Affliction, Battles, Bible, Courage, Devil, Enemies, Fighting, Grace, Protection

THE TRAP IS SET

JOEL 3:11

Hurry and come, all you surrounding nations, and gather yourselves there. Bring down, LORD, Your warriors.

Do you remember hiding from your friends outside when you were growing up, only to spring out of your hiding place and scaring them? I sure do. We would play in the woods around my house and in the bushes in the yard. I have even been known to make sounds to draw them in. Boy, I loved scaring them. I know, it sounds mean. But it was all in fun.

Not so much in today’s verse. Joel is calling in all the enemies of Judah. He wanted them to come close. And when they were all there, surrounding Judah, he calls on God to send down His warriors to destroy them. Essentially the net was cast, and they were all caught. Only then did they realize they were in trouble.

APPLICATION

Have you ever felt like the net was cast on you? The devil will lure you in with the temptations of the world. He will tempt you to come closer and closer until…snap! Then you are caught in a snare of sin. You feel there is no escape. You feel helpless.

Stop that! When you sense the devil is drawing you away from the safety of Jesus, stop. Retreat back to where you know you have protection. Put your armor on. Submit to God and then you can tell the devil to flee. He can’t lure you in because you belong to someone mightier and stronger.

I am so glad I belong to my Master. There are no nets strong enough to capture me. I am a warrior of the King. Satan has no power over me. Amen? You have the same power. You just have to walk in it. You’ve heard it said that we walk from victory, not to victory. We are already victorious. Hallelujah!

Thank You, Lord, for protecting me. You draw my enemies in to destroy them.

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Abiding, Advocate, Bible, Courage, Encouragement, Listening, Modeling, Protection, Scripture

THE SOUNDS OF JUDGMENT

JOEL 2:5

“With a noise as of chariots they leap about on the tops of the mountains, like the crackling of a flame of fire consuming the stubble, like a mighty people drawn up for battle.”

Every seventeen years Cicadas make their descent on Tennessee. This year was one of those years. What is a Cicada? It’s an insect that looks like a huge, superfly. The biggest thing about Cicadas is the noise they make. Their mating call can reach 95 decibels. Compare that to an overhead plane that is around 80 decibels. When these Cicadas hatch in the thousands, you can imagine the noise. It can be quiet deafening.

So, I can imagine the noise of the swarms of locusts described here in Joel 2:5. Their noise must have been something for the people of Judah. The approaching swarms could be heard from as far away as six miles. That had to be quite scary for the little ones. An unseen noise that got louder and louder must have been terrifying.

APPLICATION

What noises scare you? Are you one of those who hears every little sound at night and jumps up to check all the doors and windows? My wife is a light sleeper. She hears every little sound. Me – I can sleep through a hurricane, lol. Things that go bump in the night do keep a lot of people awake. Some people are just restless. Others are just plain scared.

Matthew 11:28-30 comes to mind. “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Do you believe that? Then rest in Him. He guards your soul. He is your great protector. Don’t let the noises of this world scare you.

I know I can rest in Him. I do need to be mindful to lock my windows and doors, but I can trust Jesus to protect me. When I lay down at night, I can truly say that I trust Him to keep me and my wife safe. That’s why I can rest so well. He is in charge. He never sleeps. He is watching over my well-being twenty-four seven. What a relief!

Thank You, Lord, for watching over me. Your watchful eyes are moving to and fro thoughout the whole world.

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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, Advice, Bible, Compassion, Confidence, Courage, Devil, Encouragement, Failures, God's Will, Hope, Inspirational, Modeling, Obedience, Scripture

FAILURES EVERYWHERE

JOEL 1:10

“The field is ruined, the land mourns; for the grain is ruined, the new wine has dried up, fresh oil has failed.”

We see failures all around us. Failures of economies. Failures of nations. Failures of people. The one thing that is certain about life is failure. No one likes it, but it comes, nonetheless. So, what do you do when everything around you seems to be failing? Do you throw up your hands? Do you put your head down and just weep? No! We have a great God who is aware of the failures.

Joel continues to tell us of the failures in Judah. In today’s verse we see the fields have ruined. The land is mourning! The crops have suffered. Even the vineyards have dried up and there is no oil for use. Utter failure. Judah is a mess. Why? Because of their disobedience. God will not tolerate that. We see that in these failures.

APPLICATION

You may have experienced failures in your life. In fact, your life may be in shambles right now. Sometimes we feel like a failure. Listen, our choices can cause many of our failures. Other failures come due to no fault of our own. Whatever the cause, we have to deal with them. Guess what? The devil wants you to feel like a failure. He doesn’t want you to know your position in Christ.

Are you a believer? If so, you have no right to see yourself as a failure. Why? Because you are a child of the King. He has given you victory. The Lord of creation died to give you promise. Failure is not in God’s plan for you. God can work through those failures, but they are not His plan for you. So, don’t stay there. Walk with Him today victoriously.

I hate to fail. I have never liked it. I like to win! Always! But sometimes I mess up. Sometimes I just blow it. When I do, I come hastily to my Savior. I know I can’t do it alone. How about you? Are you in need of a “pep talk” with your Lord? He’s ready!

I will not fail as long as I walk with You, Lord. If I keep my eyes on You, You will lead me.

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Accountability, Affliction, Bible, Brokenness, Compassion, Condemnation, Courage, Destruction, Encouragement, Judgment, Persecution, Punishment

TOTAL DEVASTATION

JOEL 1:7

“It has made my vine a waste and my fig tree a stump. It has stripped them bare and hurled them away; their branches have become white.”

Have you ever witnessed total devastation? I’ve seen it a couple of times, both times after severe storms. Most recently I witnessed it in my hometown when we were struck by a tornado. Neighborhoods that had been tree-lined and ornate were left in shambles. Most of the trees were gone or snapped in half. Houses were torn apart and, in some cases, just plain missing. It hurt to see it.

Judah experienced the same thing. In the case of the locusts, they wiped out everything. Even the bark on the trees was eaten. And when the nations came in as part of God’s judgment, they crushed and destroyed buildings and homes, leaving nothing of any value behind.

APPLICATION

If you have ever suffered loss like is described above, you can relate. Whether it is physical loss, like a house, or loss of health from an illness, it is hard to get over it. Do you think the Lord allows losses to punish us or teach us? Actually, every loss we encounter as a believer has gone through the hands of God first. He measures and makes sure it is what we can handle. He would never put more on you than you can handle.

But why do we even have to deal with this? Because He is teaching us to depend on Him. We could lose everything we have, but we still have our Savior. Physical things come and go. Prized possessions will eventually rust or rot away. Our faith only gets stronger. Our faith only grows.

So, as you watch things around you fall apart, remember who it is who holds you close. I can rest in His unshakeable arms. He will sustain and strengthen me. He will protect me and love me. What else could you ask for? He’s got this!

I am so thankful, Lord, to know You have me in Your grip. I am safe and secure.

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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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Affliction, Battles, Bible, Courage, Destruction, Encouragement, God's Will, Harvest, Judgment, Modeling, Persecution, Scripture, Trouble

LOTS OF BUGS

JOEL 1:4

“What the gnawing locust has left, the swarming locust has eaten; and what the swarming locust has left, the creeping locust has eaten; and what the creeping locust has left, the stripping locust has eaten.”

I was hunting a couple of years ago during the very beginning of the deer season. It was still a little warm outside, so the mosquitos were still around. I got into my blind and got situated. I had applied repellent on my body. I even had a Therma cell unit working which is supposed to get rid of them. But that day nothing scared off those little pests. I eventually had to leave because of them.

Locusts aren’t mosquitos, but they are just as relenting. Joel recalls a severe locust infestation. Four different kinds are mentioned – gnawing, swarming, creeping and stripping. In other words, they left nothing. This would have been devastating for the economy which centered around the wheat and barley harvest. They couldn’t run out to the local supermarket and buy groceries.

APPLICATION

We face seasons like this in our lives. It may not be locusts, but jobs losses or medical issues can wipe us out. It’s strange to me that people who trust God with their eternity can’t trust Him with their paychecks. I used to be one of them. I fretted about everything. I usually didn’t tell anyone. I kept it all inside which is not good.

Are you fretting over something right now? Let God have it. He is big enough to handle anything you are facing. It’s been said that anything over our heads is under His feet. I like that. God stands above and beyond any trouble we encounter. Will you trust Him with your crops today?

Locusts don’t scare me because I don’t live in an area where they are an issue. I have to battle taking back from the Lord what I have laid at His feet. Will you pray with me today that we won’t do that? Once He has it, let Him have it. There is too much work to do for the kingdom to let locusts bother us.

Thank You, Father, for delivering me from the fear and dread of locusts in my life. Help me persevere through any troubles that may come my way.

LOTS OF BUGS

JOEL 1:4

“What the gnawing locust has left, the swarming locust has eaten; and what the swarming locust has left, the creeping locust has eaten; and what the creeping locust has left, the stripping locust has eaten.”

I was hunting a couple of years ago during the very beginning of the deer season. It was still a little warm outside, so the mosquitos were still around. I got into my blind and got situated. I had applied repellent on my body. I even had a Therma cell unit working which is supposed to get rid of them. But that day nothing scared off those little pests. I eventually had to leave because of them.

Locusts aren’t mosquitos, but they are just as relenting. Joel recalls a severe locust infestation. Four different kinds are mentioned – gnawing, swarming, creeping and stripping. In other words, they left nothing. This would have been devastating for the economy which centered around the wheat and barley harvest. They couldn’t run out to the local supermarket and buy groceries.

APPLICATION

We face seasons like this in our lives. It may not be locusts, but jobs losses or medical issues can wipe us out. It’s strange to me that people who trust God with their eternity can’t trust Him with their paychecks. I used to be one of them. I fretted about everything. I usually didn’t tell anyone. I kept it all inside which is not good.

Are you fretting over something right now? Let God have it. He is big enough to handle anything you are facing. It’s been said that anything over our heads is under His feet. I like that. God stands above and beyond any trouble we encounter. Will you trust Him with your crops today?

Locusts don’t scare me because I don’t live in an area where they are an issue. I have to battle taking back from the Lord what I have laid at His feet. Will you pray with me today that we won’t do that? Once He has it, let Him have it. There is too much work to do for the kingdom to let locusts bother us.

Thank You, Father, for delivering me from the fear and dread of locusts in my life. Help me persevere through any troubles that may come my way.

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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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THE PROPHET

HOSEA 12:13 

“But by a prophet the LORD brought Israel up from Egypt, and by a prophet he was protected.” 

Don’t you love the story of Moses? A baby is born in Egypt and doomed to die. Miraculously he survives a short voyage in the Nile among crocodiles to land in the arms of the Pharoah’s daughter. He grows up privileged and educated. Then God leads him away for forty years to prepare him for his role as liberator of the children of Israel.

Hosea is, of course, referring to Moses in today’s verse. This prophet, Moses, led and protected the nation. There was nothing special about Moses, except that he yielded to the will of God. He allowed God to use him, even though he felt unworthy. Remember, he even told God he stuttered so he couldn’t talk to Pharoah. But God used this humble man to be the leader of a nation. 

APPLICATION 

As I was reading this verse, I asked myself how the Lord may want to use me. How does He want to use you? Moses was tending sheep when he encountered the burning bush. Have you had a burning bush experience? I don’t mean you’ve seen an actual burning bush. But have you had a definite meeting with the holy God of the universe? Has He called you by name? 

He is calling us. He is calling us to do great and wonderful things on His behalf. Jesus told us we would do “greater things than these” as His followers. Are you willing? God will make you able. You just have to allow Him to. Ask Him today to use you in ways that you can’t imagine.  

I want to be used. I desire to be led by His Spirit. Often my own will and desires get in the way. It’s easy to get sidetracked and think I am doing His will, when in fact I am doing my own. That’s not my desire. My prayer today is to be that willing vessel surrendered to His will for my life – wherever that leads. 

Father God, I know I am headstrong and stubborn at times, but I want to yield to You. Led me as You led Moses to do great and mighty things for You. 

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GOD’S PROMISES

HOSEA 12:12 

“Now Jacob fled to the land of Aram, and Israel worked for a wife, and for a wife he kept sheep.” 

Sometimes the Lord directs us in ways that make absolutely no sense at the time. Years ago, the Lord led us to move to another state for a position in a ministry. We weren’t there very long, but during that short time I was exposed to information and training that prepared me for my next ministry. Looking back, it is clear, but at the time it was just a matter of trust. 

Jacob (Israel) was directed by his mother, Rebekah, to go back to her family to seek a wife. She was also trying to spare Jacob’s life after he had tricked his father, Isaac, into giving him his brother, Esau’s, birthright. But God used this whole messed up situation for good. Through Jacob’s wives, Rachel and Leah, the nation of Israel was birthed. 

APPLICATION 

You may be in a situation right now that makes no sense. You can’t see a way out. You certainly can’t see how God is going to make any sense out of it. This is where the trust comes in. God’s ways are not our ways. He doesn’t see things the way we do. Don’t you understand that He already sees you glorified in the heavens? He does! He sees the past, present and future at the same time.  

So, if that is true, we can trust Him with our future. He knows exactly what He is doing. Whatever you are going through right now has a purpose. There’s a reason for it. You may not like it, but God knows that. Instead of asking God “why me?”, ask Him “what now?”  

My older brother is going through some major health challenges right now. I told him those exact words this week. It is in those exact times of going through the valleys that God grows us up. He didn’t say it would be easy. But He did say He would be with us. Jacob labored decades for his wives and possessions before returning home. But God used him to father a nation. 

I don’t understand all that You are doing in my life, Lord, but I trust You. I only want to serve You. 

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