Advice, Affliction, Battles, Bible, Devil, Encouragement, Enemies, Following, Opponents, Protection, Satan, Scripture, Soldiers

TIME FOR WAR

JOEL 3:9

Proclaim this among the nations:

Prepare for holy war; stir up the warriors!

Have all the soldiers come forward, have them come up!

The United States just ended their longest war in history. We finally withdrew from Afghanistan after twenty years. Many say we should have never gone to war. That can be debated. The fact is we went and were there for twenty long years. In a way, this was also a holy war. We were fighting to protect our nation and our way of living from a group of people who are determined to destroy us. Their religion calls for the termination of all “infidels.”

So, in a way, we can relate to this verse today. Joel is calling for Judah to prepare for battle. A day is coming when they will be fighting a holy war against the nations. Judah, which is part of the nation of Israel today, has been preparing for war since that day. They are still preparing today. Every young person in Israel has to serve a period of time in the military. They are prepared.

APPLICATION

The question I have for us today is: Are we? Are we prepared to fight a holy war? Now, I don’t mean a physical war with physical weapons, even though that may be required one day. I mean, do we have the divine weapons in our arsenal to fight the battles we face every day against Satan? That is a holy war we fight every day, and if we aren’t armed properly, Satan will eat our lunch.

You need to read 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 today. It will remind you that you do indeed have the weapons you need to fight the battle. But with any weapon, you first have to pick it up and then you have to know how to wield it. That takes practice. That takes time. I am glad you are reading this devotional blog today, but don’t let this be your quiet time. Let this inspire you to dig deeper in your quiet time.

I write this blog as part of my quiet time each day, but I also try to dig deeper in another passage. I need to know all I can to fight the battle. I spend time every day memorizing and reviewing passages. I want to keep my mind sharp when I need to recall a passage to protect my thoughts. It’s a battle, folks, each and every day. Don’t forget that.

O God, I am so glad You have given me divine weapons to demolish strongholds. I am thankful I can learn Your Word to fight off my enemy.

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Advocate, Bible, Consequences, Enemies, Judgment, Opponents, Punishment, Scripture

THE JUDGMENT OF THE NATIONS

JOEL 3:2

“I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. Then I will enter into judgment with them there on behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; and they have divided up My land.”

Way back in 1985 I visited my sister in Chattanooga. I was living in Dalton at the time. On the way to see her at the hospital where she had just had surgery, I had a car wreck. It wasn’t anything serious, but I got a ticket and had to appear in traffic court. When I went to court, I spent the whole morning listening to dozens of drunk driving cases. When I finally stood before the judge, he hardly looked at me. He started rattling off about how I shouldn’t drink and drive. The officer who was there with me, told him I had not been drinking. Without batting an eye, he pronounced judgment on me.

I am so thankful the Lord does not pronounce judgment on us that way. Here in Joel 3:2, the Lord is pronouncing judgment upon all the nations that had conquered Judea. He used them to judge Judea, but they had gone beyond in their abuse of Judea. They had scattered them. In return, God was going to scatter them. I am sure Judeans were thrilled to hear that their enemies were finally going to be judged.

APPLICATION

We will all be judged one day. Believers will be judged for their works here on earth for the cause of Christ. We see that in 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 when it talks about our works being either wood, hay or stubble or gold, silver and precious stones. One group will survive the fires of judgment. The other won’t. For believers, that will be our judgment because our sins have already been paid for through Christ.

However, for everyone else, they will face the Great White Throne judgment talked about in Scripture. That will be a quick judgment. If you haven’t accepted Christ as your Savior, you are judged guilty of your sins and sentenced to an eternity away from God in hell. Many people today don’t believe in hell. Let me tell you something. Your disbelief in hell does not lower the temperature there one degree. It’s real and eternal.

I am so thankful that my “fire insurance policy” is paid for and up to date. I don’t say that flippantly. My relationship with Christ is much more than an escape from hell. But it does include that. It’s kind of like one of those rider policies you have on your homeowner’s insurance. I am bought and paid for. You can be too, if you give your life to Him. Do that today.

Father God, I am so thankful You called me to Yourself. I am thankful my judgment is different than those who don’t believe.

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Abiding, Accountability, Advocate, Battles, Bible, Consequences, Destruction, Drought, Fire, Horror, Opponents

FIRES IN YOUR LIFE

JOEL 1:19

“To You, LORD, I cry out; for fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and the flame has burned up all the trees of the field.

I’ve never been in a forest fire. I’ve only seen them on the tv. They look horrible, scary and extremely dangerous. The men and women who fight them are courageous. They risk their lives to protect someone else’s property and stop the advancing flames. It really doesn’t matter how they started. They will consume anything in their path.

Joel is crying out to God for relief from the fires that were devouring the pastures and trees. Drought had laid the perfect environment for such fires. Drought was brought on my little rain. Little rain was due to God’s judgment on the nation. Do you see the ripple effect?

APPLICATION

What kind of fires are raging in your life right now? You may not be facing actual flames, but the damage is still horrific. Relationship fires can consume trust and loyalty. Fires that erupt in families can lead to divorce and wayward children. How do you fight these kind of flames? What can extinguish them?

It’s lucky that we know someone. Jesus is the living water, so He can put out those flames. Jesus is the peacemaker, so he can douse the fire that is destroying you and those around you. But you have to allow Him access to you. He can’t extinguish flames that He can’t reach.

I don’t like putting out fires in my life. It takes so much energy and time. It is much easier to live without fire and smoke blinding me all the time. Will you let Jesus extinguish your fires? Fires can burn and maim you, if you let them. Put them out.

Put out the fires in my life, Lord. I want to walk free without the threat of flames.

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Abiding, Advocate, Angels, Battles, Bible, Demons, Devil, Fighting, Holy Spirit, Opponents, Satan, Scripture

WORTHLESS DEFENSES

HOSEA 10:14

An uproar will arise among your people, and all your fortresses will be destroyed, as Shalman destroyed Beth-arbel on the day of battle, when mothers were slaughtered with their children.”

If you have read very many of my blogs, you know I love to hunt. The area I hunt here in Tennessee has black bears. Now they aren’t known to be very dangerous, as long as you stay away from a mama bear and her cubs. But I always want to be prepared in case I run into one. I know if a bear really wants to hurt me, he will. I am no match for a bear. My best defenses fall short.

Hosea was reminding Israel of the Assyrian conquest of Beth-arbel. Any defenses they may have mustered on their own couldn’t hold them off. I am reminded, however, of the ONE angel that killed 185,000 Assyrians another time. Our defenses are worthless, but God has the power and resources to conquer all our enemies, if we will trust Him.

APPLICATION

Enemies come from all angles and directions. Satan scouts us out to find our weak spots and will send his demons to target those areas. Men, are you prone to look at pictures you shouldn’t? Be assured Satan will give you lots of opportunities. Ladies, do you gossip too much? Old Satan loves to whisper in your ear the latest juicy news to spread. Only by surrendering to the Holy Spirit on a daily basis will you overcome these temptations. Only God’s defenses are strong enough for victory.

I am just too old to try to fight these battles on my own. I know I need Jesus every day, or I will be whipped. I bet you are the same. Aren’t you tired of battling on your own? Step back and let the Lord fight for you. He will, you know. And when the victory is won, He gets all the glory.

Victory in Jesus, my Savior, forever! Thank You for the victory I have in Your Son, Jesus Christ.

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Alone, Bible, Deception, Devil, Foolishness, Judgment, Loyalty, Obedience, Opponents, Satan, Scripture, Slaves

WILD DONKEYS

HOSEA 8:9

“For they have gone up to Assyria, like a wild donkey all alone; Ephraim has paid fees for lovers.”

We have all seen wildlife shows where lions or jackals attack a herd. Have you ever noticed which animal they go after? They attack the young, the weak and the ones who are isolated from the herd. Those animals are easy picking. They lack the protection of the herd.

Hosea compares Israel to a wild donkey that is all alone. They were carried off to Assyria and became a target. Being alone in a foreign land was scary enough but being alone was worse. Assyria carried them there and put them in cities as slaves. They were scattered. They were without their God. They were alone!

APPLICATION

Are you feeling alone? There is no need to feel that way. If you are a believer, you have a family of believers all around you. You need their fellowship and their support. You cannot walk safely on your own. Just like that lone wild donkey, you are a target for the enemy. Satan loves to find a lone believer. His schemes make us easy prey when we are alone.

I belong to a couple of men’s groups that I do life with. They are my allies. They encourage me in my daily walk with Christ and hold me accountable when I fall. They are my brothers. I would not want to even try to live without them. I can tell them anything and know they will hold it confidential.

Having fellow believers around you serves as protection. We can all be on the alert. We can all sound the alarm. When we see a fellow believer all alone, we need to reach out and surround them. They may not know how alone they are and how vulnerable they are. Don’t let them do this alone.

I am so glad I have a family of believers to walk with me, Lord. Help me reach out to those who need others.

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Accountability, Bible, Choices, Commands, Discipline, Faithfulness, Judgment, Opponents, Punishment, Rebuke, Scripture

REBUKED

HOSEA 5:2

“And the rebels have gone deep in depravity, but I will discipline all of them.”

There comes a time when wrong doers have to be confronted and put in their place. I worked for over thirty years with children and youth who had been abused and neglected. Some of those children were rebels. They fought against everything we did for them – at least for a while. Their past abuse damaged their ability to receive love and proper affection. We had to discipline them on occasion to point them towards the right path.

God is doing the same here in Hosea. These rebels in Israel had sunk deep in depravity. God said He will discipline all of them. Notice that. He said “all” of them. He couldn’t leave out one rebel. They all had to be disciplined. None would escape. Nothing’s changed! That’s still true today.

APPLICATION

Are you a rebel against the commands of God? Of course, not, Carl. I would never rebel. Really? I ask that question because we are all prone to wander, as the old hymn said. Our flesh wants what it wants when it wants it. We may think our rebellion is too small to be labeled as rebellion. So, how do you know if you’re a rebel?

It’s pretty simple. If you are not following the Lord’s commands that He has laid out in His Word, you are rebelling against Him. Does that sound harsh? It is. You can’t partially follow Him. You can’t have one foot in the world and one foot following Jesus.

Will you join me in confessing our rebellion? We’ve all done it. The good news is He is there ready to forgive our rebellion. He wants to place us where we need to be. He wants us to follow Him. He wants to drive out any spirit of rebellion we may have in our hearts. And through Jesus we can do that.

Father, I confess my rebellion against Your commands. Lead me and direct me each day.

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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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Advice, Agreement, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Devil, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Enemies, Mentoring, Opponents, Parenting, Relationships, Satan, Scripture

LINKING ARMS

3 JOHN 8

“Therefore we ought to support such men, so that we may be fellow workers with the truth.”

We have all heard the expression “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” I heard that a lot from my football coaches. I was an offensive lineman and let me tell you, you have to link arms and work together to protect your quarterback and running backs. Those guys on the line must work together to keep the opposing team out.

John uses a term in today’s verse that is similar. He uses a word which is translated as “fellow workers.” In the Greek that is actually a two-part word, sun and ergon. Sun means “with” or “together, while ergon means worker. It gives the idea of workers who are joined together and inseparable. That’s how things are accomplished.

APPLICATION

Have you ever played Red Rover with your kids? It’s an old game and is best played in large groups. But the way that game is played is a line of people link hands/arms and try to stop someone from the other team from running through their linked arms. Get some kids and play. It’s a lot of fun and can last a long time.

But then explain to your kids how this game can be applied spiritually. We, as believers, have to link arms to stay strong. We have an enemy that is trying to break through our line. He wants to take us captive. Our kids need to know that our line of defense, however, does not depend on us. Jesus has linked arms with us, and no devil can break through. Hallelujah!

Have you linked arms with the brethren? Are you a fellow worker for the cause of Christ? Find other believers with whom you can do that. We need each other. We need to come to the aid of our fellow believers. You have the strength. Well…no you don’t. It’s not your strength. It’s God, but He gives it to you when you need it. Fight in His strength.

O Strengthener of my soul, give me the strength today to fight for You. Show me whom You desire me to link arms with.

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Advice, Battles, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Deception, Fellowship, Greetings, Holy Spirit, Mentoring, Modeling, Opponents, Parenting, Scripture

WATCH YOUR FELLOWSHIP

2 JOHN 11

“for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.”

Sometimes, when we read the English translation of a Bible verse it reads exactly the same as the original language. And other times the English just doesn’t quite get it. Today’s verse is the latter. Let me give you the literal translation of this verse. “The one telling for him to rejoice partakes in the works of him evil.” Now, I realize that doesn’t read too well. That’s why it is translated the way it is. But let’s look at it closely.

John seems to imply in the Greek that we actually rejoice at seeing this person. That’s a lot different than just saying “hi.” And the Greek word for “participates” is koinóneó, which has the idea of fellowship. That’s a lot more than just participating. See what I mean by the original.

APPLICATION

Now, let’s apply this verse. We mustn’t rejoice and fellowship with anyone who speaks against our Lord. Our worldview is different. Our purpose in life is different. Our passion and focus is different. How can you agree with someone who denies or denigrates our Lord? You can’t.

And we have to teach our children the difference. They need to know how to deal with such people. We need to be Jesus to them without agreeing with them. Jesus would show them love, of course. So, should we. But there’s a boundary we have to teach our kids not to cross. We can love unbelievers without condoning or agreeing with their views, especially about the Lord. The sooner our children learn that, the better.

Let me ask you a question today. Is there someone in your life who fits into that category? How do you relate to them? Are you friends? That’s okay. Just be careful you don’t compromise your beliefs for the friendship. It can happen so easily. Be firm in your beliefs. Let them see Jesus in you. Perhaps your faithfulness will draw them to Him.

Lord, help me recognize when I am compromising my beliefs for the sake of someone else. Help me remain firm and strong in order to influence them. I want to be influenced by the Spirit, not man.

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Advice, Affliction, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Courage, Encouragement, Enemies, Lies, Mentoring, Opponents, Parenting, Scripture, The World

WORLD TALK

1 JOHN 4:5

They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them.”

I have had the privilege to travel some. The strange thing about traveling to other countries – they all have different accents and often different language. Of course, I don’t think I have an accent at all, lol. I have dear friends in Uganda and Kenya. We’ve known each other for years now, but when I am there, I have to change the way I talk, or they can’t understand me. They hear me, but they can’t understand what I am saying.

John is saying that those who are of the world talk different. They sound different. They speak a whole different language than us. Do you know why? Because of their world view. When we see things differently, we talk differently. I honestly cannot understand some people. Oh, I understand their words, but I do not understand what they are saying. It just doesn’t make sense.

APPLICATION

Our children are going to face this issue. Hopefully, you are teaching them to have a biblical world view. That is going to clash with others. It is just a matter of time. Adults and kids alike will challenge them. They may even face persecution in school because of their world view. That’s okay. Support them. If need be, defend them.

We have to teach our children to hold fast. The world speaks a different language. The world will not agree with your child’s language about the world and God. If our children can learn to defend their faith at an early age, they will be prepared for a lifetime.

Are you being challenged by your speech because of your world view? If you aren’t, maybe you aren’t making your view known. Why not? Are you afraid of persecution? Are you afraid for your job? Don’t you think the God of the universe is big enough to take care of you. God is the one who fights our battles. Trust Him. Will you do that?

Lord God, I confess sometimes I avoid speaking up for fear of ridicule or being shamed. Forgive me for not being more bold in Your name.

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