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RESTORED FORTUNES

JOEL 3:1

“For behold, in those days and at that time, When I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem.”

We have probably all heard stories of people who got fortunes restored to them after years of waiting. Perhaps they weren’t even aware of the fortunes out there until they appeared. There’s actually a website you can go to for each state in the U.S. to search and see if you have money coming to you that you forgot about from a closed bank account or an old deposit. Getting those fortunes are exciting.

Can you imagine how excited Judah and Jerusalem were to hear these words? They had been overrun by their enemies. They had lost all they had. And now, to hear from Joel that the Lord was going to restore it – wow! I bet they were giddy. I bet they were so thankful. It’s amazing what the Lord can do for us when we are surrendered.

APPLICATION

You may not have millions of dollars coming to you, but the Lord is still in the restoring business. When we have crashed and burned our lives, the Lord can take that and restore it. Better yet, He makes it so much better than it used to be. But we have to surrender that life to Him. The Lord can’t restore what not is in His hands.

Are you struggling today? Is your life upside down? Perhaps you think there is no way out. I’ve got great news for you. There is a way out. God can take your crumpled life and make it new. He can give you a purpose for living. He can give you the promise of eternal life with Him. Will you surrender today? Maybe you are a believer, and you’ve just gotten sidetracked. Come back to Him. He can restore you as well.

When I came to Christ, I was headed down the wrong road fast. I don’t need to go into all that I was doing. Let’s just say it did not please the Lord. But when I came to that point of surrender on July 31, 1977, my life changed completely. I reversed directions. He restored me to a new life in Christ. I had a purpose for living. I am so grateful for His restoration in my life.

O God, You are the Great Restorer. You have given me a new life in Christ to live to glorify You. Thank 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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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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SATISFIED

JOEL 2:19

“The LORD will answer and say to His people, ‘Behold, I am going to send you grain, new wine, and oil, and you will be satisfied in full with them; and I will never again make you a disgrace among the nations.

Have you ever been real hungry? I have to admit, I have never really known hunger. I have been so blessed. Now, I have been hungry before. Don’t get me wrong. And I do love to eat. Sometimes certain foods just satisfy you. When you are craving that certain special food you like and you get it, you can be fully satisfied. Isn’t that a great feeling?

Joel is telling the people of Judah that the Lord wants to satisfy their hunger. He wants to restore them. That word “satisfy” in Hebrew carries the meaning of full, even full to excess. After a long period of drought and hunger, the Lord is going to restore them. Hallelujah! I am sure these were welcomed words from Joel to the people.

APPLICATION

What are you hungry for? I don’t mean food. I mean what is your soul craving? Is it peace? God can fill you up. How about rest? He’s got that too. In fact, whatever your soul is needing today the Lord can fill it. Just as the Lord told the people of Judah, He wants you to be satisfied in full. But you have to come to Him.

When we come to Him in full surrender, He meets our needs. There have been so many times in my life when our family had needs met that could only have been from the Lord. Those were the times we were walking with Him and obeying His Word. The Lord loves to bless us. Don’t you want that blessing?

I know I don’t deserve anything I have. Everything that has been given to me came from the Master’s hand. He gave it to me because He loves me. I am so grateful. I can never repay Him for all He has given me. But I can pass it on. I can share my blessings. Will you do the same?

I am satisfied with Jesus. Praise the Lord for all He has done.

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WHO KNOWS?

WHO KNOWS?

JOEL 2:14

“Who knows, He might turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind Him, resulting in a grain offering and a drink offering for the LORD your God.”

Have you ever wondered if someone was going to do something? I have. I have spent a lot of time doing that. I waited and waited for something to happen, and it never does. Waiting on others can be very frustrating. Other times, the wait pays off. The thing you are waiting on happens. Then you forget about how long you waited.

Here in today’s verse, Joel brings that thought to us. If you read the previous verse, he is talking about God’s mercy and grace. Then he poses this thought. “Who knows, He might…” God’s actions towards Judah depends on their return to Him. Then He is able to do for them. He may even restore the grain and drink offerings to Himself that they have gone without for so long.

APPLICATION

It is the same for us, brothers and sisters. God wants to do so much for us. Do you believe that? He wants to bless us. He wants to “leave a blessing behind” for us. What do you need the Lord to do for you today? I bet there is something you have been praying for, maybe a for while. The thing required is your return to Him.

When we come to Him in complete surrender and put ourselves at the feet of the Master, He lifts us up. Many of us don’t like that picture – bowing before anyone. But pride and self-centeredness will not put us the place to receive those blessings from our Lord. He desires each of us to come to Him willingly and selfishly. That blesses His heart, and He releases His blessings in our lives.

I desire God’s blessings over His testings. Don’t you? I know living a godly and surrendered life is what He wants for me. I am willing to live that life because I know the result. I obey Him because I know He loves me and wants what is best for me. I don’t obey to get loved. I am already loved. He’s my father. He’s my Lord.

Lord, come to me with blessings as I serve You. I will return those blessings in the form of praise and worship to You.

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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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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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REMEMBER

HOSEA 12:9

“But I have been the LORD your God since the land of Egypt; I will make you live in tents again, as in the days of the appointed festival.”

Oh, how quick we forget the Lord’s blessings. I have been guilty of that. In the past, I have prayed about a certain thing and received a blessing from the Lord. At the time, I was so full of praise and thankfulness, but as time passed, I forgot about that blessing. I began to take it for granted

Hosea is reminding Israel of their feast of tabernacles, the festival which commemorated their dwelling in tents during their wilderness years. They were reminded of God’s abundant provisions during all those years (water, manna, quail). As the decades had passed, the people had forgotten His blessings.

APPLICATION

Take out a sheet of paper and start listing all the blessings you have received from the Lord this past week. Think about the little things, not just the biggies. Hey, you woke up each day, right? You had food to eat. You had clothes to wear. Just start listing them.

Now think back further. Think about all the blessings He has bestowed on you since your salvation. When you start doing this, it is pretty amazing. How soon we forget. Maybe you could start writing down these blessings as they happen. At the end of each year you could sit down with your family and read through the list and praise Him.

I have known people who kept a blessing box. They would write down on a slip of paper each time they received some kind of blessing. They would put that slip of paper in a shoe box or something and then pull them all out and read them at the end of the year. If you have kids, get them involved in this. I bet when you reflect back, you will be amazed at just how blessed you are.

Father, You bless me in so many ways. I am sorry I am so ungrateful and forgetful. Forgive me.

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LOST CHILDREN

HOSEA 9:12

“Though they bring up their children, yet I will bereave them of their children until not a person is left. Yes, woe to them indeed when I depart from them!”

My wife and I have a little girl in heaven. Cathleen Marie only lived six hours. She was born and died on September 11, 1987. There’s not much more sorrowful than to lose a child. The pain can seem intolerable. You feel deserted. You feel hollow. Praise God, we knew Him then to get us through that dark valley.

The people of Israel were going to experience that pain. Their children would be taken away from them. Some of them would be killed by their invaders. Others would be carried off into exile as slaves, separated from their parents. All of this because of the nation’s disobedience and betrayal to their Lord.

APPLICATION

No one wants to lose a child, physically or spiritually. Our main job as parents is to lead our child to Christ and then disciple them to walk with Him. All our efforts in child raising should point to that. Do you agree? Anything else is really superfluous. You are not always going to be around, so they need to know how to live in this world.

Perhaps your children are grown. Do You have grandchildren? How about kids in your church or neighborhood? Whatever your situation, you have an opportunity to invest in the lives of children. While they are young we have the chance to teach them the Word of God and how to apply that to their lives.

I don’t want to see a child lost to this world. I will do all I can to point them to Jesus. Nothing gives me more joy than to see a little one give their heart and lives to Him. How about you? Will you join me in reaching out to the children in your circle of influence? Talk to their parents. Talk to the children. Share Jesus with them today.Father, I love to tell the story to everyone, but especially children. Lord, allow me to see Your children come to You.

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THE LORD’S DAY

HOSEA 9:5

“What will you do on the day of the appointed festival and on the day of the feast of the LORD?”

I had a drug problem as a child. I was drug to church every Sunday, lol. Now, I may have said that in jest, but the truth was every Sunday I was in church. It was just where we were on Sunday mornings. We were in Sunday School at 9:45 and worship at 11:00. It was the expected thing to do, and we did it. Sunday was the Lord’s day.

Sadly, the Israelites had forsaken the Lord’s festivals in exchange for the worship of other gods. They even combined some of the holy festivals with pagan worship. God, through Hosea, was asking them where they are. His chosen people had forsaken Him. They didn’t have time for Him. He was not a priority.

APPLICATION

We are seeing the same thing today. Covid has gotten a lot of people out of church. Many are content to remain at home and channel surf until they find a preacher they like. Others are content to live stream the service into their home. Going to church has become unimportant. Coming together with other believers to worship and praise our King is not a priority.

Church isn’t out of style. I am afraid we have become complacent. We are allowing the world to dictate our behaviors. Now, I am not talking about not attending while the pandemic was rampant. Most of us took precautions during that time. But that time as passed. Vaccines have been taken. The severe threat has come and gone. It’s time to return.

Don’t let the Lord ask you where you are on Sundays. Sure, you can worship God anywhere (I hear that a lot). But we need each other. We desire community. We grow stronger with other believers in our lives. You can’t do that in front of the tv or computer. If you are one of those who has become comfortable at home, I want to encourage you today to return to the Lord’s house. He wants you there. And others need you there.

Let us not forsake the assembling of the body of Christ, Lord. Remind us how important it is to be together in worship.

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