Abiding, Bible, Blessing, Calling, Comfort, Forgiveness, Goodness, Holy Spirit, Life, Salvation, Scripture

LET IT RAIN

JOEL 2:23

“So shout for joy, you sons of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God; for He has given you the early rain for your vindication. And He has brought down for you the rain, early and latter rain as before.

Don’t you just love a good rain storm? I remember this great claymation creation that used to play on tv when my kids were little. It was a scene on a farm with people sitting on a front porch of a farmhouse. There were animals in the yard laying around. It was hot and dry, and everyone and everything looked like they needed something to drink. Then, all of a sudden, the raindrops began. Slowly at first, then a downpour. Every living creature began to run around and dance in the rain.

That’s the picture I have in mind as I read this verse today in Joel. The drought is ended. The early and latter rains have returned. And with it, the promise of life. New life can spring forth from these rains which have been withheld. You know the people of Judah acted just like those Claymation figures I recall. Wonderful rain!

APPLICATION

God restores to us the promise of life at salvation. We are dead in our sins and destined for hell. But with the decision to follow Christ and ask Him to come in and save us, we receive a whole new life. His Holy Spirit comes into us and indwells us. Our life now is in Christ.

Are you in need of a new life? Are you struggling to find meaning in life today? Come to Him. Give Him your life, and He will remake it into something that is beautiful. He will give you purpose. Maybe you are already a Christian, but you are struggling right now. Return to Him. Let Him remind you who are in Christ. You are a whole new creature.

I am glad for those refreshing rains that fall. They remind me of the refreshing Spirit that leads me each day. When I am at my lowest, the Spirit reminds me whose I am. Ask the Holy Spirit today to blow those refreshing rains into your soul.

Blow, Spirit blow!  Refresh my spirit today. I want to be renewed of my purpose in Christ.

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Bible, Blessing, Comfort, Direction, Disciplemaking, Drought, God's Will, Inspirational, Joy, Praise, Rejoicing

SHOUT FOR JOY

JOEL 2:21

“Do not fear, land; shout for joy and rejoice, for the LORD has done great things.”

I am a huge football fan, especially of the Georgia Bulldogs (Go DAWGS!). If it’s possible, I’m going to watch them play on. Saturdays. And when they are scoring and winning, I am shouting for joy. My wife thinks I’m crazy, but that’s okay. I love my DAWGS, and I’m going to support them every chance I get.

Joel isn’t talking about my DAWGS today, but he is talking about shouting for joy. In fact, he tells the land to not fear, but to shout for joy and rejoice. There’s been a period of mourning with the droughts and the locusts, but now the Lord is restoring the land. He says “for the Lord has done great things.” It is only because of the Lord. It is His workings.

APPLICATION

Do you feel like shouting? Can you rejoice in the great things the Lord has done in your life? You may not feel much like shouting for joy. Perhaps you have been in a period of mourning. But the Lord has still done great things. Look around you. I bet you can point out several things He has done for you lately. Rejoice in them.

It is often in our lowest moments that we can see His handiwork. The Lord comes down to us to lift us up. And He often teaches us very important life lessons when we are at our lowest. That may seem crazy, but it’s true. I know it’s been true in my life. So, take a moment and look around. Ask the Lord to reveal them to you.

When I was going through my first stem cell transplant in 2010, the Lord taught me to trust Him. My faith grew exponentially during those months. In 2020 during my second stem cell transplant, the Lord taught me the importance of being a godly example to others. He wanted to use me to show others how to trust. It wasn’t about me at all. For those lessons, I rejoice. Will you rejoice for yours?

I thank You, Lord, for all the lessons You have taught me in my life. I praise Your holy name.

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Battles, Bible, Caregiver, Comfort, Destruction, Encouragement, Following, Judgment, Scripture

WIPED OUT

JOEL 2:3

“A fire consumes before them, and behind them a flame devours. The land is like the Garden of Eden before them, but a desolate wilderness behind them, and nothing at all escapes them.”

I have seen the ravages of storms. Years ago, hurricane Irma hit the gulf coast of Florida. It devastated Pensacola, FL. I drove there the following week from my home to assess the damage to a group home our ministry had there. It looked as if someone had taken a giant leaf blower and just cleared everything off the earth. Even the interstate bridges had been blown down. It was horrible.

Joel is continuing the imagery of the locust swarm in today’s verse. Before the locusts lay green fields. Behind them was nothing. Remember, Joel is painting a picture here of the coming judgment of Judah. They too would be left in a desolate wilderness. Their sins had invited God’s judgment. Repentance and their return to God was the only answer.

APPLICATION

You may feel you are living in a desolate wilderness right now. You may feel wiped out by life. I’ve got great news for you. Jesus can pick you up and give you new life. When you are at your lowest, He can reach down and lift you up. There is no hole too deep that He cannot reach. There is no desert too barren that He cannot cause new life to spring forth.

I am reminded of the verse in Hebrews chapter 2. Verse 16 tells us that Jesus did not come to help the angels, but to help the descendants of Abraham (that’s us). That word “help” in the Greek means to aggressively grab us and take us with him. Jesus will grab ahold of us and lead us where we should go. He will guide us, not just point the way.

I prefer a guide rather than someone who just gives directions. I feel safer. When I am wiped out and ready to through in the towel, Jesus is always there to lift me up. You would think I would turn to Him first and not get so wiped out. But I am stubborn sometimes. That always gets me into trouble. Will you join me today in asking the Lord to pick us up?

Father, I cannot make it one more step without You. I need You to guide me, to take me along with You.

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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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Abiding, Advice, Bible, Blessing, Comfort, Devil, Encouragement, Joy, Scripture

DEHYDRATED

JOEL 1:12

“The vine has dried up and the fig tree has withered; the pomegranate, the palm also, and the apple tree, all the trees of the field have dried up. Indeed, joy has dried up from the sons of mankind.

Dehydration can cause all kinds of health problems. Most people don’t drink enough water, myself included. I like to drink water. It’s just easier sometimes to grab a coke or a glass of sweet tea (okay, I’m from the South, give me a break, lol). But nothing rehydrates you like water. Your body needs it.

Joel uses the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate tree, the palm tree and the apple tree as examples. But he wasn’t really talking about trees. Look at the last phrase of the verse. “Indeed, joy has dried up…” That’s the issue. Their joy had dried up. Joyless living is no living at all. Joel knew that. God knows that. Joy is necessary for a spirit-filled life.

APPLICATION

I pray you have joy in your life right now and that you are not spiritually dehydrated. I don’t mean you have to go around shouting “joy” all the time. Nor do you have to sing out loud constantly. Real joy from Christ is inexpressible. In fact, if you are walking in joy, you probably don’t have to say a word. Everyone around you will know it. It shows on your face.

So, why do most of us walk around in the dumps? Why do we seem so defeated? Because we believe the lies of the devil. He is constantly berating us. He doesn’t like joy. He loves sorrow. He loves to suck the joy right out of your life, living you spiritually dehydrated. You can kick ole Beelzebub right in the teeth by living joyously. He hates that. And who doesn’t want to punch him in the mouth, right?

I have to admit. There are days I live victoriously and joyously and others I don’t. Every time I find myself not living in joy, it’s because I have not spent the time I needed in prayer and in His Word. Those two things will do more for your joy than anything. You don’t need to be part of some emotionally charged worship service to get joy. Just do what He expects and surrender. The joy will come. Rehydrate with joy!

I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart, down in my heart, down in my heart. I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart, down in my heart, down in my heart to stay.

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Accountability, Battles, Bible, Blessing, Comfort, Commitment, Discipline, Faithfulness, Giving, Greed, Inspirational, Modeling, Obedience, Praise, Sacrifice, Scripture

WHEN OFFERINGS CEASE

JOEL 1:9

“The grain offering and the drink offering have been cut off from the house of the LORD. The priests mourn, the ministers of the LORD.”

One side effect of the covid crisis that has pillaged our economy is the reduction in giving in many churches. When covid shut down churches in 2020, churches that were surviving week to week just couldn’t hang on financially. A lot of churches closed their doors due to empty pews and empty coffers.

The same thing happened in the days of Joel. When the locusts came and destroyed their agricultural economy, the offerings that were normally brought to the Lord’s house ceased. And when they ceased, the priests went hungry since they depended on these. When offerings cease, many suffer.

APPLICATION

Are you suffering loss today? Have you stopped giving to the Lord because of it? It’s understandable. God doesn’t expect you to give out of nothing. But He will provide. We have to believe that. Have you ever been down to your last bit of food only to have someone stop by with a bag of groceries? That’s God.

God does not desire for His children to suffer. He doesn’t want us to starve. He longs to meet our needs. Just let Him know what that is. He wants us to cry out to Him. You may just be amazed at how He provides. Then you can give Him the glory for His provision in your life.

I never cease to be amazed at how He provides for my family. There have been times when we did not see a way out of a dilemma, but He always came through. Just recently, when I thought we were facing some major car repairs, it turned out to only be a bad battery. You may not see that as a God thing, but I sure do. He wants to do the same for you.

Father, You are so good to me. Even in times of suffering, You provide.

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Affection, Bible, Blessing, Caregiver, Comfort, Encouragement, Fruit, God's Will, Intimacy, Loyalty, Protection, Relationships, Scripture, Surrender, Trust

OUR CARETAKER

HOSEA 14:8

Ephraim, what more have I to do with idols? It is I who answer and look after you. I am like a luxuriant juniper; from Me comes your fruit.”

Isn’t it nice to have someone who looks after you? When I was growing up, my parents did that. Now, I liked that until I became a teenager. Then, not so much. Lol. I wanted my independence. I didn’t want anyone watching my every move. But my parents continued to do that, even when I went to college. They were always checking on me to make sure I was alright.

God says here, “It is I who answer and look after you.” Through all Ephraim’s rebellion, God was still look watching out for them. Even though there were consequences for their disobedience, God still loved them and wanted what was best for them. He says from Him comes their fruit. God was the source of their blessings.

APPLICATION

We need the Lord in our lives to give us purpose and power. It is only though His watchful gaze that we are able to do the things we do. Just like His care for Ephraim, He will care for us. But what does that mean? How does God care for us? Does He give us everything we want or desire?

The Lord puts His umbrella of protection over His children. That doesn’t mean we will never suffer. Just the opposite. We may be chosen by Him to suffer. Suffering is a privilege. God only allows suffering on those who can endure it. He will see you through it. His eye is on you constantly. If you believe that, then you know He cares for you.

I know through many situations in my life that the Lord is watching over me. I could name dozens of times in my life when the Lord showed His care for me. It is comforting. It is peaceful. And He does produce His fruit through me. All I have to do is let Him.

Father, thank You for watching over me. I want You to use me however You see fit.

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Abiding, Bible, Comfort, Disciplemaking, Flesh, Godliness, Holy Spirit, Intimacy, Prayer, Refreshing, Scripture, Witnessing

OUR SMELL

HOSEA 14:6

“His shoots will sprout, His majesty will be like the olive tree, and his fragrance like the cedars of Lebanon.”

I love the smell of the outdoors. That’s part of the reason I like to hunt and fish. Just being outdoors and inhaling the aromas that are out there is invigorating. Where I hunt here in Tennessee, there are a lot of pine trees. Their smell in the mornings is great. In fact, some hunters will break off limbs from the pine trees and rub it on their clothes to cover their human scent.

Hosea, in the last phrase of today’s verse, says Israel will have the fragrance of cedars. Now, he was not saying they would actually smell like that. He was saying Israel would put off a scent to draw others to God. I wonder how well they did that. What would others smell that would entice them to come to God?

APPLICATION

Our “odor” can affect someone’s decision to follow Christ. We don’t think about that very often, do we? I am not necessarily referring to our physical odor. However, it is hard to witness to someone if we smell like cigarettes or alcohol. I am referring more to our spiritual smell. You see, the closer we walk with Jesus, the more we smell like Him.

I have been in a room before with people who were smoking. When I came out of that room, I smelled just like them. You would have thought I was smoking as well. In the same way, when I spend more and more time in His Word and in prayer, I smell more like Him. The world’s scent is covered by the Holy Spirit. I, in a sense, have broken off the branches of holiness and rubbed them all over my body.

I like smelling like Jesus. There is no other scent that I would want. His is a sweet smell, an inviting smell. Others smell it and want what I have. That is so cool. But I have to stay in His presence to keep that scent. The second I walk away the world’s scent envelopes me. That is not a pleasant smell. I choose Jesus’ scent. How about you?

I want to smell like You, Lord. I want others to be drawn to You through Your scent on me.

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Abiding, Advice, Bible, Comfort, Contentment, Encouragement, Goodness, Healing, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Promises, Scripture

FRESH MORNING DEW

HOSEA 14:5

I will be like the dew to Israel; he will blossom like the lily, and he will take root like the cedars of Lebanon.”

Have you ever wondered where the morning dew comes from? It’s pretty amazing that seemingly out of nowhere water vapors in the air condense on surfaces to form these droplets of water we call dew. But why? Some people actually collect this morning dew and drink it. They claim it has true medicinal properties that aid the body. Perhaps it does. I don’t know. I just know it is a miracle of our God who created this event in nature.

Why all the discussion about dew? Hosea compares God to the morning dew. He says God will use the dew to refresh the lily and help the cedars grow. Just like He gives nourishment to these plants, He will nourish Israel spiritually. Without nourishment, the lily would die. Without the deep root, the cedar would perish. So would Israel without the life-giving nourishment of the Lord.

APPLICATION

You must have food and water to survive. I have seen the effects of those being withheld from someone. It is not a pretty picture. Here in America, where I live, most people have access to plenty of food and clean water. That’s not the case all over the world. One area I visit in Kenya has suffered droughts for years, resulting in lack of clean water and the decimation of their crops and livestock.

But just as serious for us is our spiritual source of “water” and “food.” We must go to the well of the Word daily to receive our nourishment. Without it, we dry up and die spiritually. The beauty of the Word is it never runs dry. We can drink and eat from it daily and share it with others, and it is still full of all we need the next day. It’s like the dew which returns day after day.

I am thankful for the fresh dew each morning. The next time I see those droplets of dew on the leaves or on my windshield, I am going to be reminded of the dew of Israel, my Lord and God. His refreshing Spirit gives me the power to face each new day. He revives my soul. I pray you will allow Him to revive you as well.

Lord, revive me again. Fill my soul with Your song.

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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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