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

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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YOUR JUST DESSERTS

JOEL 3:7

behold, I am going to stir them up from the place where you have sold them, and return your retribution on your head.

Sometimes people get just what they deserve. You may have heard that expression, “just desserts.” It means to get what’s coming to you. Now, to be honest, my flesh loves to see that happen. But I know Christ in me desires for others to repent and avoid the punishment of sin – kind of like Nineveh did when they heard Jonah’s message.

However, right here in Joel 3:7, God is telling the nations that they are going to receive the consequences for their sins. They have done evil to His children. Now it’s their turn to suffer for their actions. Yes, they had been used by Him to accomplish the judgment upon Judah, but they took it too far. They became haughty. God will now issue His judgment on them.

APPLICATION

So, the lesson for us is to not get too excited when we see someone else get punished for something they have done. We could just as easily be getting ours. None of us are innocent. We have all done things for which we deserved to be punished. So, we shouldn’t enjoy the punishment of others. In fact, we should do all we can to try to help them.

Of course, the ultimate punishment is the eternal judgment of God. As believers in Christ, our punishment has already been paid for by Christ. But think of the billions of people out there who are going to die and go to hell without hearing the gospel. We need to do all we can to advance the kingdom while there’s still time. What can you do today to help someone avoid their “just desserts”?

I am so thankful for my salvation. I know all the deeds I committed that earned me a place in hell. But because of the saving power of Jesus, my record was washed clean. Surely, He has cleansed me with hyssop and washed me whiter than snow. I want others to experience what I have experienced. Don’t you?

Father, I am so thankful I am not getting my just desserts when it comes to my sins. Thank You for cleansing my soul.

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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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OUR SMELL

HOSEA 14:6

“His shoots will sprout, His majesty will be like the olive tree, and his fragrance like the cedars of Lebanon.”

I love the smell of the outdoors. That’s part of the reason I like to hunt and fish. Just being outdoors and inhaling the aromas that are out there is invigorating. Where I hunt here in Tennessee, there are a lot of pine trees. Their smell in the mornings is great. In fact, some hunters will break off limbs from the pine trees and rub it on their clothes to cover their human scent.

Hosea, in the last phrase of today’s verse, says Israel will have the fragrance of cedars. Now, he was not saying they would actually smell like that. He was saying Israel would put off a scent to draw others to God. I wonder how well they did that. What would others smell that would entice them to come to God?

APPLICATION

Our “odor” can affect someone’s decision to follow Christ. We don’t think about that very often, do we? I am not necessarily referring to our physical odor. However, it is hard to witness to someone if we smell like cigarettes or alcohol. I am referring more to our spiritual smell. You see, the closer we walk with Jesus, the more we smell like Him.

I have been in a room before with people who were smoking. When I came out of that room, I smelled just like them. You would have thought I was smoking as well. In the same way, when I spend more and more time in His Word and in prayer, I smell more like Him. The world’s scent is covered by the Holy Spirit. I, in a sense, have broken off the branches of holiness and rubbed them all over my body.

I like smelling like Jesus. There is no other scent that I would want. His is a sweet smell, an inviting smell. Others smell it and want what I have. That is so cool. But I have to stay in His presence to keep that scent. The second I walk away the world’s scent envelopes me. That is not a pleasant smell. I choose Jesus’ scent. How about you?

I want to smell like You, Lord. I want others to be drawn to You through Your scent on me.

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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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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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BACKWARDS

HOSEA 7:3

With their wickedness they make the king happy, and the officials with their lies.”

Sometimes life just seems to be going in reverse. What’s right is wrong, and what’s wrong is right. Upside down is right side up and vice versa. The whole thing is just topsy turvy. Have you ever felt that way? Boy, I sure have. It seems the harder I try to straighten things up, the more confusing it becomes.

This verse in Hosea today sounds like that. The wickedness of the people made the king happy. Their lies made the officials happy. Doesn’t that sound wrong to you? You have to understand that the king and his officials were just as bad as the people. In fact, they encouraged the people in their sins. The more everyone sinned, the less guilt anyone felt. They were all doing the same thing.

APPLICATION

That is just like Satan! He wants to keep us so confused and disoriented that we don’t know the truth. He loves filling our minds with falsehoods. He gets joy watching us plunge deeper and deeper into sin. He will surround us with others who are doing the same thing to dull our senses to what we are doing.

Before you know it, you are so far down that rabbit hole you don’t how to get out. Stop right there. There is always a way out. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. There is no hole too deep that He can’t reach us. We can’t stray far enough away that He can’t find us. His reach is extensive. We just have to stop and turn toward Him.

Are you ready to do that? Have you done that? When we turn to Jesus, the world finally begins to make sense. We can see the schemes of the devil. We can recognize his attempts to trick us. He has been exposed by the light of God’s Word. We can live for Jesus without fear. Don’t you want that? I sure do.

Father, You are the only true north. I will set my path towards You. I want to walk secure, knowing You are with me.

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FOOTPRINTS

HOSEA 6:8

“Gilead is a city of wrongdoers, tracked with bloody footprints.”

One thing my mom could not tolerate is for us to track in dirt on her clean floors. She would holler at us to take our shoes off before we got on the carpet. You see, for years our house was all tile. When she got carpet (and it was that thick shag carpet) we were told to keep it clean. No dirty footprints allowed.

Hosea is speaking to Gilead here. That is the area across the Jordan where the two and a half tribes claimed their possession. They are being accused of tracking the blood of innocent victims with their shoes. Wherever they went, their guilt followed them. Idolatry was in their steps.

APPLICATION

What are you guilty of? Or maybe I should ask it this way. What do you think you are guilty of? It all depends on which side of the cross you’re on. If you are an unbeliever, you are definitely guilty. Your sins cover you. You, too, walk with bloody footprints. No amount of scrubbing will remove it off your feet either. Only the blood of Jesus can do that.

If you are a believer, you may feel as if you are guilty. Listen – you’re not. Jesus shed His blood to cleanse you from all guilt.  I am not saying you’re innocent. We still sin in these fleshly bodies, but there is no room for Satan to try to convince you that you’re guilty. He is a liar. You are free from that guilt because you have accepted God’s Son as your Lord and Savior.

Aren’t you glad that guilt is gone? Jesus paid the debt. We could never pay the price demanded for our guilt and shame. But one tiny drop of that divine blood washed the slate clean. His action on that cross secured for you and me an eternity with Him. Hallelujah!

I am so thankful, Lord, that I am guilt free. I know I am not perfect, but You see me as righteous because of Jesus.

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HAMMER AND CHISEL

HOSEA 6:5

“Therefore, I have cut them in pieces by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of My mouth; and the judgments on you are like the light that shines.”

When I was growing up in my parents’ home, I used to love to go down to my dad’s workshop and use his tools. He only had one rule – put the tools back where you found them. My dad had a large assortment of hammers and chisels. Some of those chisels were for wood, some were for metal and some were for stone. As a little boy, I didn’t know which were which. I just grabbed one and started chiseling.

But the Lord knows which hammer and chisel to use. He used the prophets as an instrument to chisel away the hard hearts of the people. He often sent messages through them that would knock off huge chunks of their hard hearts. Other times He would use the more refining tools. But He always knew exactly what was needed to do the job.

APPLICATION

Does God need to use the 20 pound sledge on you? Is your heart that hard? Sometimes those blows are painful. You have to remember one thing. He is only knocking off what doesn’t look like Jesus. Those blows may seem relentless at times, but with each swing of the hammer, He is bringing you into a form that looks like Him.

Why would we complain about those blows then? Why do we fuss and fret and say God is not being fair with us? Because we don’t like pain. We don’t like discomfort. We want to be pampered. We want things to be easy. Well, guess what? Life isn’t easy. God never promised us that. But when we allow Him to shape us according to His Will, we understand life better.

I don’t like pain, but I welcome His chisel. I want to look like Jesus. I want to reflect His image. I want others to look at me and only see Jesus. Do they always? Not hardly. But that is my desire. How about you?

Lord, knock off all the junk in my life that hides Your Son. I want to look just like Him. Shape me and mold me.

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SPRING RAINS

HOSEA 6:3

“So let’s learn, let’s press on to know the LORD. His appearance is as sure as the dawn; and He will come to us like the rain, as the spring rain waters the earth.”

When I was a little boy, I loved to play in the rain. Now, I don’t mean the rains that came during the Winter. Those are terrible. It’s cold. You can’t enjoy the rain because you’re freezing. But in the Spring those rains are awesome. Growing up in Southwest Georgia, here in the U.S., Spring is normally pretty warm. So, Spring rains are welcomed.

Hosea describes the Lord like that. He says, “He will come to us like the rain, as the spring rain…” What does a Spring rain do? It refreshes the earth. It brings things back to life. Winter has caused everything to die back. But when those Spring rains begin, the new growth pops out. That’s what God does for us.

APPLICATION

Do you realize we can have the same effect on others? If we are living for Him, we can be like a refreshing Spring rain. The joy of Jesus should be all over us. People should see us and practically run to be near us. They should desire our presence. Wouldn’t that be awesome? Do you know someone you just love to be around because of their sweet spirit? That’s what I’m talking about.

Unfortunately, too many of us are “Negative Nancy” or “Troublesome Tom.” We exude negativity, and people avoid us. Isn’t that a shame? I have to admit that I have slipped into that character from time to time. When I do, the Holy Spirit convicts me. I truly want others to be drawn to the Jesus in me. I really want them to want to be around me and not avoid me.

Would you join me today in being more like Jesus, more like that Spring rain? Would you let the Holy Spirit show out in your life? All it takes is us dying to ourselves. We have to give up our fleshly desires and pursue the Spirit. He is waiting to show Himself. Ah…I can feel the rain now.

I love the feel of You working in and through me. Help me get out of the way, so You can be seen in me.

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