Advice, Bible, Confession, Consequences, Courage, Following, Gospel, Judgment, Rescue

ALARMS

JOEL 2:1

Blow a trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm on My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming; indeed, it is near,

We’ve all heard alarm bells or sirens. When you’re driving and you hear a siren, what do you do? You immediately look around to see where it is coming from so you can get out of the way, if needed. Alarms are meant to get our attention. They are warning of us of danger, in the case of a fire alarm. They may be warning of us of approaching bad weather or a tornado. Alarms are meant to help us find safety.

Joel begins chapter two doing the same thing for the people of Judah. Trumpets that had been meant to signify times of worship are now used to send alarms. They were being warned of God’s judgment. The people should be trembling. When God warns His judgment is coming, we better take that seriously. Judah was nearing their judgment.

APPLICATION

How has the Lord warned you? Have you heard the alarms? Unfortunately, people seem to be deaf to the alarms today. God’s warnings are all around us. He is constantly reminding people of His judgment to come. The Gospel is being preached all around, but so many ignore the warnings. They simply don’t believe it is real.

Our responsibility to sound the alarm hasn’t changed. We still need to be diligent to let others know that God’s judgment is real. One day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. Think about your neighbors. Think about your family members. Where will they be when they face God’s judgment one day?

I have family members who need the Lord. I have neighbors who need a Savior. Will you join me in sounding the alarm before it’s too late? As long as we have breath, we need to be sharing the good news with others. Sound it loud and strong for all to hear.

Father, I will sound the alarm of Your judgment to come. Help me lead others to Your throne of grace.

Standard
Accountability, Bible, Calling, Commands, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Gospel, Grandchildren, Inheritance, Mentoring, Relationships, Scripture

FOUR GENERATIONS

JOEL 1:3

“Tell your sons about it, and have your sons tell their sons, and their sons the next generation.”

I am involved with a men’s ministry called Every Man A Warrior. In fact, I am going to be making a change in my ministry to serve with them full-time in a few months. One verse we talk about a lot is 2 Timothy 2:2 which says, “These things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to reliable men who be qualified to teach others.”

Joel is saying the same thing in verse 3 above. Fathers tell sons who tell their sons who tell their sons. Four generations. But Joel is telling these dads to pass on the warning he is about to give. Judgment was falling on Judah, and it was going to last a while, for generations. They needed to know what was coming.

APPLICATION

The application is pretty straightforward. We need to be passing down our faith to our future generations. Replication of our faith is key. It’s been said that Christianity is one generation away from vanishing. We have to invest in our children. Some of us have the privilege to invest in our grandchildren, as well.

If you have children, are you discipling them in the ways of our Lord? Men, have you spent some time with another man or group of men discipling them into disciplemakers? Don’t tell me you don’t have time. We all have the same number of hours in a day. It’s really just a matter of priorities.

I love investing in men’s lives. I love seeing them “get it.” As men become disciplemakers, they can begin to find other guys to invest in. Replication has started. Generations of faith are being built. That is what it is all about. This excites me. I pray it excites you.

Give me others to invest in. Help me continue the story.

Standard
Advice, Attention, Bible, Calling, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Gospel, Salvation, Testimony, Witnessing

LISTEN UP

JOEL 1:2

Hear this, you elders, and listen, all inhabitants of the land. Has anything like this happened in your days, or in your fathers’ days?”

Each Sunday when I teach the children at the church where I serve, I have to say “listen” several times to get their attention. We have rules for children’s church to help prepare these little ones for the day when they start attending “big church.” One of those rules is “Listen Up.” In other words, tune your ears to what I’m about to say.

Joel is telling the people of Judah to listen up. He is about to give them a message. He is going to remind them of some things. He needs their undivided attention in order to get his message across. Let me correct that. It’s not his message. It’s God’s message, which makes it even that much more important.

APPLICATION

I bet you have had to tell someone to listen up, haven’t you? Have you ever been telling a story to someone and noticed they weren’t paying attention? If you have kids, I guarantee you have had to tell them to listen up. Now, listen to me. You have a message to share. People need to hear it.

We need to make sure people are listening. God’s message hasn’t changed. He still desires for all to come to Him. He still offers salvation to those who believe in His name and receive His Son as Savior. That’s a message we need to be shouting from the rooftops. Get their attention and deliver the message.

Right now, there is a lot of turmoil going on in the world. People are dying and going to hell. Believers are being persecuted for their faith. We are living in perilous times. But God is still faithful. He will deliver each and every one who turns to Him. Will you help spread the word today?

I am so thankful for the message of the cross. Give me the opportunity today to share that with someone.

Standard
Advice, Advocate, Bible, Calling, Commands, Disciplemaking, Exhortation, God's Will, Gospel, Modeling, Obedience, Scripture

THE WORD OF THE LORD

JOEL 1:1

The word of the LORD that came to Joel, the son of Pethuel:”

Have you ever had to convince someone that what you were saying was the truth? That can be hard sometimes. You know what you are saying is the truth, but you can’t seem to convince those who are listening. I feel that way sometimes when I preach. I have been in some places where it seemed the people were just listening to be nice. They had no intention of obeying the message God had given me to share. I don’t like that feeling.

We are beginning the book of Joel today. How exciting! I love the beginning of a new book. Vese 1 simply says, “The word of the LORD that came to Joel, the son of Pethuel:” Okay, Carl, what can we get out of that? A lot! Joel is telling us that everything he is about to share is from God. Period! He will go on to tell us how unworthy he is to give this message. But here he simply states that this is God’s message to us.

APPLICATION

How can you apply this verse to your life today? That, too, is simple. You are to be God’s mouthpiece to the world. We have His Word to share. We have the best story ever told. Joel wasn’t a priest and didn’t consider himself a prophet. He just did what God told him to do – speak His message. We are no different. God has given us an incredible message to share with the world. We need to do it.

But Carl, the world will hate me. Let me let you in on a little secret. The world already hates you. The world does not like truth. The world does not like to be told that what they are doing is not right in God’s eyes. Heck, the world does not even want to hear the name of God. And as His child, they don’t want to hear from you. Just try to stand for truth and see what happens. But that doesn’t change the fact that we still have to stand.

I want people to like me. I am a people person. But I know that there will some people who just don’t like me because of what I stand for. I have to be okay with that. I still pray for those people and do all I can to lead them to the truth. I just have to be committed to what the Lord has called me and you to do – share the truth. Ask the Lord to lead you to someone today who needs to hear it.

O Lord, my God, lead me where You want me to go. Give me the words to share.

Standard
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. 

Standard
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.

Standard
Belief, Bible, Child Raising, Disciplemaking, Evangelism, God's Will, Gospel, Grandchildren, Mentoring, Parenting, Praise, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture, Witnessing

LOST CHILDREN

HOSEA 9:12

“Though they bring up their children, yet I will bereave them of their children until not a person is left. Yes, woe to them indeed when I depart from them!”

My wife and I have a little girl in heaven. Cathleen Marie only lived six hours. She was born and died on September 11, 1987. There’s not much more sorrowful than to lose a child. The pain can seem intolerable. You feel deserted. You feel hollow. Praise God, we knew Him then to get us through that dark valley.

The people of Israel were going to experience that pain. Their children would be taken away from them. Some of them would be killed by their invaders. Others would be carried off into exile as slaves, separated from their parents. All of this because of the nation’s disobedience and betrayal to their Lord.

APPLICATION

No one wants to lose a child, physically or spiritually. Our main job as parents is to lead our child to Christ and then disciple them to walk with Him. All our efforts in child raising should point to that. Do you agree? Anything else is really superfluous. You are not always going to be around, so they need to know how to live in this world.

Perhaps your children are grown. Do You have grandchildren? How about kids in your church or neighborhood? Whatever your situation, you have an opportunity to invest in the lives of children. While they are young we have the chance to teach them the Word of God and how to apply that to their lives.

I don’t want to see a child lost to this world. I will do all I can to point them to Jesus. Nothing gives me more joy than to see a little one give their heart and lives to Him. How about you? Will you join me in reaching out to the children in your circle of influence? Talk to their parents. Talk to the children. Share Jesus with them today.Father, I love to tell the story to everyone, but especially children. Lord, allow me to see Your children come to You.

Standard
Accountability, Battles, Bible, Brokenness, Choices, Deceit, Disciplemaking, Evil, Foolishness, Forgiveness, God's Will, Gospel, Holiness, Modeling, Obedience, Scripture, Testimony

DRUNKENNESS

HOSEA 7:5

“On the day of our king, the officials became sick with the heat of wine; He stretched out his hand with scoffers,”

I have known a few drunks in my lifetime. These individuals were so addicted to alcohol, they couldn’t function in everyday life. They couldn’t hold a job. They had lost their right to drive. They were in and out of jail for public intoxication. Their life was a mess, all because of their appetite for drink.

Hosea is talking about that in today’s verse. The officials and even the king drank to excess. They became sick they drank so much. And to make matters worse, they teamed up with the scoffers. Who are they? They were the individuals who scoffed or scorned at God. They mocked Him and encouraged others to do the same.

APPLICATION

How do we avoid this? Avoid drunkenness. This is not a blog to debate if Christians can drink or not. I’m not going down that road. But there is no reason for a believer to become drunk. We know where that leads. It leads to no good. When we are in that condition we can’t represent Christ, which is our calling.

We should also avoid associating with those who mock and ridicule the things of Christ. In most drinking situations Christ will not be glorified. Isn’t that our purpose? If we can’t do that where we are, something’s wrong. Our actions and attitude should always point to Him.

I haven’t always lived up to that. There have been times when I have failed. I have not represented Christ well. I have asked for forgiveness for that. I truly want to please Him in all I do. My goal is to do that every day. So, my prayer each day is to keep me focused on Him and sharing the good news of the gospel to whomever will listen.

Lord, keep my heart in tune with Yours. I want to walk in such a way that I never bring shame on Your name.

Standard
Bible, Blessing, Bondslaves, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Gospel, Harvest, Joy, Labor, Obedience, Reward, Scripture

HARVEST TIME

HOSEA 6:11

Also, Judah, there is a harvest appointed for you, when I restore the fortunes of My people.

I grew up in a rural community. My hometown was surrounded by farms. One great part of that childhood was my grandmother’s garden. She lived out in the country and always had a huge garden. All of us children knew that when the vegetables were ready for picking, we would be right there with our mom and grandmother.

God is promising to restore Judah, and with that, He would restore the harvest. Crops would be gathered. Seed could be saved for another year. A bountiful harvest gave hope for the coming winter and even into the following spring. Harvest time gave joy to the people. God’s harvest time is even more joyful.

APPLICATION

One day God will reach down and reap the harvest of His people. We don’t know when that will come. He may do that right in the middle of our harvest season or in the dead of winter. We are His bounty. He wants to gather us home. But only He knows when the full crop will be ready.

While we are waiting, we have a job. We should be sowing and tending the seed He has given us to share. We are His bondservants with a specified job. We are to spread the Gospel, thus increasing the yield at the harvest. What an awesome responsibility. He will be well pleased at our efforts, if we are obedient and faithful.

I like gardening. I like sowing the seed of the Gospel even more. There is nothing more exciting than to see a seed you have sown take root and sprout. Then you see it come to maturity and reproduce 20, 60 or 100 fold. Wow! What a joy! Will you join me in the harvest?

Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves, we shall come rejoicing bringing in the sheaves.

Standard
Accountability, Battles, Bible, Calling, Courage, Darkness, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Flesh, Gospel, Judgment, Obedience, Passion, Scripture, Testimony

THE WORLD

HOSEA 4:2

There is oath-taking, denial, murder, stealing, and adultery. They employ violence, so that bloodshed follows bloodshed.”

When I left my small hometown in 1978 to attend college, I had no idea what I was really getting into. My hometown was a pretty idyllic place. Sure, there was bad stuff that happened, but the town was a safe place to grow up. When I arrived at college, I entered a haven of immorality. At the time, I didn’t see that. Looking back now I can see all that I was exposed to and fell into.

Hosea is warning the people of Israel of all these things. He lists six different evil things the people were participating in. All of these are self-explanatory. This is our world today. We are living in a world where morality is relative, meaning everyone does just what they see best. God is not pleased, and I am afraid we will not go unpunished.

APPLICATION

What do we do? We can’t change the world, can we? Well, as a matter of fact, we can. We have to start with ourselves. We have to live our lives as Ephesians 5:3 says. “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexuality immorality, or any kind of impurity or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.” We have no room for these things.

Secondly, we have to disciple our families to follow Christ. This may not happen overnight. It may take some time to win our spouses and children, but they are our number one goal. Then we can turn our sights outward to others. One by one by one. That’s how the early church did it. So can we.

But if we just stay isolated and to ourselves, trying to avoid any contact with the world, we will never win our world for Jesus. Is it always safe? No! Is it always easy? Not by a long shot! But is it worth it? You had better believe it. And one day, when we enter those pearly gates, we will hear “Well done, My good and faithful servant.”

I want to please You, Lord, as I share Your Word with others. Help me be bold and courageous in the presence of evil and continue to preach Jesus.

Standard