Belief, Bible, Calling, Confession, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faith, Following, God's Will, Humility, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture

EVERYONE WHO CALLS

JOEL 2:32

“‘And it will come about that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be those who escape, just as the LORD has said, even among the survivors whom the LORD calls.’”

You’ve probably have seen an action movie where the bad guys are looking for someone. This person is hiding and refusing to make a sound. All of a sudden the good guys show up and get rid of the bad guys. When they try to find the person hiding, they are still refusing to come out since they are not sure who is trying to coax them out of their hiding place. If they don’t come out, they won’t be saved.

Joel is telling the Judeans that if you come to God, you will be saved. Everyone who calls on His name will be saved. Isn’t that awesome? We see this message echoed throughout Scripture. All we have to do to be saved is call on His name. Joel knew this and wanted everyone else to know that too. Just call on His name.

APPLICATION

All you have to do is call on His name. Have you done that? If not, He’s waiting. Each Sunday when I am leading Children’s Church where I serve, I tell the children the same thing. I tell them if the Lord is talking to you (and you will know it if He is), just call on Him. I walk them through the sinner’s prayer in which they call on His name.

So many are lost today just because they refuse to call on Him. They will call on everyone else but not Him. They don’t want to bow to Him. They don’t want to surrender. They don’t want to humble themselves before a holy God. But you can’t come to Him with a proud, arrogant heart. That won’t work.

I am so glad I made that decision back on July 31, 1977. I was a proud and arrogant young man. I knew coming to Him meant brokenness. But I came to Him. I called on His name. I knew about God, but I didn’t know Him. That evening I began my journey to know Him. I am still learning. He is such a big God. There is so much to know. Will you join in learning more about Him?

Lord, I am so grateful when I called on Your name, You answered. You were waiting for me.

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Accountability, Affliction, Bible, Consequences, Following, Humility, Judgment, Leading

PANTING FOR GOD

JOEL 1:20

“Even the animals of the field pant for You; for the stream beds of water are dried up, and fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness.

I’m reminded of Psalms 42:1-2 when I read today’s verse. It says, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God?” Without water all living creatures will perish. Fire laps up any moisture. It leaves the ground parched and dry, with nothing to sustain life.

The judgment of Judah continues. The drought has dried up all life-sustaining waters. Streams are dry. The green pastures are gone. The animals are suffering right along with the people. What is the answer to end all of this? Judah seems oblivious. Joel continues to list all the consequences of their sins.

APPLICATION

Are you looking for a cool drink from the Lord? Is your soul dry from all the fires around you? It is easy to slip into the pattern of living without the Lord. We think we can do it, and maybe for a little while we are able. But life happens and soon we are in need of that drink from the well that never goes dry.

How can you find those streams of water that are still flowing? Only by allowing the Lord to take your hand and lead you there. Have you read the 23rd Psalm lately? Do you remember how it reads? He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me besides still waters. There you have it. Yield to Him. He will lead you.

I don’t like being led around. I want to go my own way. I think I can figure stuff out all on my own. How wrong I am! I can get lost so quickly without the Lord leading me. I may not like being led, but I know I need to be led. How about you?

Lead me besides the still waters, Lord. Without your leading, I am like the animals panting after water.

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Agreement, Bible, Brokenness, Discipline, Fasting, Hearing, Humility, Intimacy, Modeling, Offering, Prayer, Purity, Sacrifice, Scripture, Suffering

FASTING

JOEL 1:14

Consecrate a fast, proclaim a solemn assembly; gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD.”

Hey, I like to eat. I don’t enjoy fasting. I’m just being honest. The times I have done a fast, my stomach reminded me constantly that it was being neglected. Breaking that fast was awesome. I missed chewing stuff. But I know the benefits of a fast far outweigh the temporary physical discomforts.

Joel is calling on the priests to proclaim a fast for the people. Why? To humble themselves before the Lord and beseech Him to intercede on their behalf. He was asking them to cry out to the Lord. The Hebrew word for “cry out” could mean “to shriek.” This was meant to be heard. Combined with their fasting, it was a sorrowful action.

APPLICATION

Fasting isn’t meant to be enjoyable. We should feel something physically. Our hunger pains should remind us to pray. Suffering isn’t tolerated well in the West. We are way too spoiled. If we don’t get three meals a day plus a snack, we think we have been deprived. We forget that many people in the world get by with one meal a day.

But you can fast from things other than just food. You can fast from electronics. Wouldn’t that be tough for us? My wife says I couldn’t handle that. I have to agree that I am tied to my computer way too much. Ask the Lord what He would have you fast from. If you ask, be prepared to fast. It may be food. It could be television or the internet. Whatever it is, when you decide to fast from it, use that time to hear from Him in a fresh new way.

The Lord has been calling me lately to fast, and I have been avoiding it. It is time for me to submit. I know whenever He calls me to fast, He has something to tell me. Would you pray for me as I listen to Him? I’ll let you know what He says.

Father, I am listening. I want to hear Your voice.

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Accountability, Battles, Bible, Confession, Disciplemaking, Discipline, Forgiveness, Humility, Modeling, Prayer, Repentance, Scripture, Surrender

PROSTRATE

JOEL 1:13

“Put on sackcloth and mourn, you priests; wail, you ministers of the altar! Come, spend the night in sackcloth, you ministers of my God, for the grain offering and the drink offering have been withheld from the house of your God.”

There have been few times in my life when I found myself lying prostrate praying to my God. Times of desperation can drive you there. I don’t need to go into what drove me there. You have probably have had times like that yourself. When you have no answers where do you go? To whom to you go?

Joel is calling on the priests to fall prostrate before their God. Sackcloth is called for. An outward sign for the nation to see was called for. Joel is telling them to show everyone that they, the priests, see their own sin and are confessing it before their Lord.

APPLICATION

Are you desperate for God? What has driven you to lay prostrate before Him? Perhaps you haven’t come to that point yet. You may think you are above that. Listen, no one is. We all have to come to the point of desperation for our sins. We all need to humble ourselves. We do not have the ability to “fix” ourselves.

But, thanks be to God, we know the one who is able to fix us. When we need cleansing, when we need to be lifted, we come to the one who has the power to raise the dead. We come to the one who can reach down and wipe away our tears. We come to the one we can trust with our very lives. He is able. No one else is. When will we all realize that?

I need humility in my life. I am like those other believers who can strut sitting down sometimes. I get full of myself. That is when I am the most vulnerable. I have to confess that as sin and come to my Savior. Will you join me? Come to Him now. He is ready to pick you up once you lay yourself out before Him.

Praise You, Lord, for seeing me. I am always in Your thoughts and You are ready to forgive me.

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Accountability, Bible, Brokenness, Humility, Infidelity, Judgment, Patience, Punishment, Righteousness

NAKED

HOSEA 2:3

“Otherwise, I will strip her naked and expose her as on the day she was born. I will also make her like a wilderness, make her like desert land, and put her to death with thirst.”

Have you ever been caught naked by someone? It can be quite embarrassing. I have had dreams of being caught somewhere without clothing. Now, don’t ask me why I am dreaming such things. I have no idea. But being without clothing can be humiliating. It’s not a situation in which you want to find yourself.

God is dishing out judgment here. He is laying out the punishment for Israel if they do not return. It wasn’t unusual for defeated people to be stripped naked before they were marched off into exile. It demeaned the people. It shamed them. God was warning them what was to come if they didn’t repent.

APPLICATION

Today is Valentine’s Day. I can’t say this verse fits that. Being humiliated and embarrassed isn’t exactly what that day is all about, is it?  That day is about love. Now, hold on for a second. Why do you think God is warning Israel about the encroaching judgment? Because He loves them.

If God didn’t love us, He wouldn’t discipline us. He would let us go on our merry way and live like we want to. Because He loves us, He gave us His Word to live by. It points us in the right direction. He tells us the consequences of our actions. God is constantly drawing us to Himself. We have to decide if we want to obey or not, but we don’t get to choose whether or not to receive consequences.

Do you think you are getting by thumbing your nose at God? Do you think He is simply ignoring your behaviors? Think again. Don’t find yourself one day naked and humiliated. God will hold true to His Word. He has to. He’s God. And when His patience is done, you will receive His just wrath. That is not a threat. It’s a promise.

I do not want to be naked and alone, God. I want to be clothed by Your righteousness. I cling to You.

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Accountability, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Enemies, Humility, Mentoring, Opponents, Parenting, Relationships, Scripture, Submission, Testimony

GOT TO BE FIRST

3 JOHN 9

“I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say.”

Some people just have to be first. They push to be first in line. They insist on being recognized first in meetings. They give their opinion loudly even when no one wants to hear it. Don’t those people aggravate you? Be honest. You probably try to avoid them. Am I right?

Well, it appears Diotrephes was that kind of person. He rejected John’s counsel that was sent to the church in a previous letter. Obviously, Diotrephes wanted to be in charge and discounted John’s advice. We don’t know why he did that. Perhaps he didn’t like John. Maybe he just wanted control of the church himself. Whatever the reason, John called him out (check out verse 10).

APPLICATION

While it is good for our children to be ambitious and push themselves, it is never good for them to let their ambitions run over others. I am reminded of the story Jesus told about the wedding guests. He said it was better to sit at the lower seats of the table and be asked to move up than to sit at the best seat and be asked to move down.

This is really about humility and submission. Diotrephes refused to humble himself and submit to John. John! A disciple of Jesus Himself. The disciple Jesus loved, probably more than any other disciple. That was the person Diotrephes was rejecting. Teach your children to respect those who have walked the walk. They need to show honor to such followers of Christ.

Do you find yourself pushing for recognition or are you content to serve unnoticed? The Lord will exalt the humble, but He will also humble the exalted. If we insist on “tooting our own horn,” we may find ourselves without a horn to toot. Don’t be a Diotrephes. Submit yourself to those in authority over you. Allow them to direct you. This honors our Lord, and He will honor you.

Thank You, Lord, for placing people in my life to lead me. I want to honor You by submitting to their leadership.

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Abiding, Accountability, Advice, Bible, Child Rearing, Conceit, Following, Humility, Inspirational, Life, Love, Mentoring, Parenting, Scripture

HAVE YOU GONE TOO FAR?

2 JOHN 9

“Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son.”

Some people just can’t help themselves. Well actually, they can, but they just choose not to. These people have to be out front. They have to be the ones calling the shots, even if the shots are wrong. I’ve known folks like that. It’s really hard to deal with them. Why? Because their focus is totally on themselves and not on others.

John talks about those people in verse 9 of 2 John. He even says if they go too far, they are not abiding in the teaching of Christ and they don’t have God. Now, that’s pretty harsh, isn’t it? What John doesn’t say but is implied here is there is no humility. You see, you can’t be humble and put yourself out front. And we know that humility is a characteristic Christ showed.

APPLICATION

We are always pushing our kids to excel, aren’t we? We want them to make straight A’s. We want them to be the captain of the ball team. We want… You get the picture. By doing that, we can unintentionally create a monster. We want our kids to do their best, but we don’t want them to put themselves above others in a negative way.

We have to teach our kids how to excel without getting the bighead. They need to know that any achievements they have are the result of God’s blessing in their lives. Sure, they may have worked hard for it, but God gave them the ability. With every triumph, point them back to Jesus. He is the one who gives them the strength and wisdom to achieve great things.

Have you ever gone too far? Have you put yourself over your spouse or work colleagues? If you have done that, confess that as sin and make it right with those whom you have harmed. That’s where the humility comes in. A humble leader can lead armies.

I am so thankful for the way You have gifted me, Lord. I thank You for allowing me to achieve great things for You.

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Advice, Bible, Blessing, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Exalting, Faithfulness, Following, Humility, Inspirational, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Scripture, Submission, Teaching

RIGHT ON TIME, JUST IN TIME

1 PETER 5:6

“Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time”

My brother-in-law used to end every church service by starting a saying in which the congregation would take part. It would go like this:

Pastor: “God is good.”

Congregation: “All the time”

Pastor: “Right on time”

Congregation: “Just in time”

Pastor: Why?

All: Because that’s His nature. Whooo!

It may have just been a great way to end the service, but it holds such truth. Look at today’s verse. Peter ends it by saying “at the proper time.” That’s exactly what my brother-in-law knew and was teaching the church. God’s timing is always perfect. He is never late. He is also never early. He knows the exact time to exalt you.

APPLICATION

Do your children have a problem waiting? Are they impatient? Most children are. Have you ever made them wait for something just to teach them to wait? It’s not a bad idea. Waiting teaches us a lot. I have often said that life if full of red lights with just a few blinking green lights. We have to learn to wait.

How do you teach children to wait? Teach them by your actions. When you are waiting at a red light, instead of complaining and drumming your fingers on the steering wheel nervously, sing along with the radio or play a game with your kids in the car. “I Spy” is a great one to play. Make waiting fun.

As you wait on God, allow Him to teach you. He allows us to wait for a reason. It’s always a teaching moment. Don’t get me wrong. I haven’t figured this waiting thing out either. I don’t like it. But I have learned when I listen closely in those waiting times God is whispering my name. He is lifting me up. He is exalting me.

God My Father, I will wait on You. Even when I am faced with seemingly impossible timetables, I will wait. You are faithful and always on time.

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Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Encouragement, Humility, Mentoring, Parenting, Scripture

ACE BANDAGE

1 PETER 5:5

“You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.”

Did you know that the Bible mentions ace bandages? Yep, sure does. Well, kind of. The Greek word for “clothe” here in today’s verse is egkomboomai. Part of that word means a roll, band, girth. It’s used to imply someone is secured by something. An Ace bandage!  Lol. It’s only used here in all of Scripture.

And of all things it says to wrap ourselves in, it says to clothe yourselves in humility. Now, that is something we all need to be covered in. No one has enough humility. We all get our proud moments, don’t we? But if you are wrapped, if you are secure in it, it comes much easier. You have to relax to be wrapped, though. Let Him do the wrapping.

APPLICATION

This will be a fun verse to share with your kids. Get some ace bandages and wrap them up. Have them struggle a little bit and see how easy it is and how it looks when you’re done. Then do it again and have them stay very still. You will be both be amazed at the difference.

Explain to them about humility. It’s putting others before ourselves. It’s not seeing ourselves above others. It’s knowing where we are in relation to Christ. He is above us – always. That’s what we wrap ourselves in.

Are you struggling inside your Ace bandage? How does it look? Rest in Him. Surrender. Let Jesus wrap you in humility. Let His presence be all around you. Doesn’t that feel good? Don’t you feel secure? I bet you will never look at another Ace bandage the same.

Wrap me, Lord. Secure me with Your Spirit of humility. I only want to honor You.

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Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Comfort, Courage, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Following, God's Will, Humility, Inspirational, Mentoring, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Persecution, Sanctification, Scripture, Suffering, Testimony, Witnessing

DOING GOOD REGARDLESS

1 PETER 3:17

“For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.”

This just sounds backwards, doesn’t it? You shouldn’t suffer for doing what is right. You should only suffer for doing the wrong things. At least that is what we think. But God doesn’t think like we think. Boy, I’m glad that is true, aren’t you?

So, what does this verse mean for believers? At times the Lord will call on us to suffer. Suffering is NOT punishment. Suffering is a gift. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s true. In the midst of suffering we discover God in a whole new way. Others see Jesus in us and are encouraged in their own faith or perhaps drawn for the first time to give their lives to Christ. We must stand up for what is right, no matter the cost.

APPLICATION

Teaching suffering to our children is no easy thing. We don’t want to see our children suffer. They may not understand why they are suffering for doing the right thing. These are teaching moments. Don’t overlook them just trying to soothe your child. You shouldn’t tell them to suck it up and get back on their feet either. It’s okay to feel hurt. That’s normal. We comfort them through God’s Word.

Suffering is a teaching time for our children. Perhaps you are going through a tough time right now. Maybe the Lord has led you into a suffering season just to model how to handle it for your children. Embrace it and live like Jesus. Your kids will never forget how you suffer for Him.

This is not a subject we want to talk about. We don’t want to suffer, especially when we are doing all the right things. We want to be blessed and be found faithful. You can be blessed through suffering also. Trust me, I know. Everyone’s suffering is different, but it is the same God who sees us through.

I will embrace the suffering You have for me, Lord. I know You know what is best for me. I trust You to teach me through the suffering.

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