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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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.

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Accountability, Affliction, Battles, Bible, Comfort, Commitment, Confession, Drought, Fighting, Judgment

ALL DRIED UP

JOEL 1:17

“The seeds have dried up under their shovels; the storehouses have become desolate, the grain silos are ruined, because the grain has dried up.”

Drought can ruin things. Not only does it destroy the crops in the fields, it destroys hopes for future crops. When the seed doesn’t get the required moisture it goes into a stress that affects its ability to germinate. If it can’t germinate, it can’t produce new crops. Do you see where this is going? Crops are affected for months and years later.

The long term effect on Judah from their disobedience to Jehovah was the drying up of the people. Their rebellious hearts had literally dried up the faith of the nation, resulting in people seeking other gods. They disregarded God’s commands in favor of offering sacrifices to pagan gods. So, God dried them up.

APPLICATION

Are you dried up? Has your spiritual life hit rock bottom? Perhaps you are in a spiritual drought right now. Your spirit needs the waters of the Spirit to refresh it. There’s no other way to get it than going to the one who is the life giver. He knows exactly when and how to water your spirt.

Look at your life and determine who or what is holding you back. Then lay that at the foot of the cross. Ask the Lord to take those things away from you. Then let the healing rains come. Let His refreshing Word pour over you. We can avoid the seasons of drought in our lives if we submit to His leadership and direction.

I know how I feel when I start to get thirsty. I begin to see everything as a cool drink of water. My body craves it, and the longer I go without it, the harder and harder it gets to survive. My spirit is the same. I need the constant presence of Jesus in my life to make life bearable. He is the living water that can quench any thirst. Come and drink.

Lord, You are the living water. Pour over me.

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Abiding, Advocate, Angels, Battles, Bible, Demons, Devil, Fighting, Holy Spirit, Opponents, Satan, Scripture

WORTHLESS DEFENSES

HOSEA 10:14

An uproar will arise among your people, and all your fortresses will be destroyed, as Shalman destroyed Beth-arbel on the day of battle, when mothers were slaughtered with their children.”

If you have read very many of my blogs, you know I love to hunt. The area I hunt here in Tennessee has black bears. Now they aren’t known to be very dangerous, as long as you stay away from a mama bear and her cubs. But I always want to be prepared in case I run into one. I know if a bear really wants to hurt me, he will. I am no match for a bear. My best defenses fall short.

Hosea was reminding Israel of the Assyrian conquest of Beth-arbel. Any defenses they may have mustered on their own couldn’t hold them off. I am reminded, however, of the ONE angel that killed 185,000 Assyrians another time. Our defenses are worthless, but God has the power and resources to conquer all our enemies, if we will trust Him.

APPLICATION

Enemies come from all angles and directions. Satan scouts us out to find our weak spots and will send his demons to target those areas. Men, are you prone to look at pictures you shouldn’t? Be assured Satan will give you lots of opportunities. Ladies, do you gossip too much? Old Satan loves to whisper in your ear the latest juicy news to spread. Only by surrendering to the Holy Spirit on a daily basis will you overcome these temptations. Only God’s defenses are strong enough for victory.

I am just too old to try to fight these battles on my own. I know I need Jesus every day, or I will be whipped. I bet you are the same. Aren’t you tired of battling on your own? Step back and let the Lord fight for you. He will, you know. And when the victory is won, He gets all the glory.

Victory in Jesus, my Savior, forever! Thank You for the victory I have in Your Son, Jesus Christ.

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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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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Conceit, Deceit, Deception, Fighting, Flesh, Perfection, Safety, Scripture

BENT SIGHTS

HOSEA 7:16

They turn, but not upward, they are like a loose bow; their officials will fall by the sword because of the insolence of their tongue. This will be their derision in the land of Egypt.”

If you have read my blogs for any length of time, you know I love to hunt. I normally hunt with a gun, but during archery season, I hunt with a crossbow. I have spent time zeroing in that crossbow. I set up a target at different distances and practice shooting to make sure I can hit what I am shooting at when the time comes. There’s nothing much more frustrating than to have a great weapon and not have it sighted so you can shoot well.

Hosea compares Israel to such a weapon – a loose bow. A loose bow will not shoot the arrow correctly. It will miss its target. It won’t hit what you aim at because the bow is deceiving you. Not only is that frustrating, but it’s also dangerous. If you are facing an enemy, you want to be able to stop them with that bow. If you can’t shoot straight, you’re in trouble.

APPLICATION

Are you a straight shooter? Is your heart aimed toward God? If we aren’t consistent in our quiet times and our prayer lives, we will begin to get off mark. We will begin to target the wrong things. Our aim will be off. Before you know it, we are totally off course. We are pursuing the wrong things. God is no longer in our view. How did that happen?

You see, our sights can be just slightly off and cause us to miss God. It doesn’t take much. Just a little distraction can cause it. Our minds start to drift. We put off our quiet times. We neglect for a few days our time with the Lord. Whamo! We are off. We have to set our sights afresh each day. We have to make sure Satan hasn’t moved in and “tweaked” our sights to make us miss. Be sure your aim is right.

I heard about a golfer this week who had an awful putting experience in his last tournament. Before he played in his next tournament, he was complaining about it. Someone asked him about his putter. It was only then that he noticed his putter was bent. There was no way he could have putted straight with it. Check out your tools and make sure you are aiming correctly.

Father, You are the only true way to measure whether I am shooting straight or not. I depend on You to be my guide.

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Abiding, Advice, Advocate, Battles, Bible, Confrontation, Courage, Demons, Devil, Encouragement, Enemies, Fear, Fighting, God's Will, Judgment, Punishment, Safety, Satan, Scripture, Victors

LOOK OUT

HOSEA 5:8

“Blow the horn in Gibeah, and the trumpet in Ramah. Sound an alarm at Beth-aven: ‘Behind you, Benjamin!’”

I have never had to run from an enemy, but I can imagine the fear that must be in your mind when you find yourself being chased by someone who is intent on harming you. I love watching old westerns. I have seen many a cowboy being chased by a band of Indians. That’s the picture I have in my head as I read today’s verse.

Hosea is pronouncing judgment on the tribes of Israel. He tells them to blow the shophar, the horn they would blow to sound the alarm. He tells them to blow the trumpet which would be used to prepare for battle. And then he tells Benjamin to look behind them. The enemy was that close. That must have been a fearful sight.

APPLICATION

Who is chasing you? I will tell you. Satan is chasing you. He and his army of demons are always trying to chase us down and defeat us. He is always ready to attack. He is always looking for an opportune time, as it says in Luke 4:13. He is looking for a crack in our defenses, a small hole to establish that foothold.

But thanks be to God, we have a Savior who has already defeated him. His battle plans will not succeed. All we have to do is remain firmly grounded in Christ. We have to stay in His Word and surrendered to His Will. Oh, is that all, Carl? That’s not so easy. I didn’t say it was. But it is possible.

How do I know it is possible? Because God said so. The Lord will never ask us to do anything that is not possible through Him. We do not have to worry about the advancing attacks of Satan if we stay firmly in the grip of Jesus. Yes, Satan is real and wants to do us harm. But Satan can only do what God allows. Remain in Jesus. There is no safer place.

I will rest in Your arms, O Lord. I know I am safe there and no harm can come to me.

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Advocate, Anxiety, Battles, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Devil, Encouragement, Fighting, Mentoring, Parenting, Persecution, Satan, Scripture, Surrender

GUARD YOURSELF

1 JOHN 3:7

“Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous;”

When I was in Jr. High and High school, I played football (American football). I always loved the game. But there was one drill I didn’t care too much for. It was called “Bull in the Woods.” Let me explain it. One person would be put in the center of a ring of other players who were numbered off. The coach would then call a number and the player with that number would run toward the guy in the center and hit him. So, your job in the middle was turn and face that player and take on the hit.

The problem began when the coach would call multiple numbers, especially if they were from opposite sides of the circle. It became impossible to face every attack. They would eventually wear you down. That’s exactly what Satan does. He keeps coming at you from all directions. John is saying in today’s verse to be watchful for those attacks. Remember Jesus has your back.

APPLICATION

You can play this out with your kids. Try this twist on it. Get some pool noodles or something soft and get around one of your children. Blindfold them so they can’t see you. Give them a pool noodle to defend themselves and give everyone else one as well.  Then let the fun begin. Now, keep it safe. No head shots and no jabbing with the noodle. If someone starts hitting too hard, stop the game.

Explain to them after everyone has had a turn how Satan does the same to us. Unless we keep our eyes on Jesus and our minds focused on His Word, we are just as defenseless as they were in the game. Ask them how it felt not seeing where the next “strike” might come from. It can be scary. But praise be to God, we have no reason to fear. Jesus is the one who guards and protects us. We just have to surrender.

Are you tired of swinging your pool noodle at an invisible foe? Stop swinging and start living under Jesus. Let Him be the one who defends you. He is more than capable. We think we can handle it, but we can’t. Satan is too crafty. He can outfox any of us by ourself. But he is no match for Jesus.

Lord, I trust You in my battles. I will stand with You and trust You to defend me.

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Battles, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Courage, Destruction, Encouragement, Enemies, Faithfulness, Fighting, Judgment, Modeling, Obedience, Opponents, Parenting, Scripture, Victors

DESTROYED

2 PETER 2:12

“But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed,”

When I was a boy, I used to build models. You know, model cars, trucks, boats, etc. I especially like the boats. Do you know why? Because I would build them and then destroy them. Yep, that sounds kind of dumb now, but we thought it was fun. Me and my neighbor buddy would go down to the local pond with our models, some duct tape or glue and firecrackers or M-80’s. We would light the fuses, push those models out in the lake and watch them explode. It was awesome.

My point? These “unreasoning animals” referred to by Peter are intentionally destroying themselves and others by their behaviors and teachings. They are not accidentally doing this. It is done with malice and evil. They do not understand what they are up against and will eventually be held accountable by a holy God.

APPLICATION

How do we protect our children and others from these evil influences? There is really only one way. I have said it hundreds of time and will continue to say it. We have to ground them in the Word of God. Nothing else will thwart the challenges of those who seek to destroy us. It is sharper than any two-edged sword.

Daily devotions, prayer time and application of truths learned are key. Make sure you are not just reading a passage (even though that’s good) and going about your day. Reading the Bible without applying the Bible doesn’t prepare you for these people. Make the Bible real to you. See how it affects your life each day. He gave it to us for a reason.

Are you prepared today to face whatever the Lord allows in your life? If an enemy of the cross comes across your path today, how will you respond? Spend time in prayer now to get ready for the battles that lie ahead. They are on the way. But with the Lord on your side, the outcome is sure. We are victorious.

Father, for those who battle against truth I pray. I pray they will see the error of their ways before it is too late. Help me today to face the challenges You allow with integrity and boldness.

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