Abiding, Bible, Commands, Darkness, Direction, Disciplemaking, Flesh, Light, Scripture

LOSS OF LIGHT

JOEL 3:15

The sun and moon have become dark, and the stars have lost their brightness.

I was in my hunting blind one morning recently very early. It was a cloudy morning, so there was no moonlight or stars shining. As I sat there in the pitch black, I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. You could almost feel the darkness. And I thought to myself how trying it must be to be blind and not be able to see. My vision improved with the sunrise. For that I was thankful.

But in this scene which Joel describes, it’s a little different. Sure, the sun and moon will lose their light, and the stars will lose their brightness. But is that because it will be dark, like when Christ was crucified or because the light of God will be so bright that all other lights will be gone? One can speculate which it will be. The point is things will be very different on this day of the Lord.

APPLICATION

In the meantime, we are supposed to be shining our light. As believers, the light of Christ dwells within us. We are not supposed to hide it. Don’t you love that children’s song, This Little Light of Mine? We don’t hide it under a bushel. We don’t let Satan blow it out. We hold it high for the world to see.

Where is your light? Are you drawing others to Christ by your light? Our lights should be doing that. We should also be leading others with our light as we all walk down the path together. Together our lights are brighter. As followers of Christ, we should never have a loss of light. Why? Because He is the source. His light can never be distinguished. Praise the Lord.

I will have to admit that sometimes my light is not as bright as it should be. I let my flesh get in the way, and it dims my light. That’s my fault. That has nothing to do with the source. I confess that as sin. I truly want my light to shine so brightly that the sun, moon and stars seem dim in comparison. How about you?

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

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Accountability, Appeasement, Bible, Choices, Commands, Compassion, Confession, Disciplemaking, Following, Forgiveness, Jealousy, Repentance, Scripture

IF MY PEOPLE…

JOEL 2:18

“Then the LORD will be zealous for His land, and will have compassion for His people.

If…then. That is a principle used by a lot of parents. “If you clean your room, then you can have a treat.” It makes sense. Our choices often determine our consequences. I know if I exercise, then I will feel better. If I eat healthier, then I will possibly lose some weight. But the “if” is hard to do sometimes, isn’t it?

The previous verses in chapter 2 of Joel tell us the prerequisite for this verse to be true. The people of Judah had to come to the Lord in repentance. When they did, the Lord responded. I love what Joel says here. Then He will be zealous for this land. That word “zealous” in the Hebrew has the idea of the Lord being jealous for Judah. That’s meant in a good way. “Compassion” means He will spare them the consequences of their sins.

APPLICATION

If the Lord asked you to do something, would you do it? Most of us would say “yes.” But how many of us would actually do it? The Lord wants so much to bless us. But the Lord expects certain things from us. If we live godly lives, His blessings flow. If we forgive others who trespass against us, He forgives us our trespasses.

The Lord is still jealous over us. He will guard and protect us. He wants to show us compassion and spare us the possible consequences we deserve. For His jealousy and compassion to come forth, we have to respond to Him. We need to come to Him in a spirit of confession. Will you do that?

I long for God’s blessings in my life. I know those blessings are dependent on my obedience to Him. Now, listen to me. I am NOT saying I obey to get blessed. I obey because I love my Savior. As a result of my obedience, the Lord desires to bless me. If…then.

Lord, I long to please You. I know Your blessings flow when we follow You.

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HIS WORD

JOEL 2:11

“The LORD utters His voice before His army; His camp is indeed very great, for mighty is one who carries out His word. The day of the LORD is indeed great and very awesome, and who can endure it?”

I have never served in the military. I admire those who have and am thankful for their service. Many of them have sacrificed greatly. Many others sacrificed the ultimate sacrifice to follow the commands they were given. When you are in the military you are expected to listen to your commander and do what they say. You follow orders. You obey.

The phrase that caught my attention in today’s verse was “for mighty is one who carries out His word.” They recognized then and we recognize now those who heed His word. Obedience is expected, is it not? Joel knew that. I am sure Joel had rather be doing anything other than preaching this message to the people of Judah who didn’t want to hear it. But he listened to the Lord and carried out His word.

APPLICATION

The application for us from this verse is obvious. Will we carry out His word? What does that mean for us? What does the Lord expect us to do? It’s pretty simple, really. He expects us to take His Word to a lost world. He expects us to glorify Him in all we do. He expects us to live out Matthew 28:18-20.

The expectations are clear. The question is – will we do it? You don’t have to be in full time ministry to do this. Witnessing to your neighbor is carrying out His word. Helping someone in distress is carrying out His word. Praying in your prayer closet because you are too weak to get out is carrying out His word. There are all kinds of ways to carry out the word of God. We just have to be diligent.

I have not always done this. Even as a pastor, I have not always done it. Sure, I’ve gone through the motions of ministry, but I haven’t truly carried out His word. But over the past several years I have been convicted to be more and more diligent to do that. I pray more. I read more of His word and memorize it. Let us all join together to carry out His word to the world.

I am so grateful for Your word. Help me proclaim it to a lost world daily.

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FOCUSED

JOEL 2:8

“They do not crowd each other, every warrior of them marches in his path; when they burst through the defenses, they do not break ranks.”

Staying focused on a task is important. Most people today are so unfocused. They live by ten seconds snippets. Instagram and Tik Tok have altered the way we look at life. We are accustomed to those short pieces of life. We don’t have the discipline to focus on something longer than a few seconds. We are missing so much, even though we have so much more.

These locusts Joel is describing are focused. They have one purpose – to eat everything in sight. Nothing deters them from their task. They are determined to eat, eat, eat. They fly and crawl only to eat. We can learn something from them. God has given these locusts a task to perform, and they are determined to accomplish it.

APPLICATION

Do you have a laser focus on God? I mean, are you so focused on Him that others call you fanatical? Most of us don’t. But we should be. We need to be so dialed in on God that all that we do is related to Him. After all, if we are believers, all we do should be about Him. God’s will for our lives is for us to give Him glory. All we do and say should be focused on Him.

Most of us consider God as an afterthought. When things get bad, we turn to Him. When tragedy strikes we call on Him. We just celebrated the 20th anniversary of 9/11. I can vividly remember our nation turning to God after that. Churches were full. Services were held in our capitol. Prayer vigils were going on all over the country. Twenty years later people have forgotten who got them through it. It wasn’t the government. It was our Lord.

I have become so focused on God and His Word that others look at me as strange. When I talk about the importance of memorizing Scripture, I get these weird looks from people. God desires us all to be “crazy” about Him. Every aspect of our lives belongs to Him. When we finally realize that, it all begins to make sense. Let me urge you today to set your sights on God alone and trust Him to lead and guide you each day.

I am so thankful that I have learned to focus on You. Guard my sight, O Lord, from distractions.

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EVEN THE LOCUSTS

JOEL 2:7

“They run like warriors, they climb the wall like soldiers; and each of them marches in line, nor do they lose their way.”

I like order. I like things in their place. I guess I got that from my dad. He had a lot of tools in his tool shop. His rule was we could use any tool we wanted (after he had shown us the proper way to use it) as long as we cleaned it and put it back where it belongs. He said that way you could always find it when you need it.

The locusts that were swarming and devouring everything green in Judah were ordered. They seemed to almost appear as an army, following orders and marching in line. Their swarms have been described as remarkable in their lines and movements. When the newly hatched locusts began to crawl and eat, even then they did it in coordinated movement. Amazing.

APPLICATION

How can we apply this to our lives? What is the Lord trying to tell us in these verses in Joel about the locusts? Let me attempt to make a simple application. Now, hear me. This is not meant to be some deep theological treatise on Joel. It is simply an application.

God does everything in order. Even the locusts swarm and crawl in order. That order applies to our lives. He wants to apply His order to us if we will let Him. How does that look? Just like a kindergartener has to listen to his teacher when told to get in line, we have to do the same thing. When the Lord directs us to do something, we need to get in line. We need to trust Him. He will always lead us correctly.

Every time I have submitted to the Lord’s leadership and gotten in line, I have not been disappointed. I may not like the journey. It may be hard. But when I am following Him, He blazes the trail. He cuts my path. I simply follow. Will you?

I am following You, Lord, no matter where it leads me. I am thankful that I can trust You wherever You lead.

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Accountability, Bible, Commands, Courage, Following, Judgment, Modeling, Obedience, Punishment, Rescue, Scripture

INVASION

JOEL 1:6

“For a nation has invaded my land, mighty and without number; Its teeth are the teeth of a lion, and it has the jaws of a lioness.”

I guess I could be considered a geek when it comes to sci-fi movies. I’ve always liked them. I like the plots where the aliens invade and we humans repel them. An invasion from anyone can be terrifying, whether it is from another planet or what Judah faced.

Many scholars think this invasion mentioned by Joel here was an actual invasion by a conquering nation as part of God’s judgment on Judah. Whether it was or not, it is certainly a horrible description. Teeth of a lion and jaws of a lioness aren’t exactly comforting. Judah’s judgment was going to be painful.

APPLICATION

Let me ask you a question. Do you enjoy pain? Do you like being punished? I am pretty sure your answer is no. Right? So, how do you avoid the teeth of lion and the jaws of a lioness? You follow the Lord. You follow His teachings. You walk with Him and listen to His instructions. No matter what, you obey. Any other choice leads to destruction.

How many times have you chosen to disobey and suffered? Too many, I bet. We tend to want to do things our way. We believe we have a better way. We think we can figure things out. But if we simply surrender to Him and allow Him to guide us, we can avoid all those sharp lion’s teeth. We can be free from their jaws. Doesn’t that sound better?

I am forever grateful that I am walking with Jesus instead of dodging the bites of lions. I walk in boldness, not fear. I know He holds me by His righteous right hand. He protects and defends me. I am secure in His embrace. Do you have that confidence in your walk today? You can. He desires that for you.

Lord, thank You for my deliverance from the consequences of sin. Thank You for walking with me.

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FOUR GENERATIONS

JOEL 1:3

“Tell your sons about it, and have your sons tell their sons, and their sons the next generation.”

I am involved with a men’s ministry called Every Man A Warrior. In fact, I am going to be making a change in my ministry to serve with them full-time in a few months. One verse we talk about a lot is 2 Timothy 2:2 which says, “These things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to reliable men who be qualified to teach others.”

Joel is saying the same thing in verse 3 above. Fathers tell sons who tell their sons who tell their sons. Four generations. But Joel is telling these dads to pass on the warning he is about to give. Judgment was falling on Judah, and it was going to last a while, for generations. They needed to know what was coming.

APPLICATION

The application is pretty straightforward. We need to be passing down our faith to our future generations. Replication of our faith is key. It’s been said that Christianity is one generation away from vanishing. We have to invest in our children. Some of us have the privilege to invest in our grandchildren, as well.

If you have children, are you discipling them in the ways of our Lord? Men, have you spent some time with another man or group of men discipling them into disciplemakers? Don’t tell me you don’t have time. We all have the same number of hours in a day. It’s really just a matter of priorities.

I love investing in men’s lives. I love seeing them “get it.” As men become disciplemakers, they can begin to find other guys to invest in. Replication has started. Generations of faith are being built. That is what it is all about. This excites me. I pray it excites you.

Give me others to invest in. Help me continue the story.

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THE WORD OF THE LORD

JOEL 1:1

The word of the LORD that came to Joel, the son of Pethuel:”

Have you ever had to convince someone that what you were saying was the truth? That can be hard sometimes. You know what you are saying is the truth, but you can’t seem to convince those who are listening. I feel that way sometimes when I preach. I have been in some places where it seemed the people were just listening to be nice. They had no intention of obeying the message God had given me to share. I don’t like that feeling.

We are beginning the book of Joel today. How exciting! I love the beginning of a new book. Vese 1 simply says, “The word of the LORD that came to Joel, the son of Pethuel:” Okay, Carl, what can we get out of that? A lot! Joel is telling us that everything he is about to share is from God. Period! He will go on to tell us how unworthy he is to give this message. But here he simply states that this is God’s message to us.

APPLICATION

How can you apply this verse to your life today? That, too, is simple. You are to be God’s mouthpiece to the world. We have His Word to share. We have the best story ever told. Joel wasn’t a priest and didn’t consider himself a prophet. He just did what God told him to do – speak His message. We are no different. God has given us an incredible message to share with the world. We need to do it.

But Carl, the world will hate me. Let me let you in on a little secret. The world already hates you. The world does not like truth. The world does not like to be told that what they are doing is not right in God’s eyes. Heck, the world does not even want to hear the name of God. And as His child, they don’t want to hear from you. Just try to stand for truth and see what happens. But that doesn’t change the fact that we still have to stand.

I want people to like me. I am a people person. But I know that there will some people who just don’t like me because of what I stand for. I have to be okay with that. I still pray for those people and do all I can to lead them to the truth. I just have to be committed to what the Lord has called me and you to do – share the truth. Ask the Lord to lead you to someone today who needs to hear it.

O Lord, my God, lead me where You want me to go. Give me the words to share.

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GIVE ME A KING

HOSEA 13:10

“Where then is your king, that he might save you in all your cities; and your judges, to whom you said, ‘Give me a king and princes’?”

We always want what we don’t have. It seems we are never satisfied. I can remember when I was a young boy, I always wanted the new toy that someone else had. I just had to have it. I would save up my money until I had enough to buy it. And when I finally had the money and bought it, the thrill lasted about a week. Then I wanted something else.

Hosea is referring to such a time in the life of Israel. Do you remember it? They cried out for a king like the other nations. They were disregarding the fact that God was their King. They needed no other. But the cried out for one, so God gave them Saul. That didn’t turn out so well, did it?

APPLICATION

Are you crying out for another king? Are you disregarding God’s kingship in your life? Stop it! Jesus is your King. He will lead you wherever you need to go. He will provide for you as no other. But you have to follow Him. You have to obey His edicts. Then He will bless you and keep you.

A king demands obedience. A king expects his people to yield to his voice. Jesus is the same. He is a benevolent King. He is the only King who has died for you. No earthly king would do that. They may send others to die for you, but they would not lay down their own life. Jesus has done that. Isn’t that the kind of king you want?

I will serve King Jesus. We are going to serve someone, Jesus or the devil. I served the devil long enough before I came to Christ. He is never satisfied and impossible to please. I serve Jesus because He is so loving and caring. He is always listening and looking out for me. Why wouldn’t I want to serve Him? How about you?

King of my life, I love You. I will serve You here and in eternity.

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MAMA BEAR

HOSEA 13:8 

“I will confront them like a bear deprived of her cubs, and I will tear open their chests; I will also devour them there like a lioness, as a wild animal would tear them to pieces.” 

A friend of mine was hunting a couple of years ago and accidentally got in between a mama black bear and her cubs. He was walking to his deer stand when suddenly he was standing twenty yards from this bear. He could tell she wasn’t happy. Normally, black bears will try to avoid you in the woods, so my friend started looking around for cubs. Sure enough, off to his side he spotted two cubs. He slowly backed up to allow mama and babies to reunite, avoiding a very unpleasant situation. 

Israel was not able to avoid the situation. God was responding to them just as a mama bear would “deprived of her cubs.” Once again, Hosea is describing the wrath of God that was falling on the nation for their disobedience. It wasn’t as if they had not been warned. They had. They knew the Law. They knew He was a jealous God. Still they continued in their sins unabated until… 

APPLICATION 

Aren’t you glad Jesus has paid the price for our sins? We have no need to fear God’s judgment. We are secure and protected. I cannot imagine going through life with the uncertainty of eternity. But there are so many people out there who do. They live each day racked with fear of God. Oh, how sad. 

Our mission is to help those living in fear to find the love and peace of our Savior. If you know Him personally, you have an obligation to share Him. The story is too good not to share. His love is too far reaching not to spread. The last thing we want is to see those we know and care about fall into an eternity separated from God. 

God’s wrath being compared to a mama bear is interesting. But think about it. What is that bear trying to do? She is trying to protect her children. God’s wrath is the same. He is protecting His children from the harm possible by unbelievers. He will furiously protect us. Doesn’t that bring you comfort? It does me. My God has my back. 

Father, thank You for protecting me. Help me show the love of Jesus to those around me in need of a Savior. 

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