Affection, Belief, Bible, Calling, Deception, Encouragement, Following, Inspirational, Judgment, Modeling

NO OTHER

JOEL 2:27

“‘So you will know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God and there is no other; and My people will never be put to shame.’”

I don’t like imposters. People who pretend to be someone or something else just get under my skin. There, I said it. Is that judgmental? Yes, I guess it is. But people who do this are simply deceptive. Deception is the work of the evil one. There is no doubt about that.

But God is not a deceiver. Nor is He a pretender. He is the only true God. Here in Joel, He says that He is the Lord your God and there is no other. Why did the Lord say that? Because He needed to remind the Judeans why they have just come through their judgment. They had pursued other false gods, who really aren’t gods at all. There is only One God.

APPLICATON

I probably don’t need to tell you that there is only one God. You probably know that. But are you living as if that is true? Do you put your trust in other things? Do you rely on money or prestige to get you through? There is only one source for all your needs. That is the Lord your God. He is still playing that role today.

When I say playing that role, I don’t mean He is pretending. Of course, not. He is simply fulfilling His role. He is the creator of all that there is. He knows there is no other God. There is not any who rival Him. Satan is not His evil, equal adversary. Satan would want you to believe that, but he isn’t. He is subservient to God and will ultimately be judged and cast into the lake of fire. You can’t call that equal.

I do things sometimes that God may question my actions. He may think I doubt He is the only one. Of course, that is not true. But I resort to trusting sources other than Him. And when I do, it always ends bad. Don’t do what I do. Acknowledge Him as the only God. He believes you are the only you.

I praise You, O God, for being the one and only true God. I bow before You!

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Bible, Blessing, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Modeling, Obedience, Praise, Restoration

PRAISE HIS NAME

JOEL 2:26

“‘You will have plenty to eat and be satisfied, and you will praise the name of the LORD your God, who has dealt wondrously with you; then My people will never be put to shame.’”

Why do you issue praise on anyone? I have had the privilege to be a boss for a lot of great employees. I discovered the more I praised them for their fine work, the more they wanted to do fine work. Praising them also caused me to look at my own work. How well was I leading them? Am I an example they want to follow? Praising others is something you have to learn to do and practice often, or you lose it.

The Lord is speaking here in verse 26, and He tells us that because of His blessings on the Judeans, they will praise His name. Well, of course they would. Why wouldn’t they? He had restored them from a terrible judgment of locusts. He had restored them from hunger and thirst. They were looking upward. They were acknowledging their God.

APPLICATION

What drives you to praise your God? Does it take restoration to do that? So many of us wait until we are in a mess to cry out to God. We only praise Him when He delivers us. Why not praise Him all the time? After all, the deliverance He has already made in your life from an eternal damnation is reason enough to praise Him. Isn’t it?

Take some time today to praise Him. You can do that with song. I love to do that. Sing a hymn or a praise song to your God. You may want to spend some extended time in prayer or studying the Word. But make sure you praise Him for all He has done, is doing and will do in your life. Our God is amazing and deserves our praise.

Recently, I found a cd of some songs that our choir used to sing. When I popped them in my cd player in my truck and began to listen, tears streamed down my face. I could picture myself and the choir singing these incredible anthems in praise to our Lord. As I sang along, the praise just lifted to the heavens. Praise Him today. Give Him all the praise.

I praise You, O Lord, for all You have done and will do in my life. You are an amazing God and I love you.

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Accountability, Altars, Bible, Brokenness, Cleansing, Confession, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Forgiveness, Modeling, Repentance, Scripture

WEEPING BEFORE THE LORD

JOEL 2:17

“Let the priests, the LORD’S ministers, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, “Spare Your people, Lord, and do not make your inheritance a disgrace with the nations jeering at them. Why should those among the peoples say, ‘Where is their God?’”

I remember a time when I went to a Promise Keeper’s Conference in Atlanta, GA. It was sometime in the 1990’s. At one point in the conference, the speaker asked us to pray for our fathers. At the time, my dad wasn’t saved. He was a good man, but he was lost. I knew that and was broken by it. I wept and wept for my dad on the shoulders of some of my friends who had gone with me to the conference.

Joel is calling on the priests to weep for the nation. He is calling for brokenness. Look at his words. He is begging God to spare His people. He doesn’t want the pagan nations to make fun of Judah and point their fingers at them. But look at what his motive is. He is wanting to protect the name of Jehovah. Reread that last sentence in today’s verse.

APPLICATION

What motivates you towards brokenness? Is it your desire to save your reputation or is it to honor the name of the Lord? When is the last time you have wept over lost souls? We need to stay broken. I don’t mean we need to be bent over and droopy. I mean we need to have a humble spirit, one that is pliable in the hands of God.

I want to encourage you to go to your altar. You may say, What altar, Carl? If you don’t have one, make one. It can be temporary. Put a pillow on the floor in your bedroom or office. Get on your knees and beg God for forgiveness. Beseech the Lord of the universe for the souls of your lost friends or family members. If the tears come, let them flow. Pour out your heart to the One who hears.

My dad did come to Christ at the ripe, old age of 80. It was a marvelous experience. He was a different man the last four years of his life as he walked with Christ. I don’t want to even think my tears at that conference caused that. All I know is I prayed for my dad all those years and God heard my cry. One day I will see my sweet daddy in heaven.

Father, I ask that You draw my lost friends and family members to You. I love them all and want to see them with me in eternity.

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Alone, Confidence, Darkness, Encouragement, Fear, Judgment, Light, Modeling, Scripture

WHO TURNED THE LIGHTS OUT

JOEL 2:10

“Before them the earth quakes, the heavens tremble, the sun and the moon become dark, and the stars lose their brightness.”

Have you ever been in a room when someone turned off the lights and left you in the dark? It can be frightening, can’t it? One moment you have light and the next you don’t. In one second, you go from seeing well to seeing nothing. In the 21st century we understand how all this works, but in Joel’s day it was a whole different story.

In today’s verse the locusts are described as so thick that they blot out the sun, moon and stars. The sky seems to shake at their presence (the vibration of their wings could cause that). The people of Judah would be in sunlight or moonlight one moment and suddenly darkness. For the people of this time, I am sure it was scary.

APPLICATION

Our Lord makes a reference in Luke 21:25-26 to a similar event. “‘There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves,’” The Lord was saying this in reference to His return one day. I am not saying locust swarms indicate Christ’s return. But even He showed how God will use nature to tell a story.

The truth is there are signs all around us of Christ’s imminent return. So many prophecies have been fulfilled. It seems the world is teetering on the edge. Are you looking for Him? Are you aware of what is going on in our world that is preparing for that glorious day? You should be.

I believe He is coming soon. That may prove to be wrong. That’s okay. I am not building a bunker to hide in. I am okay with whatever happens because my trust is in Him, not the news. But I truly believe it’s near. I am okay with that as well. If the sun and moon are blotted out, I am trusting Him. Are you?

I will trust in the one who is my light. Though the sun and the moon fall, I will trust in Jesus.

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Abiding, Accountability, Advice, Bible, Commands, Commitment, Disciplemaking, Discipline, Following, Invisible, Leading, Modeling, Order, Perseverance, Scripture, Soldiers

FOCUSED

JOEL 2:8

“They do not crowd each other, every warrior of them marches in his path; when they burst through the defenses, they do not break ranks.”

Staying focused on a task is important. Most people today are so unfocused. They live by ten seconds snippets. Instagram and Tik Tok have altered the way we look at life. We are accustomed to those short pieces of life. We don’t have the discipline to focus on something longer than a few seconds. We are missing so much, even though we have so much more.

These locusts Joel is describing are focused. They have one purpose – to eat everything in sight. Nothing deters them from their task. They are determined to eat, eat, eat. They fly and crawl only to eat. We can learn something from them. God has given these locusts a task to perform, and they are determined to accomplish it.

APPLICATION

Do you have a laser focus on God? I mean, are you so focused on Him that others call you fanatical? Most of us don’t. But we should be. We need to be so dialed in on God that all that we do is related to Him. After all, if we are believers, all we do should be about Him. God’s will for our lives is for us to give Him glory. All we do and say should be focused on Him.

Most of us consider God as an afterthought. When things get bad, we turn to Him. When tragedy strikes we call on Him. We just celebrated the 20th anniversary of 9/11. I can vividly remember our nation turning to God after that. Churches were full. Services were held in our capitol. Prayer vigils were going on all over the country. Twenty years later people have forgotten who got them through it. It wasn’t the government. It was our Lord.

I have become so focused on God and His Word that others look at me as strange. When I talk about the importance of memorizing Scripture, I get these weird looks from people. God desires us all to be “crazy” about Him. Every aspect of our lives belongs to Him. When we finally realize that, it all begins to make sense. Let me urge you today to set your sights on God alone and trust Him to lead and guide you each day.

I am so thankful that I have learned to focus on You. Guard my sight, O Lord, from distractions.

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Abiding, Advice, Battles, Bible, Encouragement, Following, God's Will, Modeling, Perseverance, Scripture, Trials

PALE FACES

JOEL 2:6

“Before them the people are in anguish; all faces turn pale.”

Some people are paler than others. That’s just a fact, right? But others can become super pale when frightened or in pain. Have you ever heard the expression “you look as pale as a ghost”? Now, that’s pretty pale. I have visited people in the hospital who looked like that. They looked as pale as the sheets on their bed.

The Hebrew words for the phrase “turn pale” literally mean drained of color. The people were in so much pain, so much anguish, they were drained of color. They were writhing in pain. The locust swarms that had come upon them had them to this point. They could see all their crops and produce being annihilated, and they were helpless to do anything about it.

APPLICATION

So, what do you do when this happens? What do you do when you find yourself in anguish? There’s only one thing to do. You turn to Jesus. We live in a fallen world. We have to deal with that. And sometimes the Lord allows things in our lives that will drive us to Him. We may not understand at the time, but He is there with us.

The next time you find yourself in one of these situations, stop and ask the Lord what He is trying to teach you. What lesson does He want you to learn? When we approach these times like that, we can learn so much about ourselves and Christ. I am not even pretending these times are fun. They are not. But they are times to grow.

I can truly say I hated every time like this I have faced. No one likes going through hard times. But I can also say that I have always learned going through them. I have also learned that the quicker I submit to the Lord and allow Him to teach me, the sooner I can feel His warm embrace in the process. The trial may still continue, but now I know what it’s about.

Lord, show me the purpose of the hard times in my life. Teach me to trust You and grow me into what You would have me be.

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Abiding, Advocate, Bible, Courage, Encouragement, Listening, Modeling, Protection, Scripture

THE SOUNDS OF JUDGMENT

JOEL 2:5

“With a noise as of chariots they leap about on the tops of the mountains, like the crackling of a flame of fire consuming the stubble, like a mighty people drawn up for battle.”

Every seventeen years Cicadas make their descent on Tennessee. This year was one of those years. What is a Cicada? It’s an insect that looks like a huge, superfly. The biggest thing about Cicadas is the noise they make. Their mating call can reach 95 decibels. Compare that to an overhead plane that is around 80 decibels. When these Cicadas hatch in the thousands, you can imagine the noise. It can be quiet deafening.

So, I can imagine the noise of the swarms of locusts described here in Joel 2:5. Their noise must have been something for the people of Judah. The approaching swarms could be heard from as far away as six miles. That had to be quite scary for the little ones. An unseen noise that got louder and louder must have been terrifying.

APPLICATION

What noises scare you? Are you one of those who hears every little sound at night and jumps up to check all the doors and windows? My wife is a light sleeper. She hears every little sound. Me – I can sleep through a hurricane, lol. Things that go bump in the night do keep a lot of people awake. Some people are just restless. Others are just plain scared.

Matthew 11:28-30 comes to mind. “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Do you believe that? Then rest in Him. He guards your soul. He is your great protector. Don’t let the noises of this world scare you.

I know I can rest in Him. I do need to be mindful to lock my windows and doors, but I can trust Jesus to protect me. When I lay down at night, I can truly say that I trust Him to keep me and my wife safe. That’s why I can rest so well. He is in charge. He never sleeps. He is watching over my well-being twenty-four seven. What a relief!

Thank You, Lord, for watching over me. Your watchful eyes are moving to and fro thoughout the whole world.

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Abiding, Advocate, Affliction, Bible, Consequences, Direction, Disciplemaking, Following, Judgment, Leading, Modeling, Scripture

WANDERING AIMLESSLY

JOEL 1:18

“How the animals have groaned! The herds of cattle have wandered aimlessly because there is no pasture for them; even the flocks of sheep have suffered.”

I hate getting lost. When my wife and I travel, we use our car’s GPS or one on our phone. Even then, sometimes it’s difficult. I remember last summer we took a trip to a cabin in Kentucky which was located near a lake. I had the address in our GPS, but we could not find that cabin. We drove and drove on these back roads without any success. Finally, we drove back to the nearest town and looked on a real paper map. We had been within a mile of the cabin the whole time but wandered aimlessly without the right directions.

Joel refers to the animals of Judah wandering aimlessly due to lack of pasture. They could find no source of nourishment due to the drought and pestilence all around. What a sad sight it must have been to see the animals starving to death. Judah’s sins had consequences on not just the people. Even their livestock suffered.

APPLICATION

Our sins and our wanderings have consequences on others. I worked for over thirty years in the child welfare field with foster children. I can tell you from firsthand experience that the sins of the parents trickle down. When the parents wandered aimlessly due to their sinful behaviors, the children were forced to wander with them. I have seen some horrible situations caused by the sins of the parents.

Wandering aimlessly through life is no life at all. We all need direction. Like the livestock searching for nourishment, we too need spiritual nourishment to thrive. Jesus is that source of nourishment. Only He can provide what you need to make sense of this world. Wherever you are right now, stop and turn to Him. Let Him show you the right path.

I said I hate getting lost. I have found as long as I stay centered on Jesus and stay in His Word, I don’t get lost. I may be taken on a path I would not have chosen, but if I am with Him, that’s okay. It’s an adventure worth taking.

Lord, I will travel with You. Take my hand and lead me forward.

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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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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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