Have you ever shown up for class bright and early one morning, all ready for the day, only to be taken by surprise at the sudden announcement of a test?
I definitely have — and boy oh boy, is that nerve-racking!
Then you get so frustrated because you feel that a major injustice has been done to you. You didn’t know about the test! Had you been aware a test was coming, you could’ve studied!
In actuality, friend, it’s really our own fault for being unprepared — with or without notice. If we had cared more about the class, devoted time to learning the information and listening to the teacher, we would have been paying closer attention, taking more thorough notes and studying, and a surprise test might not have caught us so much off guard. If we had been paying attention to the teacher, we would have noticed his or her warnings and hints: “You all need to be studying! . . . Write this down; you’ll need to know this for a test. . . . I may give you all a pop quiz, so please study your notes.”
By not paying attention, not diving into our studies, not even caring enough about the information to apply it, we end up going to class one day and having to take a test totally unprepared. And the result? A failed test.
Have you ever read the book of Joel? It’s crazy, because a similar incident happened to the children of God. His children were living a lifestyle FULL of sin and wickedness! Even though they were His promised and loved children, they definitely weren’t acting like it. They continually sinned and lived in disobedience and rebellion.
The prophet Joel was sent by the Lord with a warning. Joel preached to the children of God and warned them of the judgment and destruction they would experience if they didn’t change their ways. Time and time again, he addressed them regarding these issues God wanted them to deal with. God wanted them to put their flesh aside and commune with Him.
Did they listen? Well, no, they didn’t.
They didn’t care enough to hear what God wanted from them. They didn’t want to change their lifestyle. They didn’t see what God was doing, that He cared, loved them, and wanted them to “pass the test.” He wanted to simply walk with them.
You know, sometimes we can get distracted. Sometimes we pay a little more attention to things that, well, don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.
Social media is a big one. We can spend so much time scrolling through feeds, looking at the newest outfit So-and-so just posted about, coming across pictures of the most ornate and beautiful homes, seeing how fit everyone else seems to be in their gym selfies, and we really just get so consumed with other things, other people, other “realities,” that we miss the Teacher’s questions, warnings, and hints. We miss the call of the Teacher into deeper study.
The Lord wants us to live life abundantly, to serve Him, to be in deep relationship with Him. Is He calling us? Is He trying to get our attention? Is He trying to tell us something? What are we paying attention to? What is most important to us?
What we say is most important isn’t always the reality of what our lifestyle shows we value. Are we too busy living the way that WE want? Are we too lost in our little worlds to hear God’s call beckoning us to draw near? Or are we truly yearning for the Lord?
We’ve got to do all that we can to adhere to the Word of God, to the voice of God and the leading of the Spirit. We must listen to what He is speaking through the preaching and the teaching we receive at our churches, through prayer and fasting, and through reading His word. When we truly desire to change, to turn from our fleshly tendencies, to even receive more, just to GROW in our walk, He will draw near to us.
The Word of God says, “Draw nigh unto me and I will draw nigh unto you.”
So let’s do this.
Let’s stop and listen.
Let’s learn from the book of Joel and really hear what the Teacher is saying.
Let’s give Him our full and undivided attention.