Accountability, Advocate, Bible, Consequences, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Heaven, Hell, Judgment, Obedience, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture

DECISIONS

JOEL 3:14

Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.

I have mentioned in this blog site several times that I worked over thirty years in the child welfare field. Most of those years were spent in administration. In those roles I had to supervise staff as well as deal with the children in crisis. Decisions were a daily thing, and sometimes those decisions had to be made quickly and decisively. I didn’t have time to mull it over. Thank the Lord, most of the time I decided correctly.

Here we are in Joel 3:14 at “the valley of decision.” The Hebrew word for “decision” can mean sharp-pointed or strict decision. Of course, Joel says this is “the day of the Lord” which refers to a day of judgment. Also, the word “multitude” has an interesting meaning. It can mean murmur or roar. You can almost hear the crowds of nations gathered around. It was literally a sea of humanity.

APPLICATION

Have you made the most important decision of your life? There is no bigger one than asking Jesus to be your Savior. This decision will not only change your life. It will also change your eternity. Before making that decision, your eternity was set. You were doomed to an eternal hell with no hope, separated from God. But once you make that decision, your new eternity rests in glory, the dwelling place of God.

How many people do you know right now will be facing the “day of the Lord” without that hope of glory? Judgment day is a certain thing. And God’s judgment on that day will be like some of my decisions I had to make – swift and decisive. The difference between His judgment and my decisions is His is always right. He always judges correctly.

Aren’t you glad you know Him? If you do, the day of the Lord holds no fear for you. Your destiny is safely in the hands of Jesus, literally. The scars in Jesus’ hands points to the fact of His death and sacrifice for you. Don’t you want to share that with someone else? Do that today.

I am so thankful, Lord, that judgment day holds no fear for me. I am confident of my place in heaven.

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Advice, Affliction, Battles, Bible, Devil, Enemies, Faithfulness, Fighting, Protection, Salvation, Satan, Scripture

PREPARE FOR BATTLE

JOEL 3:10

Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weak man say, “I am a warrior.”

I’ve never been to war. I’ve only had two fistfights in my life (both in high school before I came to Christ). So, the concept of gearing up for combat is foreign to me. I have known several men who bravely fought for our country. I respect them all. Their courage is admirable. They each had to prepare themselves for war, including getting the right arsenal.

Joel is telling the Judeans to get ready. Take whatever you have and make weapons. Plowshares into swords and pruning hooks into spears. They had to have weapons to fight the enemy when they arrived. This passage may sound familiar. It’s the exact opposite of what you will read in Isaiah 2:4 and Micah 4:3. Take a minute and read those passages. But Joel is preparing for war, not peace.

APPLICATION

Are you prepared to fight the battles that are before you? Do you have the weapons you need? If you are a believer in Christ, you have everything you need to battle your adversary, the devil. God’s Word is the sword to wield. Your faith is the shield to protect you from his fiery darts. Your helmet of salvation guards your mind from any thoughts he might throw your way.

You see, you have the weapons. The question is are you ready to fight. The devil comes out each day with one goal – to defeat us. He wants to lay us out. He cannot stand it when we read the Bible and pray. He hates it when we share our faith with others. He will try anything to stop that. Don’t let him. Fight back.

I have learned lately just how determined he is. He has thrown all sorts of things in my path to try to discourage me. He wants me to lie down and quit. He cannot take away my salvation, but he can sure take me out of the fight – if I let him. But I won’t! Will you join me in the fight?

I am ready to follow You, Lord, wherever You lead. I trust You as my Commander in Chief.

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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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Accountability, Bible, Confession, Consequences, Forgiveness, Grace, Heaven, Judgment, Redemption, Repentance, Salvation, Scripture, Separation

HORRIBLE OFFENSES

JOEL 3:3

“They have also cast lots for My people, traded a boy for a prostitute, and sold a girl for wine so that they may drink. 

The illegal sex trade of boys and girls is rampant in many parts of the world. It’s hard to believe that people could be so cold-hearted to sell little boys and girls into the sex trade. Having worked now over 42 years with children and youth, it especially breaks my heart. Only the Lord can change the heart of these sex traders.

This was one of the offenses of the nations God is judging. Not only did they defeat the Judeans, but they would trade or sell the children for anything. Here in this verse it says “a boy for a prostitute” and “a girl for wine.” How callous! How demeaning. The Lord did not overlook that. He held them responsible for these heinous crimes against humanity.

APPLICATION

We may not be committing such offenses against the Lord, but our sins are just as bad in the eyes of a holy God. I have often described our sins this way. Pretend you are flying over a city on a clear day. You can look down and see all the buildings below. From your altitude you can’t tell the height of the individual buildings. They may be one story or thirty. All you can see is the roof top.

Similarly, our sins in the eyes of God all look the same. They all end with the same result – separation from God. As a believer in Christ, those sins are forgiven but still need to be confessed. If you are an unbeliever, you need to come to Christ for salvation because any of those sins can keep you away from spending eternity with Jesus. Sin is sin – period.

I am so thankful my sins are forgiven. I try each day to live in such a way to honor my Lord. I don’t want my sins to come between me and my Savior. Daily confession for me is the key. I come before Him daily to cleanse my soul of any sins I may have committed that day. I don’t want any barriers in my line of communication with Jesus. Won’t you try that?

Thank You, Lord, for keeping my sins forgiven as I come to You daily. I know they were forgiven at the cross, but You desire for me to come to You to confess them. I will do that.

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Belief, Bible, Calling, Confession, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faith, Following, God's Will, Humility, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture

EVERYONE WHO CALLS

JOEL 2:32

“‘And it will come about that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be those who escape, just as the LORD has said, even among the survivors whom the LORD calls.’”

You’ve probably have seen an action movie where the bad guys are looking for someone. This person is hiding and refusing to make a sound. All of a sudden the good guys show up and get rid of the bad guys. When they try to find the person hiding, they are still refusing to come out since they are not sure who is trying to coax them out of their hiding place. If they don’t come out, they won’t be saved.

Joel is telling the Judeans that if you come to God, you will be saved. Everyone who calls on His name will be saved. Isn’t that awesome? We see this message echoed throughout Scripture. All we have to do to be saved is call on His name. Joel knew this and wanted everyone else to know that too. Just call on His name.

APPLICATION

All you have to do is call on His name. Have you done that? If not, He’s waiting. Each Sunday when I am leading Children’s Church where I serve, I tell the children the same thing. I tell them if the Lord is talking to you (and you will know it if He is), just call on Him. I walk them through the sinner’s prayer in which they call on His name.

So many are lost today just because they refuse to call on Him. They will call on everyone else but not Him. They don’t want to bow to Him. They don’t want to surrender. They don’t want to humble themselves before a holy God. But you can’t come to Him with a proud, arrogant heart. That won’t work.

I am so glad I made that decision back on July 31, 1977. I was a proud and arrogant young man. I knew coming to Him meant brokenness. But I came to Him. I called on His name. I knew about God, but I didn’t know Him. That evening I began my journey to know Him. I am still learning. He is such a big God. There is so much to know. Will you join in learning more about Him?

Lord, I am so grateful when I called on Your name, You answered. You were waiting for me.

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Abiding, Belief, Bible, Blessing, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Holy Spirit, Salvation

NO LIMITS

JOEL 2:29

“‘And even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.’”

I have never driven my car anywhere that didn’t have speed limits. I can’t imagine doing that. Without limits on the speed you can drive, I am afraid that people would get a little crazy. Call me an old fogey, but I probably would still drive the speed I drive here in Tennessee. I kind of like limits when it comes to speed.

But God didn’t limit His Spirit to the Judeans. He says here in today’s verse that even the male and female servants would receive the pouring out His Spirit. Think about that. God was showing the Judeans that everyone could be a part of His spiritual family. You didn’t have to be a Judean. You didn’t have to be free. Anyone could receive the Spirit.

APPLICATION

That still applies today. God pours forth His Spirit on anyone who wants to receive it. The Spirit is no respecter of persons when it comes to who can come to Him. God’s Spirit is promised to all believers. Jesus has sent Him to indwell us for a purpose. We live holy lives empowered by that Holy Spirit. He is the only reason we are able to live that way.

Think how awful it would be if the Spirit was limited to only a few. Those with disabilities could be denied. Others with another language would be barred from receiving Him. But thanks be to God, that is not how it works. Every nation, every people group, every tongue can receive the Holy Spirit at salvation. Praise the Lord.

I know the Spirit dwells in me because He is constantly reminding me of who I am in Christ. Whenever the devil tries to get me down, the Spirit speaks. This Holy Spirit is my constant companion and guide. Aren’t you glad He lives in you?

O Holy Spirit, thank You for speaking to me. Thank You for directing my path each and every day.

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Abiding, Bible, Blessing, Calling, Comfort, Forgiveness, Goodness, Holy Spirit, Life, Salvation, Scripture

LET IT RAIN

JOEL 2:23

“So shout for joy, you sons of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God; for He has given you the early rain for your vindication. And He has brought down for you the rain, early and latter rain as before.

Don’t you just love a good rain storm? I remember this great claymation creation that used to play on tv when my kids were little. It was a scene on a farm with people sitting on a front porch of a farmhouse. There were animals in the yard laying around. It was hot and dry, and everyone and everything looked like they needed something to drink. Then, all of a sudden, the raindrops began. Slowly at first, then a downpour. Every living creature began to run around and dance in the rain.

That’s the picture I have in mind as I read this verse today in Joel. The drought is ended. The early and latter rains have returned. And with it, the promise of life. New life can spring forth from these rains which have been withheld. You know the people of Judah acted just like those Claymation figures I recall. Wonderful rain!

APPLICATION

God restores to us the promise of life at salvation. We are dead in our sins and destined for hell. But with the decision to follow Christ and ask Him to come in and save us, we receive a whole new life. His Holy Spirit comes into us and indwells us. Our life now is in Christ.

Are you in need of a new life? Are you struggling to find meaning in life today? Come to Him. Give Him your life, and He will remake it into something that is beautiful. He will give you purpose. Maybe you are already a Christian, but you are struggling right now. Return to Him. Let Him remind you who are in Christ. You are a whole new creature.

I am glad for those refreshing rains that fall. They remind me of the refreshing Spirit that leads me each day. When I am at my lowest, the Spirit reminds me whose I am. Ask the Holy Spirit today to blow those refreshing rains into your soul.

Blow, Spirit blow!  Refresh my spirit today. I want to be renewed of my purpose in Christ.

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Bible, Cleansing, Confession, Enemies, Forgiveness, Salvation, Scripture

OUR STENCH

JOEL 2:20

“‘But I will remove the northern army far from you, and I will drive it into a dry and desolate land, its advance guard into the eastern sea, and its rear guard into the western sea. And its stench will ascend and its odor of decay will come up, because it has done great things.’”

I have smelled some stinky things in my life – hog pens, rotten corn and dirty diapers. Probably the worse thing I ever smelled was the corn that had gotten wet inside a grain bin on a hot August day. It had rotted and fermented. I had to get inside that grain bin and shovel the corn into an auger to get it out. The smell was nauseating. As bad as that was, my sin stinks worse.

Joel gives us a picture of a couple of things in today’s verse. He is perhaps referring to the decaying bodies of the locusts that had swarmed Judah. And perhaps he is referring to the foes who came in to defeat the land. Whichever it is, God has taken care of them. They have been wiped out, and all that’s left is the stench of their carcasses.

APPLICATION

How are you smelling? Does the stench of your sins reek to high heaven? Maybe it’s time for a cleansing. I have been memorizing Psalm 51. Don’t you just love the part that says “Cleanse me with hyssop and I will clean. Wash me and I will be whiter than snow.” Isn’t that something we could all use?

All it takes for us to be clean is to come to Jesus and ask for forgiveness. That first cleansing at salvation is breath taking. You are thoroughly cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. Each time we sin after that, the sin is already forgiven, but we still need to confess it and go to the Lord. Why? Because our sins stink. They stain us.

I know I need to confess my sins. They are my enemy. They may not be locusts or armies, but they are still my enemy, and they stink. I want that just washed fragrance on me. So, I confess my sins. I ask for forgiveness. And every time, the Lord does. He cleanses me. He rids me of my “enemies” of sin.

Lord, thank You for the forgiveness You give me. As undeserving as I am, You still do it.

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Battles, Choices, Cleansing, Confession, Disciplemaking, Forgiveness, Holy Spirit, Judgment, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture, Sin

INFESTED

JOEL 2:9

“They storm the city, they run on the wall; they climb into the houses, they enter through the windows like a thief.”

Once, when I lived in Florida, our house became infested with ticks. We noticed a couple climbing up the wall in our den one night and killed them. The next day we saw more and killed them, but they just kept coming. We had the house sprayed a few times before they were finally contained. But they were everywhere. It was pretty creepy to live in.

The locusts Joel is describing here that came as part of God’s judgment on Judah were everywhere. One commentator’s description talked about them eating everything in the house, even clothing. The people had no rest from them. They couldn’t eat without battling them for the food. Can you imagine the scene? It must have been horrible.

APPLICATION

Sin is that way. It creeps in and infests our lives. If we do not deal with it quickly it will affect every area of our lives. We may think we can keep it isolated, but we can’t. It spreads. It penetrates even our most guarded areas. Sin seeps in and begins to cause decay. Just like those locusts in today’s verse, sin will devour everything in its path.

But we have the solution – Jesus. His blood covers all those sins. We will never be free from the presence of sin this side of glory. However, we do not have to live chained to sin. We have the power to live above it. We can close the windows and doors of our lives to its penetrating power through the Holy Spirit. His power trumps sin’s power every time.

So, you have a choice. You can choose to live in the stench of sin or in the aroma of our Savior. That’s pretty much a no brainer, if you ask me. I choose Jesus. I know He is my protector and defender. I trust Him to cover my sins with His precious blood. I am free because of that. How about you?

O, the blood of Jesus! O, the blood of Jesus! O, the blood of Jesus, it washes white as snow!

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Advice, Attention, Bible, Calling, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Gospel, Salvation, Testimony, Witnessing

LISTEN UP

JOEL 1:2

Hear this, you elders, and listen, all inhabitants of the land. Has anything like this happened in your days, or in your fathers’ days?”

Each Sunday when I teach the children at the church where I serve, I have to say “listen” several times to get their attention. We have rules for children’s church to help prepare these little ones for the day when they start attending “big church.” One of those rules is “Listen Up.” In other words, tune your ears to what I’m about to say.

Joel is telling the people of Judah to listen up. He is about to give them a message. He is going to remind them of some things. He needs their undivided attention in order to get his message across. Let me correct that. It’s not his message. It’s God’s message, which makes it even that much more important.

APPLICATION

I bet you have had to tell someone to listen up, haven’t you? Have you ever been telling a story to someone and noticed they weren’t paying attention? If you have kids, I guarantee you have had to tell them to listen up. Now, listen to me. You have a message to share. People need to hear it.

We need to make sure people are listening. God’s message hasn’t changed. He still desires for all to come to Him. He still offers salvation to those who believe in His name and receive His Son as Savior. That’s a message we need to be shouting from the rooftops. Get their attention and deliver the message.

Right now, there is a lot of turmoil going on in the world. People are dying and going to hell. Believers are being persecuted for their faith. We are living in perilous times. But God is still faithful. He will deliver each and every one who turns to Him. Will you help spread the word today?

I am so thankful for the message of the cross. Give me the opportunity today to share that with someone.

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