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HIS WORD

JOEL 2:11

“The LORD utters His voice before His army; His camp is indeed very great, for mighty is one who carries out His word. The day of the LORD is indeed great and very awesome, and who can endure it?”

I have never served in the military. I admire those who have and am thankful for their service. Many of them have sacrificed greatly. Many others sacrificed the ultimate sacrifice to follow the commands they were given. When you are in the military you are expected to listen to your commander and do what they say. You follow orders. You obey.

The phrase that caught my attention in today’s verse was “for mighty is one who carries out His word.” They recognized then and we recognize now those who heed His word. Obedience is expected, is it not? Joel knew that. I am sure Joel had rather be doing anything other than preaching this message to the people of Judah who didn’t want to hear it. But he listened to the Lord and carried out His word.

APPLICATION

The application for us from this verse is obvious. Will we carry out His word? What does that mean for us? What does the Lord expect us to do? It’s pretty simple, really. He expects us to take His Word to a lost world. He expects us to glorify Him in all we do. He expects us to live out Matthew 28:18-20.

The expectations are clear. The question is – will we do it? You don’t have to be in full time ministry to do this. Witnessing to your neighbor is carrying out His word. Helping someone in distress is carrying out His word. Praying in your prayer closet because you are too weak to get out is carrying out His word. There are all kinds of ways to carry out the word of God. We just have to be diligent.

I have not always done this. Even as a pastor, I have not always done it. Sure, I’ve gone through the motions of ministry, but I haven’t truly carried out His word. But over the past several years I have been convicted to be more and more diligent to do that. I pray more. I read more of His word and memorize it. Let us all join together to carry out His word to the world.

I am so grateful for Your word. Help me proclaim it to a lost world daily.

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BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU SEE

JOEL 2:4

“Their appearance is like the appearance of horses; and like war horses, so they run.”

Sometimes things take on the shape of other things. Clouds can look like a rabbit. Shadows can appear to represent an image of a person. In the fog things can look very different. You have to look closely sometimes to make out what you are really seeing. After all, your eyes can play tricks on you.

Theodoret, a Bishop in Syria, once said while describing the locusts he observed there, “You will find it exceedingly like that of a horse.” Whence the Arabs, of old and to this day , say, ‘In the locust, slight as it is, is the nature of ten of the larger animals, the face of a horse, the eyes of an elephant, the neck of abull, the horns of a deer, the chest of a lion, the belly of a scorpion, the wings of an eagle, the thighs of a camel, the feet of an ostrich, the tail of a serpent.’” (Barnes’ Commentary of Joel). This is what Joel is talking about here in today’s verse.

APPLICATION

You are probably wondering how in the world we can get any application for our lives from this verse. What do locusts or how they look relate to me? Will you give a little room to make this application? After all, every word of the Bible is inspired, right?

God allows these “hordes of locusts” into our lives sometimes. He allows them to come in and seemingly destroy everything in sight. But you have to remember that if God allows it, it is always to make us more like His Son. Those locusts may look terrifying. We may be shaken at the very sight of them. However, in Christ we have the strength and power to face any horde sent our way.

I don’t like hordes of anything attacking me or my loved ones. I want to fight back. I think I can defend myself. But God whispers to me to back off and let Him do the defending. If you are facing “hordes of locusts” right now, stop fighting so hard. Lay down your feeble weapons and allow the Lord to defend you. He has the power to do great and mighty things in and through us.

I thank You for coming to my defense when I am under attack. When all else falls apart, I know You can be depended on.

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FAILURES EVERYWHERE

JOEL 1:10

“The field is ruined, the land mourns; for the grain is ruined, the new wine has dried up, fresh oil has failed.”

We see failures all around us. Failures of economies. Failures of nations. Failures of people. The one thing that is certain about life is failure. No one likes it, but it comes, nonetheless. So, what do you do when everything around you seems to be failing? Do you throw up your hands? Do you put your head down and just weep? No! We have a great God who is aware of the failures.

Joel continues to tell us of the failures in Judah. In today’s verse we see the fields have ruined. The land is mourning! The crops have suffered. Even the vineyards have dried up and there is no oil for use. Utter failure. Judah is a mess. Why? Because of their disobedience. God will not tolerate that. We see that in these failures.

APPLICATION

You may have experienced failures in your life. In fact, your life may be in shambles right now. Sometimes we feel like a failure. Listen, our choices can cause many of our failures. Other failures come due to no fault of our own. Whatever the cause, we have to deal with them. Guess what? The devil wants you to feel like a failure. He doesn’t want you to know your position in Christ.

Are you a believer? If so, you have no right to see yourself as a failure. Why? Because you are a child of the King. He has given you victory. The Lord of creation died to give you promise. Failure is not in God’s plan for you. God can work through those failures, but they are not His plan for you. So, don’t stay there. Walk with Him today victoriously.

I hate to fail. I have never liked it. I like to win! Always! But sometimes I mess up. Sometimes I just blow it. When I do, I come hastily to my Savior. I know I can’t do it alone. How about you? Are you in need of a “pep talk” with your Lord? He’s ready!

I will not fail as long as I walk with You, Lord. If I keep my eyes on You, You will lead me.

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WHEN OFFERINGS CEASE

JOEL 1:9

“The grain offering and the drink offering have been cut off from the house of the LORD. The priests mourn, the ministers of the LORD.”

One side effect of the covid crisis that has pillaged our economy is the reduction in giving in many churches. When covid shut down churches in 2020, churches that were surviving week to week just couldn’t hang on financially. A lot of churches closed their doors due to empty pews and empty coffers.

The same thing happened in the days of Joel. When the locusts came and destroyed their agricultural economy, the offerings that were normally brought to the Lord’s house ceased. And when they ceased, the priests went hungry since they depended on these. When offerings cease, many suffer.

APPLICATION

Are you suffering loss today? Have you stopped giving to the Lord because of it? It’s understandable. God doesn’t expect you to give out of nothing. But He will provide. We have to believe that. Have you ever been down to your last bit of food only to have someone stop by with a bag of groceries? That’s God.

God does not desire for His children to suffer. He doesn’t want us to starve. He longs to meet our needs. Just let Him know what that is. He wants us to cry out to Him. You may just be amazed at how He provides. Then you can give Him the glory for His provision in your life.

I never cease to be amazed at how He provides for my family. There have been times when we did not see a way out of a dilemma, but He always came through. Just recently, when I thought we were facing some major car repairs, it turned out to only be a bad battery. You may not see that as a God thing, but I sure do. He wants to do the same for you.

Father, You are so good to me. Even in times of suffering, You provide.

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INVASION

JOEL 1:6

“For a nation has invaded my land, mighty and without number; Its teeth are the teeth of a lion, and it has the jaws of a lioness.”

I guess I could be considered a geek when it comes to sci-fi movies. I’ve always liked them. I like the plots where the aliens invade and we humans repel them. An invasion from anyone can be terrifying, whether it is from another planet or what Judah faced.

Many scholars think this invasion mentioned by Joel here was an actual invasion by a conquering nation as part of God’s judgment on Judah. Whether it was or not, it is certainly a horrible description. Teeth of a lion and jaws of a lioness aren’t exactly comforting. Judah’s judgment was going to be painful.

APPLICATION

Let me ask you a question. Do you enjoy pain? Do you like being punished? I am pretty sure your answer is no. Right? So, how do you avoid the teeth of lion and the jaws of a lioness? You follow the Lord. You follow His teachings. You walk with Him and listen to His instructions. No matter what, you obey. Any other choice leads to destruction.

How many times have you chosen to disobey and suffered? Too many, I bet. We tend to want to do things our way. We believe we have a better way. We think we can figure things out. But if we simply surrender to Him and allow Him to guide us, we can avoid all those sharp lion’s teeth. We can be free from their jaws. Doesn’t that sound better?

I am forever grateful that I am walking with Jesus instead of dodging the bites of lions. I walk in boldness, not fear. I know He holds me by His righteous right hand. He protects and defends me. I am secure in His embrace. Do you have that confidence in your walk today? You can. He desires that for you.

Lord, thank You for my deliverance from the consequences of sin. Thank You for walking with me.

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JUDGMENT CONSEQUENCES

JOEL 1:5

“Awake, you heavy drinkers, and weep; and wail, all you wine drinkers, because of the sweet wine, for it has been eliminated from your mouth.”

You need to read verse 4 to understand the title for today’s devotional. As a result of the locusts destroying all the vegetation in the land, there would be no wine, thus the title. But if you think about it, isn’t that true of our sin. Some sins show immediate consequences. Other sins may not show the consequences until later. But they all have the same result. They eliminate the “sweet wine” from our mouth. God’s blessings.

Judah had sinned. Judgment was sure. The nation was going to suffer the consequences of years of rebellion against Jehovah. God can and will use nature to bring His judgment. In this case, He used the locust to strip the land of all vegetation, thus eliminating all their crops, including their vineyards. I am sure many cried out for their wine, without considering the cause of this.

APPLICATION

What sin are you suffering from right now? What sin are you covering up? Carl, I don’t have any of those. Perhaps not. Perhaps you are clean before the Lord. I pray so. But most of us can’t say that. We don’t need to wait for the locusts to come and rob of us of the “sweet wine.” We need to confess those sins which block us from receiving God’s blessings.

May I encourage you today to stop whining about what God is not doing for you and start praising Him for all He has done. We are all too quick to complain and slow to praise. Psalm 33:1 is a great verse to remind us of this. “Sing for joy in the Lord, O you righteous one; Praise is becoming to the upright.” Sing today!

I had much rather sing for joy than whine in bitterness. It just feels better. I had much rather enjoy the sweet wine of God’s blessings that suffer through the locusts. The only way I can do that is stay pure before God. I need to confess all my sins. I need to bow humbly before my Lord. Will you join me today?

Thank You, Lord, for consequences that remind me of my sins. I come to You today begging for forgiveness and mercy.

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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.

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THE WAYS OF THE LORD

HOSEA 14:9

Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them. For the ways of the LORD are right, and the righteous will walk in them, but wrongdoers will stumble in them.”

I can remember my dad teaching me some things about woodworking when I was growing up. My dad could build just about anything. And when it came to refinishing furniture, he was a master. He always told me to take my time. You can’t rush the process. Applying stain, varnish and sanding takes time. He showed me how and then let me try.

God’s ways are like that. We have to follow the process. We can’t just make up our own way. Sometimes God’s ways take time. You can’t rush it. Hosea is reminding us here in the last verse of the book that we need to reflect on all he has said. He says, “the righteous will walk in them, but the wrongdoers will stumble in them.” That’s a pretty, straightforward statement.

APPLICATION

So, the question for us today is what will be choose to do. Will you take the time to understand God’s way? Are you wise? Are you discerning? I believe you are. Let me encourage you to go back and read all my blogs on Hosea in one sitting. Discover God’s way of doing things. Be patient in the process.

God’s ways aren’t always our ways. In my case, they seldom are. I want to figure it out myself. I want to get things done. I don’t like waiting. And because of that, God makes me wait a lot. He knows what I need and will do what is necessary to help me learn it. Do I like that? No! But I know He only wants what is best for me.

So, I will be patient as I learn the process, just like I was when my dad taught me how to refinish furniture. I have to follow each step and not rush it. I have to wait for the first coat of paint or varnish to dry first. I have to wait for… Well, you get the picture. It’s a process. Will you follow God’s ways today?

I am thankful, Lord, for the process even though I don’t particularly like it. I trust You.

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GOD’S WIND

HOSEA 13:15

Though he flourishes among the reeds, an east wind will come, the wind of the LORD coming up from the wilderness; and his fountain will become dry and his spring will dry up; it will plunder his treasury of every precious article.”

I love to fish. I used to own a fishing boat and would go out on our local lake to fish. Sometimes when you are out on the water the weather changes. I can remember one day when I was out with some friends when that happened. The sky started to get dark, so I checked my weather app. Sure enough, a storm was coming. I could see the water getting rougher from the approaching winds. I had to get off the water for my safety.

The wind of the Lord came up from the wilderness, says Hosea. God’s judgment on Israel was coming. They were going to feel the wrath of God soon. But Israel continued to ignore the signs. They continued in their sins and rebellion until the wind hit them. Stubbornness and pride will always bring you down.

APPLICATION

When you see a storm coming, don’t you take cover? I can remember preparing for approaching hurricanes when I lived in Florida. We boarded up windows and brought in outdoor furniture. We would have been foolish to do anything else. But so many of us ignore the approaching wind of the Lord. We think it certainly won’t hit us. God is too loving to punish us, right?

Wrong! I have said it multiple times – God cannot and will not allow unrepentant sin to go unpunished. Without Christ His wind will catch us all. But once we come to Christ and confess our sins, His wind will simply fill our sails and carry us along on our journey. It’s the same wind but with a different purpose. Isn’t that amazing?

I choose to have my sails filled with the gentle breath of the Lord’s wind. I want Him to guide me in my daily walk with Christ. I trust Him to blow as gentle or as strong as necessary to do that. And wherever He leads, I will go.

Wherever He leads, I’ll go, Wherever He leads, I’ll go. I’ll follow my Christ who loves me so. Wherever He leads, I’ll go.

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INDIAN GIVER

HOSEA 13:11

I gave you a king in My anger, and took him away in My wrath.”

Do you remember as a child what we called someone who gave you something and then took it back? We called them an “Indian giver.” That phrase was really offensive to someone (not to mention how offensive it is to Native Americans). To give someone a gift and then demand it back is not very nice.

God had given Israel a king. He gave them Saul after they demanded one. He wasn’t happy about that. Hosea even says He did it in anger. Then after their repeated disobedience, His wrath fell. He sent them into exile. He removed their king, never to return again.

APPLICATION

Let me clarify something. God is NOT an Indian giver. That is not His style. That’s not what He did to Israel. God wants to give good gifts to you. In fact, He is just waiting to bless you. You can’t even begin to imagine how much He wants to bless you. He always has your best in mind. Every gift He gives you is custom made just for you.

So, why aren’t you asking for His blessings? I don’t mean you can just name it and claim or blab it and grab it. No! The problem most of us have with asking for God’s blessings is we aren’t living worthy of those blessings. We pretend to live for Him or we are outright living in sin. How can we expect Him to bless us?

I want His blessings. Therefore, I choose to live in such a way that He is able to bless me. What does that mean? It means I live for Jesus each day by surrendering my will to His. Just like our earthly fathers love to bless their obedient children, God desires the same. I don’t obey in order to be blessed. I obey because I love Him. And when I do, He give His good gifts.

Thank You, Lord, for Your good gifts. Help me live in such a way that Your blessings flow.

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