Abiding, Bible, Calling, Career, Commands, Disciplemaking, Modeling, Obedience, Passion, Salvation, Scripture, Surrender, Teaching, Witnessing

FARMER PROPHET 

AMOS 1:1

“The words of Amos, who was among the sheepherders from Tekoa, which he saw in visions concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam son of Joash, king of Israel, two years before the earthquake.”

I can recall when the Lord called me to full time ministry. I had only been a Christian for a few months. It was in the Fall of 1978. I was in my Senior year of high school. It was almost like my surrender to Him in salvation morphed directly into my calling as a minister. He took out some things I thought  were important and replaced them with a passion to serve in ministry. So, I can relate somewhat to Amos, as we begin this study.

Amos was a farmer. He had sheep and also tended sycamore trees. Out of that unlikely vocation God called him to go prophesy against the nation of Israel. He had not been schooled in the school of prophets. He had been schooled by life. He obviously had a passion and desire for Jehovah, or he wouldn’t have been chosen for the task. God can use any instrument He chooses to accomplish His goals.

APPLICATION

Are you being used by the Lord right now? Perhaps you think He can’t use you. Wrong! Just like Amos, you just have to be available. It doesn’t matter what vocation you are in, the Lord can use you. The Lord doesn’t need more preachers. Now, hear me out. I am not knocking preachers. I am one. But you can reach so many more people in your circle of influence in your vocation, if you are willing.

God plucked Amos right out of the pasture and sent him on a mission. God may select you to do something extraordinary. He is just waiting for you to surrender to His will. Do you trust Him to give you the words? He gave Amos some very bold words. Do you trust Him to direct your path? He will. Just ask Him.

Oh, the things we can do if we are willing. God changed the world with 11 unlikely disciples, mostly uneducated men who had a passion for Jesus. They all laid down their lives for the mission. I often ask myself if I would do the same. I know I can through His power. I want Him to use me to change the world. Will you join me?

O Lord, use me like You did Amos. Give me the same boldness to speak truth in a fallen world.

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Advocate, Battles, Bible, Enemies, Judgment, Obedience, Protection

OUR AVENGER

JOEL 3:21

“And I will avenge their blood which I have not avenged, For the LORD dwells in Zion.”

My wife thinks I’m weird because I like all the movies with Iron Man, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Captain America, etc. I particularly like The Avengers.  Man, when they all come together it’s pretty awesome. They can take on anybody. Their combined strength is incredible.

But as strong as The Avengers are, they are no match for our Avenger. The Lord God avenged Judah for the atrocities that had been done to it. He restored them and continues to protect them generations later. He does the same for us. He is our Avenger. He watches over us and will take care of our enemies.

APPLICATION

Have you felt unprotected? Come to Him. Have you felt like your enemies are all around you? Call on Him. We don’t have to defend ourselves. He is always right there for us. We just have to call out. Jehovah God is still avenging His children. Now, we may never see our enemy suffer, but they will. One day, at judgment, all the enemies of God’s children will pay.

Until then, we have to rely on Him to protect us. He gives us spiritual insight on how to live our lives. As long as we are doing that, we are under the umbrella of His protection. But you need to stay under that umbrella. When we stray and venture outside that ring of protection, we have opened ourselves up to attack. Stay with Him.

I am thankful for His loving arms around me. I know I am safe in my Abba’s arms. He is able to safeguard me from any enemy attack. The only thing that can touch me is what He allows. And if He allows it, it is to make me more like Him. I live with that belief. How about you? Don’t complain and cry out to the Lord every time you run into a difficult situation. Ask Him what He is trying to teach you. Trust your Avenger.

You are my Avenger. I know You are aware of everything that happens in my life. I trust You.

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Abiding, Bible, Blessing, Encouragement, Eternity, Heaven

LONG TIME RESIDENTS

JOEL 3:20

But Judah will be inhabited forever, and Jerusalem for all generations.

Since my wife and I have been married we have lived in five states. We both lived in other states before we got married. So, between us we have in lived in seven states. You can’t exactly call us longtime residents of any state. Our ministry has taken us from place to place. Each time we have tried to make it our home.

I love this verse in Joel. Judah and specifically named, Jerusalem, will be inhabited forever. And it will. When Jesus comes back and establishes a new heaven and a new earth, there will be a new Jerusalem also. That city will literally be inhabited for eternity. We will dwell there one day. Isn’t that great?

APPLICATION

What are you a resident of? Carl, I am Tennessean. I am not talking about that. Did you know that if you are a Christian, a believer and follower of Christ, your home is heaven? We are just aliens and sojourners on this earth after salvation. Our real home is heaven. We have a celestial home. We have an eternal home just waiting for us.

If that is true, why do we fight so hard to stay here? It’s kind of crazy. We put so much money in earthly things that will rot and rust. We try to live for a hundred years using every essential oil (I’m not knocking those of you who use these) and herbal remedy known to man. We take tons of prescriptions to ward off death. If you think about it, it’s crazy.

Now, hear me out. I have gone through two stem cell transplants to extend my life. Why? Because the Lord lead my wife and I down this path. We both believed this was what the Lord would have me do. But I long for my heavenly home. Don’t you? One day we will be there. I can’t wait.

Thank You, Lord, for my heavenly home. I look forward to checking out my new digs one day.

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Accountability, Advocate, Battles, Bible, Blameless, Choices, Confession, Enemies, God's Will, Salvation, Scripture

WIPED OUT

JOEL 3:19

Egypt will become a wasteland, and Edom will become a desolate wilderness, because of the violence done to the sons of Judah, in whose land they have shed innocent blood.

I love movies where the bad guys get it. That may sound bad. Sorry! But I love for right to triumph. I like to see the righteous win. This world has way too much bad stuff happening. It seems that evil is winning all the time. I don’t have to go into details. You know what I am talking about. So, when I can see things end right in a movie, that pleases me.

God defended the innocent. He wiped out Egypt and Edom for their crimes against Judah. They had done violence against them and now it was payback time. But it was the Lord God who did the repaying. His vengeance is always right. When He judges it is always just. And Egypt and Edom were found guilty.

APPLICATION

Which side of right and wrong are you on? Well Carl, I wouldn’t be reading a devotional if I was on the wrong side. Oh really? Are you sure about that? A lot of people are doing religious stuff but are still on the wrong side. They are pretending. They present themselves as righteous but are living unholy lives. There lives are not surrendered to Jesus. They are just going through the motions.

I am not saying that is you. I just want you to examine yourself. Are you totally surrendered to Jesus? Does He have your heart 100 percent? When given a choice, do you choose the things of the world or the things of Christ? Christ is our Master, and we must obey Him in all things. We must choose what is right according to His Word no matter the cost.

Right and wrong. Good and evil. The choice has been around since creation. Most days I choose what is right and good. Other days I fall victim to my flesh and choose the wrong thing. I am thankful that my heart belongs to Jesus, and His Spirit convicts me and draws me back. I do not have to fear being wiped out by God. He has already wiped out my sins.

O Lord, I am thankful You have wiped out my sins. Forgive me when I fall short.

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Abiding, Blessing, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Gifts, Inspirational, Scripture

BLESSINGS UPON BLESSINGS

JOEL 3:18

And on that day the mountains will drip with sweet wine, and the hills will flow with milk, and all the brooks of Judah will flow with water; and a spring will go out from the house of the LORD and water the Valley of Shittim.

I have been the recipient of blessings. In fact, I could say they have been blessings upon blessings. People have blessed me with gifts. I have a friend who gifted me a great pair of shoes because he was concerned about my neuropathy. He has seen me struggle and took it upon himself to do that. That was a blessing. I am truly a blessed man.

In today’s verse we see God’s blessings upon the land. The mountains drip wine. The hills flow with milk. The brooks will flow with water. All this imagery is sending Judah a message. Their God is blessing His children after the period of judgment and war. He is faithful to do that.

APPLICATION

Have you counted your blessings lately? You need to. I bet you could fill a box with records of your blessings. Take a minute or two today and thank God for how He has blessed you. Write those blessings down and put them on your frig to remind you of how He has done that. We need those reminders. We forget so quickly.

If you have children, ask them how they think the Lord has blessed your family. Children are so good at recognizing things that we adults take for granted. Get them to make a list. I bet their list will be different from yours. Compare your lists. Make a plan to do this with your children regularly. In fact, the next time you face a tough time, go look at your list. You may be amazed.

I know I am amazed each day how the Lord has blessed me. I don’t deserve anything, but He gives me everything I need. I am so ungrateful, but He is so faithful. I am unworthy, but He has made me worthy. He does the same for you. Will you recognize that today? Give Him praise!

Forgive me, Lord, for not being more grateful for all You have given me. I want to quickly recognize every blessing that comes my way.

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Abiding, Belief, Bible, Disciplemaking, Holiness, Inspirational

ZION

JOEL 3:17

Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, dwelling on Zion, My holy mountain. So Jerusalem will be holy, and strangers will no longer pass through it.

What does it mean to be holy? I still remember this feeling I had when I was a little boy growing up in South Georgia in a Southern Baptist Church. I thought going to church made you holy. I always felt different when I went. I always felt better, cleaner – more holy. I thought if I went to church on Sundays, I was holier than those who didn’t. Man, was I wrong.

The Lord says here in Joel 3:17 that He will dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem. It is His presence that will make it holy, not the people. Wherever He is becomes a holy place. Remember when Moses saw the burning bush. The ground he was standing on became holy ground. That wasn’t because of Moses or the bush. It was solely because a holy God was present.

APPLICATION

Are you holy today? Well, of course not, Carl. Only God is holy. Then why does the Lord tell us to be holy as He is holy. He would never tell us to be something that is not possible. What makes us holy? The same thing that made Jerusalem holy. We are where God dwells through the presence of His Holy Spirit.

You do realize that the Spirit is part of the trinity, right? We have the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. All three are equal and separate persons of the trinity. God chose to indwell us after we receive His Son as Savior with the Spirit. That makes us holy. We just have to surrender and live like it.

I am thankful that my holiness does not depend on me. Jesus makes me holy. The Spirit makes me holy. When I get out of the way and allow the Spirit to reign in and through me, holiness erupts. People can see it. I can feel it, and it is much better than my childhood feeling of holiness from just going to church. Amen?

Father, I praise You for Your holiness in my life. Thank You for sending Your Holy Spirit to live in me.

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

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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