Agreement, Bible, Brokenness, Discipline, Fasting, Hearing, Humility, Intimacy, Modeling, Offering, Prayer, Purity, Sacrifice, Scripture, Suffering

FASTING

JOEL 1:14

Consecrate a fast, proclaim a solemn assembly; gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD.”

Hey, I like to eat. I don’t enjoy fasting. I’m just being honest. The times I have done a fast, my stomach reminded me constantly that it was being neglected. Breaking that fast was awesome. I missed chewing stuff. But I know the benefits of a fast far outweigh the temporary physical discomforts.

Joel is calling on the priests to proclaim a fast for the people. Why? To humble themselves before the Lord and beseech Him to intercede on their behalf. He was asking them to cry out to the Lord. The Hebrew word for “cry out” could mean “to shriek.” This was meant to be heard. Combined with their fasting, it was a sorrowful action.

APPLICATION

Fasting isn’t meant to be enjoyable. We should feel something physically. Our hunger pains should remind us to pray. Suffering isn’t tolerated well in the West. We are way too spoiled. If we don’t get three meals a day plus a snack, we think we have been deprived. We forget that many people in the world get by with one meal a day.

But you can fast from things other than just food. You can fast from electronics. Wouldn’t that be tough for us? My wife says I couldn’t handle that. I have to agree that I am tied to my computer way too much. Ask the Lord what He would have you fast from. If you ask, be prepared to fast. It may be food. It could be television or the internet. Whatever it is, when you decide to fast from it, use that time to hear from Him in a fresh new way.

The Lord has been calling me lately to fast, and I have been avoiding it. It is time for me to submit. I know whenever He calls me to fast, He has something to tell me. Would you pray for me as I listen to Him? I’ll let you know what He says.

Father, I am listening. I want to hear Your voice.

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Accountability, Battles, Bible, Confession, Disciplemaking, Discipline, Forgiveness, Humility, Modeling, Prayer, Repentance, Scripture, Surrender

PROSTRATE

JOEL 1:13

“Put on sackcloth and mourn, you priests; wail, you ministers of the altar! Come, spend the night in sackcloth, you ministers of my God, for the grain offering and the drink offering have been withheld from the house of your God.”

There have been few times in my life when I found myself lying prostrate praying to my God. Times of desperation can drive you there. I don’t need to go into what drove me there. You have probably have had times like that yourself. When you have no answers where do you go? To whom to you go?

Joel is calling on the priests to fall prostrate before their God. Sackcloth is called for. An outward sign for the nation to see was called for. Joel is telling them to show everyone that they, the priests, see their own sin and are confessing it before their Lord.

APPLICATION

Are you desperate for God? What has driven you to lay prostrate before Him? Perhaps you haven’t come to that point yet. You may think you are above that. Listen, no one is. We all have to come to the point of desperation for our sins. We all need to humble ourselves. We do not have the ability to “fix” ourselves.

But, thanks be to God, we know the one who is able to fix us. When we need cleansing, when we need to be lifted, we come to the one who has the power to raise the dead. We come to the one who can reach down and wipe away our tears. We come to the one we can trust with our very lives. He is able. No one else is. When will we all realize that?

I need humility in my life. I am like those other believers who can strut sitting down sometimes. I get full of myself. That is when I am the most vulnerable. I have to confess that as sin and come to my Savior. Will you join me? Come to Him now. He is ready to pick you up once you lay yourself out before Him.

Praise You, Lord, for seeing me. I am always in Your thoughts and You are ready to forgive me.

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Abiding, Advice, Bible, Blessing, Comfort, Devil, Encouragement, Joy, Scripture

DEHYDRATED

JOEL 1:12

“The vine has dried up and the fig tree has withered; the pomegranate, the palm also, and the apple tree, all the trees of the field have dried up. Indeed, joy has dried up from the sons of mankind.

Dehydration can cause all kinds of health problems. Most people don’t drink enough water, myself included. I like to drink water. It’s just easier sometimes to grab a coke or a glass of sweet tea (okay, I’m from the South, give me a break, lol). But nothing rehydrates you like water. Your body needs it.

Joel uses the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate tree, the palm tree and the apple tree as examples. But he wasn’t really talking about trees. Look at the last phrase of the verse. “Indeed, joy has dried up…” That’s the issue. Their joy had dried up. Joyless living is no living at all. Joel knew that. God knows that. Joy is necessary for a spirit-filled life.

APPLICATION

I pray you have joy in your life right now and that you are not spiritually dehydrated. I don’t mean you have to go around shouting “joy” all the time. Nor do you have to sing out loud constantly. Real joy from Christ is inexpressible. In fact, if you are walking in joy, you probably don’t have to say a word. Everyone around you will know it. It shows on your face.

So, why do most of us walk around in the dumps? Why do we seem so defeated? Because we believe the lies of the devil. He is constantly berating us. He doesn’t like joy. He loves sorrow. He loves to suck the joy right out of your life, living you spiritually dehydrated. You can kick ole Beelzebub right in the teeth by living joyously. He hates that. And who doesn’t want to punch him in the mouth, right?

I have to admit. There are days I live victoriously and joyously and others I don’t. Every time I find myself not living in joy, it’s because I have not spent the time I needed in prayer and in His Word. Those two things will do more for your joy than anything. You don’t need to be part of some emotionally charged worship service to get joy. Just do what He expects and surrender. The joy will come. Rehydrate with joy!

I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart, down in my heart, down in my heart. I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart, down in my heart, down in my heart to stay.

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Accountability, Bible, Confession, Forgiveness, Godliness, Holiness, Judgment, Repentance, Scripture

CALL TO REPENTANCE

JOEL 1:11

“Be ashamed, you farm workers, wail, you vinedressers, for the wheat and the barley; because the harvest of the field is destroyed.

There have been times in my life when I fell under great conviction. I knew I was not living as I should and needed to repent and return to the Lord. But my flesh just wouldn’t stop. I continued in my rebellious spirit until someone called me to repentance. Most of those times, it was a pastor or another preacher whose message convicted me. Other times, it was the Holy Spirit finally getting through to me. But repent I did.

Joel is trying to urge those in Judah to return to the Lord in the midst of their tribulation. Farms were failing. Vineyards were drying up. People have a hard time seeing their part in judgment. God didn’t just decide one day to punish Judah. This has been a long time coming. He had warned them. He had taught them. But they refused to listen.

APPLICATION

When was the last time you were under real conviction? If you haven’t been, perhaps you have gotten a little calloused to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. The older I get, the more I see my sin. I am so thankful for the blood of Christ that cleanses me from my sins. But it is easy to slip into a mindset that you’re okay.

We are not okay – outside of Christ. The only thing good about us is Jesus, if we are believers. He is the reason for everything we do. He is our purpose. He is our hope. So, we should live our lives holy before Him. We are told to be holy ourselves in all our behaviors. That isn’t a suggestion. It’s a command.

But Carl, I can’t be holy. You’re right! You can’t. But Christ can live through you in the power of the Holy Spirit and cause you to live holy. As you and I surrender our wills to His, we can embrace a holy lifestyle made possible only through Him. Isn’t that sweet? See, you can do it if you really want to.

I want to live holy before you. I want to stay confessed and cleansed of my sins.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Compassion, Confidence, Courage, Devil, Encouragement, Failures, God's Will, Hope, Inspirational, Modeling, Obedience, Scripture

FAILURES EVERYWHERE

JOEL 1:10

“The field is ruined, the land mourns; for the grain is ruined, the new wine has dried up, fresh oil has failed.”

We see failures all around us. Failures of economies. Failures of nations. Failures of people. The one thing that is certain about life is failure. No one likes it, but it comes, nonetheless. So, what do you do when everything around you seems to be failing? Do you throw up your hands? Do you put your head down and just weep? No! We have a great God who is aware of the failures.

Joel continues to tell us of the failures in Judah. In today’s verse we see the fields have ruined. The land is mourning! The crops have suffered. Even the vineyards have dried up and there is no oil for use. Utter failure. Judah is a mess. Why? Because of their disobedience. God will not tolerate that. We see that in these failures.

APPLICATION

You may have experienced failures in your life. In fact, your life may be in shambles right now. Sometimes we feel like a failure. Listen, our choices can cause many of our failures. Other failures come due to no fault of our own. Whatever the cause, we have to deal with them. Guess what? The devil wants you to feel like a failure. He doesn’t want you to know your position in Christ.

Are you a believer? If so, you have no right to see yourself as a failure. Why? Because you are a child of the King. He has given you victory. The Lord of creation died to give you promise. Failure is not in God’s plan for you. God can work through those failures, but they are not His plan for you. So, don’t stay there. Walk with Him today victoriously.

I hate to fail. I have never liked it. I like to win! Always! But sometimes I mess up. Sometimes I just blow it. When I do, I come hastily to my Savior. I know I can’t do it alone. How about you? Are you in need of a “pep talk” with your Lord? He’s ready!

I will not fail as long as I walk with You, Lord. If I keep my eyes on You, You will lead me.

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WHEN OFFERINGS CEASE

JOEL 1:9

“The grain offering and the drink offering have been cut off from the house of the LORD. The priests mourn, the ministers of the LORD.”

One side effect of the covid crisis that has pillaged our economy is the reduction in giving in many churches. When covid shut down churches in 2020, churches that were surviving week to week just couldn’t hang on financially. A lot of churches closed their doors due to empty pews and empty coffers.

The same thing happened in the days of Joel. When the locusts came and destroyed their agricultural economy, the offerings that were normally brought to the Lord’s house ceased. And when they ceased, the priests went hungry since they depended on these. When offerings cease, many suffer.

APPLICATION

Are you suffering loss today? Have you stopped giving to the Lord because of it? It’s understandable. God doesn’t expect you to give out of nothing. But He will provide. We have to believe that. Have you ever been down to your last bit of food only to have someone stop by with a bag of groceries? That’s God.

God does not desire for His children to suffer. He doesn’t want us to starve. He longs to meet our needs. Just let Him know what that is. He wants us to cry out to Him. You may just be amazed at how He provides. Then you can give Him the glory for His provision in your life.

I never cease to be amazed at how He provides for my family. There have been times when we did not see a way out of a dilemma, but He always came through. Just recently, when I thought we were facing some major car repairs, it turned out to only be a bad battery. You may not see that as a God thing, but I sure do. He wants to do the same for you.

Father, You are so good to me. Even in times of suffering, You provide.

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WIDOWED

JOEL 1:8

“Wail like a virgin clothed with sackcloth for the groom of her youth.”

My brother died recently, leaving behind his wife of 35 years. She has been grieving over this loss. They were very close and spent most of their time together. I have been watching her these past few weeks as she processes this loss and reimagines her life without my brother. It’s hard. Losses are difficult. But I know through the Lord’s strength, she will endure.

Joel is comparing the loss of the Lord to Judah to a wife losing her husband. The Hebrew word here for “virgin” is better translated “young woman.” Joel is picturing her being robbed of her husband through death, perhaps having been killed in battle. Sudden, unexplained death is hard. Judah had lost its first love, Jehovah, and was now mourning that loss.

APPLICATION

As followers of Christ, we will never suffer that loss. We will never lose our Savior. He is ours forever. We may drift away or fail to walk as closely as we should, but we will never lose Him. That’s the beauty of the Christian walk. We have been sealed with the promise. The Holy Spirit seals us until we are delivered to glory.

Some don’t believe that. Some believe we can lose that seal. I am not going to debate theology here. I simply choose to believe what the Word tells me. Knowing I am sealed forever does not give me license to do as I please. In fact, knowing that gives me joy inexpressible and the joy to please Him in all I do. I am eternally thankful.

We will all suffer losses in our life. We will lose loved ones to the grave. But, if they are one with us in Christ, we will be reunited one day. My sister-in-law and brother will see each other again one day. It will be a glorious reunion. We will see Jesus one day also. Can you imagine? Hallelujah, praise His name!

I am eternally thankful for the promises You give, Lord. I rest secure in those promises.

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TOTAL DEVASTATION

JOEL 1:7

“It has made my vine a waste and my fig tree a stump. It has stripped them bare and hurled them away; their branches have become white.”

Have you ever witnessed total devastation? I’ve seen it a couple of times, both times after severe storms. Most recently I witnessed it in my hometown when we were struck by a tornado. Neighborhoods that had been tree-lined and ornate were left in shambles. Most of the trees were gone or snapped in half. Houses were torn apart and, in some cases, just plain missing. It hurt to see it.

Judah experienced the same thing. In the case of the locusts, they wiped out everything. Even the bark on the trees was eaten. And when the nations came in as part of God’s judgment, they crushed and destroyed buildings and homes, leaving nothing of any value behind.

APPLICATION

If you have ever suffered loss like is described above, you can relate. Whether it is physical loss, like a house, or loss of health from an illness, it is hard to get over it. Do you think the Lord allows losses to punish us or teach us? Actually, every loss we encounter as a believer has gone through the hands of God first. He measures and makes sure it is what we can handle. He would never put more on you than you can handle.

But why do we even have to deal with this? Because He is teaching us to depend on Him. We could lose everything we have, but we still have our Savior. Physical things come and go. Prized possessions will eventually rust or rot away. Our faith only gets stronger. Our faith only grows.

So, as you watch things around you fall apart, remember who it is who holds you close. I can rest in His unshakeable arms. He will sustain and strengthen me. He will protect me and love me. What else could you ask for? He’s got this!

I am so thankful, Lord, to know You have me in Your grip. I am safe and secure.

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Accountability, Bible, Commands, Courage, Following, Judgment, Modeling, Obedience, Punishment, Rescue, Scripture

INVASION

JOEL 1:6

“For a nation has invaded my land, mighty and without number; Its teeth are the teeth of a lion, and it has the jaws of a lioness.”

I guess I could be considered a geek when it comes to sci-fi movies. I’ve always liked them. I like the plots where the aliens invade and we humans repel them. An invasion from anyone can be terrifying, whether it is from another planet or what Judah faced.

Many scholars think this invasion mentioned by Joel here was an actual invasion by a conquering nation as part of God’s judgment on Judah. Whether it was or not, it is certainly a horrible description. Teeth of a lion and jaws of a lioness aren’t exactly comforting. Judah’s judgment was going to be painful.

APPLICATION

Let me ask you a question. Do you enjoy pain? Do you like being punished? I am pretty sure your answer is no. Right? So, how do you avoid the teeth of lion and the jaws of a lioness? You follow the Lord. You follow His teachings. You walk with Him and listen to His instructions. No matter what, you obey. Any other choice leads to destruction.

How many times have you chosen to disobey and suffered? Too many, I bet. We tend to want to do things our way. We believe we have a better way. We think we can figure things out. But if we simply surrender to Him and allow Him to guide us, we can avoid all those sharp lion’s teeth. We can be free from their jaws. Doesn’t that sound better?

I am forever grateful that I am walking with Jesus instead of dodging the bites of lions. I walk in boldness, not fear. I know He holds me by His righteous right hand. He protects and defends me. I am secure in His embrace. Do you have that confidence in your walk today? You can. He desires that for you.

Lord, thank You for my deliverance from the consequences of sin. Thank You for walking with me.

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JUDGMENT CONSEQUENCES

JOEL 1:5

“Awake, you heavy drinkers, and weep; and wail, all you wine drinkers, because of the sweet wine, for it has been eliminated from your mouth.”

You need to read verse 4 to understand the title for today’s devotional. As a result of the locusts destroying all the vegetation in the land, there would be no wine, thus the title. But if you think about it, isn’t that true of our sin. Some sins show immediate consequences. Other sins may not show the consequences until later. But they all have the same result. They eliminate the “sweet wine” from our mouth. God’s blessings.

Judah had sinned. Judgment was sure. The nation was going to suffer the consequences of years of rebellion against Jehovah. God can and will use nature to bring His judgment. In this case, He used the locust to strip the land of all vegetation, thus eliminating all their crops, including their vineyards. I am sure many cried out for their wine, without considering the cause of this.

APPLICATION

What sin are you suffering from right now? What sin are you covering up? Carl, I don’t have any of those. Perhaps not. Perhaps you are clean before the Lord. I pray so. But most of us can’t say that. We don’t need to wait for the locusts to come and rob of us of the “sweet wine.” We need to confess those sins which block us from receiving God’s blessings.

May I encourage you today to stop whining about what God is not doing for you and start praising Him for all He has done. We are all too quick to complain and slow to praise. Psalm 33:1 is a great verse to remind us of this. “Sing for joy in the Lord, O you righteous one; Praise is becoming to the upright.” Sing today!

I had much rather sing for joy than whine in bitterness. It just feels better. I had much rather enjoy the sweet wine of God’s blessings that suffer through the locusts. The only way I can do that is stay pure before God. I need to confess all my sins. I need to bow humbly before my Lord. Will you join me today?

Thank You, Lord, for consequences that remind me of my sins. I come to You today begging for forgiveness and mercy.

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