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Repentance that Reaches the Heart

Repentance that Reaches the Heart

Could you be fasting and praying, yet your repentance hasn’t reached your whole heart? Yes! Don’t end your fast without fully returning to God in the following area.

Fasting is a Time of Returning to God

A Biblical fast is a time of returning to God with all of your heart. Joel 2 shows us this:

12 “Even now,” declares the LORD,
return to me with all your heart,
with fasting and weeping and mourning.

13 Rend your heart
and not your garments.
Return to the LORD your God…

There is a connection between fasting, repenting, and returning to God:

“Rend your heart … return to God” (v. 13).

It’s easy to rend garments and fake sincere obedience to God, but He looks on the heart! “Rend your heart,” God says.

Rend Your Heart

You can appear obedient to God on the outside, while idolatries are secretly claiming the affections and devotion of your heart … particularly when it comes to finances. You can fake sincere obedience … all the while God looks on the heart of the matter, your bank account.

A Biblical fast is a time of getting right with God in every area of our lives. When we fast and pray, we become more sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s voice, and consequently, more aware of sin and disobedience in our lives.

It’s good that we can now hear His voice more clearly, but we can’t simply let His convictions go unanswered. We must respond! We must repent! We must return! We must obey!

So I ask you simply:

  • Have you been listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit on issues pertaining to money?
  • Has He been convicting you of not honoring God with your tithe?
  • Have you ignored His gentle whispers?

If the purpose of fasting is to humble ourselves before God, then it is imperative that we allow our fast to bring us to repentance and obedience in our giving.

When You Give

Jesus said:

  • “When you pray …” (Mt. 6:5).
  • “When you fast …” (Mt. 6:16).

We’ve got that much down. Jesus didn’t say “if you fast,” or “if you pray.” He said “when“—He counted on us fasting and praying. Yes, yes, we’ve got that.

But there is a third “when” in that chapter. And it’s actually mentioned first in that chapter, before praying and fasting.

Jesus said:

  • “When you give …” (Mt. 6:2, emphasis added).

We cannot end our fast without examining this area so prone to disobedience.

During Pursuit 21, we’re seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. (See Mt. 6:33.) We’re giving God the first of our year through fasting and prayer.

But are we really giving him the first?

We’re not truly giving Him the first of our lives if we’re withholding the first of our income from Him!

“Honor the Lord with your possessions,
And with the firstfruits of all your increase;
So your barns will be filled with plenty,
And your vats will overflow with new wine”  (Proverbs 3:9).

We’re not truly seeking first His righteousness if we’re harboring sin in the area of giving.

Bottom Line Desires

When we fast, we quickly find out what bottom line desires control us. When practiced rightly, fasting reveals the degree to which things have mastered us—whether food, or television, or movies, or social media, or sports … or money. These things are all good; they’re God’s gifts to us. But it becomes problematic when we elevate the gifts above the Giver.

The greatest adversary of love to God is not his enemies but his gifts. ~ John Piper (Tweet this)

Anything can stand in the way of us becoming true disciples—not just evil and not just food. Anything can rob us of devotion to God—even His gifts … including the gift of money and provision.

When we humble ourselves before God in fasting, our idolatries are exposed. We see what we’ve elevated above God and given greater devotion and affection.

One of these idols is money. We worship the idol of money when we rob God of what is His.

“A checkbook is a theological document; it will tell you who and what you worship.” ~ Billy Graham (Tweet this)

If the love of money is causing you to sin in the area of giving, it’s time to get right with God and return to Him.

How do you return? Begin by being honest.

Return to God: Begin by Being Honest

Malachi 3:7-10 says:

“Return to me so I can return to you,” says God-of-the-Angel-Armies.

“You ask, ‘But how do we return?’

“Begin by being honest. Do honest people rob God? But you rob me day after day.

“You ask, ‘How have we robbed you?’

“The tithe and the offering—that’s how! And now you’re under a curse—the whole lot of you—because you’re robbing me. Bring your full tithe to the Temple treasury so there will be ample provisions in my Temple. Test me in this and see if I don’t open up heaven itself to you and pour out blessings beyond your wildest dreams.” (Malachi 3:8-10, MSG, emphasis added)

Are you being honest?

I once returned clothes to a store by shipment, and they credited my account twice for the return. It went unnoticed by the merchant. When I saw the error in my bank account, I was tempted for a few seconds to keep my mouth shut and hang on to the money. After all, it was over $100!

But the voice of my conscience quickly overpowered that thought with deafening screams, “No! You would be stealing!!! That money isn’t rightfully yours!!!!!!” I went to the store in person and asked them to take the money out of my account. They were stunned that someone would be that honest. I was stunned that they were stunned! You mean people readily keep what isn’t theirs now days?! And this is the norm?!!

Twice recently, at Wal-Mart and a dollar store, the cashier scanned and bagged an item … but when I got home, I noticed it wasn’t on the receipt. I had an item I hadn’t paid for. So I went back to the store and told them I wanted to pay for it. Both times the employees were shocked someone would be honest. (What this says about our society is heartbreaking!)

My point is this: I wouldn’t have dreamed of keeping what was Walmart or Family Dollar’s. I knew that would have been stealing. But am I keeping what is God’s and thinking nothing of it?

What about you? Would it kill you to think of taking something from a store (even unintentionally, like me), yet you intentionally take what is God’s, steal from Him, and think nothing of it?

It’s time to be honest with God and yourself. Are you robbing God? … Are you keeping His ten percent?

Repentance that Reaches the Heart

Adrian Rogers writes:

You can say all you want about getting right with God, but if you don’t get right with God in your finances, you are not right with God. The kind of repentance that does not reach the bank account, has never reached the heart.

In Malachi 3:7, God says, “Return unto me, and I will return unto you.”

And the people said, “Wherein shall we return?”

God’s answer in verse 8 reveals that they were to return in tithes and offerings. The point of return is the point of departure. If you’re going to come back to God and if you’re going to renew your fellowship, you’re going to have to begin with the tithe.

How are you doing in the area of your tithes and offerings to the Lord? …

It’s time to put the good book to the checkbook!

You might have fasted and prayed and repented of many sins, while intentionally, callously ignoring God’s call to get right in your finances. 

If you don’t get right with God in your finances, you are not right with God. Don’t end your fast under the impression that you’ve returned to God while you’ve walked away from Him in your finances.

The kind of repentance that has not reached your bank account has never reached your heart. The purpose of our fast is to return to God with all our heart.

“Return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning” (Joel 2:12).

Return to God in your tithes and offerings. Put the good book to the checkbook! Or, in contemporary terms, put the Word unmarred to your debit card!

Let your repentance reach your bank account so that it will reach your heart!

“Bring the entire ten percent into the storehouse … Then I will open the windows of heaven and flood you with blessing after blessing” (Malachi 3:10, CEV).

TweetablesTweetables

  • “The greatest adversary of love to God is not his enemies but his gifts.” — John Piper Click to tweet Tweet
  • “A checkbook is a theological document; it will tell you who and what you worship.” — Billy Graham Click to tweet Tweet
  • “If you don’t get right with God in your finances, you’re not right with God. The kind of repentance that does not reach the bank account, has never reached the heart.” — Adrian Rogers Click to tweet Tweet
  • “Return to me with all your heart …” ~ Joel 2:12 Click to tweet Tweet

Questions:

  • How are you doing in the area of your tithes and offerings?
  • Are you robbing God of His ten percent?
  • Have you let your repentance reach your bank account—and reach your heart? 

 

FROM THE FASTING ARCHIVES

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