WITH PURPOSE OF HEART CLEAVE UNTO THE LORD
TEXT: ACTS: 11:19-24
First and foremost, we give thanks immensely to God who has seen us through the first four months in the journey of 2020. The topic of our exhortation today is from a statement made by Barnabas, one of the Early Disciples of Christ, to new believers in Antioch. Preaching the gospel to them was as a result of the scattering abroad of the Church in Jerusalem due to persecution. (verse 19); and they believed, and came out of darkness and diverse gentile practices. If these Gentiles, who were new converts, would make progress and be successful in their Christian journey at this time; if they would ignore persecution and would not go back to their old lifestyle, they needed to cleave to the Lord with purpose of heart.
A. EXPOSITION ON CHALLENGES OF THE PRESENT TIME AND SEASON
This is indeed a time of great challenge which is perhaps unprecedented in the world. The challenges of this time have made many Christians weary and lukewarm. The love of many is waxing cold, the desire for God, fervency of prayer, thirst for the Word of God are nose-diving among many worshippers to the extent that we find some using the time for Sunday Service to display their wares and go about economic activities. Instead of being in the presence of God during the time of service many loiter about while some indulge themselves in watching films (home videos). The challenges of this time have distanced many from their Creator and this is fraught with many dangers. What is your own condition as an individual?
B. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO CLEAVE TO THE LORD WITH PURPOSE OF MY MIND
Purpose of heart refers to a determinate step we have chosen after deep reflection on a matter.
Whatever conclusion we reach in our reflection in every area, we need determination (purpose of heart) to succeed. Cleaving to the Lord means living a life that rests on the Lord; living a life of total commitment; to hold to the Lord tenaciously; to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might; to cleave to the Lord with determination; for our soul to be bound in the bundle of life with the Lord; to abide in the truth and in His precept, to walk in His way. This is what God expects from Christians in a time like this. A person who cleaves to the Lord with purpose of heart will not look back from what He believes in or retracts his confession; rather, he will be steadfast under any circumstances. What are your challenges at this time? Perhaps it is lack, poverty, sickness, joblessness, hunger, indebtedness etc that seeks to make you weary. Do not give up. A songwriter says: “Never mind the storms or trials as you go…” (GHB 766 verse 2 line 1).
C. EXAMPLES OF THOSE WHO CLEAVED TO THE LORD WITH PURPOSE OF HEART IN THEIR CHALLENGES AND HOW THEY ENDED THEIR JOURNEYS
- Ruth the Moabite. Ruth 1:6-18 When her sister-in-law went back from the true God to return to the idol of Moab because of the challenge they faced, Ruth was steadfast, not looking back, and her end was glorious. Matt. 1:5.
- Joshua and his house. Josh. 24:15 He chose to serve the living God instead of embracing idolatry as the children of Israel embarked upon.
- Apostle Paul asked: What shall separate us from the love of Christ? As potent, frightening and deadly as the things mentioned by Paul are, the love of God to us in Christ Jesus is higher than them all. Rm. 8:35-39. Let us cleave to Him whatever the challenges may be. Apostle Paul said: For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Rm. 8:18. At the end of his life Paul could say, I have fought the good fight of fight, I have kept the faith, a crown of glory is laid down for me II Tim 4:7 & 8.
- The Heroes of Faith listed by the Writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews in Hebrews 11:32-40.
D. DANGERS OF GROWING WEARY, BACKSLIDING AND DISTANCING ONESELF FROM THE LORD
- Whoever draws back will forfeit and deprive himself of the guidance of God and the light of His guidance in his journey; he will abide in darkness.
- Whoever draws back exposes himself to the arrows of the devil and to diverse pestilences. He that dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty: Psalm 91.
- Whoever draws back will forfeit and deprive himself of fellowship with God;, he cannot receive grace, strength, and power from God to be victorious in his pilgrimage but rather he will be like a branch that is cut off from a tree.
- Such a person will not find favour with God.
- Finally, he may forfeit the Glorious Home, the abode of eternal joy. Repent today lest this becomes your portion; forsake all conduct and acts that draw you away from the Lord and strengthen your determination to follow the Lord Jesus and He will help you.
Those who cleave to the Lord who do not allow anything to separate them from Him enjoy His protection even if persecutions, distresses, rebellions arise against them, for as Psalm 46 verse 5 says: God is in their midst of her; she shall not be moved. they will not be afraid of tidings and shakings, or the roaring of the waters; they will be upright in Him and
their end shall be glorious. Amen
Hymn (GHB 857):
Trust on Trust on believer!
Though long the conflict be
Thou yet shall prove victorious
Thy God shall fight for you…..
Trust on! the danger presses
Temptation strong is near
Over life’s dangerous rapids
He shall thy passage steer…..
- O Lord in a time like this, help me the more! Give me grace to cleave to You more closely. Do not let the challenges of this time sweep me away from You.
- If this time has occasioned any form of backsliding pray: God give me victory over all the challenges that seek to pull me away from You. Lord, let me cleave to You more closely.
- Help me to survive this period.