Abiding, Blessing, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Gifts, Inspirational, Scripture

BLESSINGS UPON BLESSINGS

JOEL 3:18

And on that day the mountains will drip with sweet wine, and the hills will flow with milk, and all the brooks of Judah will flow with water; and a spring will go out from the house of the LORD and water the Valley of Shittim.

I have been the recipient of blessings. In fact, I could say they have been blessings upon blessings. People have blessed me with gifts. I have a friend who gifted me a great pair of shoes because he was concerned about my neuropathy. He has seen me struggle and took it upon himself to do that. That was a blessing. I am truly a blessed man.

In today’s verse we see God’s blessings upon the land. The mountains drip wine. The hills flow with milk. The brooks will flow with water. All this imagery is sending Judah a message. Their God is blessing His children after the period of judgment and war. He is faithful to do that.

APPLICATION

Have you counted your blessings lately? You need to. I bet you could fill a box with records of your blessings. Take a minute or two today and thank God for how He has blessed you. Write those blessings down and put them on your frig to remind you of how He has done that. We need those reminders. We forget so quickly.

If you have children, ask them how they think the Lord has blessed your family. Children are so good at recognizing things that we adults take for granted. Get them to make a list. I bet their list will be different from yours. Compare your lists. Make a plan to do this with your children regularly. In fact, the next time you face a tough time, go look at your list. You may be amazed.

I know I am amazed each day how the Lord has blessed me. I don’t deserve anything, but He gives me everything I need. I am so ungrateful, but He is so faithful. I am unworthy, but He has made me worthy. He does the same for you. Will you recognize that today? Give Him praise!

Forgive me, Lord, for not being more grateful for all You have given me. I want to quickly recognize every blessing that comes my way.

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Advocate, Belief, Bible, Blessing, Encouragement, Protection, Scripture

STRONGHOLD

JOEL 3:16

The LORD roars from Zion and utters His voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth quake. But the LORD is a refuge for His people, and a stronghold for the sons of Israel.

Isn’t it amazing how a person’s perception of something can be so different than someone else’s perception? They can see the exact same event and come to very different conclusions. For instance, I watched the Atlanta Braves win the National League Championship last night. I thought it was the best thing ever. But I bet there were Los Angeles Dodger fans watching who thought it was awful. Same event-different perceptions.

In today’s verse, the enemies of Judah would be terrified when they heard the Lion of Judah roar. Their earth would quake in fear. But…there’s that word – but. A conjunction that leads to a change in thought. But the Lord looks different to His people. He is their refuge and stronghold. How reassuring is that?

APPLICATION

What is your stronghold? Do you even know what that is? It’s a place of safety, a harbor. Now, who doesn’t need that? We all need someone or someplace we can go for protection. You may be thinking Carl, I don’t need that. I can take care of myself. Oh really? If you haven’t faced the day yet when you need it, you will. We all do, sooner or later.

The beautiful thing about God being our stronghold is He will never stop being that for us. He will always be there. No storm is too big for Him. No trial that comes our way is above His head. He can protect and defend you. The doors to His stronghold are impenetrable. You are safe and secure.

Who doesn’t want that? I sure do, and I don’t see that as a weakness. I see it as a strength. I know my limitations. I know, without the Lord Jesus, I would fall flat on my face. I need God as my stronghold and refuge. Proverbs 18:10 says “The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous runs into it and is safe.” That’s where I want to be. How about you?

I will run to You, O Lord. You are my stronghold and refuge.

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Accountability, Advocate, Bible, Consequences, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Heaven, Hell, Judgment, Obedience, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture

DECISIONS

JOEL 3:14

Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.

I have mentioned in this blog site several times that I worked over thirty years in the child welfare field. Most of those years were spent in administration. In those roles I had to supervise staff as well as deal with the children in crisis. Decisions were a daily thing, and sometimes those decisions had to be made quickly and decisively. I didn’t have time to mull it over. Thank the Lord, most of the time I decided correctly.

Here we are in Joel 3:14 at “the valley of decision.” The Hebrew word for “decision” can mean sharp-pointed or strict decision. Of course, Joel says this is “the day of the Lord” which refers to a day of judgment. Also, the word “multitude” has an interesting meaning. It can mean murmur or roar. You can almost hear the crowds of nations gathered around. It was literally a sea of humanity.

APPLICATION

Have you made the most important decision of your life? There is no bigger one than asking Jesus to be your Savior. This decision will not only change your life. It will also change your eternity. Before making that decision, your eternity was set. You were doomed to an eternal hell with no hope, separated from God. But once you make that decision, your new eternity rests in glory, the dwelling place of God.

How many people do you know right now will be facing the “day of the Lord” without that hope of glory? Judgment day is a certain thing. And God’s judgment on that day will be like some of my decisions I had to make – swift and decisive. The difference between His judgment and my decisions is His is always right. He always judges correctly.

Aren’t you glad you know Him? If you do, the day of the Lord holds no fear for you. Your destiny is safely in the hands of Jesus, literally. The scars in Jesus’ hands points to the fact of His death and sacrifice for you. Don’t you want to share that with someone else? Do that today.

I am so thankful, Lord, that judgment day holds no fear for me. I am confident of my place in heaven.

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Advice, Affliction, Battles, Bible, Devil, Encouragement, Enemies, Following, Opponents, Protection, Satan, Scripture, Soldiers

TIME FOR WAR

JOEL 3:9

Proclaim this among the nations:

Prepare for holy war; stir up the warriors!

Have all the soldiers come forward, have them come up!

The United States just ended their longest war in history. We finally withdrew from Afghanistan after twenty years. Many say we should have never gone to war. That can be debated. The fact is we went and were there for twenty long years. In a way, this was also a holy war. We were fighting to protect our nation and our way of living from a group of people who are determined to destroy us. Their religion calls for the termination of all “infidels.”

So, in a way, we can relate to this verse today. Joel is calling for Judah to prepare for battle. A day is coming when they will be fighting a holy war against the nations. Judah, which is part of the nation of Israel today, has been preparing for war since that day. They are still preparing today. Every young person in Israel has to serve a period of time in the military. They are prepared.

APPLICATION

The question I have for us today is: Are we? Are we prepared to fight a holy war? Now, I don’t mean a physical war with physical weapons, even though that may be required one day. I mean, do we have the divine weapons in our arsenal to fight the battles we face every day against Satan? That is a holy war we fight every day, and if we aren’t armed properly, Satan will eat our lunch.

You need to read 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 today. It will remind you that you do indeed have the weapons you need to fight the battle. But with any weapon, you first have to pick it up and then you have to know how to wield it. That takes practice. That takes time. I am glad you are reading this devotional blog today, but don’t let this be your quiet time. Let this inspire you to dig deeper in your quiet time.

I write this blog as part of my quiet time each day, but I also try to dig deeper in another passage. I need to know all I can to fight the battle. I spend time every day memorizing and reviewing passages. I want to keep my mind sharp when I need to recall a passage to protect my thoughts. It’s a battle, folks, each and every day. Don’t forget that.

O God, I am so glad You have given me divine weapons to demolish strongholds. I am thankful I can learn Your Word to fight off my enemy.

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FAR AWAY

JOEL 3:6

“and sold the sons of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks in order to remove them far from their territory,

I have mentioned several times about my 30+ years in the Child Welfare field. Most of those years were great years. I learned a lot and grew both professionally and personally. But one incident sticks in my mind. I was working at children’s home and three of the children I worked with were set up to be adopted. That sounds great. But this adoption was done without the children ever having met the family before. I still remember that day having to physically put the children in the back of that car. It was tearful and sad, instead of joyous.

That scene comes to mind when I read today’s verse in Joel. Part of the reason the Lord is judging these nations so harshly is because they had sold the Judeans to other nations to move them far away. That was part of the process when a nation defeated another nation. They dispersed them to prevent them from reforming and starting a rebellion. God was not happy about that and held them accountable.

APPLICATION

How do you apply a verse like this to your life?  Let me ask you this question. What have you removed far away from God? What are you holding on to? Now, you really can’t remove anything from God. He is everywhere and is all knowing. But we can withhold things from Him that need to be surrendered. Do you have a “secret stash” of things that you just can’t let go of?

God desires total surrender from us. He wants us to turn everything over to Him rather than tucking stuff away. Unlike the nations’ plan to move Judea away to prevent rebellion, our moving stuff away actually leads to rebellion. The more stuff we hold on to, the more those things can lead us away from our Lord. We need to give Him our all.

I have experienced periods in my life when I was holding on to something. It was something I could fix, something I could handle. Each time I did this, I eventually realized the futility of my efforts. I learned to surrender it. Now, I’m a little hard-headed. Just ask my wife, lol. But I do know His way in the right way. Do you?

I bring all my “tucked away” things to You, O Lord. I desire to walk in freedom.

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Bible, Blessing, Encouragement, Inheritance, Money, Protection, Scripture, Treasures

SILVER AND GOLD

JOEL 3:5

“Since you have taken My silver and My gold, brought My precious treasures to your temples,”

Everything that I have belongs to the Lord. Every shirt, chair, car, etc. I learned a while back to give it all to Him. By doing so, they are His responsibility, not mine. So, when something breaks or has to be replaced, I tell the Lord that He needs to replace His item. He has been faithful to do that for all these years.

Philistia had come in and robbed the people of their silver and gold. At this time, they had not touched the silver and gold of the temple. He is referring to the wealth of the people which had been taken away. Their wealth belonged to the Lord. Taking it was taking from Him. The Philistines took it and brought it to their temples and dedicated it to their Gods. The Lord was not happy about that.

APPLICATION

What are your “robbing” the Lord of right now? Don’t you realize that all you have belongs to the Lord. As a believer, we need to dedicate it all to Him. We don’t have the right to do with as we wish. Only He does. So, if He chooses to take it away, we have to be okay with this. If He chooses to bless us with more, that’s His choice as well.

Take a moment and look at all you have. Say a prayer of dedication for it all. This releases you from having to worry about your stuff. God will protect His stuff a lot better than you can. He can replace things easier than you can. Silver and gold are like pennies to Him. Trust Him with it.

I think I have told the story of our washing machine while we lived in Florida. To make this short, it died and needed replacing. I went to the Lord and said, “It’s yours, God. You know our need. I trust You to get us a new one.” Within the week, someone gave us a new matching set. Ain’t God good?

Thank You, Lord, for blessing me with all You have given me. I place it all in Your hands.

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RESTORED FORTUNES

JOEL 3:1

“For behold, in those days and at that time, When I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem.”

We have probably all heard stories of people who got fortunes restored to them after years of waiting. Perhaps they weren’t even aware of the fortunes out there until they appeared. There’s actually a website you can go to for each state in the U.S. to search and see if you have money coming to you that you forgot about from a closed bank account or an old deposit. Getting those fortunes are exciting.

Can you imagine how excited Judah and Jerusalem were to hear these words? They had been overrun by their enemies. They had lost all they had. And now, to hear from Joel that the Lord was going to restore it – wow! I bet they were giddy. I bet they were so thankful. It’s amazing what the Lord can do for us when we are surrendered.

APPLICATION

You may not have millions of dollars coming to you, but the Lord is still in the restoring business. When we have crashed and burned our lives, the Lord can take that and restore it. Better yet, He makes it so much better than it used to be. But we have to surrender that life to Him. The Lord can’t restore what not is in His hands.

Are you struggling today? Is your life upside down? Perhaps you think there is no way out. I’ve got great news for you. There is a way out. God can take your crumpled life and make it new. He can give you a purpose for living. He can give you the promise of eternal life with Him. Will you surrender today? Maybe you are a believer, and you’ve just gotten sidetracked. Come back to Him. He can restore you as well.

When I came to Christ, I was headed down the wrong road fast. I don’t need to go into all that I was doing. Let’s just say it did not please the Lord. But when I came to that point of surrender on July 31, 1977, my life changed completely. I reversed directions. He restored me to a new life in Christ. I had a purpose for living. I am so grateful for His restoration in my life.

O God, You are the Great Restorer. You have given me a new life in Christ to live to glorify You. Thank You!

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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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NO LIMITS

JOEL 2:29

“‘And even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.’”

I have never driven my car anywhere that didn’t have speed limits. I can’t imagine doing that. Without limits on the speed you can drive, I am afraid that people would get a little crazy. Call me an old fogey, but I probably would still drive the speed I drive here in Tennessee. I kind of like limits when it comes to speed.

But God didn’t limit His Spirit to the Judeans. He says here in today’s verse that even the male and female servants would receive the pouring out His Spirit. Think about that. God was showing the Judeans that everyone could be a part of His spiritual family. You didn’t have to be a Judean. You didn’t have to be free. Anyone could receive the Spirit.

APPLICATION

That still applies today. God pours forth His Spirit on anyone who wants to receive it. The Spirit is no respecter of persons when it comes to who can come to Him. God’s Spirit is promised to all believers. Jesus has sent Him to indwell us for a purpose. We live holy lives empowered by that Holy Spirit. He is the only reason we are able to live that way.

Think how awful it would be if the Spirit was limited to only a few. Those with disabilities could be denied. Others with another language would be barred from receiving Him. But thanks be to God, that is not how it works. Every nation, every people group, every tongue can receive the Holy Spirit at salvation. Praise the Lord.

I know the Spirit dwells in me because He is constantly reminding me of who I am in Christ. Whenever the devil tries to get me down, the Spirit speaks. This Holy Spirit is my constant companion and guide. Aren’t you glad He lives in you?

O Holy Spirit, thank You for speaking to me. Thank You for directing my path each and every day.

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NO OTHER

JOEL 2:27

“‘So you will know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God and there is no other; and My people will never be put to shame.’”

I don’t like imposters. People who pretend to be someone or something else just get under my skin. There, I said it. Is that judgmental? Yes, I guess it is. But people who do this are simply deceptive. Deception is the work of the evil one. There is no doubt about that.

But God is not a deceiver. Nor is He a pretender. He is the only true God. Here in Joel, He says that He is the Lord your God and there is no other. Why did the Lord say that? Because He needed to remind the Judeans why they have just come through their judgment. They had pursued other false gods, who really aren’t gods at all. There is only One God.

APPLICATON

I probably don’t need to tell you that there is only one God. You probably know that. But are you living as if that is true? Do you put your trust in other things? Do you rely on money or prestige to get you through? There is only one source for all your needs. That is the Lord your God. He is still playing that role today.

When I say playing that role, I don’t mean He is pretending. Of course, not. He is simply fulfilling His role. He is the creator of all that there is. He knows there is no other God. There is not any who rival Him. Satan is not His evil, equal adversary. Satan would want you to believe that, but he isn’t. He is subservient to God and will ultimately be judged and cast into the lake of fire. You can’t call that equal.

I do things sometimes that God may question my actions. He may think I doubt He is the only one. Of course, that is not true. But I resort to trusting sources other than Him. And when I do, it always ends bad. Don’t do what I do. Acknowledge Him as the only God. He believes you are the only you.

I praise You, O God, for being the one and only true God. I bow before You!

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