Today is a special day for the Chapter-A-Day Audio Bible. We just crossed over 2,000,000 downloads!
Several years ago, I started a project to record the entire text of the Bible and release it as a free, daily podcast. The project took three years to complete, and since that time, I have learned that the recordings are being used by;
The blind and visually impaired
Families who do daily devotions together
Those who are training for vocational ministry
People of all stripes who want to grow in their walk with Christ
In each consequential spiritual battle that I've felt called by the Lord to get involved in, I have also been completely convinced that He was going to make all the details work out, and grant a decisive victory. And that's exactly what He did.
When I look at a portion of Scripture like Joel 3:9-16, it feels somewhat familiar to me because in a personal way, I have seen the Lord bring victory over adversity while giving my heart complete peace that the victory He was securing was absolutely guaranteed. What is the primary victory the Lord promises to secure in this passage? What does this Scripture show us about moments like this?
Most of us have experienced what it feels like to be treated poorly, taken advantage of, and demeaned. It's miserable, and in those moments we're often grateful when those who have the power to intervene on our behalf do so. But while we wait for that intervention, we often languish and grieve.
The people of Judah and Israel knew what it was like to be treated poorly. They were familiar with the experience of being oppressed by others, but in Joel 3:1-8, the Lord demonstrates His desire to take care of His children when they've been treated poorly. How does He do this? What does He do?
In Joel 2:28-32, we are given a powerful glimpse of the work the Holy Spirit does in the lives of people and in the history of this world. These words were spoken prophetically, with a view toward their future fulfillment. But we have a different perspective on these passages than Joel did when he first wrote them down. He was looking forward to these promises coming to pass, but we're living in the midst of their fulfillment. We're seeing and experiencing what Joel was still looking forward to.
Can you see the work the Holy Spirit has been doing in your life? I promise you that if your faith in Christ is genuine, the Spirit is at work within you and around you. He's also going to do a future work that will continue to point unbelieving hearts to Jesus. So what do we see when the Holy Spirit is doing His work in your life?
In 2002, my wife and I bought a house. For a couple months before we moved in, we would work on it and make updates and repairs. One afternoon while I was working on the landscaping, two kids came riding through my yard on their bikes. It seemed weird, but I didn't say anything. As they made it to the street, one of the kids tried turning his bike around in a spot where the road needed to be repaved. He immediately fell, and the impact ripped his ankle open so badly that it exposed his bones.
When I saw what took place, I immediately called for emergency services and rushed to help the boy. While we waited for an ambulance to arrive, I kept trying to get him to focus on my face and stop looking at his ankle. He was in a lot of pain, and he was starting to panic because it was a very bad injury. Even though he had been riding his bike where he shouldn't be riding, and making careless decisions about how to maneuver it on uneven pavement, I still felt compassion for him and did everything I could to help him.
Joel 2:18-27 gives us an example of God doing that for His people on an even deeper level. Our Lord takes pity on our suffering, reaches into our situation, and offers Himself to us as the only lasting solution.
Have you ever experienced a season when you were running away from God? It's not a rational thing to do, but it's something we've all done in one way or another. Sometimes it's painfully obvious when we're running from Him. Other times, our desire to become distant from Him can show itself in more subtle ways. But if you've been running from Him, keep in mind that His compassionate heart invites you to return.
If you've been running from God, rejecting His embrace, and venturing out on your own only to discover that you've made a big mistake, it isn't too late to come back to Him. In fact, He makes a point to show us in Joel 2:12-17 that He delights in showing us His grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love.
Have you ever experienced a season that was so stressful, troubling, and upsetting that all you wanted to do was scream? When you really want to let out a good yell, where is the safest place to do that? Practically speaking, I think your car tends to be the best place to let out a roar when you need to. There have been several times in my life when I have definitely taken advantage of the solitude, and cried out to God in such a loud way that I'm grateful the windshield didn't crack.
During the era in which Joel was ministering, the people of Judah were going through one of their worst collective trials since they had been established as a kingdom. The locust plague had destroyed their once beautiful land, and this once prosperous people was now surrounded by death and devastation. This portion of Scripture also gives prophetic insight into a time of tribulation that will be experienced throughout the whole earth.
So, when we're in the midst of a season of tribulation, what should we do? And being that we know ahead of time that great tribulation is going to come upon this earth one day, how should we prepare for that now?
Culturally, and personally, one of the primary personal attributes that many of us admire is self-reliance. I read a story recently about Colonel Sanders, the founder of the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise. He spent the majority of his life failing at nearly everything he tried, then retired at age 65 and didn't know what he was going to do with himself. He actually wished he was dead, but instead, decided to go door-to-door selling fried chicken he had cooked using his special recipe. Between age 65 and age 88, he became a huge business success and a multi-millionaire.
It's nice to hear that his story ended well, but what do you do when you're still living through the messy parts of your journey? Sometimes it isn't as simple as picking yourself up and trying something new. Sometimes you get to the spot where you run out of options. What should you do when you hit that wall? How should you respond when you can't pick yourself up, change your circumstances, or escape your problems?
When those seasons come, (and they come for us all), we really only have one primary option. Our best option is to humble ourselves and pray. Instead of relying on our own wisdom and strength to fix our issues, we can seek the Lord's direct intervention on our behalf and trust Him to do miraculous things for us, or change our attitude toward what we're going through.
At the time of Joel's writing, locusts had just devoured the vegetation and crops of the people of Judah. As a result, their economy was suffering, many of the animals were without food, and their families were devastated physically and financially. This event was so severe that it was unlike anything that generation of people had ever witnessed.
Through this event, God was certainly getting the attention of His people in a big way, and He wanted them to be sure to convey what He was teaching them through this occurrence to their children and the generations of grandchildren that would come after them.
Have you ever experienced a season when you could tell that God was trying to get your attention? How did you respond?
Financial struggles are both a symptom and an effect. They can be a symptom of the choices we make, or they can be the effect of choices others have imposed upon us. Our financial health can impact the quality of our sleep, our relationship with our spouse, and the amount of time we have available to spend with our family. But regardless of what our present day financial situation looks like, there are some principles found in Scripture that can help us understand how the Lord wants us to manage our finances.
I should also say before we look at these Scriptures that while I believe the Lord wants us all to make wise financial choices, I don't believe He wants us all to be financially rich. For some of us, that would be too much of a temptation. For others, it might become an idol that they worshipped instead of Him.
But that doesn't mean we shouldn't aim to improve our financial health. So how can we become financially healthy without worshipping money?