Advocate, Belief, Bible, Blessing, Encouragement, Protection, Scripture

STRONGHOLD

JOEL 3:16

The LORD roars from Zion and utters His voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth quake. But the LORD is a refuge for His people, and a stronghold for the sons of Israel.

Isn’t it amazing how a person’s perception of something can be so different than someone else’s perception? They can see the exact same event and come to very different conclusions. For instance, I watched the Atlanta Braves win the National League Championship last night. I thought it was the best thing ever. But I bet there were Los Angeles Dodger fans watching who thought it was awful. Same event-different perceptions.

In today’s verse, the enemies of Judah would be terrified when they heard the Lion of Judah roar. Their earth would quake in fear. But…there’s that word – but. A conjunction that leads to a change in thought. But the Lord looks different to His people. He is their refuge and stronghold. How reassuring is that?

APPLICATION

What is your stronghold? Do you even know what that is? It’s a place of safety, a harbor. Now, who doesn’t need that? We all need someone or someplace we can go for protection. You may be thinking Carl, I don’t need that. I can take care of myself. Oh really? If you haven’t faced the day yet when you need it, you will. We all do, sooner or later.

The beautiful thing about God being our stronghold is He will never stop being that for us. He will always be there. No storm is too big for Him. No trial that comes our way is above His head. He can protect and defend you. The doors to His stronghold are impenetrable. You are safe and secure.

Who doesn’t want that? I sure do, and I don’t see that as a weakness. I see it as a strength. I know my limitations. I know, without the Lord Jesus, I would fall flat on my face. I need God as my stronghold and refuge. Proverbs 18:10 says “The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous runs into it and is safe.” That’s where I want to be. How about you?

I will run to You, O Lord. You are my stronghold and refuge.

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Disciplemaking, Commands, Bible, Scripture, Direction, Light, Flesh, Darkness, Abiding

LOSS OF LIGHT

JOEL 3:15

The sun and moon have become dark, and the stars have lost their brightness.

I was in my hunting blind one morning recently very early. It was a cloudy morning, so there was no moonlight or stars shining. As I sat there in the pitch black, I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. You could almost feel the darkness. And I thought to myself how trying it must be to be blind and not be able to see. My vision improved with the sunrise. For that I was thankful.

But in this scene which Joel describes, it’s a little different. Sure, the sun and moon will lose their light, and the stars will lose their brightness. But is that because it will be dark, like when Christ was crucified or because the light of God will be so bright that all other lights will be gone? One can speculate which it will be. The point is things will be very different on this day of the Lord.

APPLICATION

In the meantime, we are supposed to be shining our light. As believers, the light of Christ dwells within us. We are not supposed to hide it. Don’t you love that children’s song, This Little Light of Mine? We don’t hide it under a bushel. We don’t let Satan blow it out. We hold it high for the world to see.

Where is your light? Are you drawing others to Christ by your light? Our lights should be doing that. We should also be leading others with our light as we all walk down the path together. Together our lights are brighter. As followers of Christ, we should never have a loss of light. Why? Because He is the source. His light can never be distinguished. Praise the Lord.

I will have to admit that sometimes my light is not as bright as it should be. I let my flesh get in the way, and it dims my light. That’s my fault. That has nothing to do with the source. I confess that as sin. I truly want my light to shine so brightly that the sun, moon and stars seem dim in comparison. How about you?

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

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Accountability, Advocate, Bible, Consequences, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Heaven, Hell, Judgment, Obedience, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture

DECISIONS

JOEL 3:14

Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.

I have mentioned in this blog site several times that I worked over thirty years in the child welfare field. Most of those years were spent in administration. In those roles I had to supervise staff as well as deal with the children in crisis. Decisions were a daily thing, and sometimes those decisions had to be made quickly and decisively. I didn’t have time to mull it over. Thank the Lord, most of the time I decided correctly.

Here we are in Joel 3:14 at “the valley of decision.” The Hebrew word for “decision” can mean sharp-pointed or strict decision. Of course, Joel says this is “the day of the Lord” which refers to a day of judgment. Also, the word “multitude” has an interesting meaning. It can mean murmur or roar. You can almost hear the crowds of nations gathered around. It was literally a sea of humanity.

APPLICATION

Have you made the most important decision of your life? There is no bigger one than asking Jesus to be your Savior. This decision will not only change your life. It will also change your eternity. Before making that decision, your eternity was set. You were doomed to an eternal hell with no hope, separated from God. But once you make that decision, your new eternity rests in glory, the dwelling place of God.

How many people do you know right now will be facing the “day of the Lord” without that hope of glory? Judgment day is a certain thing. And God’s judgment on that day will be like some of my decisions I had to make – swift and decisive. The difference between His judgment and my decisions is His is always right. He always judges correctly.

Aren’t you glad you know Him? If you do, the day of the Lord holds no fear for you. Your destiny is safely in the hands of Jesus, literally. The scars in Jesus’ hands points to the fact of His death and sacrifice for you. Don’t you want to share that with someone else? Do that today.

I am so thankful, Lord, that judgment day holds no fear for me. I am confident of my place in heaven.

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Accountability, Angels, Bible, Disciplemaking, Eternity, Harvest, Hope, Judgment

HARVEST TIME

JOEL 3:13

Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, tread the grapes, for the wine press is full; the vats overflow, for their wickedness is great.

I grew up in South Georgia in a very rural community. Farms were all around me. I had cousins, uncles and grandparents who were farmers. So, I understand harvest time. I grew up being a part of harvesting the crops. I distinctly remember bringing in beans, peas, corn and watermelons. Those were fond memories, and I am thankful I had that experience.

But Joel isn’t talking about that kind of harvest in today’s verse. He’s referring to an end time harvest. The enemies of Judah were going to be judged by a holy God. He is sending His angels to swing the sickle. Our enemies will one day be judged “for their wickedness is great.”

APPLICATION

Let me ask you a question. Are you ready for the harvest? One day the Lord is going to return for His church. Will you be taken up in that great harvest of believers across this world? In one blink of an eye, we will be taken up. Or will you be left behind to put the pieces together.

We are going through some challenges right now in my country. We are seeing store shelves empty. Prices are increasing. Things are getting tough. But can you imagine how it’s going to be after the Rapture? Can you imagine how countries around the world are going to react to the sudden loss of thousands of people? You don’t want to be here to see that.

I am so thankful that my “harvest ticket” has been punched. I know I’m going with the first trumpet. I’m ready. But I know too many people, including some family members, who will be left behind. That grieves me. Will you join me in praying for the lost? We don’t want to leave anyone behind.

Father, thank You for assuring my place in eternity. I do not fear the harvest of believers because I know I will be among them.

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Accountability, Advocate, Bible, Blameless, Guilt, Hope, Judgment, Promises, Scripture, Submission

THE JUDGE SITS

JOEL 3:12

Let the nations be awakened and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations.

I have a friend who is a judge. I’ve been to his court a lot. I don’t mind going to his court because he’s my friend and I am never in trouble when I’m there. He does, however, have to sit in judgment on others. He has to hear their case and then make a decision. He’s a fair judge, but he is also a firm one.

The judge of all the nations will one day sit in judgment over all. Joel is predicting that in today’s verse. One day, Jehovah will judge every single person on whether they know His Son. Many will claim they were too busy or were confused. Excuses won’t work then. When the judge sits in judgment, truth will reign.

APPLICATION

When you face your final judgment, how do you think it’s going to go? Are you fearful of what God will find in your life? If you are a believer in Christ, judgment has already been passed on your sins. They are forgiven. If you are not a believer, you have much to fear. There is no way you will talk your way out of His perfect sentence.

But there’s no reason to even have to worry about that. All that’s required is a surrender to His will. He wants each of us to live in such a way our future is foretold. When we are walking with Christ, our future is secure. I pray you have that assurance in your life right now. If not, stop and make things right.

Way back in 1977 I gave my life to the Master. He has my back. There is nothing I can do to loosen His grip on me. When I face my Maker at judgment, all He will judge is my works. My guilt, due to my sins, has already been removed. Oh, the joy of that confidence.

Lord, I am so thankful I don’t have to fear Your judgment. My sins are forgiven at Calvary.

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Affliction, Battles, Bible, Courage, Devil, Enemies, Fighting, Grace, Protection

THE TRAP IS SET

JOEL 3:11

Hurry and come, all you surrounding nations, and gather yourselves there. Bring down, LORD, Your warriors.

Do you remember hiding from your friends outside when you were growing up, only to spring out of your hiding place and scaring them? I sure do. We would play in the woods around my house and in the bushes in the yard. I have even been known to make sounds to draw them in. Boy, I loved scaring them. I know, it sounds mean. But it was all in fun.

Not so much in today’s verse. Joel is calling in all the enemies of Judah. He wanted them to come close. And when they were all there, surrounding Judah, he calls on God to send down His warriors to destroy them. Essentially the net was cast, and they were all caught. Only then did they realize they were in trouble.

APPLICATION

Have you ever felt like the net was cast on you? The devil will lure you in with the temptations of the world. He will tempt you to come closer and closer until…snap! Then you are caught in a snare of sin. You feel there is no escape. You feel helpless.

Stop that! When you sense the devil is drawing you away from the safety of Jesus, stop. Retreat back to where you know you have protection. Put your armor on. Submit to God and then you can tell the devil to flee. He can’t lure you in because you belong to someone mightier and stronger.

I am so glad I belong to my Master. There are no nets strong enough to capture me. I am a warrior of the King. Satan has no power over me. Amen? You have the same power. You just have to walk in it. You’ve heard it said that we walk from victory, not to victory. We are already victorious. Hallelujah!

Thank You, Lord, for protecting me. You draw my enemies in to destroy them.

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Advice, Affliction, Battles, Bible, Devil, Enemies, Faithfulness, Fighting, Protection, Salvation, Satan, Scripture

PREPARE FOR BATTLE

JOEL 3:10

Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weak man say, “I am a warrior.”

I’ve never been to war. I’ve only had two fistfights in my life (both in high school before I came to Christ). So, the concept of gearing up for combat is foreign to me. I have known several men who bravely fought for our country. I respect them all. Their courage is admirable. They each had to prepare themselves for war, including getting the right arsenal.

Joel is telling the Judeans to get ready. Take whatever you have and make weapons. Plowshares into swords and pruning hooks into spears. They had to have weapons to fight the enemy when they arrived. This passage may sound familiar. It’s the exact opposite of what you will read in Isaiah 2:4 and Micah 4:3. Take a minute and read those passages. But Joel is preparing for war, not peace.

APPLICATION

Are you prepared to fight the battles that are before you? Do you have the weapons you need? If you are a believer in Christ, you have everything you need to battle your adversary, the devil. God’s Word is the sword to wield. Your faith is the shield to protect you from his fiery darts. Your helmet of salvation guards your mind from any thoughts he might throw your way.

You see, you have the weapons. The question is are you ready to fight. The devil comes out each day with one goal – to defeat us. He wants to lay us out. He cannot stand it when we read the Bible and pray. He hates it when we share our faith with others. He will try anything to stop that. Don’t let him. Fight back.

I have learned lately just how determined he is. He has thrown all sorts of things in my path to try to discourage me. He wants me to lie down and quit. He cannot take away my salvation, but he can sure take me out of the fight – if I let him. But I won’t! Will you join me in the fight?

I am ready to follow You, Lord, wherever You lead. I trust You as my Commander in Chief.

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Advice, Affliction, Battles, Bible, Devil, Encouragement, Enemies, Following, Opponents, Protection, Satan, Scripture, Soldiers

TIME FOR WAR

JOEL 3:9

Proclaim this among the nations:

Prepare for holy war; stir up the warriors!

Have all the soldiers come forward, have them come up!

The United States just ended their longest war in history. We finally withdrew from Afghanistan after twenty years. Many say we should have never gone to war. That can be debated. The fact is we went and were there for twenty long years. In a way, this was also a holy war. We were fighting to protect our nation and our way of living from a group of people who are determined to destroy us. Their religion calls for the termination of all “infidels.”

So, in a way, we can relate to this verse today. Joel is calling for Judah to prepare for battle. A day is coming when they will be fighting a holy war against the nations. Judah, which is part of the nation of Israel today, has been preparing for war since that day. They are still preparing today. Every young person in Israel has to serve a period of time in the military. They are prepared.

APPLICATION

The question I have for us today is: Are we? Are we prepared to fight a holy war? Now, I don’t mean a physical war with physical weapons, even though that may be required one day. I mean, do we have the divine weapons in our arsenal to fight the battles we face every day against Satan? That is a holy war we fight every day, and if we aren’t armed properly, Satan will eat our lunch.

You need to read 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 today. It will remind you that you do indeed have the weapons you need to fight the battle. But with any weapon, you first have to pick it up and then you have to know how to wield it. That takes practice. That takes time. I am glad you are reading this devotional blog today, but don’t let this be your quiet time. Let this inspire you to dig deeper in your quiet time.

I write this blog as part of my quiet time each day, but I also try to dig deeper in another passage. I need to know all I can to fight the battle. I spend time every day memorizing and reviewing passages. I want to keep my mind sharp when I need to recall a passage to protect my thoughts. It’s a battle, folks, each and every day. Don’t forget that.

O God, I am so glad You have given me divine weapons to demolish strongholds. I am thankful I can learn Your Word to fight off my enemy.

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Accountability, Bible, Blameless, Cleansing, Consequences, Disciplemaking, Flesh, Forgiveness, Grace, Hell, Judgment, Punishment, Salvation, Scripture

YOUR JUST DESSERTS

JOEL 3:7

behold, I am going to stir them up from the place where you have sold them, and return your retribution on your head.

Sometimes people get just what they deserve. You may have heard that expression, “just desserts.” It means to get what’s coming to you. Now, to be honest, my flesh loves to see that happen. But I know Christ in me desires for others to repent and avoid the punishment of sin – kind of like Nineveh did when they heard Jonah’s message.

However, right here in Joel 3:7, God is telling the nations that they are going to receive the consequences for their sins. They have done evil to His children. Now it’s their turn to suffer for their actions. Yes, they had been used by Him to accomplish the judgment upon Judah, but they took it too far. They became haughty. God will now issue His judgment on them.

APPLICATION

So, the lesson for us is to not get too excited when we see someone else get punished for something they have done. We could just as easily be getting ours. None of us are innocent. We have all done things for which we deserved to be punished. So, we shouldn’t enjoy the punishment of others. In fact, we should do all we can to try to help them.

Of course, the ultimate punishment is the eternal judgment of God. As believers in Christ, our punishment has already been paid for by Christ. But think of the billions of people out there who are going to die and go to hell without hearing the gospel. We need to do all we can to advance the kingdom while there’s still time. What can you do today to help someone avoid their “just desserts”?

I am so thankful for my salvation. I know all the deeds I committed that earned me a place in hell. But because of the saving power of Jesus, my record was washed clean. Surely, He has cleansed me with hyssop and washed me whiter than snow. I want others to experience what I have experienced. Don’t you?

Father, I am so thankful I am not getting my just desserts when it comes to my sins. Thank You for cleansing my soul.

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Abiding, Advice, Battles, Bible, Commitment, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Judgment, Scripture, Surrender

FAR AWAY

JOEL 3:6

“and sold the sons of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks in order to remove them far from their territory,

I have mentioned several times about my 30+ years in the Child Welfare field. Most of those years were great years. I learned a lot and grew both professionally and personally. But one incident sticks in my mind. I was working at children’s home and three of the children I worked with were set up to be adopted. That sounds great. But this adoption was done without the children ever having met the family before. I still remember that day having to physically put the children in the back of that car. It was tearful and sad, instead of joyous.

That scene comes to mind when I read today’s verse in Joel. Part of the reason the Lord is judging these nations so harshly is because they had sold the Judeans to other nations to move them far away. That was part of the process when a nation defeated another nation. They dispersed them to prevent them from reforming and starting a rebellion. God was not happy about that and held them accountable.

APPLICATION

How do you apply a verse like this to your life?  Let me ask you this question. What have you removed far away from God? What are you holding on to? Now, you really can’t remove anything from God. He is everywhere and is all knowing. But we can withhold things from Him that need to be surrendered. Do you have a “secret stash” of things that you just can’t let go of?

God desires total surrender from us. He wants us to turn everything over to Him rather than tucking stuff away. Unlike the nations’ plan to move Judea away to prevent rebellion, our moving stuff away actually leads to rebellion. The more stuff we hold on to, the more those things can lead us away from our Lord. We need to give Him our all.

I have experienced periods in my life when I was holding on to something. It was something I could fix, something I could handle. Each time I did this, I eventually realized the futility of my efforts. I learned to surrender it. Now, I’m a little hard-headed. Just ask my wife, lol. But I do know His way in the right way. Do you?

I bring all my “tucked away” things to You, O Lord. I desire to walk in freedom.

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