Accountability, Angels, Bible, Disciplemaking, Eternity, Harvest, Hope, Judgment

HARVEST TIME

JOEL 3:13

Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, tread the grapes, for the wine press is full; the vats overflow, for their wickedness is great.

I grew up in South Georgia in a very rural community. Farms were all around me. I had cousins, uncles and grandparents who were farmers. So, I understand harvest time. I grew up being a part of harvesting the crops. I distinctly remember bringing in beans, peas, corn and watermelons. Those were fond memories, and I am thankful I had that experience.

But Joel isn’t talking about that kind of harvest in today’s verse. He’s referring to an end time harvest. The enemies of Judah were going to be judged by a holy God. He is sending His angels to swing the sickle. Our enemies will one day be judged “for their wickedness is great.”

APPLICATION

Let me ask you a question. Are you ready for the harvest? One day the Lord is going to return for His church. Will you be taken up in that great harvest of believers across this world? In one blink of an eye, we will be taken up. Or will you be left behind to put the pieces together.

We are going through some challenges right now in my country. We are seeing store shelves empty. Prices are increasing. Things are getting tough. But can you imagine how it’s going to be after the Rapture? Can you imagine how countries around the world are going to react to the sudden loss of thousands of people? You don’t want to be here to see that.

I am so thankful that my “harvest ticket” has been punched. I know I’m going with the first trumpet. I’m ready. But I know too many people, including some family members, who will be left behind. That grieves me. Will you join me in praying for the lost? We don’t want to leave anyone behind.

Father, thank You for assuring my place in eternity. I do not fear the harvest of believers because I know I will be among them.

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Advice, Attention, Belief, Bible, Blessing, Confidence, Eternity, Heaven, Promises, Prophesy

WILL IT COME TRUE?

JOEL 2:30

“‘I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, blood, fire, and columns of smoke.’”

Have you ever had someone tell you something that was going to happen in the near future? It seems so outlandish that it could never come true. But they promise they have the inside scoop, and it’s going to happen. Perhaps they knew you were going to get a promotion at work or a big raise. How do you react?

Joel is beginning another prophesy that Jesus mentions in Matthew 24. God has often displayed signs in the sky. Rainbows, pillar of fire, cloud to lead the people, star in Bethlehem, and even a host of angels. These signs often pronounce judgment. Other times a great announcement. For Judea, it was a warning.

APPLICATION

What kind of sign has the Lord given you? None you say! Well, I don’t know about that. The Lord is always pointing His children towards godliness. He wants you to live that way and will show you how, if you will just stay alert. Holy living is what He desires from us. He even commands that of us.

But back to the signs in the sky. Read ahead in Joel 2:31-32 and see what Joel says here on behalf of the Lord. If that were to happen today, would you be ready? How would you react if the sun and the moon began to change? Would you freak out and run for cover? Listen, beloved, we have nothing to fear. Our sins have already been covered by the blood of the Lamb.

I am so grateful that nothing that is prophesied in Scripture scares me. I am anxiously awaiting the Rapture. I know I will be with Him when He returns after the tribulation. I know I will be reigning with Him in the new heaven and earth. I am confident of that. Are you?

Father, I praise You for saving me and giving me the confidence of my salvation.

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Attention, Belief, Bible, Christ's Return, Dreams, Eternity, God's Will, Prophesy, Visions

PROPHESY

JOEL 2:28

“‘It will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and your daughters will prophesy, Your old men will have dreams, Your young men will see visions.’”

A lot of people love to study prophesy. Why is that? Because they want to know what’s coming. We are all curious about the future. Attention!! Spoiler alert!! We win! No matter what prophesy you look at, we are winners. Those of us who are in Christ are guaranteed eternal life. That’s better than winning the lottery.

But here in Joel 2:28, we read a verse that is often quoted and preached. God’s Spirit has been poured out on all mankind through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He sent the Holy Spirit to indwell mankind. We have read a lot lately of sons and daughters, old men and young men having dreams and visions of Christ. Hallelujah! He is near.

APPLICATION

Let me step out on a limb here. I want to ask you a question that you may think is … well, out there. Are you ready? Have you had any dreams and visions lately? Is God speaking to you in this way? God is still talking to us. He speaks to us through His Word. He speaks to us in our prayers. And He still speaks to us in dreams and visions.

Now before you stop reading, let me explain. I am not suggesting that you seek these. God speaks when He is ready. And He doesn’t expect you to start a new church or denomination based on dreams and visions. These come to direct us. I would dare say that the majority of the time these come to us and are meant to be kept private. Just listen to Him.

The Lord has given all the prophesies necessary to lead us toward understanding the future. It really all comes down to trust. Do you trust Him? He may be trying to speak to you right now. He wants to speak into your life. Listen! He wants to whisper in your ear the truths of life. Listen!

O Father, I am listening. Speak to me through Your Word, though my prayers and yes, Lord, even through dreams and visions, if that is what it takes for me to hear Your voice.

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Belief, Bible, Comfort, Courage, Death, Encouragement, Eternity, Heaven, Promises, Scripture

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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Abiding, Advice, Appeasement, Bible, Commands, Commitment, Devil, Encouragement, Eternity, Following, Kings, Loyalty, Obedience, Protection, Scripture

GIVE ME A KING

HOSEA 13:10

“Where then is your king, that he might save you in all your cities; and your judges, to whom you said, ‘Give me a king and princes’?”

We always want what we don’t have. It seems we are never satisfied. I can remember when I was a young boy, I always wanted the new toy that someone else had. I just had to have it. I would save up my money until I had enough to buy it. And when I finally had the money and bought it, the thrill lasted about a week. Then I wanted something else.

Hosea is referring to such a time in the life of Israel. Do you remember it? They cried out for a king like the other nations. They were disregarding the fact that God was their King. They needed no other. But the cried out for one, so God gave them Saul. That didn’t turn out so well, did it?

APPLICATION

Are you crying out for another king? Are you disregarding God’s kingship in your life? Stop it! Jesus is your King. He will lead you wherever you need to go. He will provide for you as no other. But you have to follow Him. You have to obey His edicts. Then He will bless you and keep you.

A king demands obedience. A king expects his people to yield to his voice. Jesus is the same. He is a benevolent King. He is the only King who has died for you. No earthly king would do that. They may send others to die for you, but they would not lay down their own life. Jesus has done that. Isn’t that the kind of king you want?

I will serve King Jesus. We are going to serve someone, Jesus or the devil. I served the devil long enough before I came to Christ. He is never satisfied and impossible to please. I serve Jesus because He is so loving and caring. He is always listening and looking out for me. Why wouldn’t I want to serve Him? How about you?

King of my life, I love You. I will serve You here and in eternity.

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Abiding, Accountability, Bible, Commands, Eternity, Following, God's Will, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Repentance, Salvation, Scripture

MAMA BEAR

HOSEA 13:8 

“I will confront them like a bear deprived of her cubs, and I will tear open their chests; I will also devour them there like a lioness, as a wild animal would tear them to pieces.” 

A friend of mine was hunting a couple of years ago and accidentally got in between a mama black bear and her cubs. He was walking to his deer stand when suddenly he was standing twenty yards from this bear. He could tell she wasn’t happy. Normally, black bears will try to avoid you in the woods, so my friend started looking around for cubs. Sure enough, off to his side he spotted two cubs. He slowly backed up to allow mama and babies to reunite, avoiding a very unpleasant situation. 

Israel was not able to avoid the situation. God was responding to them just as a mama bear would “deprived of her cubs.” Once again, Hosea is describing the wrath of God that was falling on the nation for their disobedience. It wasn’t as if they had not been warned. They had. They knew the Law. They knew He was a jealous God. Still they continued in their sins unabated until… 

APPLICATION 

Aren’t you glad Jesus has paid the price for our sins? We have no need to fear God’s judgment. We are secure and protected. I cannot imagine going through life with the uncertainty of eternity. But there are so many people out there who do. They live each day racked with fear of God. Oh, how sad. 

Our mission is to help those living in fear to find the love and peace of our Savior. If you know Him personally, you have an obligation to share Him. The story is too good not to share. His love is too far reaching not to spread. The last thing we want is to see those we know and care about fall into an eternity separated from God. 

God’s wrath being compared to a mama bear is interesting. But think about it. What is that bear trying to do? She is trying to protect her children. God’s wrath is the same. He is protecting His children from the harm possible by unbelievers. He will furiously protect us. Doesn’t that bring you comfort? It does me. My God has my back. 

Father, thank You for protecting me. Help me show the love of Jesus to those around me in need of a Savior. 

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Accountability, Appeasement, Bible, Commands, Confession, Contentment, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Eternity, Following, Forgiveness, God's Will, Gospel, Inspirational, Judgment, Obedience, Repentance, Rescue, Salvation, Scripture, Surrender

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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Bible, Death, Encouragement, Eternity, God's Will, Heaven, Judgment, Obedience, Promises, Redemption, Scripture

DISAPPEARING

HOSEA 13:3 

“Therefore they will be like the morning cloud and like dew which soon disappears, like chaff which is blown away from the threshing floor, and like smoke from a chimney.” 

Here in the Tennessee Valley, it is not uncommon to have low morning clouds that cover our mountains. A lot people like to drive up Lookout Mountain and welcome the day above the clouds. It doesn’t take long though, for the clouds to burn off to reveal the valley below. Those clouds are beautiful but fleeting. 

Hosea paints the same picture of Israel. Under Jeroboam it was a glistening nation, ripe with promise. But because of their continual sins, the nation quickly vanished just like the morning cloud and dew, just like chaff which is blown away and smoke from a chimney. All of these are quick to disappear. How sad, when all they had to do was obey Jehovah’s Law and worship Him. 

APPLICATION 

We don’t want our lives to disappear too quickly. We want to be around for a while. There are things we can do to assist in that. We can eat healthier. We can take our medications when prescribed. We can avoid situations where our lives are put at risk. But none of those things can guarantee a long life. There is only one person who can guarantee that – God. 

Now, just because we trust our lives to God doesn’t mean we will live to be in our 80’s or 90’s. God knows the number of our days. What we have to come to understand is when the Lord calls us home, that constitutes our long life. We have lived as long as He has planned. That could be short in the eyes of the Lord. But God does not make mistakes. He calls us home when we are ready, no sooner, no later. 

I had a friend die yesterday at 60. That’s young. In fact, that’s my age. I was surprised, shocked to say the least. But she was a believer and loved Jesus. She is in her heavenly home. And although her death caught us all by surprise, it did not surprise God. He was ready for her to come home. We will miss her, but we shall see her again. Welcome home, my friend. 

Though my days may be fleeting, I shall trust You, Lord. I long to be with You. 

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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.

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Accountability, Bible, Cleansing, Compassion, Confession, Eternity, Forgiveness, Grace, Holy Spirit, Redemption, Repentance, Salvation, Scripture

HORRIBLE SINS

HOSEA 10:9

“Since the days of Gibeah you have sinned, Israel; there they stand! Will the battle against the sons of injustice not overtake them in Gibeah?”

I have had too many people tell me they were too wicked or bad for God to forgive. They have claimed their atrocities were so bad that even the blood of Jesus wasn’t enough to wash them away. These individuals were convinced they would spend eternity in hell and there was nothing that could be done about it.

Today’s verse refers to a horrible sin committed by the men of Gibeah (Benjamites) that brought the entire nation of Israel against them (Read Judges 19-20). The entire tribe was wiped out except for six hundred, which God saved as a remnant of the tribe. I believe it’s a picture of God’s mercy, even in the face of seemingly unforgiveable sins.

APPLICATION

I won’t ask you what sins you have committed. That’s between you and God. Aren’t you glad? None of us want our sins plastered on a billboard for all to see, do we? You may be one of those who can’t believe God could forgive you. You may even be a Christian, but you still can’t forgive yourself. You must let it go. God has.

There’s only one sin that is unforgiveable. That’s the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. This sin will take you to a spot where you no longer feel the drawing of the Spirit. You no longer feel any conviction for your sins. But as long as you feel the Spirit nudging you toward repentance, you can rest assured you have hope.

I know I am saved and sealed. I believe Jesus’ blood rescued me. All my past, present and future sins are forgiven. To say God can’t save me is to say God has limited powers. We know that’s not true. His power to save reaches beyond what we can ask or think. I am so glad because my flesh is wicked beyond description and is only redeemed through His grace. How about you?

What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

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