Accountability, Bible, Blameless, Cleansing, Consequences, Disciplemaking, Flesh, Forgiveness, Grace, Hell, Judgment, Punishment, Salvation, Scripture

YOUR JUST DESSERTS

JOEL 3:7

behold, I am going to stir them up from the place where you have sold them, and return your retribution on your head.

Sometimes people get just what they deserve. You may have heard that expression, “just desserts.” It means to get what’s coming to you. Now, to be honest, my flesh loves to see that happen. But I know Christ in me desires for others to repent and avoid the punishment of sin – kind of like Nineveh did when they heard Jonah’s message.

However, right here in Joel 3:7, God is telling the nations that they are going to receive the consequences for their sins. They have done evil to His children. Now it’s their turn to suffer for their actions. Yes, they had been used by Him to accomplish the judgment upon Judah, but they took it too far. They became haughty. God will now issue His judgment on them.

APPLICATION

So, the lesson for us is to not get too excited when we see someone else get punished for something they have done. We could just as easily be getting ours. None of us are innocent. We have all done things for which we deserved to be punished. So, we shouldn’t enjoy the punishment of others. In fact, we should do all we can to try to help them.

Of course, the ultimate punishment is the eternal judgment of God. As believers in Christ, our punishment has already been paid for by Christ. But think of the billions of people out there who are going to die and go to hell without hearing the gospel. We need to do all we can to advance the kingdom while there’s still time. What can you do today to help someone avoid their “just desserts”?

I am so thankful for my salvation. I know all the deeds I committed that earned me a place in hell. But because of the saving power of Jesus, my record was washed clean. Surely, He has cleansed me with hyssop and washed me whiter than snow. I want others to experience what I have experienced. Don’t you?

Father, I am so thankful I am not getting my just desserts when it comes to my sins. Thank You for cleansing my soul.

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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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Accountability, Belief, Bible, Condemnation, Destruction, Holiness, Judgment, Punishment, Repentance, Rescue, Scripture

THE DAY OF THE LORD

JOEL 1:15

“Woe for the day! For the day of the LORD is near, and it will come as destruction from the Almighty.”

Barnes, in his commentary on Joel, says, “‘The Day of the Lord’ is, then, each day of vengeance in which God doth to man according to His will and just judgment, inflicting the punishment which he deserves, as man did to Him in his day, manifoldly dishonoring Him, according to his own perverse will.” Wow! Who wants that?

Joel is telling his audience in Judah that the day has arrived. He uses the term “Almighty” to describe God. This term is almost exclusively used to refer to God’s might. His power is supreme. We cannot overcome it. And He brings destruction on mankind because of their sins.

APPLICATION

Judgment will come upon us all. But for the believer, it will be the judgment of our works, not our sins. Our sins have already been judged and paid for through the shed blood of Jesus. Others, outside of Christ, will pay a horrible price unless they come to Him and repent and receive the free gift of salvation. Why would anyone choose to face God’s judgment?

If we truly believed in God’s judgment, wouldn’t we be telling everyone we came into contact with about Him? Is there someone in your circle of friends who needs Jesus? What are you waiting for? Tell them about Him? Live Jesus before them. They should be begging you to tell them what makes you different. Are you? Do you live differently than they do? I sure hope so.

I am so thankful that my sins have been judged and paid for. I know I could never stand before a holy God and explain away my sins. I know I would be found guilty and sentenced to an eternal damnation. But praise God, I am innocent and free through Jesus. There is no feeling like it. So, what will it be – judgment or freedom?

I know I am redeemed and set free through Jesus, Lord. I praise Your holy name for the blood He shed for my sins.

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Accountability, Affliction, Bible, Brokenness, Compassion, Condemnation, Courage, Destruction, Encouragement, Judgment, Persecution, Punishment

TOTAL DEVASTATION

JOEL 1:7

“It has made my vine a waste and my fig tree a stump. It has stripped them bare and hurled them away; their branches have become white.”

Have you ever witnessed total devastation? I’ve seen it a couple of times, both times after severe storms. Most recently I witnessed it in my hometown when we were struck by a tornado. Neighborhoods that had been tree-lined and ornate were left in shambles. Most of the trees were gone or snapped in half. Houses were torn apart and, in some cases, just plain missing. It hurt to see it.

Judah experienced the same thing. In the case of the locusts, they wiped out everything. Even the bark on the trees was eaten. And when the nations came in as part of God’s judgment, they crushed and destroyed buildings and homes, leaving nothing of any value behind.

APPLICATION

If you have ever suffered loss like is described above, you can relate. Whether it is physical loss, like a house, or loss of health from an illness, it is hard to get over it. Do you think the Lord allows losses to punish us or teach us? Actually, every loss we encounter as a believer has gone through the hands of God first. He measures and makes sure it is what we can handle. He would never put more on you than you can handle.

But why do we even have to deal with this? Because He is teaching us to depend on Him. We could lose everything we have, but we still have our Savior. Physical things come and go. Prized possessions will eventually rust or rot away. Our faith only gets stronger. Our faith only grows.

So, as you watch things around you fall apart, remember who it is who holds you close. I can rest in His unshakeable arms. He will sustain and strengthen me. He will protect me and love me. What else could you ask for? He’s got this!

I am so thankful, Lord, to know You have me in Your grip. I am safe and secure.

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Accountability, Bible, Commands, Courage, Following, Judgment, Modeling, Obedience, Punishment, Rescue, Scripture

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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Advice, Bible, Choices, Compassion, Direction, Disciplemaking, Following, Gentleness, God's Will, Inspirational, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Repentance, Salvation, Scripture, Stubbornness

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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Abiding, Accountability, Bible, Commands, Eternity, Following, God's Will, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Repentance, Salvation, Scripture

MAMA BEAR

HOSEA 13:8 

“I will confront them like a bear deprived of her cubs, and I will tear open their chests; I will also devour them there like a lioness, as a wild animal would tear them to pieces.” 

A friend of mine was hunting a couple of years ago and accidentally got in between a mama black bear and her cubs. He was walking to his deer stand when suddenly he was standing twenty yards from this bear. He could tell she wasn’t happy. Normally, black bears will try to avoid you in the woods, so my friend started looking around for cubs. Sure enough, off to his side he spotted two cubs. He slowly backed up to allow mama and babies to reunite, avoiding a very unpleasant situation. 

Israel was not able to avoid the situation. God was responding to them just as a mama bear would “deprived of her cubs.” Once again, Hosea is describing the wrath of God that was falling on the nation for their disobedience. It wasn’t as if they had not been warned. They had. They knew the Law. They knew He was a jealous God. Still they continued in their sins unabated until… 

APPLICATION 

Aren’t you glad Jesus has paid the price for our sins? We have no need to fear God’s judgment. We are secure and protected. I cannot imagine going through life with the uncertainty of eternity. But there are so many people out there who do. They live each day racked with fear of God. Oh, how sad. 

Our mission is to help those living in fear to find the love and peace of our Savior. If you know Him personally, you have an obligation to share Him. The story is too good not to share. His love is too far reaching not to spread. The last thing we want is to see those we know and care about fall into an eternity separated from God. 

God’s wrath being compared to a mama bear is interesting. But think about it. What is that bear trying to do? She is trying to protect her children. God’s wrath is the same. He is protecting His children from the harm possible by unbelievers. He will furiously protect us. Doesn’t that bring you comfort? It does me. My God has my back. 

Father, thank You for protecting me. Help me show the love of Jesus to those around me in need of a Savior. 

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Accountability, Bible, Confrontation, Destruction, Enemies, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Rescue, Scripture, Surrender

WHIRLING SWORDS

HOSEA 11:6

And the sword will whirl against their cities, and will destroy their oracle priests and consume them, because of their counsels.”

When my son was small, he played all sorts of video games. Back then the games weren’t quite as elaborate as they are today. Some of those games had courses you had to get through to win. Of course, those courses were full of dangers. There were traps to fall in, lasers to dodge and even swords. They could end your “life” in the game and make you go back to the beginning.

God was sending whirling swords on the heads of the Israelites. Swords from warring nations would come upon them to deliver God’s judgment. But look at what caused this – their counsels. Actually, the Hebrew says “their own counsels.” They only listened to words that pleased them. They knew God’s law but ignored it.

APPLICATION

I don’t think you want whirling swords to fall on you, do you? No one does. But we still all try to live our lives according to our own counsel. We think we know what is best. We have our lives all mapped out without any regard to the plan God has for us. Whirling swords come in all sizes and descriptions. What will it take for God to get your attention?

We can all avoid the whirling swords of judgment by turning to Jesus. When we are surrendered to His will, judgment has already been paid. Jesus took the punishment on Himself. He died so that we can avoid those swords. He not only destroyed those swords, but He also secured our future. We are promised that. Isn’t that great?

I don’t want my head taken off by a swirling sword. I had much rather rest in Jesus. I know I deserve judgment. I am just a sinner saved by grace. But it is so comforting to know my head is safe. My soul is safe. And because I know that, I want to live a life that honors and glorifies the Lord. Don’t you?

I am thankful for Jesus taking my judgment. Thank You, Lord, for rescuing me.

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Abiding, Alone, Bible, Comfort, Deceit, Devil, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Holy Spirit, Judgment, Leading, Lies, Punishment, Righteousness, Satan, Scripture

WANDERERS

HOSEA 9:17

“My God will reject them because they have not listened to Him; and they will be wanderers among the nations.”

Sometimes it’s nice to just wander. I have always wanted to take a trip with no plans, just get in the car and drive and stop when I wanted to. That would be fun. But I would not want to wander around lost. That can be frightening and dangerous. I am thankful for Google Maps, for that very reason.

Part of God’s punishment for Israel was they were destined to be wanderers. Do you realize they stayed wanderers for generations? The nation of Israel vanished off the face of the earth for a while. In 1948 they became a nation again, and that was due to the extreme persecution of the Holocaust. Wandering is no fun when it is God’s judgment.

APPLICATION

Have you been wandering away from the Lord? What direction are you headed? Listen, stop and turn towards Him. Your wanderings will only get you nowhere. And nowhere is exactly where Satan wants you. He doesn’t want you near the Lord. He doesn’t want you being led by Him. The devil wants to drag you around and confuse you.

But, if you turn to Jesus, He will cease your wandering. He will lead you into green pastures and by quiet streams. And even when He leads you into the valley of the shadow of death, He will not leave you. His rod and His staff will comfort you. You can read the rest of this in Psalm 23. Trust the Shepherd to stop your wandering.

I have to be truthful here. I have wandered. There have been times in my Christian walk when I have left the Lord’s path. I decided to go my own way. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit wouldn’t leave me alone. He drew me back to the Lord’s path. His path is safe. His path, though not necessarily smooth, will guide me straight to Him. Will you join me?

Father, I trust Your leading. Guide me in Your paths of righteousness today.

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Accountability, Betrayal, Bible, Destruction, Enemies, Judgment, Lies, Modeling, Obedience, Protection, Punishment, Safety, Scripture

BAD INVESTMENT

HOSEA 8:10

“Even though they pay for allies among the nations, I will gather them up now; and they will begin to diminish because of the burden of the king of officials.”

I am sure most of us have made a least one bad investment. It seemed so sure at the time, but after making the decision and going through with the purchase, we found out the truth. A lot of online purchases will fall into this category. Everything looks better online, doesn’t it?

Israel had sent gifts to Assyria to try to gain favor with them and put off the judgment God had said would befall them by their hands. That was a bad investment, money poorly spent. Assyria couldn’t be trusted. They were pagans with no morals. They were power hungry. They may promise peace, but their word meant nothing.

APPLICATION

Have you ever trusted the wrong person? I have. There have been people in my life who have turned on me. They promised one thing but did another. To be totally honest, I have done that myself in the past. I have confessed that as sin both to my Father in heaven and to those I have wronged. There is no excuse for it. It’s just plain sin.

But we are promised that God will never turn against us. He will always support us. His word is always sure. Do you believe that? It’s true. There is nothing we can do to drive Him away. He will always have our back. But we do need to abide in Him. That is only possible through His Son Jesus Christ.

I pray you are drawing close to Him. I pray you have allied yourself with Him. There is no better ally. You can’t outrun Him. You can’t hide from Him. He knows your innermost thoughts. He longs to be with you. Come to Him today and trust Him to protect you. He always will.

You are my ally, Lord. For that, I am truly thankful. I know I can always depend on You.

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