Abiding, Affliction, Battles, Bible, Darkness, Destruction, Fighting, Flesh, Following, Obedience, Perseverance, Scripture, Surrender

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU SEE

JOEL 2:4

“Their appearance is like the appearance of horses; and like war horses, so they run.”

Sometimes things take on the shape of other things. Clouds can look like a rabbit. Shadows can appear to represent an image of a person. In the fog things can look very different. You have to look closely sometimes to make out what you are really seeing. After all, your eyes can play tricks on you.

Theodoret, a Bishop in Syria, once said while describing the locusts he observed there, “You will find it exceedingly like that of a horse.” Whence the Arabs, of old and to this day , say, ‘In the locust, slight as it is, is the nature of ten of the larger animals, the face of a horse, the eyes of an elephant, the neck of abull, the horns of a deer, the chest of a lion, the belly of a scorpion, the wings of an eagle, the thighs of a camel, the feet of an ostrich, the tail of a serpent.’” (Barnes’ Commentary of Joel). This is what Joel is talking about here in today’s verse.

APPLICATION

You are probably wondering how in the world we can get any application for our lives from this verse. What do locusts or how they look relate to me? Will you give a little room to make this application? After all, every word of the Bible is inspired, right?

God allows these “hordes of locusts” into our lives sometimes. He allows them to come in and seemingly destroy everything in sight. But you have to remember that if God allows it, it is always to make us more like His Son. Those locusts may look terrifying. We may be shaken at the very sight of them. However, in Christ we have the strength and power to face any horde sent our way.

I don’t like hordes of anything attacking me or my loved ones. I want to fight back. I think I can defend myself. But God whispers to me to back off and let Him do the defending. If you are facing “hordes of locusts” right now, stop fighting so hard. Lay down your feeble weapons and allow the Lord to defend you. He has the power to do great and mighty things in and through us.

I thank You for coming to my defense when I am under attack. When all else falls apart, I know You can be depended on.

Standard
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.

Standard
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.

Standard
Accountability, Belief, Bible, Condemnation, Destruction, Holiness, Judgment, Punishment, Repentance, Rescue, Scripture

THE DAY OF THE LORD

JOEL 1:15

“Woe for the day! For the day of the LORD is near, and it will come as destruction from the Almighty.”

Barnes, in his commentary on Joel, says, “‘The Day of the Lord’ is, then, each day of vengeance in which God doth to man according to His will and just judgment, inflicting the punishment which he deserves, as man did to Him in his day, manifoldly dishonoring Him, according to his own perverse will.” Wow! Who wants that?

Joel is telling his audience in Judah that the day has arrived. He uses the term “Almighty” to describe God. This term is almost exclusively used to refer to God’s might. His power is supreme. We cannot overcome it. And He brings destruction on mankind because of their sins.

APPLICATION

Judgment will come upon us all. But for the believer, it will be the judgment of our works, not our sins. Our sins have already been judged and paid for through the shed blood of Jesus. Others, outside of Christ, will pay a horrible price unless they come to Him and repent and receive the free gift of salvation. Why would anyone choose to face God’s judgment?

If we truly believed in God’s judgment, wouldn’t we be telling everyone we came into contact with about Him? Is there someone in your circle of friends who needs Jesus? What are you waiting for? Tell them about Him? Live Jesus before them. They should be begging you to tell them what makes you different. Are you? Do you live differently than they do? I sure hope so.

I am so thankful that my sins have been judged and paid for. I know I could never stand before a holy God and explain away my sins. I know I would be found guilty and sentenced to an eternal damnation. But praise God, I am innocent and free through Jesus. There is no feeling like it. So, what will it be – judgment or freedom?

I know I am redeemed and set free through Jesus, Lord. I praise Your holy name for the blood He shed for my sins.

Standard
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.

Standard
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.

Standard
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.

Standard
Advice, Affection, Bible, Compassion, Condemnation, Destruction, Evil, Godliness, Grandchildren, Horror, Idols, Scripture

THE CHILDREN SUFFER

HOSEA 13:16

Samaria will pay the penalty for her guilt, because she has rebelled against her God. They will fall by the sword, their children will be slaughtered, and their pregnant women will be ripped open.”

As a parent and grandparent, my utmost desire has always been to protect my children or grandchildren. It would bring me horror to think I ever did anything to bring harm to them. As a minister to children for over forty years, the same holds true for any children under my care. Let me suffer, but never the children.

Hosea ends this chapter with some pretty, horrible descriptions of the coming judgment against Israel. Samaria was the capital city of Israel. It had been the center of the idolatry and rebellion against God, so God’s wrath upon that city would be harsh. Hosea is predicting what the Assyrians were going to do when they came. It’s one thing to slaughter men in war, but to kill innocent children, even the unborn, was unthinkable.

APPLICATION

You are probably thinking Carl, I would never do that or tolerate that! That’s good. I didn’t think you would. But are you protecting your children’s spirits? Are you guarding them from being influenced by evil? In our world today, we have to be so diligent to monitor and protect our children from this world. They can’t live in a bubble, but we can sure keep them safe in our homes.

Are you aware of what is on your child’s phone? Are you comfortable with the video games they are playing? How about their friends? Do you know them? Do you know their parents? We can’t just take our kids to church and think that gives them some kind of holy shield the rest of the week. That’s not how it works. You must guard their minds.

As an adult, I have to guard my mind. It is so easy to get off track when I am online. One little side post or ad can divert my eyes and before I know it, I can be chasing rabbits into a hole I can’t get out of. Scripture keeps my mind focused on Him and puts that shield over my eyes. Let Jesus keep your mind pure (1 Timothy 6:11).

Lord, help me protect the innocent as well as keep my own mind pure.

Standard
Accountability, Bible, Confrontation, Destruction, Enemies, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Rescue, Scripture, Surrender

WHIRLING SWORDS

HOSEA 11:6

And the sword will whirl against their cities, and will destroy their oracle priests and consume them, because of their counsels.”

When my son was small, he played all sorts of video games. Back then the games weren’t quite as elaborate as they are today. Some of those games had courses you had to get through to win. Of course, those courses were full of dangers. There were traps to fall in, lasers to dodge and even swords. They could end your “life” in the game and make you go back to the beginning.

God was sending whirling swords on the heads of the Israelites. Swords from warring nations would come upon them to deliver God’s judgment. But look at what caused this – their counsels. Actually, the Hebrew says “their own counsels.” They only listened to words that pleased them. They knew God’s law but ignored it.

APPLICATION

I don’t think you want whirling swords to fall on you, do you? No one does. But we still all try to live our lives according to our own counsel. We think we know what is best. We have our lives all mapped out without any regard to the plan God has for us. Whirling swords come in all sizes and descriptions. What will it take for God to get your attention?

We can all avoid the whirling swords of judgment by turning to Jesus. When we are surrendered to His will, judgment has already been paid. Jesus took the punishment on Himself. He died so that we can avoid those swords. He not only destroyed those swords, but He also secured our future. We are promised that. Isn’t that great?

I don’t want my head taken off by a swirling sword. I had much rather rest in Jesus. I know I deserve judgment. I am just a sinner saved by grace. But it is so comforting to know my head is safe. My soul is safe. And because I know that, I want to live a life that honors and glorifies the Lord. Don’t you?

I am thankful for Jesus taking my judgment. Thank You, Lord, for rescuing me.

Standard
Abiding, Advice, Bible, Christ's Return, Destruction, Encouragement, Eternity, Gospel, Heaven, Modeling, Scripture

DOOMS DAY

HOSEA 10:15

So it will be done to you at Bethel because of your great wickedness. At dawn the king of Israel will be completely destroyed.”

I have often wondered what it would be like to know the day you were going to die. I wonder what I would do on those days leading up to it. Would I quit work and do all the things I have always wanted to do? Or would I continue doing all the things I am presently doing? I don’t fear that day. I am ready for it.

Hosea gave the warning to Israel. “At dawn the king of Israel will be completely destroyed.” Wow! What a warning! Because of their wickedness their kingdom would be destroyed. There was nothing they could do to change that fact. God had spoken. Dooms day was upon them.

APPLICATION

There is coming a day when we all will face our last day. What is your plan for that day? If God is not a part of that plan, you are in a heap of trouble. Let me ask you the question I pondered at the beginning of the devotional. If you knew the day you were going to die, would you change your behavior? Why not change it now?

God wants us to live each day as if it’s our last. We never know when He is going to call us home. We have to be ready. We have to be doing His work until the very end. What has the Lord asked you to do for Him? Do it today. Don’t wait. You may not have another chance. I pray you will not put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

I know the days are drawing to a close. It can’t be too long until the Lord returns. I want to be found doing His work on that day. There are so many people who need to hear about Him. I want to be caught telling someone about Jesus. Don’t you? What better way to enter glory that the words of Jesus on your lips?

I do not know when I will meet You face to face, Lord. But I do know I am looking forward to that day. Help me share that story with many before I come.

Standard