The God of Hope

When you hear the words, the day of the Lord, what comes to your mind? (Joel 2:1-11) As Joel 2 opens, it does so with a fierce description of the Day of the Lord. It harkens for the reader a reminder of the exilic judgment in Exodus. Sharing how the threat of that horrible event, exile will become not just part of Israel’s past but also her future, unless. Yet hope can still be found. This is the church’s message to a sin-cursed and fallen world. There is hope in Christ alone. Colossians 1:27~To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (NIV)

As children bought by the precious blood of Christ, we are grafted into the family of God. 2 Corinthians 6:17-18~Therefore, Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. And, I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, (NIV) Don’t you want to be a child of the King? To live under His protection, tutelage, and provision? This is what the prophet offers us in his message. From the beginning Joel God’s mercy or His judgment. There’s been no relenting, no reprieve. All Jews are portrayed as guilty and all will reap God’s vengeance with absolutely no favoritism shown. 

Then, finally, hope arrives in the form of an invitation to return to fidelity in God. I tell you, it is just like God to show up when no one else will. Say, long about midnight. Matthew 25:4-6~The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight the cry rang out: Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him! (NIV) 

Again, in Judges, we watch Samson, who shows up at midnight to reveal the work of Jesus Christ. Judges 16:3~But Samson lay there only until the middle of the night. Then he got up and took hold of the doors of the city gate, together with the two posts, and tore them loose, bar and all. He lifted them to his shoulders and carried them to the top of the hill…(NIV) Oh, have you heard the message of the prophet today? A call to turn to God! Joel 2:1~Blow a trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord, is coming; it is near, (ESV)

Saint of God, you are being called to blow the Lord’s trumpet, today.  It’s time we told our world Jesus is standing at the door, ready to return. We need to shake off slumber and get the oil of the Holy Spirit in our lamps. Joel compares Israel’s past and present reminding us that God has promised us a hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11~For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (NIV) 

As you head out into the wide world about you, know that our choices lead us to places often unintended. They can be moments of divine judgment or divine reward, and they’re always tied to the moments of our human fidelity and infidelity towards God. Today, the Lord is saying to each, seek Me and be restored. So, before you head out the door, make an altar right where you are and say to God, Lord, you are more important than anything else. And I want you to know that God, will notice your posture, He will hear your cry, and He will be gracious to you, always.



Joel

Have you ever considered the imagery of the message our life shares about Jesus? (Joel 1:2-4, 18-20) Joel’s message is of restoration after the Exile (3:1-3) when the temple appears to be in full operation. This takes us back to our 2019 study of Nehemiah. Pairing Joel with the post-exilic prophets Haggai and Zechariah, who minister after Nehemiah and Ezra have rebuilt the Temple and reestablished God’s covenantal ways and methods of living. Joel’s opening imagery (1:2-12) is terrifying to the agrarian economies of the ancient near east. 

Joel 1:2-4~Hear this…Has such a thing happened in your days…Tell your children…and their children to another generation. What the cutting locust left, the swarming locust has eaten. What the swarming locust left, the hopping locust has eaten, and what the hopping locust left, the destroying locust has eaten. (ESV) I hope to never see that. Such plagues like locusts have even been documented in modern history. The year, 1915, when the area of Israel is devastated. It was considered a natural phenomenon. Locusts are more efficient than arsonists, for once crops are gone, everything else is put under threat. 

Joel 1:18-20~How the beasts groan! The herds of cattle are perplexed because there is no pasture…the flocks of sheep suffer. To you, O Lord, I call. For fire has devoured…and flame has burned all the trees…Even the beasts of the field pant for you…(ESV) Do you pant after God? Does your soul long for communion and fellowship with the Lord Almighty? Finally, after eighteen verses documenting the impending destruction, Joel leads the liturgy of the solemn assembly. 

Understand, he doesn’t blame the devil, saying not my fault, nor does he expect Israel’s repentance is theirs alone. Instead, he acknowledges there’s nowhere to turn except to God. Saying God is not far off. Joel paints a striking picture of destruction juxtaposed against God’s mercy and grace by repentance. Your life oftentimes speaks to people like that of the Old Testament prophet, who shares a message of hope. Then people ask about our history we tell them the story of God’s amazing grace as the words paint pictures that hang on the walls of their minds. Pictures of how we were in dire straits and God was not callous to us, because He cares for us. It is a story of how He loves both His people and their world.

Today, as you embrace the present gift of our great God, I want you to think about the picture your life is painting as your walk through a sin-cursed and fallen world. Make sure your fruit stand is in good order and the fruit is ripe and ready to be shared. You are going to meet people who are hungry for love, hurting for peace, and in desperate need of the joy of the Lord. Be sure to ask the Holy Spirit to continue to supply His sap in your life so that you will be producing everything that you need to help that God places along your journey through life and faith. Then, go be amazing for God.



The Meaningless & Mundane—(GR)ATTITUDE—Ecclesiastes 3.1-11…Handout

Does your attitude possess gratitude? Yes / No Gratitude is being thankful, ready to show appreciation. So, how is your (GR)ATTITUDE: ____________, Prospective.

1) Be Prepared For_________(3:1-9) Ecclesiastes 3:1 ~For_________ there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: (ESV) How many seasons are in a year?___seasons: spring, summer, fall, and winter. As Soly extrapolates in 3:2-8, the word ‘time’ occurs____ times, talking about the different seasons of life. Over these seven verses Solly lists___good seasons and___ bad times. Ecclesiastes 3:2a~a time to be born, and a time to die; (ESV) So, what is the time limit on life?____ years. (Genesis 6:3) Are there any exceptions to our predetermined length of life or time? Yes / No. 2 Kings 20 tells the story of Hezekiah’s prayer. God answers and gives the king____more years. Though his last 15 were not as good as his original planned years. Understand our prayers do not have to be long or eloquent to be powerful. (What are the____ Biblical measurements? A handbreadth, span, and cubit) Like the farmer, we must learn to accept and cooperate with the seasons of our lives. So, is there a time to kill? Yes / No. Exodus 20:13 says not killing, but what about a thief who breaks in? Ecclesiastes 3:3~there is a time to kill, and a time to heal. (ESV) Everything has a time and a season. Ecclesiastes 3:4~a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; (ESV) Life is made up of seasons of sorrow and joy. No one escapes the hurts and sorrows of life. Did you know God actually tracks our sorrows?  Yes / No. Psalm 56:8~You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears …recorded each one in your book. (NIV) God sees everything and is there for us in each and every circumstance of life. There is a time when we need to change our focus and seek new goals in our life. (Ecclesiastes 3:6) Soly reminds us that there is great wisdom in knowing when to be silent. Proverbs 26:4~Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him. (ESV) Our world struggles to talk politics, masks, or injections. When we get into an argument or debate with a fool, other people who hear us will think both of us are fools. If we love, there will also be things we hate, such as child abuse, domestic violence, prejudice, and injustice. God is love, but Proverbs 6:16-19 lists____things God hates. We are to be peacemakers and yet stand for Jesus Christ. Seek peace but, not at the expense of losing the privilege of sharing the only hope our world has found in Jesus Christ. Playing the devil’s advocate, Soly asks in Ecclesiastes 3:9~What gain has the worker from his toil? (ESV) Well, what is gained? ______________________________________________

2) Put_________ into Perspective (3:10-11) Something Soly the wise teaches us is to get the right perspective. Problems make us apt to lose our focus of what is truly matters, _______. Ecclesiastes 3:11a~He has made everything beautiful (יָפֶה yāp̄ê) in its time…(ESV) Are you a witness? Yes / No. We are pressed, not crushed; perplexed, not despair; persecuted, not forsaken. (2  Corinthians 4:7-11) God can make something beautiful out of everything, even our worst mistakes. (Romans 8:28)

Take-A-Step:______________________________________________________________________________