Advice, Affliction, Battles, Bible, Confession, Consequences, Darkness, Encouragement, Following, God's Will, Judgment, Repentance, Scripture

DARKNESS COMES

JOEL 2:2

“A day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness. As dawn is spread over the mountains, so there is a great and mighty people; there has never been anything like it, nor will there be again after it to the years of many generations.”

Darkness and gloom! I’ve been there. There have been a few times in my life when I felt like the world was caving in on me. Due to some bad decisions on my part, I had caused most of it. Yes, even me, Carl Willis has made some bad decisions that invited the darkness and gloom. The only way out of it was going to the Lord in repentance. He lifted me out the cave I was in.

Joel is going to be describing a rampage of locusts over the next several verses in chapter 2. These swarms of locusts were so large that they looked like dark clouds which blocked the sun. They would come in, land and begin eating anything green. They would lay their eggs and shortly after their larvae would hatch and begin eating also. This, too, was part of the judgment on Judah.

APPLICATION

Things come into our lives like these locusts. They swoop in uninvited and begin to eat everything in sight. Our emotions are gnawed away. Our physical resources may be diminished. Even our health can be taken away. What do you do in seasons like that? Who do you turn to?

There’s only one answer – Jesus. He knows what is affecting you. After all, as a child of God, anything that comes into your life goes through His hands first. Don’t you know that? So, if He has allowed it, it is to make us more like His Son. God never allows things to touch us to turn us away from Him. That would be counterproductive to His plan for our lives. He is always drawing us towards Him.

Sometimes, though, it feels like God is trying to tear us apart. Nope! He may be breaking us down, but that is only to allow Him to build us back up. Sometimes, we need large chunks knocked off to bring out the image of Jesus. Are you willing to go through the darkness and gloom, the hard times, to be made more like your Savior?

Chip away, O Lord. I want to reflect Your glory!

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Advice, Bible, Confession, Consequences, Courage, Following, Gospel, Judgment, Rescue

ALARMS

JOEL 2:1

Blow a trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm on My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming; indeed, it is near,

We’ve all heard alarm bells or sirens. When you’re driving and you hear a siren, what do you do? You immediately look around to see where it is coming from so you can get out of the way, if needed. Alarms are meant to get our attention. They are warning of us of danger, in the case of a fire alarm. They may be warning of us of approaching bad weather or a tornado. Alarms are meant to help us find safety.

Joel begins chapter two doing the same thing for the people of Judah. Trumpets that had been meant to signify times of worship are now used to send alarms. They were being warned of God’s judgment. The people should be trembling. When God warns His judgment is coming, we better take that seriously. Judah was nearing their judgment.

APPLICATION

How has the Lord warned you? Have you heard the alarms? Unfortunately, people seem to be deaf to the alarms today. God’s warnings are all around us. He is constantly reminding people of His judgment to come. The Gospel is being preached all around, but so many ignore the warnings. They simply don’t believe it is real.

Our responsibility to sound the alarm hasn’t changed. We still need to be diligent to let others know that God’s judgment is real. One day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. Think about your neighbors. Think about your family members. Where will they be when they face God’s judgment one day?

I have family members who need the Lord. I have neighbors who need a Savior. Will you join me in sounding the alarm before it’s too late? As long as we have breath, we need to be sharing the good news with others. Sound it loud and strong for all to hear.

Father, I will sound the alarm of Your judgment to come. Help me lead others to Your throne of grace.

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Accountability, Affliction, Bible, Consequences, Following, Humility, Judgment, Leading

PANTING FOR GOD

JOEL 1:20

“Even the animals of the field pant for You; for the stream beds of water are dried up, and fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness.

I’m reminded of Psalms 42:1-2 when I read today’s verse. It says, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God?” Without water all living creatures will perish. Fire laps up any moisture. It leaves the ground parched and dry, with nothing to sustain life.

The judgment of Judah continues. The drought has dried up all life-sustaining waters. Streams are dry. The green pastures are gone. The animals are suffering right along with the people. What is the answer to end all of this? Judah seems oblivious. Joel continues to list all the consequences of their sins.

APPLICATION

Are you looking for a cool drink from the Lord? Is your soul dry from all the fires around you? It is easy to slip into the pattern of living without the Lord. We think we can do it, and maybe for a little while we are able. But life happens and soon we are in need of that drink from the well that never goes dry.

How can you find those streams of water that are still flowing? Only by allowing the Lord to take your hand and lead you there. Have you read the 23rd Psalm lately? Do you remember how it reads? He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me besides still waters. There you have it. Yield to Him. He will lead you.

I don’t like being led around. I want to go my own way. I think I can figure stuff out all on my own. How wrong I am! I can get lost so quickly without the Lord leading me. I may not like being led, but I know I need to be led. How about you?

Lead me besides the still waters, Lord. Without your leading, I am like the animals panting after water.

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Abiding, Accountability, Advocate, Battles, Bible, Consequences, Destruction, Drought, Fire, Horror, Opponents

FIRES IN YOUR LIFE

JOEL 1:19

“To You, LORD, I cry out; for fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and the flame has burned up all the trees of the field.

I’ve never been in a forest fire. I’ve only seen them on the tv. They look horrible, scary and extremely dangerous. The men and women who fight them are courageous. They risk their lives to protect someone else’s property and stop the advancing flames. It really doesn’t matter how they started. They will consume anything in their path.

Joel is crying out to God for relief from the fires that were devouring the pastures and trees. Drought had laid the perfect environment for such fires. Drought was brought on my little rain. Little rain was due to God’s judgment on the nation. Do you see the ripple effect?

APPLICATION

What kind of fires are raging in your life right now? You may not be facing actual flames, but the damage is still horrific. Relationship fires can consume trust and loyalty. Fires that erupt in families can lead to divorce and wayward children. How do you fight these kind of flames? What can extinguish them?

It’s lucky that we know someone. Jesus is the living water, so He can put out those flames. Jesus is the peacemaker, so he can douse the fire that is destroying you and those around you. But you have to allow Him access to you. He can’t extinguish flames that He can’t reach.

I don’t like putting out fires in my life. It takes so much energy and time. It is much easier to live without fire and smoke blinding me all the time. Will you let Jesus extinguish your fires? Fires can burn and maim you, if you let them. Put them out.

Put out the fires in my life, Lord. I want to walk free without the threat of flames.

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Abiding, Advocate, Affliction, Bible, Consequences, Direction, Disciplemaking, Following, Judgment, Leading, Modeling, Scripture

WANDERING AIMLESSLY

JOEL 1:18

“How the animals have groaned! The herds of cattle have wandered aimlessly because there is no pasture for them; even the flocks of sheep have suffered.”

I hate getting lost. When my wife and I travel, we use our car’s GPS or one on our phone. Even then, sometimes it’s difficult. I remember last summer we took a trip to a cabin in Kentucky which was located near a lake. I had the address in our GPS, but we could not find that cabin. We drove and drove on these back roads without any success. Finally, we drove back to the nearest town and looked on a real paper map. We had been within a mile of the cabin the whole time but wandered aimlessly without the right directions.

Joel refers to the animals of Judah wandering aimlessly due to lack of pasture. They could find no source of nourishment due to the drought and pestilence all around. What a sad sight it must have been to see the animals starving to death. Judah’s sins had consequences on not just the people. Even their livestock suffered.

APPLICATION

Our sins and our wanderings have consequences on others. I worked for over thirty years in the child welfare field with foster children. I can tell you from firsthand experience that the sins of the parents trickle down. When the parents wandered aimlessly due to their sinful behaviors, the children were forced to wander with them. I have seen some horrible situations caused by the sins of the parents.

Wandering aimlessly through life is no life at all. We all need direction. Like the livestock searching for nourishment, we too need spiritual nourishment to thrive. Jesus is that source of nourishment. Only He can provide what you need to make sense of this world. Wherever you are right now, stop and turn to Him. Let Him show you the right path.

I said I hate getting lost. I have found as long as I stay centered on Jesus and stay in His Word, I don’t get lost. I may be taken on a path I would not have chosen, but if I am with Him, that’s okay. It’s an adventure worth taking.

Lord, I will travel with You. Take my hand and lead me forward.

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Accountability, Affliction, Bible, Confession, Consequences, Destruction, Forgiveness, God's Will, Judgment, Modeling, Obedience, Praise, Redemption, Scripture

JUDGMENT CONSEQUENCES

JOEL 1:5

“Awake, you heavy drinkers, and weep; and wail, all you wine drinkers, because of the sweet wine, for it has been eliminated from your mouth.”

You need to read verse 4 to understand the title for today’s devotional. As a result of the locusts destroying all the vegetation in the land, there would be no wine, thus the title. But if you think about it, isn’t that true of our sin. Some sins show immediate consequences. Other sins may not show the consequences until later. But they all have the same result. They eliminate the “sweet wine” from our mouth. God’s blessings.

Judah had sinned. Judgment was sure. The nation was going to suffer the consequences of years of rebellion against Jehovah. God can and will use nature to bring His judgment. In this case, He used the locust to strip the land of all vegetation, thus eliminating all their crops, including their vineyards. I am sure many cried out for their wine, without considering the cause of this.

APPLICATION

What sin are you suffering from right now? What sin are you covering up? Carl, I don’t have any of those. Perhaps not. Perhaps you are clean before the Lord. I pray so. But most of us can’t say that. We don’t need to wait for the locusts to come and rob of us of the “sweet wine.” We need to confess those sins which block us from receiving God’s blessings.

May I encourage you today to stop whining about what God is not doing for you and start praising Him for all He has done. We are all too quick to complain and slow to praise. Psalm 33:1 is a great verse to remind us of this. “Sing for joy in the Lord, O you righteous one; Praise is becoming to the upright.” Sing today!

I had much rather sing for joy than whine in bitterness. It just feels better. I had much rather enjoy the sweet wine of God’s blessings that suffer through the locusts. The only way I can do that is stay pure before God. I need to confess all my sins. I need to bow humbly before my Lord. Will you join me today?

Thank You, Lord, for consequences that remind me of my sins. I come to You today begging for forgiveness and mercy.

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