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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Bible, Cleansing, Confession, Enemies, Forgiveness, Salvation, Scripture

OUR STENCH

JOEL 2:20

“‘But I will remove the northern army far from you, and I will drive it into a dry and desolate land, its advance guard into the eastern sea, and its rear guard into the western sea. And its stench will ascend and its odor of decay will come up, because it has done great things.’”

I have smelled some stinky things in my life – hog pens, rotten corn and dirty diapers. Probably the worse thing I ever smelled was the corn that had gotten wet inside a grain bin on a hot August day. It had rotted and fermented. I had to get inside that grain bin and shovel the corn into an auger to get it out. The smell was nauseating. As bad as that was, my sin stinks worse.

Joel gives us a picture of a couple of things in today’s verse. He is perhaps referring to the decaying bodies of the locusts that had swarmed Judah. And perhaps he is referring to the foes who came in to defeat the land. Whichever it is, God has taken care of them. They have been wiped out, and all that’s left is the stench of their carcasses.

APPLICATION

How are you smelling? Does the stench of your sins reek to high heaven? Maybe it’s time for a cleansing. I have been memorizing Psalm 51. Don’t you just love the part that says “Cleanse me with hyssop and I will clean. Wash me and I will be whiter than snow.” Isn’t that something we could all use?

All it takes for us to be clean is to come to Jesus and ask for forgiveness. That first cleansing at salvation is breath taking. You are thoroughly cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. Each time we sin after that, the sin is already forgiven, but we still need to confess it and go to the Lord. Why? Because our sins stink. They stain us.

I know I need to confess my sins. They are my enemy. They may not be locusts or armies, but they are still my enemy, and they stink. I want that just washed fragrance on me. So, I confess my sins. I ask for forgiveness. And every time, the Lord does. He cleanses me. He rids me of my “enemies” of sin.

Lord, thank You for the forgiveness You give me. As undeserving as I am, You still do it.

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Accountability, Altars, Bible, Brokenness, Cleansing, Confession, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Forgiveness, Modeling, Repentance, Scripture

WEEPING BEFORE THE LORD

JOEL 2:17

“Let the priests, the LORD’S ministers, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, “Spare Your people, Lord, and do not make your inheritance a disgrace with the nations jeering at them. Why should those among the peoples say, ‘Where is their God?’”

I remember a time when I went to a Promise Keeper’s Conference in Atlanta, GA. It was sometime in the 1990’s. At one point in the conference, the speaker asked us to pray for our fathers. At the time, my dad wasn’t saved. He was a good man, but he was lost. I knew that and was broken by it. I wept and wept for my dad on the shoulders of some of my friends who had gone with me to the conference.

Joel is calling on the priests to weep for the nation. He is calling for brokenness. Look at his words. He is begging God to spare His people. He doesn’t want the pagan nations to make fun of Judah and point their fingers at them. But look at what his motive is. He is wanting to protect the name of Jehovah. Reread that last sentence in today’s verse.

APPLICATION

What motivates you towards brokenness? Is it your desire to save your reputation or is it to honor the name of the Lord? When is the last time you have wept over lost souls? We need to stay broken. I don’t mean we need to be bent over and droopy. I mean we need to have a humble spirit, one that is pliable in the hands of God.

I want to encourage you to go to your altar. You may say, What altar, Carl? If you don’t have one, make one. It can be temporary. Put a pillow on the floor in your bedroom or office. Get on your knees and beg God for forgiveness. Beseech the Lord of the universe for the souls of your lost friends or family members. If the tears come, let them flow. Pour out your heart to the One who hears.

My dad did come to Christ at the ripe, old age of 80. It was a marvelous experience. He was a different man the last four years of his life as he walked with Christ. I don’t want to even think my tears at that conference caused that. All I know is I prayed for my dad all those years and God heard my cry. One day I will see my sweet daddy in heaven.

Father, I ask that You draw my lost friends and family members to You. I love them all and want to see them with me in eternity.

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Advice, Bible, Brokenness, Cleansing, Confession, Disciplemaking, Holy Spirit, Repentance, Revival, Scripture

LET THE TRUMPETS BLOW

JOEL 2:15

“Blow a trumpet in Zion, consecrate a fast, proclaim a solemn assembly,”

I can remember as a child the excitement that built as our church announced an upcoming revival. Banners were hung outside to let the community know that revival was coming. The evangelist’s name was made known and even a countdown might be posted somewhere in the church. People looked forward to that time of being called back to the Lord in a powerful way.

That is my thought as I read this verse today. Joel is calling the people back to the Lord. The trumpets were blown to bring the people’s attention to the temple so they could hear the message. It was time to fast and pray. A solemn assembly is called so all the people can come together and agree on their sins and come before the Lord Almighty in repentance.

APPLICATION

Oh, that we could blow the trumpets today across the globe to all the church. We need to all come together in brokenness before our Lord. Our world needs revival. The people of God need to rise up and proclaim the truths of the Word to a lost and dying world. We need to consecrate a fast and proclaim a solemn assembly.

That may not be possible, but we can begin with ourselves. Will you come to Him today in brokenness and repent? It begins with one. You could be the one to start a revival in your church and community. When others see our willingness to be open before our Lord, we may draw them to their own place of repentance.

I long for revival in my own church. I desire to see the Lord in a more intimate way, don’t you? I want to see others taste the goodness of our Lord. I know once they do, they will think twice before going back to their previous way of living. So, blow the trumpet, consecrate a fast, proclaim a solemn assembly.

Revive our hearts, O Lord. Send Your Holy Spirit into our lives afresh so we will be drawn to You.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Blessing, Cleansing, Commitment, Disciplemaking, Following, God's Will, Godliness, Holiness, Inspirational, Missionaries, Praise, Refreshing, Repentance, Scripture, Surrender

WHO KNOWS?

WHO KNOWS?

JOEL 2:14

“Who knows, He might turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind Him, resulting in a grain offering and a drink offering for the LORD your God.”

Have you ever wondered if someone was going to do something? I have. I have spent a lot of time doing that. I waited and waited for something to happen, and it never does. Waiting on others can be very frustrating. Other times, the wait pays off. The thing you are waiting on happens. Then you forget about how long you waited.

Here in today’s verse, Joel brings that thought to us. If you read the previous verse, he is talking about God’s mercy and grace. Then he poses this thought. “Who knows, He might…” God’s actions towards Judah depends on their return to Him. Then He is able to do for them. He may even restore the grain and drink offerings to Himself that they have gone without for so long.

APPLICATION

It is the same for us, brothers and sisters. God wants to do so much for us. Do you believe that? He wants to bless us. He wants to “leave a blessing behind” for us. What do you need the Lord to do for you today? I bet there is something you have been praying for, maybe a for while. The thing required is your return to Him.

When we come to Him in complete surrender and put ourselves at the feet of the Master, He lifts us up. Many of us don’t like that picture – bowing before anyone. But pride and self-centeredness will not put us the place to receive those blessings from our Lord. He desires each of us to come to Him willingly and selfishly. That blesses His heart, and He releases His blessings in our lives.

I desire God’s blessings over His testings. Don’t you? I know living a godly and surrendered life is what He wants for me. I am willing to live that life because I know the result. I obey Him because I know He loves me and wants what is best for me. I don’t obey to get loved. I am already loved. He’s my father. He’s my Lord.

Lord, come to me with blessings as I serve You. I will return those blessings in the form of praise and worship to You.

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Abiding, Accountability, Bible, Brokenness, Cleansing, Confession, Forgiveness, Inspirational, Mercy, Prayer, Repentance, Scripture

RETURN TO ME

JOEL 2:12

“‘Yet even now,’ declares the LORD, ‘Return to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, weeping, and mourning;’”

I love to return to places that I have visited in the past, if I enjoyed them the first time. For instance, I am planning to return to Kenya this year. I love my brothers and sisters there. Due to my illness in 2019-20, I have not been there since 2018. My heart literally aches to be there. Would you pray with me that Kenya remains open to travel and our team can make the trip?

I love today’s verse. When the Lord says here for us to return, that implies we have been there before. I look up the Hebrew word for “return.” It literally means to turn back or return. And the verb tense implies some kind of force is involved. He is asking us to forcibly return to Him. Don’t be slow about it. And He says to return with fasting, weeping and mourning. We come back recognizing our sins and asking for forgiveness.

APPLICATION

Fasting, weeping and mourning aren’t things we enjoy doing. It implies brokenness. Are you? Are you broken over your sins? Most of us can strut sitting down. We are too proud to repent. We are too full of ourselves to fast and weep and mourn. But God asks us to come to Him that way.

Let me urge you today to do that. If you are unsure of your sins (I can’t imagine someone not knowing their sins), ask the Lord to reveal them to you. He will, I promise. He has seen your sins. His forgiveness and mercy if ready. Just ask. Our unconfessed sins just serve to separate us from fellowship with our Master. Remove that barrier through confession and repentance.

I am thankful the Lord stands ready to forgive. I know I sin daily through word and/or deed. I long to live a life of godliness free from sin and its influence. Until then, I will come to my Savior and seek cleansing. I will cleanse my hands and purify my heart. I will seek to know Him better through His word.  Return to Him! Are you ready?

Thank You, Father, for saving my soul. Thank You, Lord, for making me whole.

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Battles, Choices, Cleansing, Confession, Disciplemaking, Forgiveness, Holy Spirit, Judgment, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture, Sin

INFESTED

JOEL 2:9

“They storm the city, they run on the wall; they climb into the houses, they enter through the windows like a thief.”

Once, when I lived in Florida, our house became infested with ticks. We noticed a couple climbing up the wall in our den one night and killed them. The next day we saw more and killed them, but they just kept coming. We had the house sprayed a few times before they were finally contained. But they were everywhere. It was pretty creepy to live in.

The locusts Joel is describing here that came as part of God’s judgment on Judah were everywhere. One commentator’s description talked about them eating everything in the house, even clothing. The people had no rest from them. They couldn’t eat without battling them for the food. Can you imagine the scene? It must have been horrible.

APPLICATION

Sin is that way. It creeps in and infests our lives. If we do not deal with it quickly it will affect every area of our lives. We may think we can keep it isolated, but we can’t. It spreads. It penetrates even our most guarded areas. Sin seeps in and begins to cause decay. Just like those locusts in today’s verse, sin will devour everything in its path.

But we have the solution – Jesus. His blood covers all those sins. We will never be free from the presence of sin this side of glory. However, we do not have to live chained to sin. We have the power to live above it. We can close the windows and doors of our lives to its penetrating power through the Holy Spirit. His power trumps sin’s power every time.

So, you have a choice. You can choose to live in the stench of sin or in the aroma of our Savior. That’s pretty much a no brainer, if you ask me. I choose Jesus. I know He is my protector and defender. I trust Him to cover my sins with His precious blood. I am free because of that. How about you?

O, the blood of Jesus! O, the blood of Jesus! O, the blood of Jesus, it washes white as snow!

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Accountability, Bible, Calling, Cleansing, Confession, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Hearing, Holy Spirit, Listening, Redemption, Repentance, Scripture, Surrender

ROAR

HOSEA 11:10

“They will walk after the LORD, He will roar like a lion; indeed He will roar, and His sons will come trembling from the west.”

I have had the privilege to go to Africa several times. In all those journeys I have never heard a lion roar. I have actually seen a couple of lions, but all they were doing was lying around sleeping. But I have friends there who tell me if you ever hear a lion’s roar up close and personal, you will never forget it.

God’s people returned to Him. Hosea says they will respond to His roar, His roar to repentance. They came trembling from the west. From all their exiled locations, God’s people returned. They came to walk after Him. Finally! They are following their God.

APPLICATION

We are just like that. God has to take many of us into “exile” before we finally hear His roar to repentance. Why does it take us so long to return? We are stubborn, obstinate people who just want our own way. We refuse to submit to His commands until we see that He was right all along.

Are there things in your life right now which God is calling you to repent of? Do you have that secret sin that is eating you up inside? You’re hiding it from family and friends, but God knows. Isn’t it time to repent of that? Do you hear His roar?

I hear His roar all the time. Through the conviction of the Holy Spirit I am led to repent. I am so thankful I can hear His roar. It doesn’t scare me. I am not afraid of it. I welcome it. It’s a reminder that He loves me and desires me to be with Him and not the world. Listen! Do you hear Him now?

Lord, thank You for “roaring” after me. I know I am Your child and that You desire me close.

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Accountability, Affection, Bible, Cleansing, Commands, Confession, Discipline, Forgiveness, Guilt, Judgment, Obedience, Repentance, Scripture

DOUBLE GUILT

HOSEA 10:10

When it is My desire, I will discipline them; and the peoples will be gathered against them when they are bound for their double guilt.”

I have felt guilty plenty of times for not doing something I knew I should have done. I have also felt guilty for doing something I knew I shouldn’t have done. Now, before you raise your eyebrows and look down your nose at me, you have done the same thing. Am I right? Sure I am.

Israel was guilty of turning away from Jehovah and also turning to the pagan gods. Double guilt! That’s what Hosea is referring to in today’s verse. They had no excuse, and God is going to discipline them when He was ready. Hosea even says God desires to do that. He wants to straighten them out. That may not sound good, but everything God does is good.

APPLICATION

Are you guilty? God, through the Holy Spirit, will convict us of sin. He uses that guilt to draw us back to Him. I have discussed before the difference between guilt and shame. Shame is not of God. The devil uses that to make us feel unworthy, to make us feel unusable. Don’t accept that.

But when you feel guilty remember that is the Lord’s desire for you. What?! Are you crazy, Carl? I don’t think so. He, just like He did with Israel, is desiring you to return to Him. He draws you through His Spirit. Don’t you recall the feeling when you are cleansed. That is waiting for you.

I am thankful for the Holy Spirit’s conviction in my life. Without it I am not sure where I would be. No, that’s not true. I know exactly where I would be – in deep sin. My flesh is weak, but the Spirit in me is strong. If you are a believer, you have that strength too.

Lord, thank You for convicting me when I am in sin. I want to be drawn back to You.

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Accountability, Bible, Cleansing, Compassion, Confession, Eternity, Forgiveness, Grace, Holy Spirit, Redemption, Repentance, Salvation, Scripture

HORRIBLE SINS

HOSEA 10:9

“Since the days of Gibeah you have sinned, Israel; there they stand! Will the battle against the sons of injustice not overtake them in Gibeah?”

I have had too many people tell me they were too wicked or bad for God to forgive. They have claimed their atrocities were so bad that even the blood of Jesus wasn’t enough to wash them away. These individuals were convinced they would spend eternity in hell and there was nothing that could be done about it.

Today’s verse refers to a horrible sin committed by the men of Gibeah (Benjamites) that brought the entire nation of Israel against them (Read Judges 19-20). The entire tribe was wiped out except for six hundred, which God saved as a remnant of the tribe. I believe it’s a picture of God’s mercy, even in the face of seemingly unforgiveable sins.

APPLICATION

I won’t ask you what sins you have committed. That’s between you and God. Aren’t you glad? None of us want our sins plastered on a billboard for all to see, do we? You may be one of those who can’t believe God could forgive you. You may even be a Christian, but you still can’t forgive yourself. You must let it go. God has.

There’s only one sin that is unforgiveable. That’s the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. This sin will take you to a spot where you no longer feel the drawing of the Spirit. You no longer feel any conviction for your sins. But as long as you feel the Spirit nudging you toward repentance, you can rest assured you have hope.

I know I am saved and sealed. I believe Jesus’ blood rescued me. All my past, present and future sins are forgiven. To say God can’t save me is to say God has limited powers. We know that’s not true. His power to save reaches beyond what we can ask or think. I am so glad because my flesh is wicked beyond description and is only redeemed through His grace. How about you?

What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

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