Accountability, Advocate, Battles, Bible, Blameless, Choices, Confession, Enemies, God's Will, Salvation, Scripture

WIPED OUT

JOEL 3:19

Egypt will become a wasteland, and Edom will become a desolate wilderness, because of the violence done to the sons of Judah, in whose land they have shed innocent blood.

I love movies where the bad guys get it. That may sound bad. Sorry! But I love for right to triumph. I like to see the righteous win. This world has way too much bad stuff happening. It seems that evil is winning all the time. I don’t have to go into details. You know what I am talking about. So, when I can see things end right in a movie, that pleases me.

God defended the innocent. He wiped out Egypt and Edom for their crimes against Judah. They had done violence against them and now it was payback time. But it was the Lord God who did the repaying. His vengeance is always right. When He judges it is always just. And Egypt and Edom were found guilty.

APPLICATION

Which side of right and wrong are you on? Well Carl, I wouldn’t be reading a devotional if I was on the wrong side. Oh really? Are you sure about that? A lot of people are doing religious stuff but are still on the wrong side. They are pretending. They present themselves as righteous but are living unholy lives. There lives are not surrendered to Jesus. They are just going through the motions.

I am not saying that is you. I just want you to examine yourself. Are you totally surrendered to Jesus? Does He have your heart 100 percent? When given a choice, do you choose the things of the world or the things of Christ? Christ is our Master, and we must obey Him in all things. We must choose what is right according to His Word no matter the cost.

Right and wrong. Good and evil. The choice has been around since creation. Most days I choose what is right and good. Other days I fall victim to my flesh and choose the wrong thing. I am thankful that my heart belongs to Jesus, and His Spirit convicts me and draws me back. I do not have to fear being wiped out by God. He has already wiped out my sins.

O Lord, I am thankful You have wiped out my sins. Forgive me when I fall short.

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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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Advice, Affliction, Battles, Bible, Devil, Enemies, Faithfulness, Fighting, Protection, Salvation, Satan, Scripture

PREPARE FOR BATTLE

JOEL 3:10

Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weak man say, “I am a warrior.”

I’ve never been to war. I’ve only had two fistfights in my life (both in high school before I came to Christ). So, the concept of gearing up for combat is foreign to me. I have known several men who bravely fought for our country. I respect them all. Their courage is admirable. They each had to prepare themselves for war, including getting the right arsenal.

Joel is telling the Judeans to get ready. Take whatever you have and make weapons. Plowshares into swords and pruning hooks into spears. They had to have weapons to fight the enemy when they arrived. This passage may sound familiar. It’s the exact opposite of what you will read in Isaiah 2:4 and Micah 4:3. Take a minute and read those passages. But Joel is preparing for war, not peace.

APPLICATION

Are you prepared to fight the battles that are before you? Do you have the weapons you need? If you are a believer in Christ, you have everything you need to battle your adversary, the devil. God’s Word is the sword to wield. Your faith is the shield to protect you from his fiery darts. Your helmet of salvation guards your mind from any thoughts he might throw your way.

You see, you have the weapons. The question is are you ready to fight. The devil comes out each day with one goal – to defeat us. He wants to lay us out. He cannot stand it when we read the Bible and pray. He hates it when we share our faith with others. He will try anything to stop that. Don’t let him. Fight back.

I have learned lately just how determined he is. He has thrown all sorts of things in my path to try to discourage me. He wants me to lie down and quit. He cannot take away my salvation, but he can sure take me out of the fight – if I let him. But I won’t! Will you join me in the fight?

I am ready to follow You, Lord, wherever You lead. I trust You as my Commander in Chief.

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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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Accountability, Advice, Advocate, Bible, Enemies, Family, Friends

OPPORTUNITY SEEKERS

JOEL 3:4

“Moreover, what are you to Me, Tyre, Sidon, and all the regions of Philistia? Are you repaying Me with retribution? But if you are showing Me retribution, swiftly and speedily I will return your retribution on your head!

Some people are opportunity seekers. I don’t mean that in a good way. They are the people who kick you when you’re down. They don’t have the ability to knock you down, but while you are down there, they take the opportunity to pile on you. They join in the insults. They spread the rumors. They just look for the chance to join in with a stronger group to accomplish their hatred.

The Lord is chastising the Philistines because of their relentless hatred and attacks on Judea. While Judea was being judged by God, Philistia attacked. They have been an enemy of the entirety of Israel since Joshua led the nation into the promised land. There’s a reason God told them to wipe out all the pagans in the land. But here they are, centuries later, still harassing the people.

APPLICATION

How does this relate to us? There are probably people in your life who are relentless with their attacks. They just look for the chance to pounce on you when you’re down. I believe the Lord would have us distance ourselves from such people. Anyone who tries to tear you down is not good for you. They do nothing to build you up in Christ. It is not helpful or healthy to maintain such relationships with the hope of it changing.

Instead, we need to surround ourselves with people who share our common worldview. We need people who love our Lord as much if not more than we do. These kind of people will build you up. These kind of people will love you when you’re down. These kind of people will “have your back” when you are facing hard times. Seek these friends out because they are more than friends. They are part of the same family of God.

I have a few friends like that. They are friends that I would not hesitate to call in a time of need. We may not talk every day, but when we do it’s sincere. Proverbs 18:24 says, “A person of too many friends comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Find those “sticky” friends.

Father, protect me from those who would want to do me harm and surround me with those “sticky” friends who only want to build me up.

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Advocate, Bible, Consequences, Enemies, Judgment, Opponents, Punishment, Scripture

THE JUDGMENT OF THE NATIONS

JOEL 3:2

“I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. Then I will enter into judgment with them there on behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; and they have divided up My land.”

Way back in 1985 I visited my sister in Chattanooga. I was living in Dalton at the time. On the way to see her at the hospital where she had just had surgery, I had a car wreck. It wasn’t anything serious, but I got a ticket and had to appear in traffic court. When I went to court, I spent the whole morning listening to dozens of drunk driving cases. When I finally stood before the judge, he hardly looked at me. He started rattling off about how I shouldn’t drink and drive. The officer who was there with me, told him I had not been drinking. Without batting an eye, he pronounced judgment on me.

I am so thankful the Lord does not pronounce judgment on us that way. Here in Joel 3:2, the Lord is pronouncing judgment upon all the nations that had conquered Judea. He used them to judge Judea, but they had gone beyond in their abuse of Judea. They had scattered them. In return, God was going to scatter them. I am sure Judeans were thrilled to hear that their enemies were finally going to be judged.

APPLICATION

We will all be judged one day. Believers will be judged for their works here on earth for the cause of Christ. We see that in 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 when it talks about our works being either wood, hay or stubble or gold, silver and precious stones. One group will survive the fires of judgment. The other won’t. For believers, that will be our judgment because our sins have already been paid for through Christ.

However, for everyone else, they will face the Great White Throne judgment talked about in Scripture. That will be a quick judgment. If you haven’t accepted Christ as your Savior, you are judged guilty of your sins and sentenced to an eternity away from God in hell. Many people today don’t believe in hell. Let me tell you something. Your disbelief in hell does not lower the temperature there one degree. It’s real and eternal.

I am so thankful that my “fire insurance policy” is paid for and up to date. I don’t say that flippantly. My relationship with Christ is much more than an escape from hell. But it does include that. It’s kind of like one of those rider policies you have on your homeowner’s insurance. I am bought and paid for. You can be too, if you give your life to Him. Do that today.

Father God, I am so thankful You called me to Yourself. I am thankful my judgment is different than those who don’t believe.

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Bible, Cleansing, Confession, Enemies, Forgiveness, Salvation, Scripture

OUR STENCH

JOEL 2:20

“‘But I will remove the northern army far from you, and I will drive it into a dry and desolate land, its advance guard into the eastern sea, and its rear guard into the western sea. And its stench will ascend and its odor of decay will come up, because it has done great things.’”

I have smelled some stinky things in my life – hog pens, rotten corn and dirty diapers. Probably the worse thing I ever smelled was the corn that had gotten wet inside a grain bin on a hot August day. It had rotted and fermented. I had to get inside that grain bin and shovel the corn into an auger to get it out. The smell was nauseating. As bad as that was, my sin stinks worse.

Joel gives us a picture of a couple of things in today’s verse. He is perhaps referring to the decaying bodies of the locusts that had swarmed Judah. And perhaps he is referring to the foes who came in to defeat the land. Whichever it is, God has taken care of them. They have been wiped out, and all that’s left is the stench of their carcasses.

APPLICATION

How are you smelling? Does the stench of your sins reek to high heaven? Maybe it’s time for a cleansing. I have been memorizing Psalm 51. Don’t you just love the part that says “Cleanse me with hyssop and I will clean. Wash me and I will be whiter than snow.” Isn’t that something we could all use?

All it takes for us to be clean is to come to Jesus and ask for forgiveness. That first cleansing at salvation is breath taking. You are thoroughly cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. Each time we sin after that, the sin is already forgiven, but we still need to confess it and go to the Lord. Why? Because our sins stink. They stain us.

I know I need to confess my sins. They are my enemy. They may not be locusts or armies, but they are still my enemy, and they stink. I want that just washed fragrance on me. So, I confess my sins. I ask for forgiveness. And every time, the Lord does. He cleanses me. He rids me of my “enemies” of sin.

Lord, thank You for the forgiveness You give me. As undeserving as I am, You still do it.

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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.

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Accountability, Betrayal, Bible, Destruction, Enemies, Judgment, Lies, Modeling, Obedience, Protection, Punishment, Safety, Scripture

BAD INVESTMENT

HOSEA 8:10

“Even though they pay for allies among the nations, I will gather them up now; and they will begin to diminish because of the burden of the king of officials.”

I am sure most of us have made a least one bad investment. It seemed so sure at the time, but after making the decision and going through with the purchase, we found out the truth. A lot of online purchases will fall into this category. Everything looks better online, doesn’t it?

Israel had sent gifts to Assyria to try to gain favor with them and put off the judgment God had said would befall them by their hands. That was a bad investment, money poorly spent. Assyria couldn’t be trusted. They were pagans with no morals. They were power hungry. They may promise peace, but their word meant nothing.

APPLICATION

Have you ever trusted the wrong person? I have. There have been people in my life who have turned on me. They promised one thing but did another. To be totally honest, I have done that myself in the past. I have confessed that as sin both to my Father in heaven and to those I have wronged. There is no excuse for it. It’s just plain sin.

But we are promised that God will never turn against us. He will always support us. His word is always sure. Do you believe that? It’s true. There is nothing we can do to drive Him away. He will always have our back. But we do need to abide in Him. That is only possible through His Son Jesus Christ.

I pray you are drawing close to Him. I pray you have allied yourself with Him. There is no better ally. You can’t outrun Him. You can’t hide from Him. He knows your innermost thoughts. He longs to be with you. Come to Him today and trust Him to protect you. He always will.

You are my ally, Lord. For that, I am truly thankful. I know I can always depend on You.

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Accountability, Advice, Battles, Bible, Choices, Commands, Confrontation, Devil, Enemies, Fighting, Flesh, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Satan, Scripture

WARNING! WARNING!

HOSEA 8:1

Put the trumpet to your lips! Like an eagle the enemy comes against the house of the LORD, because they have violated My covenant and rebelled against My Law.”

Picture yourself on the wall of a city. Your job is to watch for any approaching enemies. You have a trumpet to blow to warn the city if danger is sighted. So, when do you blow that trumpet? Do you wait until the enemy is at the gate or do you sound the alarm as soon as you spot them?

Here in Hosea the enemy has come. There is no time for the trumpet to be sounded. Judgment has fallen. God is holding them accountable for their breach of the covenant. They have rebelled against His Law. So, God is using their enemies to judge them.

APPLICATION

We must sound the alarm. In our society today we are surrounded by encroaching enemies. But we remain silent. We don’t warn our brothers and sisters about the danger that is all around us. We may run for cover ourselves, but we leave the rest to fend for themselves.

Who are these enemies? Anyone or anything that goes against God’s Word and His commands for our lives. Anyone or anything that speaks against Jesus is an enemy of the cross. Satan will use all these to try to tear us down. He is on the attack – always. We cannot let up for a second. We must be on guard. We must keep the trumpet in our hands ready to blow.

I am looking. Are you? I’m on the wall. Are you? 1 Peter 5:8 tells us, “Be of sober spirit. Be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.” Don’t think for a second he’s got your best interest in mind. He has one goal – to destroy you and other believers. Stand firm and strong.

I will blow the trumpet, Lord. I will sound the alarm. I will stand with You.

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