Inspirational, Disciplemaking, Bible, Holiness, Abiding, Belief

ZION

JOEL 3:17

Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, dwelling on Zion, My holy mountain. So Jerusalem will be holy, and strangers will no longer pass through it.

What does it mean to be holy? I still remember this feeling I had when I was a little boy growing up in South Georgia in a Southern Baptist Church. I thought going to church made you holy. I always felt different when I went. I always felt better, cleaner – more holy. I thought if I went to church on Sundays, I was holier than those who didn’t. Man, was I wrong.

The Lord says here in Joel 3:17 that He will dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem. It is His presence that will make it holy, not the people. Wherever He is becomes a holy place. Remember when Moses saw the burning bush. The ground he was standing on became holy ground. That wasn’t because of Moses or the bush. It was solely because a holy God was present.

APPLICATION

Are you holy today? Well, of course not, Carl. Only God is holy. Then why does the Lord tell us to be holy as He is holy. He would never tell us to be something that is not possible. What makes us holy? The same thing that made Jerusalem holy. We are where God dwells through the presence of His Holy Spirit.

You do realize that the Spirit is part of the trinity, right? We have the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. All three are equal and separate persons of the trinity. God chose to indwell us after we receive His Son as Savior with the Spirit. That makes us holy. We just have to surrender and live like it.

I am thankful that my holiness does not depend on me. Jesus makes me holy. The Spirit makes me holy. When I get out of the way and allow the Spirit to reign in and through me, holiness erupts. People can see it. I can feel it, and it is much better than my childhood feeling of holiness from just going to church. Amen?

Father, I praise You for Your holiness in my life. Thank You for sending Your Holy Spirit to live in me.

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WHO KNOWS?

WHO KNOWS?

JOEL 2:14

“Who knows, He might turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind Him, resulting in a grain offering and a drink offering for the LORD your God.”

Have you ever wondered if someone was going to do something? I have. I have spent a lot of time doing that. I waited and waited for something to happen, and it never does. Waiting on others can be very frustrating. Other times, the wait pays off. The thing you are waiting on happens. Then you forget about how long you waited.

Here in today’s verse, Joel brings that thought to us. If you read the previous verse, he is talking about God’s mercy and grace. Then he poses this thought. “Who knows, He might…” God’s actions towards Judah depends on their return to Him. Then He is able to do for them. He may even restore the grain and drink offerings to Himself that they have gone without for so long.

APPLICATION

It is the same for us, brothers and sisters. God wants to do so much for us. Do you believe that? He wants to bless us. He wants to “leave a blessing behind” for us. What do you need the Lord to do for you today? I bet there is something you have been praying for, maybe a for while. The thing required is your return to Him.

When we come to Him in complete surrender and put ourselves at the feet of the Master, He lifts us up. Many of us don’t like that picture – bowing before anyone. But pride and self-centeredness will not put us the place to receive those blessings from our Lord. He desires each of us to come to Him willingly and selfishly. That blesses His heart, and He releases His blessings in our lives.

I desire God’s blessings over His testings. Don’t you? I know living a godly and surrendered life is what He wants for me. I am willing to live that life because I know the result. I obey Him because I know He loves me and wants what is best for me. I don’t obey to get loved. I am already loved. He’s my father. He’s my Lord.

Lord, come to me with blessings as I serve You. I will return those blessings in the form of praise and worship to You.

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Accountability, Belief, Bible, Condemnation, Destruction, Holiness, Judgment, Punishment, Repentance, Rescue, Scripture

THE DAY OF THE LORD

JOEL 1:15

“Woe for the day! For the day of the LORD is near, and it will come as destruction from the Almighty.”

Barnes, in his commentary on Joel, says, “‘The Day of the Lord’ is, then, each day of vengeance in which God doth to man according to His will and just judgment, inflicting the punishment which he deserves, as man did to Him in his day, manifoldly dishonoring Him, according to his own perverse will.” Wow! Who wants that?

Joel is telling his audience in Judah that the day has arrived. He uses the term “Almighty” to describe God. This term is almost exclusively used to refer to God’s might. His power is supreme. We cannot overcome it. And He brings destruction on mankind because of their sins.

APPLICATION

Judgment will come upon us all. But for the believer, it will be the judgment of our works, not our sins. Our sins have already been judged and paid for through the shed blood of Jesus. Others, outside of Christ, will pay a horrible price unless they come to Him and repent and receive the free gift of salvation. Why would anyone choose to face God’s judgment?

If we truly believed in God’s judgment, wouldn’t we be telling everyone we came into contact with about Him? Is there someone in your circle of friends who needs Jesus? What are you waiting for? Tell them about Him? Live Jesus before them. They should be begging you to tell them what makes you different. Are you? Do you live differently than they do? I sure hope so.

I am so thankful that my sins have been judged and paid for. I know I could never stand before a holy God and explain away my sins. I know I would be found guilty and sentenced to an eternal damnation. But praise God, I am innocent and free through Jesus. There is no feeling like it. So, what will it be – judgment or freedom?

I know I am redeemed and set free through Jesus, Lord. I praise Your holy name for the blood He shed for my sins.

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Accountability, Bible, Confession, Forgiveness, Godliness, Holiness, Judgment, Repentance, Scripture

CALL TO REPENTANCE

JOEL 1:11

“Be ashamed, you farm workers, wail, you vinedressers, for the wheat and the barley; because the harvest of the field is destroyed.

There have been times in my life when I fell under great conviction. I knew I was not living as I should and needed to repent and return to the Lord. But my flesh just wouldn’t stop. I continued in my rebellious spirit until someone called me to repentance. Most of those times, it was a pastor or another preacher whose message convicted me. Other times, it was the Holy Spirit finally getting through to me. But repent I did.

Joel is trying to urge those in Judah to return to the Lord in the midst of their tribulation. Farms were failing. Vineyards were drying up. People have a hard time seeing their part in judgment. God didn’t just decide one day to punish Judah. This has been a long time coming. He had warned them. He had taught them. But they refused to listen.

APPLICATION

When was the last time you were under real conviction? If you haven’t been, perhaps you have gotten a little calloused to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. The older I get, the more I see my sin. I am so thankful for the blood of Christ that cleanses me from my sins. But it is easy to slip into a mindset that you’re okay.

We are not okay – outside of Christ. The only thing good about us is Jesus, if we are believers. He is the reason for everything we do. He is our purpose. He is our hope. So, we should live our lives holy before Him. We are told to be holy ourselves in all our behaviors. That isn’t a suggestion. It’s a command.

But Carl, I can’t be holy. You’re right! You can’t. But Christ can live through you in the power of the Holy Spirit and cause you to live holy. As you and I surrender our wills to His, we can embrace a holy lifestyle made possible only through Him. Isn’t that sweet? See, you can do it if you really want to.

I want to live holy before you. I want to stay confessed and cleansed of my sins.

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UPSET HEART

HOSEA 11:8

How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I surrender you, Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim? My heart is turned over within Me, all My compassions are kindled.”

There have been times in my life when my heart was torn between two decisions. I wanted to do one thing, but I was confused. Both choices were good choices. Trying to decide between the two was frustrating. I sought advice to no avail. Those kinds of decisions are hard.

Hosea portrays God as being torn between two decisions regarding Israel – judgment or mercy. Admah and Zeboiim were two cities in the plains of Gomorrah that were destroyed by the hail and brimstone. God is wanting to spare Israel. His mercy is apparent. This does not mean He was indecisive. It’s just that His two attributes of holiness and mercy were both active.

APPLICATION

God sees us the same way. He knows our sins must be judged, but He also desires to show us mercy. His compassion is kindled towards us as well. Aren’t you glad? Which do you prefer – judgment or mercy? That’s kind of a dumb question, isn’t it? Of course, you prefer mercy.

How do you obtain that mercy? There’s only one way – Jesus. Through Jesus God showed us mercy by putting all His judgment on His Son. Our sins were judged at the cross. We deserve be treated just like Admah and Zeboiim, but instead, Jesus paid the price. God’s mercy is so beautiful!

I am so thankful for His mercy. And it is new every day. I don’t deserve it. I never have. But because I have aligned myself with His Son, I am guaranteed mercy every day. I am so glad God’s mercy is mine. Without it I would be lost. I would be doomed. Praise be to God I am forgiven and free. How about you?

Your mercies are new each day. I praise Your holy name.

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NO LIFE

HOSEA 9:11

“As for Ephraim, their glory will fly away like a bird— no birth, no pregnancy, and no conception!”

I have the privilege to be the father of two great kids. They are grown now, but I can still remember the moment my wife and I learned we were going to have a child. Each pregnancy was a joy (not counting my wife’s morning sickness). We couldn’t wait for the day of their birth. I was actually in the room both times. It was amazing!

For Ephraim, their glory was gone. They couldn’t experience the joy of the Lord because they had forsaken Him. Their actions against Jehovah had caused Him to withdraw His blessings. Just like barren wombs with no conception, no pregnancy and no birth, there was sorrow. No hope! No life! No future!

APPLICATION

What is your life centered on? If it’s not the Lord, then you too are in despair. I’m not in despair, Carl. My life is going just fine. Oh really? Any life not centered on Jesus is headed for disaster. Yes, I said disaster. We can pretend everything is fine. We may believe all is well, but it’s not.

God will not bless those who are not following Him. He just can’t. It would go against His whole person. If He blessed everyone for just doing their own thing, then His commandments and statutes would be meaningless. God demands holiness, but He gives us the means to live that way. As Peter says in 2 Peter 1:3, it’s His divine power that gives us everything we need to live that way. And when we do, He loves to bless us.

I try to live my life to honor Him. I don’t do it perfectly. I never will, but I certainly strive to do that. I want to experience the joy of the Lord. Don’t you want that same joy? I know you do. I pray today you can know Him fully, that you can be filled with so much joy that it just overflows.Thank You, Lord, for life. Thank You for giving me such joy. Help me spread it to others.

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INNOCENT

HOSEA 8:5

“He has rejected your calf, Samaria, saying, ‘My anger burns against them!’ How long will they be incapable of innocence?”

One of my favorite stories in the Old Testament is when Moses had gone up on the mountain to receive the ten commandments. While he was gone the people approached Aaron and demanded an idol to represent the god who led them out of Egypt. Aaron gathers their gold and forms the golden calf. When Moses returns, Aaron claims he just threw the gold into the fire and the calf came out.

In today’s verse, Hosea reminds them of this idolatry. God is angry. They continue to sin. They refuse to repent. He says they are incapable of innocence. Don’t forget the decades and decades of pagan worship. Don’t forget how they had turned their backs on the true God, the one who had led them out of slavery and into the promised land.

APPLICATION

But before you start judging the Israelites, look at your own faith walk. You may not have a golden calf in your living room that you bow down to each day, but are you innocent? I bet not (neither am I, by the way). None of us are. But the Lord calls us to be holy as He is. That is only possible as we bow before Him.

As believers, God’s wrath is satisfied. We don’t have to fear His wrath anymore. However, God is not pleased with our sinful behaviors. When we don’t stay “confessed up,” it affects our relationship with our Lord. He cries out to us, “Return to me.” That’s when we need to fall to our knees, confess our sins, receive His mercy and rise to walk in newness of life.

I don’t want to be accused of a lack of innocence. I want to be bold in my approach to our Lord. I want to come into His presence knowing I am living, to the best of my ability, a holy life, transformed by His Word. I want to hear those words, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.” Don’t you?

I know I am declared innocent only because of the blood of Christ. Help me live to honor You.

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BUT I DID NOT KNOW

HOSEA 7:9

Strangers devour his strength, yet he does not know it; gray hairs also are sprinkled on him, yet he does not know it.

It’s not unusual for someone to use ignorance as an excuse. Well, I didn’t know. No one told me. I am sure you have heard that before. But you have probably also heard that ignorance is no excuse. We can’t use that excuse in most situations. You may get by once or twice, but that excuse gets old very quick.

Ephraim, Hosea says, doesn’t know his strength is being devoured. He doesn’t even know his hair is getting gray. Wow! Ephraim seemed to have his head stuck in the sand, ignoring all that was going on around him. But that did not excuse his sin. That did not pass the Lord’s smell test. Ephraim knew what the Lord expected.

APPLICATION

It is so important for us, as believers, to be aware of how we live our lives. We need to know who is prowling around trying to devour us (1 Peter 5:8). We need to know how to respond to situations. We need to know God’s Word and how to apply it to our lives. Simply put, we need to know stuff.

So, how do you get to know stuff? Well, it depends on what you want to know. To know more about living holy, you have to spend time in the Word and in prayer. How much time? How much time do you have? I am not implying you need to spend every minute of the day in the Bible. But I am saying we could all spend more time devouring His words. Don’t you agree?

As for me, I don’t want to ever be caught not knowing something I should know. I want to dig deep. I want to walk closely. I long to be so in tune with the Lord, that my every decision, my every thought is in perfect alignment with His Will. Don’t you want that, as well?

Lord, I don’t want to ever use the excuse that I didn’t know. I want to grow in knowledge of You more and more.

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SMOLDERING EMBERS

HOSEA 7:6

For their hearts are like an oven as they approach their plotting; Their anger smolders all night, in the morning it burns like flaming fire.”

If you have ever been camping, you know the danger of leaving a campfire with even a few embers. You have to take great care to make sure all those embers are out. You can use water or dirt, but you need to ensure there’s not a chance of the wind kicking that fire back up. That could lead to a wildfire which could destroy acres of timber and perhaps even endanger homes.

The people of Israel had smoldering embers of anger. Hosea said they plot, giving those embers a flame that burned. Anger is dangerous, especially when it is directed toward God. The Israelites were angry at God for their punishment. They didn’t think they deserved it. After all, they were God’s chosen people. How could He judge them?

APPLICATION

How’s your anger? Are you smoldering about something? Let me be quick to say that anger, in and of itself, is not sin. Jesus showed a righteous anger in the temple when He overturned the tables. He was mad at how they had turned His Father’s house into a den of robbers. But how many times is your anger righteous?

We tend to get angry about the dumbest stuff – traffic, the price of gas, our neighbors. You could probably name a few yourself. Don’t let that anger rule you. Let it go. There’s really no room for it in the life of a Christian. It doesn’t reflect Jesus. It doesn’t solve anything. And especially deal with any anger you have towards God.

Carl, I would never be angry at God. Oh really, well I have been. When I was going through my last stem cell transplant process, there were a few days that I was angry at God. I was tired of feeling sick and wanted to get better. I realized, though, that I was being refined. God was making me more like His Son through that trial. If you are dealing with anger towards God right now, stop and ask Him why. He will show you. I promise.

Rid me of any anger towards You, Lord, or anyone else. Let me heart be like Yours. Give me insight into why I am angry and lead me into repentance.

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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.

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