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

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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SHOUT FOR JOY

JOEL 2:21

“Do not fear, land; shout for joy and rejoice, for the LORD has done great things.”

I am a huge football fan, especially of the Georgia Bulldogs (Go DAWGS!). If it’s possible, I’m going to watch them play on. Saturdays. And when they are scoring and winning, I am shouting for joy. My wife thinks I’m crazy, but that’s okay. I love my DAWGS, and I’m going to support them every chance I get.

Joel isn’t talking about my DAWGS today, but he is talking about shouting for joy. In fact, he tells the land to not fear, but to shout for joy and rejoice. There’s been a period of mourning with the droughts and the locusts, but now the Lord is restoring the land. He says “for the Lord has done great things.” It is only because of the Lord. It is His workings.

APPLICATION

Do you feel like shouting? Can you rejoice in the great things the Lord has done in your life? You may not feel much like shouting for joy. Perhaps you have been in a period of mourning. But the Lord has still done great things. Look around you. I bet you can point out several things He has done for you lately. Rejoice in them.

It is often in our lowest moments that we can see His handiwork. The Lord comes down to us to lift us up. And He often teaches us very important life lessons when we are at our lowest. That may seem crazy, but it’s true. I know it’s been true in my life. So, take a moment and look around. Ask the Lord to reveal them to you.

When I was going through my first stem cell transplant in 2010, the Lord taught me to trust Him. My faith grew exponentially during those months. In 2020 during my second stem cell transplant, the Lord taught me the importance of being a godly example to others. He wanted to use me to show others how to trust. It wasn’t about me at all. For those lessons, I rejoice. Will you rejoice for yours?

I thank You, Lord, for all the lessons You have taught me in my life. I praise Your holy name.

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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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THE WAYS OF THE LORD

HOSEA 14:9

Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them. For the ways of the LORD are right, and the righteous will walk in them, but wrongdoers will stumble in them.”

I can remember my dad teaching me some things about woodworking when I was growing up. My dad could build just about anything. And when it came to refinishing furniture, he was a master. He always told me to take my time. You can’t rush the process. Applying stain, varnish and sanding takes time. He showed me how and then let me try.

God’s ways are like that. We have to follow the process. We can’t just make up our own way. Sometimes God’s ways take time. You can’t rush it. Hosea is reminding us here in the last verse of the book that we need to reflect on all he has said. He says, “the righteous will walk in them, but the wrongdoers will stumble in them.” That’s a pretty, straightforward statement.

APPLICATION

So, the question for us today is what will be choose to do. Will you take the time to understand God’s way? Are you wise? Are you discerning? I believe you are. Let me encourage you to go back and read all my blogs on Hosea in one sitting. Discover God’s way of doing things. Be patient in the process.

God’s ways aren’t always our ways. In my case, they seldom are. I want to figure it out myself. I want to get things done. I don’t like waiting. And because of that, God makes me wait a lot. He knows what I need and will do what is necessary to help me learn it. Do I like that? No! But I know He only wants what is best for me.

So, I will be patient as I learn the process, just like I was when my dad taught me how to refinish furniture. I have to follow each step and not rush it. I have to wait for the first coat of paint or varnish to dry first. I have to wait for… Well, you get the picture. It’s a process. Will you follow God’s ways today?

I am thankful, Lord, for the process even though I don’t particularly like it. I trust You.

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GOD’S WIND

HOSEA 13:15

Though he flourishes among the reeds, an east wind will come, the wind of the LORD coming up from the wilderness; and his fountain will become dry and his spring will dry up; it will plunder his treasury of every precious article.”

I love to fish. I used to own a fishing boat and would go out on our local lake to fish. Sometimes when you are out on the water the weather changes. I can remember one day when I was out with some friends when that happened. The sky started to get dark, so I checked my weather app. Sure enough, a storm was coming. I could see the water getting rougher from the approaching winds. I had to get off the water for my safety.

The wind of the Lord came up from the wilderness, says Hosea. God’s judgment on Israel was coming. They were going to feel the wrath of God soon. But Israel continued to ignore the signs. They continued in their sins and rebellion until the wind hit them. Stubbornness and pride will always bring you down.

APPLICATION

When you see a storm coming, don’t you take cover? I can remember preparing for approaching hurricanes when I lived in Florida. We boarded up windows and brought in outdoor furniture. We would have been foolish to do anything else. But so many of us ignore the approaching wind of the Lord. We think it certainly won’t hit us. God is too loving to punish us, right?

Wrong! I have said it multiple times – God cannot and will not allow unrepentant sin to go unpunished. Without Christ His wind will catch us all. But once we come to Christ and confess our sins, His wind will simply fill our sails and carry us along on our journey. It’s the same wind but with a different purpose. Isn’t that amazing?

I choose to have my sails filled with the gentle breath of the Lord’s wind. I want Him to guide me in my daily walk with Christ. I trust Him to blow as gentle or as strong as necessary to do that. And wherever He leads, I will go.

Wherever He leads, I’ll go, Wherever He leads, I’ll go. I’ll follow my Christ who loves me so. Wherever He leads, I’ll go.

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SWIFT AND VICIOUS

HOSEA 13:7 

“So I will be like a lion to them; like a leopard I will lie in wait by the wayside.” 

My daughter had the opportunity to visit Masai Mara several years ago while she was living in Kenya. Going on a safari there was a thrill of a lifetime. She was able to see so many animals. As cute and adorable as the lion cubs appeared, she was reminded how deadly they are. When they attack it is swift and vicious. 

Hosea uses this same imagery when he describes God’s judgment of Israel. His would be a swift and ferocious judgment. He had tolerated the sins of the nation long enough. They would be completely caught off guard and powerless. God still loves them dearly, but He will not allow them to continue in their rebellion. 

APPLICATION 

We walk around the same way. We think we can ignore God’s law and skate through life unscathed. In fact, we might just do that. But judgment is coming. God will hold every single person accountable for their sins. There is no escape. When we take our last breath, we will come face to face with our decision to follow or not to follow the Lord. 

But praise be to God, there is a solution. God provided it. Jesus has shed His blood to cover our sins. All we have to do is claim that forgiveness. Have you done that? Have you asked Jesus into your life and surrendered your heart to Him? If so, that judgment is paid. God’s wrath is appeased. You are in His family. I pray you have made that decision. If not, do it today. 

The peace that overwhelms me because of my decision to follow Jesus is indescribable. Knowing my eternity is settled allows me to concentrate on the present. I want to live in such a way that others are influenced to follow Him too. I know too many people who aren’t walking with Jesus. It breaks my heart. Will you join me in doing all we can to bring them along with us to Glory?  

You are all I need today, Lord. I am thankful You rescued me. 

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WANDERERS

HOSEA 9:17

“My God will reject them because they have not listened to Him; and they will be wanderers among the nations.”

Sometimes it’s nice to just wander. I have always wanted to take a trip with no plans, just get in the car and drive and stop when I wanted to. That would be fun. But I would not want to wander around lost. That can be frightening and dangerous. I am thankful for Google Maps, for that very reason.

Part of God’s punishment for Israel was they were destined to be wanderers. Do you realize they stayed wanderers for generations? The nation of Israel vanished off the face of the earth for a while. In 1948 they became a nation again, and that was due to the extreme persecution of the Holocaust. Wandering is no fun when it is God’s judgment.

APPLICATION

Have you been wandering away from the Lord? What direction are you headed? Listen, stop and turn towards Him. Your wanderings will only get you nowhere. And nowhere is exactly where Satan wants you. He doesn’t want you near the Lord. He doesn’t want you being led by Him. The devil wants to drag you around and confuse you.

But, if you turn to Jesus, He will cease your wandering. He will lead you into green pastures and by quiet streams. And even when He leads you into the valley of the shadow of death, He will not leave you. His rod and His staff will comfort you. You can read the rest of this in Psalm 23. Trust the Shepherd to stop your wandering.

I have to be truthful here. I have wandered. There have been times in my Christian walk when I have left the Lord’s path. I decided to go my own way. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit wouldn’t leave me alone. He drew me back to the Lord’s path. His path is safe. His path, though not necessarily smooth, will guide me straight to Him. Will you join me?

Father, I trust Your leading. Guide me in Your paths of righteousness today.

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NO ROOT, NO FRUIT

HOSEA 9:16

“Ephraim is stricken, their root is dried up, they will produce no fruit. Even though they give birth to children, I will put to death the precious ones of their womb.”

I had a great vegetable garden when I lived in South Carolina. I had both row gardens and raised beds. I could grow just about anything I wanted in that garden. But I discovered something about gardening there. If your vegetables don’t have a strong root system where they can absorb nutrients, you will get little if any fruit.

Hosea used this same imagery in today’s verse. God said Israel’s root was dried up so they couldn’t produce any fruit. Even if they were to give birth to children, they wouldn’t survive. The very fruit of their wombs would not last. They had no hope for a future.

APPLICATION

I hope you are rooted deep. What are you rooted in? If it isn’t Jesus and the word of God, then you are going to be fruitless. Isn’t that sad? Most of us want to be fruitful. We want to be used by the Lord, don’t we? So, we have to put down roots. How is that done?

We have to be committed to spending time with the Lord. We have to put down roots in prayer. We have to put down roots in studying His Word. Those roots will draw nourishment from that and produce fruit. Of course, any fruit we draw up belongs to the Lord. Our goal has to be to produce as much fruit as possible. And all that fruit is for others.

Fruit production is only as good as the soil and the plant. I have made the decision to guard my “plant” from being exposed to poor soil. I want to nourish it and allow it to flourish. I want to grow strong and produce as much fruit as possible. I pray that for you.

My roots will grow deep as I spend time with You, Lord. I know that healthy roots produce healthy fruit.

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THE LORD’S DAY

HOSEA 9:5

“What will you do on the day of the appointed festival and on the day of the feast of the LORD?”

I had a drug problem as a child. I was drug to church every Sunday, lol. Now, I may have said that in jest, but the truth was every Sunday I was in church. It was just where we were on Sunday mornings. We were in Sunday School at 9:45 and worship at 11:00. It was the expected thing to do, and we did it. Sunday was the Lord’s day.

Sadly, the Israelites had forsaken the Lord’s festivals in exchange for the worship of other gods. They even combined some of the holy festivals with pagan worship. God, through Hosea, was asking them where they are. His chosen people had forsaken Him. They didn’t have time for Him. He was not a priority.

APPLICATION

We are seeing the same thing today. Covid has gotten a lot of people out of church. Many are content to remain at home and channel surf until they find a preacher they like. Others are content to live stream the service into their home. Going to church has become unimportant. Coming together with other believers to worship and praise our King is not a priority.

Church isn’t out of style. I am afraid we have become complacent. We are allowing the world to dictate our behaviors. Now, I am not talking about not attending while the pandemic was rampant. Most of us took precautions during that time. But that time as passed. Vaccines have been taken. The severe threat has come and gone. It’s time to return.

Don’t let the Lord ask you where you are on Sundays. Sure, you can worship God anywhere (I hear that a lot). But we need each other. We desire community. We grow stronger with other believers in our lives. You can’t do that in front of the tv or computer. If you are one of those who has become comfortable at home, I want to encourage you today to return to the Lord’s house. He wants you there. And others need you there.

Let us not forsake the assembling of the body of Christ, Lord. Remind us how important it is to be together in worship.

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OUTCASTS

HOSEA 9:3

“They will not remain in the LORD’S land, but Ephraim will return to Egypt, and in Assyria they will eat unclean food.

There have been a few times in my life when I felt like an outcast, like I wasn’t wanted. I can remember being chosen last at recess for a game. I wasn’t the fastest kid when I was little. I was on the heavy side. So, if there were teams being picked that involved running fast, I was usually one of the last chosen. I hated that feeling.

It’s not the same, but here in Hosea we see that Israel or Ephraim would be cast out of their land. The Lord was not going to allow them to remain there. They would be taken away. I can’t imagine how that must have felt. They would have to leave their homes and their lands and be taken to a strange land as slaves, as exiles. All because they had not obeyed the Lord.

APPLICATION

Oh, listen to me. Without Christ in our lives, we will all be outcasts. We will be cast into hell. We will face eternal punishment for not obeying the Lord. He will hold us accountable for all the sins we have committed. We will not escape His wrath.

But…if we turn to Him in repentance and bow our knee to Jesus, He is quick to adopt us into His family. We will never be cast out. We will inherit His promises. We are heirs of His kingdom. We are commanded to obey, and by doing so He draws us close. So, we have a choice – outcast or drawn close.

I know what I choose. I want to draw close. James 4:8 says, “Come close to God and He will come close to you.” Spending time in the Word daily does that. Hearing His voice as He speaks to me through His precepts pulls me closer each day. I can just hear His still small voice. Can you hear Him?

I love to hear Your voice. I want to be drawn close to You. I praise You!

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