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The Three “E”s

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Romans 16:25-27

The challenges of parenting can be overwhelming. Environment makes a subtle impact on the senses of our little children, even in babyhood. Science provides an awareness of how important it is for us to sing and talk to a baby in the womb, since the sound of voices can be recognized at that early stage; subliminally tones of the human voice are being interpreted. Environment entails those delightful fragrances that so often stir a hidden nostalgia in the adult heart. Tenderness or otherwise is conveyed by touch. How many parents have gently rocked their child to sleep? How many little children are battered?

Toddlers are so cute! They begin to enjoy a stage that lasts a life-time. “Why?” One of their favourite questions can drive a parent mad, but it is the beginning of learning. Education can be fun! Make a game of learning Bible verses. Sing songs about little chores. How important to learn to “like what you do”, not just to “do what you like” as my father used to advise. Learning comes from asking questions, from facing one’s inadequacies and dealing with them constructively.

Perhaps more than anything Experience teaches us the most. In our environment our greatest education is received through experience as people model to us the truths of ethical standards and behaviour, right thinking as well as wrong feelings. We ourselves learn through trial and failure as much as we do from success.

Now what does any of this have to do with faith? A very great deal! God places each person in a particular environment. Why? We do not know. “Why?” is a question adults often ask when trouble comes, but do we ever wonder why we have been so blessed? God has taught me some painful lessons through life, but my life has been enriched by an environment filled with His presence, throughout them all! (Psalm 23:4). Marvellous!

Those of us who hold God’s Word in our hands have the greatest educational advantage! Here is all the information we will ever need to know for peace and prosperity in relationships! Our primary relationship is with God and here is the guide book. God wants us to know Him (1 John 5:13). The purpose of education is to teach us learning skills and to describe the road to maturity, isn’t it? Maturity is where the heart and mind meet in balance, permitting the joy of interdependence with others!

There are three other “E’s” in the Bible that help to impact the meaning of our lives. When we encourage one another to endure we are established, grounded, stable. Our scripture reading is a benediction. May the encouragement of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit bless your life today and forevermore.

Reflection:

Experience? Does your experience teach you to trust in God? Have you ever put Him to the test? I have been blessed by His faithfulness, His forgiveness, His freedom and so much more. What would life be without trusting His plan for my life, the meaning that His love gives to every day? Thankfully my environment, education and experience taught me at an early age that the Lord God Almighty is truly the lover of my soul! He has never failed to live up to all that promises.

What is it about your environment, education and experience that equips you to react to problems the way you do?

How easy is it for you to let go of those little hurts that niggle in the back of your mind?

Are you feeling secure in the love of Christ and how does that play out in your life? What do others see?

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

Hosanna!

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Matthew 21:6-16

Hooray! Yeah! Hosanna! Exclamations of excitement and joy! Jesus was being celebrated as He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. “Hosanna” is Hebrew for save, an expression of praise.

Once a year we make a special effort to thank God for all that He has given to us; the date varies from culture to culture, but usually centres around harvest time. At Easter we sing praises for the sacrifice of Jesus’ life, but what did the people of Jerusalem know about Jesus that caused such accolades this particular year?

Israel lived under oppression. The nation desperately wanted a Saviour. This man from Galilee was a miracle-worker like no other. Could it be that God would use Him to save them from the Romans? Was this idea the impetus that created crowds crying out “Hosanna”?

Prophecy identified a king riding on a donkey into Jerusalem (Zechariah 9:9). As we have noted before, donkeys were not the usual mode of transport for kings, so this unusual event would attract attention! David prophesied “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” (Psalm 118:26) and Jesus Himself acknowledged His claim to be the “Son of David” (Mark 12:35). These folks acknowledged that link.

It often fascinates me how God orchestrates His work in this world. In Noah’s day sin was rampant. Why did He not send the Saviour then? Why did He flood the entire world, wiping out mankind except for Noah’s family? What was it about the era which spawned silence from Almighty God for 400 years, then caused Him to send His only begotten Son? What is God’s next step of judgment on a world who denies, rejects, mocks this precious Son?

Do you ever wonder what it would be like for Jesus to come riding into your world today? What would crowds of people say? Hosanna? Crucify Him? Actually He is riding into your world and mine, on the words of proclamation each believer has been given. Are we shouting Hosanna? Or do we keep silent?

Reflection:

Hosanna! Save! Cries from anxious hearts yearning to be free! What do we pray for today? What binds us like prisoners of fate? What would cause us to cry “Hosanna” “Save” to our neighbours, our colleagues at work, our family members – dearest and nearest?

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

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The Sacrifice of Praise

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Psalm 100

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that confess His name” (Hebrews 13:11)

The Apostle Paul wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Prior to that Jeremiah had also written about praise which he called “sounds of joy and gladness….thank offerings” to be brought into the house of the Lord. Kirk Dearman based a well loved chorus on Jeremiah 33:11:

“We bring the sacrifice of praise

Into the house of the Lord.

We bring the sacrifice of praise

Into the house of the Lord.

And we offer up to you

The sacrifices of thanksgiving;

And we offer up to you

The sacrifices of joy.”

Perhaps this is the panacea for the spirit of heaviness that pervades our world today. Can we, will we begin a habit that will stem the tide of depression? We have many Biblical examples of praise and worship which lift our spirits when we study the truths behind them.

“Shout for joy to the Lord” the Psalmist wrote. To whom does this apply? He answers “all the earth”.

“Worship the Lord with gladness” (Psalm 100:1-2). Do we find ourselves attending church out of a sense of obligation or duty? Has it become a tradition to meet with our friends on Sunday? Or have we gone to church anxious to offer praise? It may be a sacrifice. Perhaps we are grieving. Some of us are struggling with health issues or disappointed hopes, things that occupy the forefront of our minds. How can we think happy thoughts at such a moment?

The Apostle Paul is our great example. He sang hymns while bound in chains in a dank, dark prison cell. Perhaps he had memorized Psalm 100. “Come before Him [God] with joyful songs”. Hymns celebrate the great God we worship. Today many songs focus on “Me or I” but when we contemplate the character of our God, we are compelled to acknowledge His wisdom and majesty, His faithfulness and love. What joy to know that “our God is greater than any other god”! Yet “what a friend we have in Jesus” the One who bears all our sins and griefs!

The Psalmist warns “Know that the Lord is God” (100:4). Is there something lacking in our knowledge of God? How can we correct that? Another Psalm admits to needing God’s word – scripture memorization. “Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee” (Psalm 119:11 KJV). This is what enables us to “enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise” (100:4). After all “The Lord is good”. In a world torn by evil, hatred, fear and anger, we rejoice to know the goodness of our God, the One whose “love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations” (100:5).

Reflection:

It hardly seems to be a sacrifice to give praise to the God of heaven who is our personal Father, Shepherd and King. Let us sing His praises out of the abundance of joyful hearts, since we know God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

Little Children

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Matthew 18

Have you ever stopped to analyze the characteristics that make little children so delightful? Recently I was reading a commentary on the portion of scripture we are studying today. It aptly describes a child as one easily lost in awe “the doors of life flung wide open to wonder”! (Daylight Devotional Bible). Most of us have experienced the tugging hands which are so eager to show us what they have discovered, gasping in surprise, belly laughing when something is funny.

Have you ever noticed how in total innocence a child cries without shame? As sophisticated adults we often try to hide our tears.. Thankfully our Saviour shed tears, according to the Biblical principle laid down by the Apostle Paul “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15). What a pity to lose the innocence of childhood in the fear of looking childish. There is such a difference between the two.

The Lord Jesus is recommending we become like little children and in this chapter warns against giving offense to any little ones. Notice His reference to their guardian angels (18:10). Do we stop to take into account that little ones have a God-given protection? So in the spiritual realm, babes in Christ are protected by the power of the Holy Spirit. It would be better for a mill stone to be hung around the neck of anyone who puts a stumbling block in their way (Luke 17:2).

Consider what this might mean. Have you ever felt discouraged? What if you or I were responsible for discouraging a new believer, causing them to doubt the Lord’s ability to care for them, or to doubt the purity of His intentions? God forbid that we should ever cause them to foster false doctrine.

So what does He mean for you and me to become like little children? Who of us would want to look weak and dependant. How we fight to gain independence, forgetting sometimes that the ultimate goal of maturity is interdependence.

Jesus uses the term “Little Children” lovingly. Nurturing is part of His compassionate, loving nature. If we wish to be like Him we need the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit growing these characteristics within us from the very DNA of Christ our Lord. We cannot achieve this on our own, but need to surrender to God’s leadership, just as if we were little children ourselves. Perhaps one of the greatest acts of surrender is exemplified in the life of our Lord who taught us to pray “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).

Reflection:

Do we feel it is demeaning to be called little children? If so how can we relax in the arms of our Heavenly Father? The Bible warns us to put away childish things, comprised of fear and envy, covetousness and even tantrums, when we don’t get what we want, or think we deserve. That is behaviour unbecoming to any child and requires the Father’s discipline. How blessed we are to have a Father who cares deeply enough to guide us in paths of righteousness “for His name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3).

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

Subtleties of Satan

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Matthew 26:26-28

Have you ever wrestled with a problem that just won’t go away? Sometimes we struggle with unforgiving thoughts, resentments, feeling that life just isn’t fair. Perhaps we are perplexed because we don’t understand what God is trying to teach us, or we are fearful about the future, unsure if we can fit in with God’s will. There are so many things that take our focus away from the Lord Jesus. Satan has no end of strategies.

Surely in Church our minds will be able to see Him, lifted up in worship. Communion, that holiest of ordinances, of course is one of those occasions. I have watched men handle the loaf of bread as tenderly as if it were the body of the Lord, prepared for burial; the reverence that is due Him may be seen, whether our thoughts would be worthy of examination.

It took me three days to ask God’s forgiveness for disrupting a communion service. Oh I doubt anyone but my immediate friend knew the struggle I was having, but the Lord knows everything. The little cup of wine was so cleverly devised that all we had to do was lift the cellophane off the wafer and then expose the tiny wine glass. I couldn’t get the wrapper off the wafer we were using in a COVID scenario; the problem just wouldn’t go away! I had used these before, but as I sat struggling, it never occurred to me that this was a battle against the Evil One.

Satan does not want us to celebrate Jesus. He sits at our elbow ready to turn our eyes away from the One who is Light and Life. On this particular Sunday where were my thoughts of reverence? Did I really need to use the wafer, to make me remember the dear body of my Lord, broken for me and my sins? Of course I am not forgetting the words of Jesus as He prepared His disciples for what was to come. “Take and eat; this is My body” (Matthew 26:26).

At that moment in time His words could not have held the same meaning for the men who listened, as they would have in future days and years to come. Two thousand years later what do Jesus’ words mean to you and to me today? As I celebrate the broken body of my Lord, is it in spirit and in truth, or has it become a ritual? The struggle I had that day was with something in my hand, but wasn’t it also with something in my mind? Where was the sadness about my Lord’s costly sacrifice? Where was the gladness for God’s free forgiveness of my sins? What was I thinking about God’s amazing grace, His unconditional love? Why was it so important to conform to tradition?

Thankfully the Holy Spirit brings to our minds opportunities that are lost, so that we can ask for God’s forgiveness. How precious it is to know “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness’ (1 John 1:9).

Reflection:

We need to be aware that issues of tradition might subtly distract us from the real goal of worship. Satan will use any ploy to dissuade us from tenderly recognizing the precious body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, broken and poured out for the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:28). Without His sacrifice there is no forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 9:22). How lost I would be without Jesus! Lesson learned? Let us fix our eyes on Him, forgetting the apparent struggles at hand.

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

Outreach

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Matthew 28: 19-20, Acts 1:8

“GO” Jesus said to His disciples. By example He had done that very thing when He left the glories of heaven to come to earth. Often when we think of that word we conjure up images of foreign lands, differing tribal customs and unknown languages. We don’t think we can handle all of that, nor do we feel “called”. So what does Jesus mean – is that really a command, and it is a command, only for a few?

The Apostle Peter, addressing “God’s elect, strangers scattered throughout…” [the then known world] (1 Peter 1:1), said “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood….a people belonging to God” (1 Peter 2:9). Are you a chosen a child of God? What is God’s purpose in drawing people like you and me into His family? How thrilling is it that we have an eternal purpose as children of God? It is to these people that Jesus left His last commission.

However, in focusing on the word “Go” we sometimes forget the rest. “Make disciples”. A disciple is exactly what Peter described, a person belonging to God, one who follows in the steps of Jesus. “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you” (1 Peter 2:21). We need to remember the tremendous cost of our becoming children of God. This is no casual adoption but was made with great care (Ephesians 1:5). Peter goes on to remind us, you and me today, that Jesus suffered for us, “leaving you an example that you should follow in His steps” (2:21).

So, we are chosen, called and equipped to follow Jesus’ example of making disciples. Where do we do that? Jesus left us in no doubt. We are to start in Jerusalem – that is, at home. It is a lot harder to live for Jesus in a place where people know us well, our foibles and weaknesses. They know how to pull our triggers, and can test our sincerity. Once we pass that test, of making our words and deeds match, then we are ready to go into Judea. Where is your Judea? Is it the work place? Your community? Your church? Isn’t it curious when Churches promote “Outreach” they think beyond their doors? Yet, if the truth be known, there are a lot of folks who go to church who need discipling so that they, in turn, can make disciples.

Some believers are called to go “to the ends of the earth”, but Samaria lies between. Have you ever had a “Samaria” experience? This is where people have a different belief system, whether it is atheistic of New Age, or one of the other great world religions. Samaritans had corrupted the purity of the Jewish faith, making a syncretic system by combining faith in God with the Assyrian religion. Do you understand Jesus enough to lovingly explain what you believe, to share the wonderful relationship you have with the Lord Jesus Christ with people who have adopted wrong ideas about Christianity? In Samaria we may find folks who have been wounded by the legalism of an errant church. How can we encourage their faith in Jesus? Samaria prepares us for outreach at the ends of the earth.

Reflection:

Let us not forget that it is living in the light of the love of God that best enables us to share the new life we are enjoying – a life of peace because our sins have been forgiven, a life of purpose because someone reached out to show us the way. Remember Jesus said “I am the ….Way” (John 14:6). What is it that we fear about sharing Jesus with others? Are we truly in love with Jesus? Or, is it that we know our words and deeds don’t match? Do we feel inadequate because we don’t know scripture well enough? I have found there is always something more to learn from God’s Word. If I wait until I know it all, I would never talk to others about what I do know. In our hearts do we recognize that we are really lukewarm, or even cold, when it comes to feeling responsible for those who are lost? What is it that prevents us from honest outreach?

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

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Spectator or Participant?

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Joel 1-3

Often the Old Testament is overlooked in favour of the gospels of our Lord Jesus Christ. In dialogue with my grandson recently I was thrilled to learn he has become aware of the necessity of grounding ourselves in the teachings of the Old Testament. As well as disregarding the First Covenantal book, we often attempt to distinguish which are the “important” books of scripture, failing to recognize that each book has been written for the express purpose of teaching us to know and understand the heart and mind of our great and glorious God! With this in mind let us review what Joel has to teach us.

The Jews have been chosen as God’s representatives here on earth. Sadly they failed to appreciate the privilege of participating with God in His saving purpose for all humankind. God’s patience was tried from generation to generation until promised judgment finally fell upon His chosen people (Joel 1). Great suffering resulted, spiritually, emotionally and physically.

Great witnesses came and went – Elijah, Obadiah and now Joel were sent by God to purify His people. It is worth noting Joel’s description of God. In Chapter 2:11 we find Him coming as the thundering leader of a great army – numberless, mighty forces who obey His commands! His purpose? “Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the Lord your God!” (2:27).

This God is described as jealous (2:18), vigilant over the nation He calls His own. Protective, pitying their weaknesses, God’s great heart of compassion can be seen; He has been slow to express His anger at their folly, demonstrating His love and grace repeatedly throughout centuries of time (2:13, 18).

How blessed we are to live in the age Joel prophesied would come when God pours out His Spirit upon all people – Jew and Gentile alike, whomever responds to His love (2:28). Paul writes about this: “For we are all baptised by one Spirit into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, whether slave or free” (1 Corinthians 12:13). The Apostle Peter preached from Joel’s book on the Day of Pentecost: “Repent and be baptised…in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). Peter concludes “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:21).

Joel reminds us that our God is determined to be our refuge, a stronghold in the day of trouble (3:16). Trouble assuredly will come, but God chooses to restore the years the locusts have eaten (2:25). This is the God we know to have been so merciful to us day by day, as we take three steps forward and two steps back! One day He will judge the nations (3:2), but in the end Sovereign God will dwell in Zion (3:21)….and there will be peace on His Holy hill, in Jerusalem (3:17).

Reflection:

The question Joel raises for you and me today is whether or not we have believed and received God’s saving grace through Jesus Christ our Lord. Will we participate in this peaceful coexistence with God, or have we just been spectators at the game of life?

“Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful!

May the fire of our devotion light the way.

May the footprints that we leave lead them to believe,

And the lives, we live inspire them to obey”

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

The Day of the Lord

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Joel 3

There is a lot of history as well as prophecy in this small Old Testament book. Beginning with a severe drought following invasions of locusts, as we have already glimpsed, Joel sees this as punishment from God for the sins of His people. He uses the picture of these locusts to illustrate a future invasion in the Day of the Lord.

Centuries later, John is given a vision expanding on what we learn from Joel about that Day. In Revelation 16 John describes the war of Armageddon, which consists of several battles. First there will be the campaign of the Antichrist into Egypt (Daniel 11:40-45). Zechariah explains the Lord’s second coming. ”A Day of the Lord is coming…Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations [who have been attacking Jerusalem], as He fights in the day of battle. On that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives and the mount of Olives will be split in two” (14:1-4).

Joel is given a preview. When God sets out to restore Judah and Jerusalem, the nations will gather together in the valley of Jehoshaphat, which may refer to the Kidron Valley on the East of Jerusalem. Kidron is known by Jews, Christians, and Muslims as the Valley of Judgment. Jehoshaphat means “The Lord Judges”. Another name for this is the “Valley of Decision”(3:14). Here indeed is where the nations will be judged for their treatment of God’s people (3:2).

Leaving them in no doubt, God lists their offenses. They scattered God’s people among the nations and divided the land – “My land” declared the Lord (Joel 3:2b). They sold the Jews and introduced their children to prostitution (3:3). The Phoenicians and Philistines who were notorious slave traders swept all before them, people and even the sacred temple treasures. God then calls these primary offences to account, requiring all-out war (3:9).

However, faithful to His people, God has not left them without hope. He actually spells out how His Divine intervention will take place, in the midst of battle. “I will drive the northern army from you, pushing it into a parched and barren land….and its stench will go up” (Joel 2:20). God Himself will meet the nations in the Valley of Jehoshaphat (3:12). After many generations, and centuries of time when pagans sat in judgment about God, finally He will judge them. Multitude upon multitude will gather on the Day of the Lord, to face the One whom they have rejected.

Reflection:

Jesus gave His listeners a preview of that day, signs we are looking for, as I write. He warns that God’s children should not be deceived by false prophets; when we hear of wars and civil unrest we are not to be frightened. He could have been describing the global chaos of our day. “Nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and [pandemics] pestilences” as well as cosmic disturbances (Luke 21:10-11). Family disruptions will end in estrangement or worse. “You will be betrayed by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death” (Luke 21:16).

However, God once again gives us hope. Looking past the judgments which will surely come, His blessings will follow. He describes the Millennial reign of Christ. Remember, Joel doesn’t have the advantage we do today of knowing who the Lord [Yahweh] Jesus Christ is. Yet God gave Joel the vision of abundance which will bless the people who celebrate the consummation of the Kingdom of God. Judah and Jerusalem will celebrate as never before!

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

Our Jealous God

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Joel 2:18

“Then the Lord will be jealous” (2:18). What does it mean to be jealous?  Jealousy carries the particular sense of “zealous vigilance” and tends to be applied more exclusively to feelings of protectiveness regarding one’s own advantages or attachments. It is not to be confused with envy, which covets what someone else has (Merriam-Webster).

Israel had been chosen by God to be His particular people. Throughout scripture we see the trend of God’s desire, to build a Holy nation from which would come the seed of Abraham, promised to bless all nations. God’s love for Israel was longsuffering throughout generations of rebelliousness and rejection, Oddly enough, they envied the lifestyle of other godless peoples, failing to appreciate all they had in their God! His covenant was eternal but discipline, and even punishment, was sometimes required for “children” who were so wayward. Yet His zealous vigilance continued. Joel records some remarkable statements made by God in Chapter 2.

“I will restore the years the locusts have eaten” (Joel 2:25 KJV). This reminds us of how Joel began, citing the desolation left behind repeated swarms of locusts! This promises that God’s judgment will pass. Israel’s jealous God takes pity on His people (2:18). This mighty Creator of all things views the helplessness, the weakness of His people, with compassion. Never again will they be such an object of scorn (2:19). In fact God will take on their cause, scattering the northern army into the desert (2:20).

Read Ezekiel 39 for details of this event, at which time “The Sovereign Lord declares…. The nations will know that I am the Lord, the Holy One of Israel” (Ezekiel 39:7). “I will display My glory among the nations”(39:21). This will not be a happy time for the nations, but “the house of Israel will know that I am the Lord their God” (39:22, 28). Whatever the circumstances, in the end God remains faithful! God continues “I will no longer hide My face from them, for I will pour out My Spirit on the house of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord” (39:29).

Joel calls the people to rejoice and be glad (Joel 2:21, 23). The promise will remove their fear, filling them with hope. Men and women will receive God’s blessing as He pours out His Spirit on them all (2:28, 29). The wonders of their all-powerful God will be seen in the cosmos as well as on earth, but “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (2:32). When Joel wrote this he couldn’t have fully understood the import of his prophecy, but God gives us hindsight as we remember in Jerusalem, hundreds of years later, that promised deliverance came from Calvary (2:32). Zechariah prophesied the day would come when Israel would look on the One they had pierced and grieve bitterly for Him (12:10).

Reflection:

Who would want to live without the watch-care of our jealous God? Some prophecies have been fulfilled. Yet we still wait. As we have seen – “The day of the Lord is great; it is dreadful” (2:11). Yet we are reminded that God “is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love” (2:13), creating an atmosphere of joy and gladness in a spirit of righteousness (2:23). What a day that will be when old men dream dreams and young men will see visions as God pours out His Spirit on His servants, both men and women! (2:28-29). Hallelujah!

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Uncategorized

Restoration

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Joel 2:25

We found the Israelites in a state of terror at the beginning of chapter 2. Judgment was going to fall. “The Day of the Lord is coming….a day of darkness and gloom” (2:1-2) Destruction was promised by the very God they had chosen to ignore, and now they could see the signs clearly. The locusts have eaten everything. “The Day of the Lord is great; it is dreadful! Who can endure it?” (2:11).

God had been calling the people to repentance for a long time. He now calls the priests, whose actual service is “to the Lord” (2:17), not just for the people. God needs them to weep and pray for His mercy, to prove their hearts are in their worship. Their tone was to be not only repentant, but they were to beg God to save His glory. What a prayer! (2:17). What exactly did it mean?

These are conditions laid down by God through Joel. Once they were met the Lord had something positive to offer. In fact according to His zealous nature the Lord made a significant promise. “I will repay to you for the years the locusts have eaten” (2:25). Notice the Lord does not promise to keep them from the battle, but once it is over He will restore.

He is specific. His people will never be put to shame. They will know that God is in their midst! The Lord will pour out His Spirit in those days (post-judgement). Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (2:26-29). This must have sounded utopian to a nation writhing in its death-throes. What does it promise for us today?

The prophet continues. There will be judgment for the nations who had persecuted God’s people – those He calls “My Heritage”. Those responsible for the diaspora (3:2), will face God. The battle will take place in the Valley of Jehoshaphat, also referred to as the “Valley of Decision” (3:12 & 14). Here the Lord will be near. Usually that is a comforting phrase, but not in this instance. His very presences promotes danger. In His anger God will roar, so that the heavens and the earth will shake.

BUT! The Lord will protect His people. In this mighty battle the Israelite God will show His strength to the nations. There will be no shadow of doubt about whose side He is on. Israel and the world will know! (3:16-17). “Judah will abide forever and Jerusalem from generation to generation….for the Lord dwells in Zion” (3:20-21).

The great battle of Armageddon will be followed by peace like the world has never known because the Prince of Peace will reign, as prophecy has already announced. However, just as is written – this peace will only come after the battle (Revelation 16:16, 17:14).

Reflection:

Have you ever prayed that God would do something for His name’s sake?

Will you be on the side of restoration? Does your daily walk with God demonstrate this attitude today?

What battles in your life have prompted the peace of God in a demonstrable way?

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)