.

      So true, and so good (if hard) to hear. Thank you for this!

  • Tochi Heredia

    I came to my quiet time with God this morning with a very heavy heart. My best friend’s dad –and a family friend of 17 years– died suddenly of a heart attack yesterday. My friend and her family don’t know Christ as their savior, so trying to comfort her during the funeral was terribly hard.
    There was so much despair and confusion in the air, and knowing that he wasn’t finally home made me angry. As we have preached the gospel to this family several times I can’t help but ask God why wouldn’t He allow him to surrender his life to Him before his death.
    But yet…
    “Why should they say among the peoples,
    ‘Where is their God?’” (Joel 2:17). I might not understand why God lets these things happen, but they are a testimony of His sovereignty and greatness. I’m strangely thankful today that I get to experience tragedied like this, because they make me appreciate His grace all the more. I deserve death, but He has given me eternal life. I might don’t understand why God chooses some and rejects others, but it’s a great mercy that He has chosen us.

    I’d really appreciate if you guys can keep my friend, Paula, and her family in your prayers. I need wisdom to comfort her with the right words and it’s my heart’s desire that she puts her life in Jesus’ hands.

    • Rosemary

      Dear Tochi,

      I don’t believe that God rejects people; they reject Him. I am saddened for your friends who do not have the comfort they would have received if only they would have accepted the Lord. Bless you for your continued efforts to show your friend the true way to life everlasting.

  • Jessica cebc

    Repentance is easy in word so much harder in the heart.

  • Micahlee

    Lord, let grace reign today in my heart and in our world. Remind me that grace reigns.

  • ~Amy F.~

    “‘Yet even now,’ declares the LORD, ‘return to me with all your heart…’” Joel 2:12

    Even now. Even with my sin still fresh in my memory. Even though I have betrayed Him again and again by doing what I know to be displeasing to Him. Even now, “he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love…” (Joel 2:13). Even now, He is merciful. Even now, He loves. Even now, He is ready and willing to forgive.

    “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

  • I love how Joel 2:14 says that God is so eager to have our relationship with Him restored, He Himself will provide the grain and drink offering so that we can be reunited with Him. (And those are very telling words after yesterday morning when we read that the fields were completely destroyed….) Asking for prayer today as I accompany my dad to meet his cancer doctor to discuss results of a recent biopsy and his decision on his treatment options. With that, still grieving the loss of my mom, job dissatisfaction, and many other concerns, this is by far the darkest season I’ve ever walked through. I had a complete breakdown last night resulting in excruciating stomach pain and the only remedy was laying in bed keeping my mind wholly focused on Christ. As soon as I started describing to my husband what was going on in my mind, the pain returned; focusing my mind again on Christ, it severely lessened. I asked Him yesterday how to let go of my stress and give it all to Him, and I think He taught me how during that incredibly painful episode…. Prayers for strength, peace, trust, and surrender are much appreciated! Love to you all.

    • Leenda324

      Praying for you sweetie. I know about stress and stomach pain. Even more, so does Jesus who is walking with you and will carry you through this time.

    • Susie

      Praise the Lord; praise God our savior!
      For each day he carries us in his arms. Psalm 68:19
      Praying for you this morning. You are loved by God. He will carry you through each day, one day at a time.

    • Diane Huntsman

      I’m
      So sorry you’re enduring so much heartache.. praying for you this morning.. may His presence be felt and His comfort be known this day.

    • Annette

      Praying for you during this trying time. It is so amazing how relying on Christ is the most powerful thing. Keep trusting in Him and his love for you!

    • Christina D.

      Amylou praying for you today. Though our stories are different I am also walking through my darkest season and can 100% empathize with how you feel, down to the stomach pain. I’m still learning to cope as well but focusing on God is always the most peace and life giving redirection for me. Today I’m praying that you will feel absolutely enveloped in His peace, His presence, His protection, and the assurance that while all may feel dark and hopeless, He is still very much carrying you through this time and you are in the shelter of His wing.

      • Julie

        After reading your response to Amylou, it was put on my heart to pray for you too! May you feel His peace and grace that you so lovingly pour out to others in prayer. You too are in the shelter of His wing. Blessings <3

    • Julie

      Praying for you Amylou! God is with you. The scripture that has been so helpful to me right now is Isaiah 41:10. Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand. (csb) Blessings to you!

  • Good morning! Any thoughts on fasting? I know the Bible talks about fasting very frequently as a way to seek repentance. I also know that fasting and sacrifice is really about the heart and not the motions. But fasting is something I’ve never done and I’ve never really understood.

    • Madison Sheafe

      Hi Laura! My small group is currently studying “Celebration of Discipline” by Richard Foster. In it there’s a whole chapter on fasting that gives an explanation of why it’s so important and then provides some practical steps on how to fast well. Maybe that can help!

    • N

      Fasting has been part of my life since childhood. I have found it to be most powerful when combined with a spiritual practice (so that you are NOT just going through the motions, which is easy to fall into). For me, the point is whenever I think of or reach for something I am fasting from, I am reminded of the reason for my fast…it is my meagre attempt at sacrificing something before my Lord. If it’s abstinence until a certain hour, that first coffee of the day is tough to miss but, I take that opportunity to tell Him I love Him. If it’s giving up a favourite food (sugar) or thing (similar to Catholic tradition) OR eating like a Vegan for a period of time (like Orthodox Christians tend to) this eliminates MOST of my favourite foods… “I love you Jesus and know my sacrifice can’t even begin to compare to what you did / do for me.”

      I certainly don’t think God becomes MORE faithful… but, fasting can often be a time of FEELING our need and His faithfulness all the more.

    • Olivia

      Exploring more modern interpretations of fasting, I’ve just finished Jen Hatmaker’s “Seven: an experimental mutiny against excess”. I’d recommend it! She fasts from things like spending and media and not just food. Very cool stuff. You may find that you grasp the whole concept of a fast better after reading it, I know I did!

  • The passage from Romans 5:18-21 reminded me of this song by Bethel. Listen closely to the bridge. “Where there was sin, your love rushed in. Where sin was deep, your grace was deeper.”
    https://youtu.be/NymYyJtrvJo

  • Hi sisters, I just wanted to ask for prayers for my friend Angelina today – she is flying on a plane for the first time since she was five years old and is understandably nervous. Praying that she will experience God’s peace during the flight and that everything will go smoothly! Thank you!

  • His mercies are indeed new every morning. Oh LORD turn my heart really wholly to you. Deliver me from the fog that

    • Joanne

      Oh no it posted!

      Anyway

      Deliver me from the fog that comes and clouds my view of you. When you are in my sight then my words are pleasing and my giving is right. May my all be poured out for you.

    • Laura

      every single day. morning, by morning, HIS mercies I see

  • Tricia C

    Oh Lord. Thank you for the opportunity to return to you and repent. I’ve done so wrong, but You can make it all right. Praise Your Name!
    Blessings this day Sisters. ❤️

  • “O God of grace,
    I need to repent of my repentance.
    I need my tears to be washed.
    I have no robe to bring to cover my sins,
    no loom to weave my own righteousness.
    I am always standing clothed in filthy garments,
    and by grace am always receiving change of raiment,
    for thou dost always justify the ungodly.
    I am always going into the far country,
    and always returning home as a prodigal.
    Always saying, Father, forgive me, and thou art always bring forth the best robe.
    Every morning let me wear it,
    every evening return in it,
    go out to the day’s work in it,
    be married in it,
    be wound in death in it,
    stand before the great white throne in it,
    enter heaven in it shining as the sun.
    Grant me never to lose sight of
    the exceeding sinfulness of sin,
    the exceeding righteousness of salvation,
    the exceeding glory of Christ,
    the exceeding beauty of holiness,
    the exceeding wonder of grace.” (from “The Valley of Vision”)

  • churchmouse

    Repent – of my sin, name them and claim them. Reflect – on my attitude as well as my actions (“tear my heart, not just my clothes.”). Return – to the Lord, my sin is against Him. Run – into His open arms. Receive – His forgiveness. Rejoice!

  • “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I’m no longer worthy to be called your daughter”

    But God…
    If You say the word, I shall be healed… I look to you Lord God… I look to you!
    Amen.

    Praying God turn His face to shine on you my dear sisters, may He look on you with favour and give you peace.. with love xxx

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