Accountability, Bible, Confession, Consequences, Forgiveness, Grace, Heaven, Judgment, Redemption, Repentance, Salvation, Scripture, Separation

HORRIBLE OFFENSES

JOEL 3:3

“They have also cast lots for My people, traded a boy for a prostitute, and sold a girl for wine so that they may drink. 

The illegal sex trade of boys and girls is rampant in many parts of the world. It’s hard to believe that people could be so cold-hearted to sell little boys and girls into the sex trade. Having worked now over 42 years with children and youth, it especially breaks my heart. Only the Lord can change the heart of these sex traders.

This was one of the offenses of the nations God is judging. Not only did they defeat the Judeans, but they would trade or sell the children for anything. Here in this verse it says “a boy for a prostitute” and “a girl for wine.” How callous! How demeaning. The Lord did not overlook that. He held them responsible for these heinous crimes against humanity.

APPLICATION

We may not be committing such offenses against the Lord, but our sins are just as bad in the eyes of a holy God. I have often described our sins this way. Pretend you are flying over a city on a clear day. You can look down and see all the buildings below. From your altitude you can’t tell the height of the individual buildings. They may be one story or thirty. All you can see is the roof top.

Similarly, our sins in the eyes of God all look the same. They all end with the same result – separation from God. As a believer in Christ, those sins are forgiven but still need to be confessed. If you are an unbeliever, you need to come to Christ for salvation because any of those sins can keep you away from spending eternity with Jesus. Sin is sin – period.

I am so thankful my sins are forgiven. I try each day to live in such a way to honor my Lord. I don’t want my sins to come between me and my Savior. Daily confession for me is the key. I come before Him daily to cleanse my soul of any sins I may have committed that day. I don’t want any barriers in my line of communication with Jesus. Won’t you try that?

Thank You, Lord, for keeping my sins forgiven as I come to You daily. I know they were forgiven at the cross, but You desire for me to come to You to confess them. I will do that.

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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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Abiding, Accountability, Bible, Blessing, Confession, Intimacy, Obedience, Repentance, Scripture

OVERFLOWING

JOEL 2:24

“The threshing floors will be full of grain, and the vats will overflow with the new wine and oil.”

I remember on one of my trips to Uganda visiting some families in their farming communities. If you know anything about Uganda, it is a fertile country. It has been called the Pearl of Africa. It could probably feed all of Africa. These families grew maize (corn) and had bountiful crops. Their corn cribs were overflowing with corn, and they were actually building new cribs to hold the excess. It was amazing.

Joel is continuing to describe the blessings of God on Judah after they had returned to Him in repentance. Blessings always follow obedience. All He requires is to honor Him and His word. Judah, after suffering their judgment was now enjoying the bounty of God’s blessings. I bet they wished they had listened to Him to begin with.

APPLICATION

How is your bounty? Are your threshing floors full or empty? Are your oil and wine vats near full or lacking? I am not talking about physical threshing floors or vats. I am talking spiritual. When you return to Him in repentance, He is quick to fill us to overflowing. We literally bubble over with joy.

Don’t you want that feeling in your life? I know I do. I had rather walk in fullness than in emptiness. All it takes is surrender to our Lord. Even in the midst of trials and tragedies, we can walk in fullness. Our circumstances do not determine our tank level. That is determined by our intimacy with Jesus.

I have had some low points. Right now I am struggling with some pretty severe neuropathy in my feet. Most days they are very painful. However, I know my physical walk does not affect my spiritual walk. I have to choose each day to take each step, though painful, knowing that Jesus is my strength. I choose Jesus over pain.

Lord, fill me up to overflowing. I want to spread the excess of my joy to others.

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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, 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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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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Bible, Brokenness, Confession, Encouragement, Forgiveness, God's Will, Guilt, Judgment, Redemption, Repentance, Scripture

EVERYONE COME

JOEL 2:16

“Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children and the nursing infants. Have the groom come out of his room and the bride out of her bridal chamber.

Homecoming in most Baptist churches are times when everyone comes back to celebrate the founding of the church. Special guests are invited. There is usually dinner on the grounds. Now, if you’ve never experienced that before, you’ve missed out. Food galore! And that fried chicken – yum!

Joel isn’t calling everyone to a homecoming. He is calling everyone to repentance. I mean everyone. No one is to be excluded. Look at the list. It lists babies all the way up to the elders. Not even a newly married couple on the day of their marriage is to be exempt. The entire nation needs to repent.

APPLICATION

God is calling you to repent. Can you hear Him? If you are an unbeliever hearing this for the first time, take a minute and get quiet. Ask the Lord if He wants you. I guarantee He will say yes. It is His will that all be saved. Listen closely. He won’t scream it out. He will call you by name. Do you hear your name?

If you are a believer, He is calling you to return to Him or go deeper with Him. He desires a relationship with you that is more than token prayers and a few dollars in the offering plate. He desires intimacy with you. That only comes through repentance. As it says in Psalm 51, “Cleanse me with hyssop, wash me and I will be whiter than snow.”

I want that kind of relationship with my Father. In fact, I have that kind of relationship. I seek that. Do I do that as I should every day? Not hardly, but that is my desire. I’m like you – a sinful creature in need of a Savior – everyday. I know the Lord knows my heart and will hear my cries to Him.

O Lord, forgive me. Wash me and cleanse me. I want to walk with You in perfect fellowship.

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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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Abiding, Accountability, Advice, Bible, Compassion, Confession, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Forgiveness, Grace, Judgment, Mercy, Repentance, Scripture, Sin

GOD IS…

JOEL 2:13

“‘And tear your heart and not merely your garments.’ Now return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in mercy and relenting of catastrophe.”

I have all kinds of ideas of what God is. First of all, He is everything to me. I can’t imagine a day without Him. He loves me and guides me each step each day. But what exactly is He like? There are so many words to describe Him. I am thankful that the Word of God tells us.

In today’s verse, Joel gives us an awesome description of God. Look at the verse again. He says the Lord is “gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in mercy and relenting of catastrophe.” Wow! Can I encourage you to do a word study on each of those words? It will bless your heart, I promise.

APPLICATION

When we return to the Lord, He shows us all these things. So, why do we wait to return to Him? We need His grace and compassion. We need His mercy. We need His forgiveness. Why wait to come back to Him? Every day you wait, you are missing out on these blessings from Him.

So many of us put off repentance because we don’t want to admit we are wrong. Our pride gets in the way. That was the downfall of Judah. They had become prideful and unrepentant. And for that, God brought judgment. I prefer mercy over judgment.

Therefore, part of my prayers every day is repentance. I confess all the sins I am aware of and ask the Lord to reveal to me those sins I may have committed out of ignorance. Perhaps I had failed to do something – a sin of omission. That’s just as bad. For that I need forgiveness. Will you join me today in turning back to that gracious, compassionate, forgiving, merciful God?

Why wouldn’t I come to You, O Lord, each day? Forgive me of my reluctance to repent and confess my sins 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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