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God Seeks Sincerity of Heart

Joel 2:13
God is not now nor has He ever been interested in a big show.
God is seeking sincerity of heart.

1 Samuel 15:22   Samuel said, Has the Lord as great a delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

1 Samuel 16:7   But the Lord said to Samuel, Look not on his appearance or at the height of his stature, for I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.

Matthew 23:1-3   Then Jesus said to the multitudes and to His disciples, the scribes and Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat [of authority].  So observe and practice all they tell you; but do not do what they do, for they preach, but do not practice.

Matthew 23:5-7   They do all their works to be seen of men; for they make wide their phylacteries (small cases enclosing certain Scripture passages, worn during prayer on the left arm and forehead) and make long their fringes [worn by all male Israelites, according to the command]. And they take pleasure in and [thus] love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues, And to be greeted with honor in the marketplaces and to have people call them rabbi.

Matthew 23:23-24   Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, pretenders (hypocrites)! For you give a tenth of your mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected and omitted the weightier (more important) matters of the Law—right and justice and mercy and fidelity. These you ought [particularly] to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, filtering out a gnat and gulping down a camel!

Matthew 23:25    Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, pretenders (hypocrites)! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but within they are full of extortion (prey, spoil, plunder) and grasping self-indulgence.

Matthew 23:27-28  Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, pretenders (hypocrites)! For you are like tombs that have been whitewashed, which look beautiful on the outside but inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything impure. Just so, you also outwardly seem to people to be just and upright but inside you are full of pretense and lawlessness and iniquity.

James 1:22-26   But be doers of the Word [obey the message], and not merely listeners to it, betraying yourselves [into deception by reasoning contrary to the Truth].  For if anyone only listens to the Word without obeying it and being a doer of it, he is like a man who looks carefully at his [own] natural face in a mirror;  For he thoughtfully observes himself, and then goes off and promptly forgets what he was like. But he who looks carefully into the faultless law, the [law] of liberty, and is faithful to it and perseveres in looking into it, being not a heedless listener who forgets but an active doer [who obeys], he shall be blessed in his doing (his life of obedience).

If anyone thinks himself to be religious (piously observant of the external duties of his faith) and does not bridle his tongue but deludes his own heart, this person’s religious service is worthless (futile, barren)

This is why the Bible talks about circumcision of the heart being more important than circumcision of the body.

Deuteronomy 30:6   And Jehovah thy God hath circumcised thy heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love Jehovah thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, for the sake of thy life;

Romans 2:11-16  For God shows no partiality [undue favor or unfairness; with Him one man is not different from another].  All who have sinned without the Law will also perish without [regard to] the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged and condemned by the Law.

For it is not merely hearing the Law [read] that makes one righteous before God, but it is the doers of the Law who will be held guiltless and acquitted and justified.

When Gentiles who have not the [divine] Law do instinctively what the Law requires, they are a law to themselves, since they do not have the Law. They show that the essential requirements of the Law are written in their hearts and are operating there, with which their consciences (sense of right and wrong) also bear witness; and their [moral] decisions (their arguments of reason, their condemning or approving thoughts) will accuse or perhaps defend and excuse [them]. On that day when, as my Gospel proclaims, God by Jesus Christ will judge men in regard to the things which they conceal (their hidden thoughts).

Romans 2:17-29   But if you bear the name of Jew and rely upon the Law and pride yourselves in God and your relationship to Him, and know and understand His will and discerningly approve the better things and have a sense of what is vital, because you are instructed by the Law;  And if you are confident that you [yourself] are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, and [that You are] a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the childish, having in the Law the embodiment of knowledge and truth—

Well then, you who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you teach against stealing, do you steal (take what does not really belong to you)?

You who say not to commit adultery, do you commit adultery [are you unchaste in action or in thought]? You who abhor and loathe idols, do you rob temples [do you appropriate to your own use what is consecrated to God, thus robbing the sanctuary and doing sacrilege]?

You who boast in the Law, do you dishonor God by breaking the Law [by stealthily infringing upon or carelessly neglecting or openly breaking it]?

For, as it is written, The name of God is maligned and blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you! [The words to this effect are from your own Scriptures.]

Circumcision does indeed profit if you keep the Law; but if you habitually transgress the Law, your circumcision is made uncircumcision.

So if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be credited to him as [equivalent to] circumcision?  Then those who are physically uncircumcised but keep the Law will condemn you who, although you have the code in writing and have circumcision, break the Law.

For he is not a [real] Jew who is only one outwardly and publicly, nor is [true] circumcision something external and physical.  But he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and [true] circumcision is of the heart, a spiritual and not a literal [matter]. His praise is not from men but from God.

Joel 2

Blow the trumpet in Zion,
And sound an alarm in My holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble;
For the day of the Lord is coming, For it is at hand:

A day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness,
Like the morning clouds spread over the mountains.
A people come, great and strong, the like of whom has never been;
Nor will there ever be any such after them, even for many successive generations.

A fire devours before them, and behind them a flame burns;
The land is like the Garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness;
Surely nothing shall escape them.

Their appearance is like the appearance of horses; and like swift steeds, so they run.
With a noise like chariots over mountaintops they leap,
Like the noise of a flaming fire that devours the stubble,
Like a strong people set in battle array.

Before them the people writhe in pain; all faces are drained of color.
They run like mighty men, they climb the wall like men of war;
Every one marches in formation, and they do not break ranks.

They do not push one another; every one marches in his own column.
Though they lunge between the weapons, they are not cut down.
They run to and fro in the city, they run on the wall;
They climb into the houses, they enter at the windows like a thief.

The earth quakes before them, the heavens tremble;
The sun and moon grow dark, and the stars diminish their brightness.
The Lord gives voice before His army, for His camp is very great;
For strong is the One who executes His word.

For the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; who can endure it?
A Call to Repentance “Now, therefore,” says the Lord,
“Turn to Me with all your heart,
With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.”

So rend your heart, and not your garments;
Return to the Lord your God,
For He is gracious and merciful,
Slow to anger, and of great kindness;
And He relents from doing harm.

Who knows if He will turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind Him—
A grain offering and a drink offering for the Lord your God?

Blow the trumpet in Zion, consecrate a fast,
Call a sacred assembly; gather the people,
Sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders,
Gather the children and nursing babes;
Let the bridegroom go out from his chamber,
And the bride from her dressing room.

Let the priests, who minister to the Lord,
Weep between the porch and the altar;
Let them say, “Spare Your people, O Lord,
And do not give Your heritage to reproach,
That the nations should rule over them.
Why should they say among the peoples,  ‘Where is their God?’”

The Land Refreshed then the Lord will be zealous for His land,
and pity His people.

The Lord will answer and say to His people,
“Behold, I will send you grain and new wine and oil,
And you will be satisfied by them;
I will no longer make you a reproach among the nations.

“But I will remove far from you the northern army,
And will drive him away into a barren and desolate land,
With his face toward the eastern sea and his back toward the western sea;
His stench will come up, and his foul odor will rise,
Because he has done monstrous things.”

Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice,
For the Lord has done marvelous things!

Do not be afraid, you beasts of the field; for the open pastures are springing up,
And the tree bears its fruit; the fig tree and the vine yield their strength.

Be glad then, you children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God;
For He has given you the former rain faithfully,
And He will cause the rain to come down for you—
The former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.

The threshing floors shall be full of wheat,
And the vats shall overflow with new wine and oil.

“So I will restore to you
the years that the swarming locust has eaten,

The crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust,
My great army which I sent among you.

You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
And praise the name of the Lord your God,
Who has dealt wondrously with you;
And My people shall never be put to shame.

Then you shall know that I am in the midst of Israel:

I AM the Lord your God
And there is no other.

My people shall never be put to shame.

“And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.
And also on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.
“And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth:
Blood and fire and pillars of smoke.
The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.

And it shall come to pass that whoever calls
on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem
there shall be deliverance, as the Lord has said,
Among the remnant whom the Lord calls.

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