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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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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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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Accountability, Advice, Advocate, Bible, Enemies, Family, Friends

OPPORTUNITY SEEKERS

JOEL 3:4

“Moreover, what are you to Me, Tyre, Sidon, and all the regions of Philistia? Are you repaying Me with retribution? But if you are showing Me retribution, swiftly and speedily I will return your retribution on your head!

Some people are opportunity seekers. I don’t mean that in a good way. They are the people who kick you when you’re down. They don’t have the ability to knock you down, but while you are down there, they take the opportunity to pile on you. They join in the insults. They spread the rumors. They just look for the chance to join in with a stronger group to accomplish their hatred.

The Lord is chastising the Philistines because of their relentless hatred and attacks on Judea. While Judea was being judged by God, Philistia attacked. They have been an enemy of the entirety of Israel since Joshua led the nation into the promised land. There’s a reason God told them to wipe out all the pagans in the land. But here they are, centuries later, still harassing the people.

APPLICATION

How does this relate to us? There are probably people in your life who are relentless with their attacks. They just look for the chance to pounce on you when you’re down. I believe the Lord would have us distance ourselves from such people. Anyone who tries to tear you down is not good for you. They do nothing to build you up in Christ. It is not helpful or healthy to maintain such relationships with the hope of it changing.

Instead, we need to surround ourselves with people who share our common worldview. We need people who love our Lord as much if not more than we do. These kind of people will build you up. These kind of people will love you when you’re down. These kind of people will “have your back” when you are facing hard times. Seek these friends out because they are more than friends. They are part of the same family of God.

I have a few friends like that. They are friends that I would not hesitate to call in a time of need. We may not talk every day, but when we do it’s sincere. Proverbs 18:24 says, “A person of too many friends comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Find those “sticky” friends.

Father, protect me from those who would want to do me harm and surround me with those “sticky” friends who only want to build me up.

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Accountability, Bible, Confession, Consequences, Forgiveness, Grace, Heaven, Judgment, Redemption, Repentance, Salvation, Scripture, Separation

HORRIBLE OFFENSES

JOEL 3:3

“They have also cast lots for My people, traded a boy for a prostitute, and sold a girl for wine so that they may drink. 

The illegal sex trade of boys and girls is rampant in many parts of the world. It’s hard to believe that people could be so cold-hearted to sell little boys and girls into the sex trade. Having worked now over 42 years with children and youth, it especially breaks my heart. Only the Lord can change the heart of these sex traders.

This was one of the offenses of the nations God is judging. Not only did they defeat the Judeans, but they would trade or sell the children for anything. Here in this verse it says “a boy for a prostitute” and “a girl for wine.” How callous! How demeaning. The Lord did not overlook that. He held them responsible for these heinous crimes against humanity.

APPLICATION

We may not be committing such offenses against the Lord, but our sins are just as bad in the eyes of a holy God. I have often described our sins this way. Pretend you are flying over a city on a clear day. You can look down and see all the buildings below. From your altitude you can’t tell the height of the individual buildings. They may be one story or thirty. All you can see is the roof top.

Similarly, our sins in the eyes of God all look the same. They all end with the same result – separation from God. As a believer in Christ, those sins are forgiven but still need to be confessed. If you are an unbeliever, you need to come to Christ for salvation because any of those sins can keep you away from spending eternity with Jesus. Sin is sin – period.

I am so thankful my sins are forgiven. I try each day to live in such a way to honor my Lord. I don’t want my sins to come between me and my Savior. Daily confession for me is the key. I come before Him daily to cleanse my soul of any sins I may have committed that day. I don’t want any barriers in my line of communication with Jesus. Won’t you try that?

Thank You, Lord, for keeping my sins forgiven as I come to You daily. I know they were forgiven at the cross, but You desire for me to come to You to confess them. I will do that.

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Accountability, Bible, Christ's Return, Darkness, Forgiveness, Heaven, Inspirational, Repentance

TOTAL ECLIPSE

JOEL 2:31

“‘The sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes.’”

I have seen a number of eclipses. They are so cool. I remember the last one I saw. My wife and I went to our church parking lot. We had on some special glasses that were being handed out everywhere. When the sun disappears in the middle of the day, it’s kind of strange, isn’t it?  When there’s a total eclipse, it is very unusual. The darkness creeps in and then back out again.

Joel is describing the heavens on that day of the Lord. There will be warnings. This day of the Lord will be a day of judgment. Joel is warning the Judeans to turn to the Lord. They need to repent. Can you imagine how they responded to these signs in the sky? They didn’t know what we know about astronomy. These signs in the sky would be terrifying.

APPLICATION

Do you respond well to signs? When you’re driving on a mountain road and you see the curve signs, do you ignore them? What would happen? You would drive right off the mountain road. Crashing off a mountain road doesn’t sound very safe. But the sign was there. You just ignored it.

God warns us and warns us. He is simply trying to keep us safe. But the great thing about God is He won’t force us to do anything. We have to choose to follow. Hmmm. That sounds too easy. But it’s not, is it? Surrender is hard. It can be painful. But it is worth it.

Signs in the sky don’t happen every day. If you’re waiting for that, you may be too late. Oh, but there are warnings. They are all listed in His Word. You have to read it to see them. Will you do that? He is giving us a message. He loves you and wants you to be ready when all these things happen. Are you?

Father God, I know You are sending Your Son soon. I am ready to come home.

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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.

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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.

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