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.

Standard
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.

Standard
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.

Standard
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.

Standard
Abiding, Advocate, Bible, Blessing, Encouragement, God's Will, Inheritance, Praise, Scripture

RESTORED FORTUNES

JOEL 3:1

“For behold, in those days and at that time, When I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem.”

We have probably all heard stories of people who got fortunes restored to them after years of waiting. Perhaps they weren’t even aware of the fortunes out there until they appeared. There’s actually a website you can go to for each state in the U.S. to search and see if you have money coming to you that you forgot about from a closed bank account or an old deposit. Getting those fortunes are exciting.

Can you imagine how excited Judah and Jerusalem were to hear these words? They had been overrun by their enemies. They had lost all they had. And now, to hear from Joel that the Lord was going to restore it – wow! I bet they were giddy. I bet they were so thankful. It’s amazing what the Lord can do for us when we are surrendered.

APPLICATION

You may not have millions of dollars coming to you, but the Lord is still in the restoring business. When we have crashed and burned our lives, the Lord can take that and restore it. Better yet, He makes it so much better than it used to be. But we have to surrender that life to Him. The Lord can’t restore what not is in His hands.

Are you struggling today? Is your life upside down? Perhaps you think there is no way out. I’ve got great news for you. There is a way out. God can take your crumpled life and make it new. He can give you a purpose for living. He can give you the promise of eternal life with Him. Will you surrender today? Maybe you are a believer, and you’ve just gotten sidetracked. Come back to Him. He can restore you as well.

When I came to Christ, I was headed down the wrong road fast. I don’t need to go into all that I was doing. Let’s just say it did not please the Lord. But when I came to that point of surrender on July 31, 1977, my life changed completely. I reversed directions. He restored me to a new life in Christ. I had a purpose for living. I am so grateful for His restoration in my life.

O God, You are the Great Restorer. You have given me a new life in Christ to live to glorify You. Thank You!

Standard
Abiding, Belief, Bible, Blessing, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Holy Spirit, Salvation

NO LIMITS

JOEL 2:29

“‘And even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.’”

I have never driven my car anywhere that didn’t have speed limits. I can’t imagine doing that. Without limits on the speed you can drive, I am afraid that people would get a little crazy. Call me an old fogey, but I probably would still drive the speed I drive here in Tennessee. I kind of like limits when it comes to speed.

But God didn’t limit His Spirit to the Judeans. He says here in today’s verse that even the male and female servants would receive the pouring out His Spirit. Think about that. God was showing the Judeans that everyone could be a part of His spiritual family. You didn’t have to be a Judean. You didn’t have to be free. Anyone could receive the Spirit.

APPLICATION

That still applies today. God pours forth His Spirit on anyone who wants to receive it. The Spirit is no respecter of persons when it comes to who can come to Him. God’s Spirit is promised to all believers. Jesus has sent Him to indwell us for a purpose. We live holy lives empowered by that Holy Spirit. He is the only reason we are able to live that way.

Think how awful it would be if the Spirit was limited to only a few. Those with disabilities could be denied. Others with another language would be barred from receiving Him. But thanks be to God, that is not how it works. Every nation, every people group, every tongue can receive the Holy Spirit at salvation. Praise the Lord.

I know the Spirit dwells in me because He is constantly reminding me of who I am in Christ. Whenever the devil tries to get me down, the Spirit speaks. This Holy Spirit is my constant companion and guide. Aren’t you glad He lives in you?

O Holy Spirit, thank You for speaking to me. Thank You for directing my path each and every day.

Standard
Abiding, Accountability, Affliction, Bible, Blessing, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, God's Will, Restoration

BACK PAY

JOEL 2:25

“‘Then I will compensate you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the creeping locust, the stripping locust, and the gnawing locust— My great army which I sent among you.’”

I have never received any back pay. I’ve known a lot of people who have. I know someone who had been trying to get disability payments for months and months. When it was finally awarded, the government went back and paid them from the date when they first applied. They received quite a bit of money.

Joel uses a word here which is translated “compensate.” The Hebrew word can mean restore or repay. The Lord is saying that He is going to restore all they have lost due to those nasty locusts. He was going to bless them abundantly. What a promise! I am sure the Judeans rejoiced at these words from Joel.

APPLICATION

God is in the business of restoring. When we have suffered loss, He is there to restore us. He reaches down and pulls us up. Whether it be the loss of a spouse or a job, the Lord wants to restore our losses. How He does that is up to Him. When He does that is His business.

Do you trust Him to do that? Ask Him. Luke 11:9-10 tells us to ask, knock and seek. If we do, it will be given, opened and found. Do you believe that? I hope so. If you do, then do it. God is a God of His promises. He wants to restore you.

I would love to get a huge back pay. I doubt that is going to happen any time soon. But I do expect the Lord to restore me. During those times I go through hard things and suffer loss, due to no fault of my own, I believe the Lord will restore me. It may not be in a physical way, but He will restore.

I trust You Lord to restore me when I am in need. You are my true source for all I have.

Standard
Abiding, Accountability, Bible, Blessing, Confession, Intimacy, Obedience, Repentance, Scripture

OVERFLOWING

JOEL 2:24

“The threshing floors will be full of grain, and the vats will overflow with the new wine and oil.”

I remember on one of my trips to Uganda visiting some families in their farming communities. If you know anything about Uganda, it is a fertile country. It has been called the Pearl of Africa. It could probably feed all of Africa. These families grew maize (corn) and had bountiful crops. Their corn cribs were overflowing with corn, and they were actually building new cribs to hold the excess. It was amazing.

Joel is continuing to describe the blessings of God on Judah after they had returned to Him in repentance. Blessings always follow obedience. All He requires is to honor Him and His word. Judah, after suffering their judgment was now enjoying the bounty of God’s blessings. I bet they wished they had listened to Him to begin with.

APPLICATION

How is your bounty? Are your threshing floors full or empty? Are your oil and wine vats near full or lacking? I am not talking about physical threshing floors or vats. I am talking spiritual. When you return to Him in repentance, He is quick to fill us to overflowing. We literally bubble over with joy.

Don’t you want that feeling in your life? I know I do. I had rather walk in fullness than in emptiness. All it takes is surrender to our Lord. Even in the midst of trials and tragedies, we can walk in fullness. Our circumstances do not determine our tank level. That is determined by our intimacy with Jesus.

I have had some low points. Right now I am struggling with some pretty severe neuropathy in my feet. Most days they are very painful. However, I know my physical walk does not affect my spiritual walk. I have to choose each day to take each step, though painful, knowing that Jesus is my strength. I choose Jesus over pain.

Lord, fill me up to overflowing. I want to spread the excess of my joy to others.

Standard
Abiding, Bible, Blessing, Calling, Comfort, Forgiveness, Goodness, Holy Spirit, Life, Salvation, Scripture

LET IT RAIN

JOEL 2:23

“So shout for joy, you sons of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God; for He has given you the early rain for your vindication. And He has brought down for you the rain, early and latter rain as before.

Don’t you just love a good rain storm? I remember this great claymation creation that used to play on tv when my kids were little. It was a scene on a farm with people sitting on a front porch of a farmhouse. There were animals in the yard laying around. It was hot and dry, and everyone and everything looked like they needed something to drink. Then, all of a sudden, the raindrops began. Slowly at first, then a downpour. Every living creature began to run around and dance in the rain.

That’s the picture I have in mind as I read this verse today in Joel. The drought is ended. The early and latter rains have returned. And with it, the promise of life. New life can spring forth from these rains which have been withheld. You know the people of Judah acted just like those Claymation figures I recall. Wonderful rain!

APPLICATION

God restores to us the promise of life at salvation. We are dead in our sins and destined for hell. But with the decision to follow Christ and ask Him to come in and save us, we receive a whole new life. His Holy Spirit comes into us and indwells us. Our life now is in Christ.

Are you in need of a new life? Are you struggling to find meaning in life today? Come to Him. Give Him your life, and He will remake it into something that is beautiful. He will give you purpose. Maybe you are already a Christian, but you are struggling right now. Return to Him. Let Him remind you who are in Christ. You are a whole new creature.

I am glad for those refreshing rains that fall. They remind me of the refreshing Spirit that leads me each day. When I am at my lowest, the Spirit reminds me whose I am. Ask the Holy Spirit today to blow those refreshing rains into your soul.

Blow, Spirit blow!  Refresh my spirit today. I want to be renewed of my purpose in Christ.

Standard
Abiding, Accountability, Advice, Bible, Compassion, Confession, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Forgiveness, Grace, Judgment, Mercy, Repentance, Scripture, Sin

GOD IS…

JOEL 2:13

“‘And tear your heart and not merely your garments.’ Now return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in mercy and relenting of catastrophe.”

I have all kinds of ideas of what God is. First of all, He is everything to me. I can’t imagine a day without Him. He loves me and guides me each step each day. But what exactly is He like? There are so many words to describe Him. I am thankful that the Word of God tells us.

In today’s verse, Joel gives us an awesome description of God. Look at the verse again. He says the Lord is “gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in mercy and relenting of catastrophe.” Wow! Can I encourage you to do a word study on each of those words? It will bless your heart, I promise.

APPLICATION

When we return to the Lord, He shows us all these things. So, why do we wait to return to Him? We need His grace and compassion. We need His mercy. We need His forgiveness. Why wait to come back to Him? Every day you wait, you are missing out on these blessings from Him.

So many of us put off repentance because we don’t want to admit we are wrong. Our pride gets in the way. That was the downfall of Judah. They had become prideful and unrepentant. And for that, God brought judgment. I prefer mercy over judgment.

Therefore, part of my prayers every day is repentance. I confess all the sins I am aware of and ask the Lord to reveal to me those sins I may have committed out of ignorance. Perhaps I had failed to do something – a sin of omission. That’s just as bad. For that I need forgiveness. Will you join me today in turning back to that gracious, compassionate, forgiving, merciful God?

Why wouldn’t I come to You, O Lord, each day? Forgive me of my reluctance to repent and confess my sins to You.

Standard