Devotions from Judy’s heart
Devotions from Judy’s heart
These are words of the prophet Joel, calling for repentance, knowing that God’s judgment was near. It has been difficult to either date or trace the prophecy of Joel to a person or place. “The events described in it are, at one and the same time, unprecedented and timeless. The message of Joel is, therefore, relevant to any situation in any generation. What can it say to us?” (Bible Speaks Today)
Joel warns of judgment. “The day of the Lord is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it” (2:11). The land trembled as does America today. As a nation we have turned from God. Do we hear the warnings? Who can save us? “I don’t see our nation able to go much further unless we repent and call upon the name of Almighty God,” observes Franklin Graham.
Joel saw judgment coming in the form of an invasion of locusts. God was giving warning that conditions were ripe for judgment. “Joel had the courage to talk of God’s direct and personal involvement in current affairs and to assert that he and he alone had the answers to the national crisis” (Bible Speaks Today). For us the question would be, “Where are the locusts today in our technologically brilliant but ethically bankrupt society?” (BST)
Joel alerts the people to prepare, “for the day of the lord is coming” ( 2:1). “He is emphasizing as strongly as he knows how that the great and terrible day is imminent” (BST). It might not be the final judgment, but it will mean present judgment and change. “The day of the Lord is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it?” (2:11). The nation needed to wake up and pay heed. “Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming” (2:1).
Men, I believe the trumpet has been sounding. Darkness is descending on our nation. Outright rebellion against God’s moral standard is being openly flaunted, while politicians on both sides bombard each other in ever despiteful language. I often wonder if there is any hope for the healing of our nation.
Joel’s answer is clear. It is a matter of repentance and returning to God. Men, instead of getting caught up in the heated rhetoric of the dominant narrative of our day, especially during this electoral period, Joel tells us to “cry out to the Lord.” I do that continually throughout the day, knowing only God can healing what is displayed daily on TV.
God is looking for a change in heart. Are we prepared for what is coming. “‘Even now,’ declares the Lord, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning'” (2:12). “Rend your heart, and not your garments” ( 2:13). This is soulful behavior, not just talk, motivated by anger, fear and frustration. God is looking for heart felt, passionate crying out to him.
Why would God listen to men, when the culture is being stiff-necked. Because God cares about the condition of our nation, “Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love…” (2:13). Can God be persuaded. “Who knows? Perhaps he will give you a reprieve, sending you a blessing instead of this curse” ( 2:14 – MSG).
It could be that God might, “repay you for the years the locust have eaten” (2:25). God is able to send a mighty “awakening.” “I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophecy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions” (2:28).
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy
This blog comes as another “Wildman” alert. In the days to come, you will be greatly tempted to complain and whine, like the Israelites in the wilderness – “They whined like spoiled children” (Ps. 78:18 MGS). More then ever, as the confusion gathers and the dissidence intensifies, God will raise up men whose conversation will “always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that [they] may know how to answer everyone” (Col 4:6).
Jeremiah was called to prophecy to a people who would not listen. This will also be true for you. “They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you” (Jer. 1:19). Jeremiah had God’s assurance that he could persevere. But He began to falter, being deeply conflicted in his calling to preach to a rebellious people.
In his self-pity he ended up blaming God. “Why is my pain unending and my wound grievous and incurable? You are to me like a deceptive brook, like a spring that fails.” (Jer. 15:18). The Message says, “You’re nothing, God, but a mirage.” “How well he must have known God to feel free to speak to God with such desperate honesty” (Bible speaks today). Men, be honest about your disillusionment that is sure to affect you in the days to come. Be prepared for opposition.
In his disillusionment God warns Jeremiah not to be tempted to speak “worthless words.” This could certainly include whining and complaining. “If you utter worthy, not worthless words, you will be my spokesman” (15:19). God saw the heart of Jeremiah. Knowing he was having a hard time, he asks him to repent. “If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me” (v. 19). He was being asked to check his attitude and repent. You and I will be asked to do a lot of repenting before the Lord as the darkness intensifies.
Jeremiah was not to speak “worthless words,” that is, being negative and destructive in his speech. Men, we need to keep a check our patterns of speech. Through repentance and lament God will keep calling us back to himself. “God calls us up and out and back from such ‘worthless words.'” ( Bible speaks today).
God comes along side of his repentant prophet. “Let this people turn to you” is God’s advise. Don’t let them control the narrative. “…….but you must not turn to them” (15:19). I have to continually do an “attitude check” so that I don’t get negative. For men it is so easy to fall into complaining about the condition of our contentious society. With our words and presence we are to be a light in the darkness. Darkness only invites negativity.
Men, hang unto the words God gave Jeremiah in his “recommissioning.” It is similar to what Jeremiah heard in the beginning. “I will make you a wall to this people, a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you to rescue and save you” (Jer. 15:20). This is a picture of a man with courage, conviction, willing through love and grace to stay in the battle.
May God put fire in your belly, like he did for Jeremiah. “The words are fire in my belly, a burning in my bones. I’m worn out trying to hold it in. I can’t do it any longer”(20:9-MSG). Let the Word, God has given you, burn like fire, even if you go through some pain. It’s men who are aflame for God that will be able to confront the darkness that is coming days.