Battles, Bible, Blessing, Drought, Fruit, Harvest, Hope, Joy, Rejoicing

DON’T BE A SCAREDY CAT

JOEL 2:22

“Do not fear, animals of the field, for the pastures of the wilderness have turned green, for the tree has produced its fruit, the fig tree and the vine have yielded in full.”

Have you ever been around feral cats? You can’t get near them. They come out of the barns or bushes and look at you, but if you make one step toward them, they disappear. They hunt constantly for food and always look scrawny and underfed. It’s hard to see any animal like that – even a cat, lol.

Joel is spreading good news to even the animals. They have been suffering for so long with the drought and the locusts. They haven’t seen anything green to eat in quite a while. Now the Lord is turning the pastures green. He is bringing forth the fruit of the trees and the vines. The animals should be dancing with joy.

APPLICATION

What has the Lord restored in your life? Do you remember times when your needs were great, and the Lord came through and met just what you needed? The Lord always comes through – every time. He may be late, according to our timetable. But He’s not late according to His. Listen to this verse. “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not willing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance.”

Maybe you are going through a tough time right now and feel the Lord is not hearing your prayers. He is. I promise. Trust in His timetable. I am sure those people in Judah thought the Lord had forgotten them. But He showed up just when He planned. Our suffering is always to make us more like Him. Don’t complain about it. Embrace it and allow Him to bring you through.

I remember vividly the days after I came to Christ. The grass was greener, and the sky was bluer. I saw life for the first time in a long time. His promises are true. I learned I could trust Him. He brought me through some tough times to get me there. He has continued to bring me through. Each time I trust Him, He teaches me more.

O Mighty Father, I will wait on You. You have always come through and I know You always will.

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Bible, Blessing, Comfort, Direction, Disciplemaking, Drought, God's Will, Inspirational, Joy, Praise, Rejoicing

SHOUT FOR JOY

JOEL 2:21

“Do not fear, land; shout for joy and rejoice, for the LORD has done great things.”

I am a huge football fan, especially of the Georgia Bulldogs (Go DAWGS!). If it’s possible, I’m going to watch them play on. Saturdays. And when they are scoring and winning, I am shouting for joy. My wife thinks I’m crazy, but that’s okay. I love my DAWGS, and I’m going to support them every chance I get.

Joel isn’t talking about my DAWGS today, but he is talking about shouting for joy. In fact, he tells the land to not fear, but to shout for joy and rejoice. There’s been a period of mourning with the droughts and the locusts, but now the Lord is restoring the land. He says “for the Lord has done great things.” It is only because of the Lord. It is His workings.

APPLICATION

Do you feel like shouting? Can you rejoice in the great things the Lord has done in your life? You may not feel much like shouting for joy. Perhaps you have been in a period of mourning. But the Lord has still done great things. Look around you. I bet you can point out several things He has done for you lately. Rejoice in them.

It is often in our lowest moments that we can see His handiwork. The Lord comes down to us to lift us up. And He often teaches us very important life lessons when we are at our lowest. That may seem crazy, but it’s true. I know it’s been true in my life. So, take a moment and look around. Ask the Lord to reveal them to you.

When I was going through my first stem cell transplant in 2010, the Lord taught me to trust Him. My faith grew exponentially during those months. In 2020 during my second stem cell transplant, the Lord taught me the importance of being a godly example to others. He wanted to use me to show others how to trust. It wasn’t about me at all. For those lessons, I rejoice. Will you rejoice for yours?

I thank You, Lord, for all the lessons You have taught me in my life. I praise Your holy name.

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Abiding, Advice, Battles, Bible, Joy, Judgment, Modeling, Testimony

NO JOY

JOEL 1:16

“Has food not been cut off before our eyes, and joy and rejoicing from the house of our God?”

There have been times in my life when my joy thermometer didn’t register very high. Things were going wrong all around me. Every ounce of joy was gone. Nothing made me happy. I snapped at people, and it seemed everyone got on my nerves. Those are not fun times. I’ll tell you what I found in a sec.

Joel is telling Judah that they are going to experience the same thing. No joy! No rejoicing! Everything is wrong. But Joel is pointing them towards the reason why. Their disobedience. True joy never precedes obedience. Because of their disobedience to God, their joy was gone. Judgment was upon them.

APPLICATION

Those time I mentioned about me – I had the same problem. When I began to look at myself, I saw that I wasn’t spending the time I needed in prayer or in God’s Word. I was letting the worries of this life come in and choke me. I was too busy looking at myself instead of looking towards my Savior.

Have you had similar times? Take your eyes off of yourself. Dig deep in His Word. He will restore your joy. In fact, the joy never left you. His joy indwells you when come to Him as Savior. We just let stuff cover it up. Shake off all those thoughts and concentrate on what He has done for you. I promise the joy will erupt.

Joyless living is not living at all. We need to be spreading the joy of Jesus to everyone every day. They need to know we are Christians by the expressions on our faces. Our smiles should tell them. Then when they ask why we are so happy, we can tell them it’s not happiness. It’s joy, and here’s why we are joyful. Try it today.

Thank You, Lord, for restoring my joy. Thank You for giving me a joy-filled life.

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Abiding, Advice, Bible, Blessing, Comfort, Devil, Encouragement, Joy, Scripture

DEHYDRATED

JOEL 1:12

“The vine has dried up and the fig tree has withered; the pomegranate, the palm also, and the apple tree, all the trees of the field have dried up. Indeed, joy has dried up from the sons of mankind.

Dehydration can cause all kinds of health problems. Most people don’t drink enough water, myself included. I like to drink water. It’s just easier sometimes to grab a coke or a glass of sweet tea (okay, I’m from the South, give me a break, lol). But nothing rehydrates you like water. Your body needs it.

Joel uses the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate tree, the palm tree and the apple tree as examples. But he wasn’t really talking about trees. Look at the last phrase of the verse. “Indeed, joy has dried up…” That’s the issue. Their joy had dried up. Joyless living is no living at all. Joel knew that. God knows that. Joy is necessary for a spirit-filled life.

APPLICATION

I pray you have joy in your life right now and that you are not spiritually dehydrated. I don’t mean you have to go around shouting “joy” all the time. Nor do you have to sing out loud constantly. Real joy from Christ is inexpressible. In fact, if you are walking in joy, you probably don’t have to say a word. Everyone around you will know it. It shows on your face.

So, why do most of us walk around in the dumps? Why do we seem so defeated? Because we believe the lies of the devil. He is constantly berating us. He doesn’t like joy. He loves sorrow. He loves to suck the joy right out of your life, living you spiritually dehydrated. You can kick ole Beelzebub right in the teeth by living joyously. He hates that. And who doesn’t want to punch him in the mouth, right?

I have to admit. There are days I live victoriously and joyously and others I don’t. Every time I find myself not living in joy, it’s because I have not spent the time I needed in prayer and in His Word. Those two things will do more for your joy than anything. You don’t need to be part of some emotionally charged worship service to get joy. Just do what He expects and surrender. The joy will come. Rehydrate with joy!

I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart, down in my heart, down in my heart. I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart, down in my heart, down in my heart to stay.

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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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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.

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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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Bible, Blessing, Comfort, Death, Encouragement, Heaven, Hell, Joy, Life, Promises, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture, Sin

ON THE THIRD DAY

HOSEA 6:2

“He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day, that we may live before Him.”

We just celebrated Easter a couple of weeks ago. I have always loved Easter. I loved the Easter baskets, hiding and finding the Easter eggs and I especially loved Easter lunch after church. Of course, the older I got the more I understood about Easter and the importance of the resurrection on the third day. We truly have something to celebrate.

I just love the words in today’s verse. I had forgotten these words were spoken here in Hosea. Hosea was prophesying about the Messiah here. Jesus was revived, and He was raised up on the third day. These Israelites were placing their hope in a resurrection from Jehovah God. We do the same.

APPLICATION

So, if you are a believer in Christ, you have hope in the resurrection Christ. His shed blood on Calvary covers our sins, but His resurrection gives us eternal life. There is nothing else into which we put our hope. There is nothing else that can give us eternity. We will be changed into a glorified body and live forever with our God.

Sadly, some people don’t believe in that. They think when we die, we just die. Our lives end. There is nothing beyond the grave. How depressing! The fact is our lives are just beginning at death. Death is just a portal into our eternal home. If we love Jesus and have given our lives to Him, then that home is heaven. If we have not done that, then that eternal home is hell. Either way, we have an eternal destiny.

I don’t know about you, but I am glad I have secured my room in my mansion in the heaven. I will be happy with the closet in the mansion, honestly. Just to be in the presence of my God is good enough for me. How about you? Have you punched your ticket for heaven? Are you ready? Are you longing for your heavenly home?

O Father, I long for heaven. But while I am here, let me be about Your business.

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Appeasement, Belief, Bible, Comfort, Death, Encouragement, Faith, Joy, Life, Resurrection, Scripture

HE’S ALIVE

JOHN 20:8 “So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb also entered then, and he saw and believed.”

So many times we hear things we just can’t believe. Someone has done some magnificent show of strength perhaps. Or someone has invented some new creation. We hear it but don’t believe it. Then other times we actually see something we can’t believe. A magic act or a freak act of nature. But seeing is believing, they say.

Jesus had been telling the disciples He was going to die and rise again. They just couldn’t comprehend it. But when they found the empty tomb and the linen wraps lying there, they believed. Can you imagine being John or Peter or Mary that first Easter morning? Can you imagine the surge of excitement that ran through their veins?

APPLICATION

Sure you can! Look afresh at the empty tomb. It’s still empty. There are no bones of Christ to be found. He came, died and rose again! We should have just as much as excitement at Easter as Peter, John and Mary did. We should stand in awe of the miracle of the resurrection.

And the beautiful thing about the resurrection is this – He did it all for us. Jesus didn’t rise from the grave to prove how great He was. He didn’t need to do that. God is not a glory hound. He doesn’t need to lift Himself up. He is God – period.

Jesus rose from the grave to defeat death for us. When we place our faith in Him, all that He did becomes ours. His death on the cross and the blood He shed becomes our sacrifice to appease God. And His resurrection becomes our resurrection. We will defeat the sting of death because He did. We will live eternally with our Savior.

Father, I thank You for the resurrected Christ. I thank You for the power over the grave. And I thank You for the empty tomb. Hallelujah, what a Savior!

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A PARENT’S JOY

3 JOHN 4

“I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.”

I have been in ministry over forty years. That’s a long time. Sometimes I feel like Moses – herding sheep for forty years or wandering in the wilderness for forty years. But sometimes I hear from someone I had the privilege to lead to the Lord, and they tell me how they are still walking with Jesus. That brings me such joy. It really warms my heart.

John was expressing the exact same feeling. He was thrilled to hear about Gaius. It is obvious from this verse that John had played some part in Gaius’ salvation experience. We don’t know exactly where or when that was, but John was a spiritual father to Gaius. As a father to Gaius, John longed to see him grow spiritually. Nothing thrilled his heart more.

APPLICATION

If you have not experienced this joy as a parent, I pray you will. Watching our children come to Christ is awesome. Praying with them to receive Christ is stupendous. But watching them walk with Christ daily thrills your soul. This is especially true as they get older and start making more and more of their own decisions. Watching them choose Christ makes all the bedtime prayer rituals worth it.

One big question we face as parents as our children get older is how do we continue to influence them spiritually. How do we help them in their walk? Our role changes from caregiver to coach to cheerleader to consultant. In this last stage we have to wait for them to come to us for advice. Advice not asked for is seldom followed. Continue to pray and be ready when asked.

Do you have a “child in the faith” whom you are praying for? Is there someone you are watching walk with Jesus whom thrills your soul? I pray you are investing in others daily. I pray you are encouraging them. I promise as you encourage them, you will be encouraged. Be obedient to Jesus as you follow His example to disciple others.

Oh Lord, nothing thrills me more than to see my children walk with You. Help me encourage them daily as they trust You.

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