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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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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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, 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, 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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Advocate, Bible, Consequences, Enemies, Judgment, Opponents, Punishment, Scripture

THE JUDGMENT OF THE NATIONS

JOEL 3:2

“I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. Then I will enter into judgment with them there on behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; and they have divided up My land.”

Way back in 1985 I visited my sister in Chattanooga. I was living in Dalton at the time. On the way to see her at the hospital where she had just had surgery, I had a car wreck. It wasn’t anything serious, but I got a ticket and had to appear in traffic court. When I went to court, I spent the whole morning listening to dozens of drunk driving cases. When I finally stood before the judge, he hardly looked at me. He started rattling off about how I shouldn’t drink and drive. The officer who was there with me, told him I had not been drinking. Without batting an eye, he pronounced judgment on me.

I am so thankful the Lord does not pronounce judgment on us that way. Here in Joel 3:2, the Lord is pronouncing judgment upon all the nations that had conquered Judea. He used them to judge Judea, but they had gone beyond in their abuse of Judea. They had scattered them. In return, God was going to scatter them. I am sure Judeans were thrilled to hear that their enemies were finally going to be judged.

APPLICATION

We will all be judged one day. Believers will be judged for their works here on earth for the cause of Christ. We see that in 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 when it talks about our works being either wood, hay or stubble or gold, silver and precious stones. One group will survive the fires of judgment. The other won’t. For believers, that will be our judgment because our sins have already been paid for through Christ.

However, for everyone else, they will face the Great White Throne judgment talked about in Scripture. That will be a quick judgment. If you haven’t accepted Christ as your Savior, you are judged guilty of your sins and sentenced to an eternity away from God in hell. Many people today don’t believe in hell. Let me tell you something. Your disbelief in hell does not lower the temperature there one degree. It’s real and eternal.

I am so thankful that my “fire insurance policy” is paid for and up to date. I don’t say that flippantly. My relationship with Christ is much more than an escape from hell. But it does include that. It’s kind of like one of those rider policies you have on your homeowner’s insurance. I am bought and paid for. You can be too, if you give your life to Him. Do that today.

Father God, I am so thankful You called me to Yourself. I am thankful my judgment is different than those who don’t believe.

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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!

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Abiding, Advocate, Bible, Courage, Encouragement, Listening, Modeling, Protection, Scripture

THE SOUNDS OF JUDGMENT

JOEL 2:5

“With a noise as of chariots they leap about on the tops of the mountains, like the crackling of a flame of fire consuming the stubble, like a mighty people drawn up for battle.”

Every seventeen years Cicadas make their descent on Tennessee. This year was one of those years. What is a Cicada? It’s an insect that looks like a huge, superfly. The biggest thing about Cicadas is the noise they make. Their mating call can reach 95 decibels. Compare that to an overhead plane that is around 80 decibels. When these Cicadas hatch in the thousands, you can imagine the noise. It can be quiet deafening.

So, I can imagine the noise of the swarms of locusts described here in Joel 2:5. Their noise must have been something for the people of Judah. The approaching swarms could be heard from as far away as six miles. That had to be quite scary for the little ones. An unseen noise that got louder and louder must have been terrifying.

APPLICATION

What noises scare you? Are you one of those who hears every little sound at night and jumps up to check all the doors and windows? My wife is a light sleeper. She hears every little sound. Me – I can sleep through a hurricane, lol. Things that go bump in the night do keep a lot of people awake. Some people are just restless. Others are just plain scared.

Matthew 11:28-30 comes to mind. “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Do you believe that? Then rest in Him. He guards your soul. He is your great protector. Don’t let the noises of this world scare you.

I know I can rest in Him. I do need to be mindful to lock my windows and doors, but I can trust Jesus to protect me. When I lay down at night, I can truly say that I trust Him to keep me and my wife safe. That’s why I can rest so well. He is in charge. He never sleeps. He is watching over my well-being twenty-four seven. What a relief!

Thank You, Lord, for watching over me. Your watchful eyes are moving to and fro thoughout the whole world.

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Abiding, Accountability, Advocate, Battles, Bible, Consequences, Destruction, Drought, Fire, Horror, Opponents

FIRES IN YOUR LIFE

JOEL 1:19

“To You, LORD, I cry out; for fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and the flame has burned up all the trees of the field.

I’ve never been in a forest fire. I’ve only seen them on the tv. They look horrible, scary and extremely dangerous. The men and women who fight them are courageous. They risk their lives to protect someone else’s property and stop the advancing flames. It really doesn’t matter how they started. They will consume anything in their path.

Joel is crying out to God for relief from the fires that were devouring the pastures and trees. Drought had laid the perfect environment for such fires. Drought was brought on my little rain. Little rain was due to God’s judgment on the nation. Do you see the ripple effect?

APPLICATION

What kind of fires are raging in your life right now? You may not be facing actual flames, but the damage is still horrific. Relationship fires can consume trust and loyalty. Fires that erupt in families can lead to divorce and wayward children. How do you fight these kind of flames? What can extinguish them?

It’s lucky that we know someone. Jesus is the living water, so He can put out those flames. Jesus is the peacemaker, so he can douse the fire that is destroying you and those around you. But you have to allow Him access to you. He can’t extinguish flames that He can’t reach.

I don’t like putting out fires in my life. It takes so much energy and time. It is much easier to live without fire and smoke blinding me all the time. Will you let Jesus extinguish your fires? Fires can burn and maim you, if you let them. Put them out.

Put out the fires in my life, Lord. I want to walk free without the threat of flames.

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Abiding, Advocate, Affliction, Bible, Consequences, Direction, Disciplemaking, Following, Judgment, Leading, Modeling, Scripture

WANDERING AIMLESSLY

JOEL 1:18

“How the animals have groaned! The herds of cattle have wandered aimlessly because there is no pasture for them; even the flocks of sheep have suffered.”

I hate getting lost. When my wife and I travel, we use our car’s GPS or one on our phone. Even then, sometimes it’s difficult. I remember last summer we took a trip to a cabin in Kentucky which was located near a lake. I had the address in our GPS, but we could not find that cabin. We drove and drove on these back roads without any success. Finally, we drove back to the nearest town and looked on a real paper map. We had been within a mile of the cabin the whole time but wandered aimlessly without the right directions.

Joel refers to the animals of Judah wandering aimlessly due to lack of pasture. They could find no source of nourishment due to the drought and pestilence all around. What a sad sight it must have been to see the animals starving to death. Judah’s sins had consequences on not just the people. Even their livestock suffered.

APPLICATION

Our sins and our wanderings have consequences on others. I worked for over thirty years in the child welfare field with foster children. I can tell you from firsthand experience that the sins of the parents trickle down. When the parents wandered aimlessly due to their sinful behaviors, the children were forced to wander with them. I have seen some horrible situations caused by the sins of the parents.

Wandering aimlessly through life is no life at all. We all need direction. Like the livestock searching for nourishment, we too need spiritual nourishment to thrive. Jesus is that source of nourishment. Only He can provide what you need to make sense of this world. Wherever you are right now, stop and turn to Him. Let Him show you the right path.

I said I hate getting lost. I have found as long as I stay centered on Jesus and stay in His Word, I don’t get lost. I may be taken on a path I would not have chosen, but if I am with Him, that’s okay. It’s an adventure worth taking.

Lord, I will travel with You. Take my hand and lead me forward.

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