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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Belief, Bible, Calling, Confession, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faith, Following, God's Will, Humility, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture

EVERYONE WHO CALLS

JOEL 2:32

“‘And it will come about that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be those who escape, just as the LORD has said, even among the survivors whom the LORD calls.’”

You’ve probably have seen an action movie where the bad guys are looking for someone. This person is hiding and refusing to make a sound. All of a sudden the good guys show up and get rid of the bad guys. When they try to find the person hiding, they are still refusing to come out since they are not sure who is trying to coax them out of their hiding place. If they don’t come out, they won’t be saved.

Joel is telling the Judeans that if you come to God, you will be saved. Everyone who calls on His name will be saved. Isn’t that awesome? We see this message echoed throughout Scripture. All we have to do to be saved is call on His name. Joel knew this and wanted everyone else to know that too. Just call on His name.

APPLICATION

All you have to do is call on His name. Have you done that? If not, He’s waiting. Each Sunday when I am leading Children’s Church where I serve, I tell the children the same thing. I tell them if the Lord is talking to you (and you will know it if He is), just call on Him. I walk them through the sinner’s prayer in which they call on His name.

So many are lost today just because they refuse to call on Him. They will call on everyone else but not Him. They don’t want to bow to Him. They don’t want to surrender. They don’t want to humble themselves before a holy God. But you can’t come to Him with a proud, arrogant heart. That won’t work.

I am so glad I made that decision back on July 31, 1977. I was a proud and arrogant young man. I knew coming to Him meant brokenness. But I came to Him. I called on His name. I knew about God, but I didn’t know Him. That evening I began my journey to know Him. I am still learning. He is such a big God. There is so much to know. Will you join in learning more about Him?

Lord, I am so grateful when I called on Your name, You answered. You were waiting for me.

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Advice, Attention, Belief, Bible, Blessing, Confidence, Eternity, Heaven, Promises, Prophesy

WILL IT COME TRUE?

JOEL 2:30

“‘I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, blood, fire, and columns of smoke.’”

Have you ever had someone tell you something that was going to happen in the near future? It seems so outlandish that it could never come true. But they promise they have the inside scoop, and it’s going to happen. Perhaps they knew you were going to get a promotion at work or a big raise. How do you react?

Joel is beginning another prophesy that Jesus mentions in Matthew 24. God has often displayed signs in the sky. Rainbows, pillar of fire, cloud to lead the people, star in Bethlehem, and even a host of angels. These signs often pronounce judgment. Other times a great announcement. For Judea, it was a warning.

APPLICATION

What kind of sign has the Lord given you? None you say! Well, I don’t know about that. The Lord is always pointing His children towards godliness. He wants you to live that way and will show you how, if you will just stay alert. Holy living is what He desires from us. He even commands that of us.

But back to the signs in the sky. Read ahead in Joel 2:31-32 and see what Joel says here on behalf of the Lord. If that were to happen today, would you be ready? How would you react if the sun and the moon began to change? Would you freak out and run for cover? Listen, beloved, we have nothing to fear. Our sins have already been covered by the blood of the Lamb.

I am so grateful that nothing that is prophesied in Scripture scares me. I am anxiously awaiting the Rapture. I know I will be with Him when He returns after the tribulation. I know I will be reigning with Him in the new heaven and earth. I am confident of that. Are you?

Father, I praise You for saving me and giving me the confidence of my salvation.

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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.

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Attention, Belief, Bible, Christ's Return, Dreams, Eternity, God's Will, Prophesy, Visions

PROPHESY

JOEL 2:28

“‘It will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and your daughters will prophesy, Your old men will have dreams, Your young men will see visions.’”

A lot of people love to study prophesy. Why is that? Because they want to know what’s coming. We are all curious about the future. Attention!! Spoiler alert!! We win! No matter what prophesy you look at, we are winners. Those of us who are in Christ are guaranteed eternal life. That’s better than winning the lottery.

But here in Joel 2:28, we read a verse that is often quoted and preached. God’s Spirit has been poured out on all mankind through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He sent the Holy Spirit to indwell mankind. We have read a lot lately of sons and daughters, old men and young men having dreams and visions of Christ. Hallelujah! He is near.

APPLICATION

Let me step out on a limb here. I want to ask you a question that you may think is … well, out there. Are you ready? Have you had any dreams and visions lately? Is God speaking to you in this way? God is still talking to us. He speaks to us through His Word. He speaks to us in our prayers. And He still speaks to us in dreams and visions.

Now before you stop reading, let me explain. I am not suggesting that you seek these. God speaks when He is ready. And He doesn’t expect you to start a new church or denomination based on dreams and visions. These come to direct us. I would dare say that the majority of the time these come to us and are meant to be kept private. Just listen to Him.

The Lord has given all the prophesies necessary to lead us toward understanding the future. It really all comes down to trust. Do you trust Him? He may be trying to speak to you right now. He wants to speak into your life. Listen! He wants to whisper in your ear the truths of life. Listen!

O Father, I am listening. Speak to me through Your Word, though my prayers and yes, Lord, even through dreams and visions, if that is what it takes for me to hear Your voice.

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Affection, Belief, Bible, Calling, Deception, Encouragement, Following, Inspirational, Judgment, Modeling

NO OTHER

JOEL 2:27

“‘So you will know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God and there is no other; and My people will never be put to shame.’”

I don’t like imposters. People who pretend to be someone or something else just get under my skin. There, I said it. Is that judgmental? Yes, I guess it is. But people who do this are simply deceptive. Deception is the work of the evil one. There is no doubt about that.

But God is not a deceiver. Nor is He a pretender. He is the only true God. Here in Joel, He says that He is the Lord your God and there is no other. Why did the Lord say that? Because He needed to remind the Judeans why they have just come through their judgment. They had pursued other false gods, who really aren’t gods at all. There is only One God.

APPLICATON

I probably don’t need to tell you that there is only one God. You probably know that. But are you living as if that is true? Do you put your trust in other things? Do you rely on money or prestige to get you through? There is only one source for all your needs. That is the Lord your God. He is still playing that role today.

When I say playing that role, I don’t mean He is pretending. Of course, not. He is simply fulfilling His role. He is the creator of all that there is. He knows there is no other God. There is not any who rival Him. Satan is not His evil, equal adversary. Satan would want you to believe that, but he isn’t. He is subservient to God and will ultimately be judged and cast into the lake of fire. You can’t call that equal.

I do things sometimes that God may question my actions. He may think I doubt He is the only one. Of course, that is not true. But I resort to trusting sources other than Him. And when I do, it always ends bad. Don’t do what I do. Acknowledge Him as the only God. He believes you are the only you.

I praise You, O God, for being the one and only true God. I bow before You!

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Accountability, Belief, Bible, Condemnation, Destruction, Holiness, Judgment, Punishment, Repentance, Rescue, Scripture

THE DAY OF THE LORD

JOEL 1:15

“Woe for the day! For the day of the LORD is near, and it will come as destruction from the Almighty.”

Barnes, in his commentary on Joel, says, “‘The Day of the Lord’ is, then, each day of vengeance in which God doth to man according to His will and just judgment, inflicting the punishment which he deserves, as man did to Him in his day, manifoldly dishonoring Him, according to his own perverse will.” Wow! Who wants that?

Joel is telling his audience in Judah that the day has arrived. He uses the term “Almighty” to describe God. This term is almost exclusively used to refer to God’s might. His power is supreme. We cannot overcome it. And He brings destruction on mankind because of their sins.

APPLICATION

Judgment will come upon us all. But for the believer, it will be the judgment of our works, not our sins. Our sins have already been judged and paid for through the shed blood of Jesus. Others, outside of Christ, will pay a horrible price unless they come to Him and repent and receive the free gift of salvation. Why would anyone choose to face God’s judgment?

If we truly believed in God’s judgment, wouldn’t we be telling everyone we came into contact with about Him? Is there someone in your circle of friends who needs Jesus? What are you waiting for? Tell them about Him? Live Jesus before them. They should be begging you to tell them what makes you different. Are you? Do you live differently than they do? I sure hope so.

I am so thankful that my sins have been judged and paid for. I know I could never stand before a holy God and explain away my sins. I know I would be found guilty and sentenced to an eternal damnation. But praise God, I am innocent and free through Jesus. There is no feeling like it. So, what will it be – judgment or freedom?

I know I am redeemed and set free through Jesus, Lord. I praise Your holy name for the blood He shed for my sins.

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Belief, Bible, Comfort, Courage, Death, Encouragement, Eternity, Heaven, Promises, Scripture

THE STING OF DEATH

HOSEA 13:14

Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from death? Death, where are your thorns? Sheol, where is your sting? Compassion will be hidden from My sight.”

We have probably all experienced the loss of a loved one. I lost my brother recently. While I continue to grieve, I am reminded where he is. He is in Glory with his Savior. He wouldn’t return here for anything, but I shall go to him one day and be reunited. That certainly lessens the sting of death for me. It still hurts, but not nearly as bad as it would if I didn’t know Jesus and know that my brother had not known him.

In the midst of judgment on the nation of Israel, Hosea tells us that God will certainly show mercy to them. The original Hebrew reads a little different than the New American Standard, which is what I used above. It says, “I will ransom them from Sheol. I will redeem them from death.” I like that. God is intentional. He doesn’t wonder about His decisions. He knows exactly what He plans to do.

APPLICATION

If you have experienced the sting of death, take courage. God can and will remove that stinger. Its power is diminished through the blood of the cross. Jesus shed His perfect blood to ransom us from death. Death for the believer is simply a portal into eternity with Christ. It is nothing to fear. We embrace it when it comes, knowing our destination is wonderful.

Now, for us who are left behind, we will grieve. It seems right now all around me there is death. In the past week it has arisen 3-4 times in the lives of my family and friends. And death will not stop. It is never satisfied. But the promises of God reign supreme. We need to be sharing our hope with those who have no hope so they can have that stinger removed.

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes envy those who have gone before me into Glory. I wonder what they saw in their first glimpse of heaven. I wonder who they saw as they entered into their reward. I am so thankful I don’t have to fear death. I know death means life everlasting for me. What a trade off!

DEATH HAS BEEN SWALLOWED UP in victory. WHERE, O DEATH, IS YOUR VICTORY? WHERE, O DEATH, IS YOUR STING?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the Law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:54c-56

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Abiding, Belief, Bible, Choices, Commitment, Devout, Disciplemaking, Following, God's Will, Inspirational, Obedience, Relationships, Scripture, Surrender

ONE SAVIOR

HOSEA 13:4 

“Yet I have been the LORD your God since the land of Egypt; and you were not to know any god except Me, for there is no savior besides Me.” 

I have been reading a book by Nik Ripken entitled, “The Insanity of Obedience.” It is an inspiring and convicting read. I highly recommend it. One thing Nik points out about the conversion of Hindu believers is the danger of incorporating Jesus into their many gods. True conversion of a Hindu will result in the removal of their altars to their other gods in their homes. There’s only room for one Savior. 

Israel struggled with the influence of pagan religions, the very thing God warned them about when they came into the Promised Land under Joshua. They allowed the nations they were supposed to defeat to defeat them from within by absorbing their beliefs. But God is a jealous God and would not allow that to continue. 

APPLICATION 

The same holds true for us today. God is still a jealous God. He will not share us with other gods. You may say, What other  gods?  The gods of our own making. As I have said before, we put all kinds of things before our Lord. We celebrate and worship the things of this world. We spend our time and money in places that have no eternal value. 

Have you torn down your altars and made room for just one Savior? Nothing or no one else can deliver you from the struggles of this life. No amount of Pure Barre or Orange Theory workouts can diminish the pain you are feeling. Only Jesus can remove what ails you. He can bring you into a perfect peace that will never leave you.  

I have tried different things in my life to get the peace that can only come through Jesus. Some of them actually seem to work for a while. I have even tried ministry to others to fill that void. Only time with Jesus can do it. Allow Him to occupy your mind and heart today. He is the only Savior you will ever need. 

Father, I am grateful for the Savior. Jesus is all I will ever need. 

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