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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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, Affliction, Battles, Bible, Darkness, Destruction, Fighting, Flesh, Following, Obedience, Perseverance, Scripture, Surrender

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU SEE

JOEL 2:4

“Their appearance is like the appearance of horses; and like war horses, so they run.”

Sometimes things take on the shape of other things. Clouds can look like a rabbit. Shadows can appear to represent an image of a person. In the fog things can look very different. You have to look closely sometimes to make out what you are really seeing. After all, your eyes can play tricks on you.

Theodoret, a Bishop in Syria, once said while describing the locusts he observed there, “You will find it exceedingly like that of a horse.” Whence the Arabs, of old and to this day , say, ‘In the locust, slight as it is, is the nature of ten of the larger animals, the face of a horse, the eyes of an elephant, the neck of abull, the horns of a deer, the chest of a lion, the belly of a scorpion, the wings of an eagle, the thighs of a camel, the feet of an ostrich, the tail of a serpent.’” (Barnes’ Commentary of Joel). This is what Joel is talking about here in today’s verse.

APPLICATION

You are probably wondering how in the world we can get any application for our lives from this verse. What do locusts or how they look relate to me? Will you give a little room to make this application? After all, every word of the Bible is inspired, right?

God allows these “hordes of locusts” into our lives sometimes. He allows them to come in and seemingly destroy everything in sight. But you have to remember that if God allows it, it is always to make us more like His Son. Those locusts may look terrifying. We may be shaken at the very sight of them. However, in Christ we have the strength and power to face any horde sent our way.

I don’t like hordes of anything attacking me or my loved ones. I want to fight back. I think I can defend myself. But God whispers to me to back off and let Him do the defending. If you are facing “hordes of locusts” right now, stop fighting so hard. Lay down your feeble weapons and allow the Lord to defend you. He has the power to do great and mighty things in and through us.

I thank You for coming to my defense when I am under attack. When all else falls apart, I know You can be depended on.

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Advice, Affliction, Battles, Bible, Confession, Consequences, Darkness, Encouragement, Following, God's Will, Judgment, Repentance, Scripture

DARKNESS COMES

JOEL 2:2

“A day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness. As dawn is spread over the mountains, so there is a great and mighty people; there has never been anything like it, nor will there be again after it to the years of many generations.”

Darkness and gloom! I’ve been there. There have been a few times in my life when I felt like the world was caving in on me. Due to some bad decisions on my part, I had caused most of it. Yes, even me, Carl Willis has made some bad decisions that invited the darkness and gloom. The only way out of it was going to the Lord in repentance. He lifted me out the cave I was in.

Joel is going to be describing a rampage of locusts over the next several verses in chapter 2. These swarms of locusts were so large that they looked like dark clouds which blocked the sun. They would come in, land and begin eating anything green. They would lay their eggs and shortly after their larvae would hatch and begin eating also. This, too, was part of the judgment on Judah.

APPLICATION

Things come into our lives like these locusts. They swoop in uninvited and begin to eat everything in sight. Our emotions are gnawed away. Our physical resources may be diminished. Even our health can be taken away. What do you do in seasons like that? Who do you turn to?

There’s only one answer – Jesus. He knows what is affecting you. After all, as a child of God, anything that comes into your life goes through His hands first. Don’t you know that? So, if He has allowed it, it is to make us more like His Son. God never allows things to touch us to turn us away from Him. That would be counterproductive to His plan for our lives. He is always drawing us towards Him.

Sometimes, though, it feels like God is trying to tear us apart. Nope! He may be breaking us down, but that is only to allow Him to build us back up. Sometimes, we need large chunks knocked off to bring out the image of Jesus. Are you willing to go through the darkness and gloom, the hard times, to be made more like your Savior?

Chip away, O Lord. I want to reflect Your glory!

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PANTING FOR GOD

JOEL 1:20

“Even the animals of the field pant for You; for the stream beds of water are dried up, and fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness.

I’m reminded of Psalms 42:1-2 when I read today’s verse. It says, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God?” Without water all living creatures will perish. Fire laps up any moisture. It leaves the ground parched and dry, with nothing to sustain life.

The judgment of Judah continues. The drought has dried up all life-sustaining waters. Streams are dry. The green pastures are gone. The animals are suffering right along with the people. What is the answer to end all of this? Judah seems oblivious. Joel continues to list all the consequences of their sins.

APPLICATION

Are you looking for a cool drink from the Lord? Is your soul dry from all the fires around you? It is easy to slip into the pattern of living without the Lord. We think we can do it, and maybe for a little while we are able. But life happens and soon we are in need of that drink from the well that never goes dry.

How can you find those streams of water that are still flowing? Only by allowing the Lord to take your hand and lead you there. Have you read the 23rd Psalm lately? Do you remember how it reads? He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me besides still waters. There you have it. Yield to Him. He will lead you.

I don’t like being led around. I want to go my own way. I think I can figure stuff out all on my own. How wrong I am! I can get lost so quickly without the Lord leading me. I may not like being led, but I know I need to be led. How about you?

Lead me besides the still waters, Lord. Without your leading, I am like the animals panting after water.

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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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Accountability, Affliction, Battles, Bible, Comfort, Commitment, Confession, Drought, Fighting, Judgment

ALL DRIED UP

JOEL 1:17

“The seeds have dried up under their shovels; the storehouses have become desolate, the grain silos are ruined, because the grain has dried up.”

Drought can ruin things. Not only does it destroy the crops in the fields, it destroys hopes for future crops. When the seed doesn’t get the required moisture it goes into a stress that affects its ability to germinate. If it can’t germinate, it can’t produce new crops. Do you see where this is going? Crops are affected for months and years later.

The long term effect on Judah from their disobedience to Jehovah was the drying up of the people. Their rebellious hearts had literally dried up the faith of the nation, resulting in people seeking other gods. They disregarded God’s commands in favor of offering sacrifices to pagan gods. So, God dried them up.

APPLICATION

Are you dried up? Has your spiritual life hit rock bottom? Perhaps you are in a spiritual drought right now. Your spirit needs the waters of the Spirit to refresh it. There’s no other way to get it than going to the one who is the life giver. He knows exactly when and how to water your spirt.

Look at your life and determine who or what is holding you back. Then lay that at the foot of the cross. Ask the Lord to take those things away from you. Then let the healing rains come. Let His refreshing Word pour over you. We can avoid the seasons of drought in our lives if we submit to His leadership and direction.

I know how I feel when I start to get thirsty. I begin to see everything as a cool drink of water. My body craves it, and the longer I go without it, the harder and harder it gets to survive. My spirit is the same. I need the constant presence of Jesus in my life to make life bearable. He is the living water that can quench any thirst. Come and drink.

Lord, You are the living water. Pour over me.

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Accountability, Affliction, Bible, Brokenness, Compassion, Condemnation, Courage, Destruction, Encouragement, Judgment, Persecution, Punishment

TOTAL DEVASTATION

JOEL 1:7

“It has made my vine a waste and my fig tree a stump. It has stripped them bare and hurled them away; their branches have become white.”

Have you ever witnessed total devastation? I’ve seen it a couple of times, both times after severe storms. Most recently I witnessed it in my hometown when we were struck by a tornado. Neighborhoods that had been tree-lined and ornate were left in shambles. Most of the trees were gone or snapped in half. Houses were torn apart and, in some cases, just plain missing. It hurt to see it.

Judah experienced the same thing. In the case of the locusts, they wiped out everything. Even the bark on the trees was eaten. And when the nations came in as part of God’s judgment, they crushed and destroyed buildings and homes, leaving nothing of any value behind.

APPLICATION

If you have ever suffered loss like is described above, you can relate. Whether it is physical loss, like a house, or loss of health from an illness, it is hard to get over it. Do you think the Lord allows losses to punish us or teach us? Actually, every loss we encounter as a believer has gone through the hands of God first. He measures and makes sure it is what we can handle. He would never put more on you than you can handle.

But why do we even have to deal with this? Because He is teaching us to depend on Him. We could lose everything we have, but we still have our Savior. Physical things come and go. Prized possessions will eventually rust or rot away. Our faith only gets stronger. Our faith only grows.

So, as you watch things around you fall apart, remember who it is who holds you close. I can rest in His unshakeable arms. He will sustain and strengthen me. He will protect me and love me. What else could you ask for? He’s got this!

I am so thankful, Lord, to know You have me in Your grip. I am safe and secure.

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