The Great and Terrible Day of the Lord

After King Solomon died, Israel fell into chaos. Solomon’s son took the throne and tried to rule with an iron fist, prompting one of King Solomon’s army officers to revolt that resulted in a country divided. Ten of the twelve tribes of Israel formed the northern partition, referred to as ‘Israel;’ and the remaining two tribes formed the southern kingdom of Judah.

Both Israel and Judah reverted to paganism. Israel suffers through eight corrupt and pagan kings and Judah is having their own problems as well. Despite having a few good kings, their own corrupt kings lead Judah to pagan worship as well.

God made a promise to King David that the Messiah would be a descendant of his lineage and that His kingdom would last forever. Well, that lineage was part of the kingdom of Judah. To keep His promise, God was going to have to intervene in a big way, to keep Judah from self-destruction.

So, in approximately 835 B.C., God decides to get their attention by sending a plague of locusts that decimates Judah’s crops. Famine and drought follow. Is God being cruel? No! He’s keeping the promise that He made to His children 600 years prior:

“But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes…that all these curses will come upon you…Locusts shall consume all your trees and the produce of your land.” Dt. 28:15 & 42. NKJV

Thankfully, God never runs out of love. He sends His prophet (‘one who speaks for God’) Joel to wayward Judah, to try to convince the people to return to Him. Joel begins by telling Judah to remember God’s discipline (the plague of locusts) and tell it to their children as well. Then, he reveals God’s instructions for returning to Him:

Consecrate a fast, proclaim a sacred assembly; gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD. Joel 1:14 NASB

In other words, the answer to their (and everyone else’s) problems lies in returning to God. Next, Joel presses home the dire seriousness of their present situation:

Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain! Let all of the inhabitants of the land tremble; for the day of the LORD is coming, for it is at hand; a day of darkness and gloominess… Joel 2:1, 2. NKJV

Joel has delivered a two-fold prophecy: the immediate warning regards a future invasion by the Babylonians, should the people of Judah persist in their disobedience; the second part describes the ‘day of the LORD,’ which occurs at the end of time.

The disobedience God is referring to here is not about the sin traps we fall into throughout life, those that through His mercies, are forgiven (through the blood of Jesus) when we confess and repent. No, God is referring to purposeful, unrepentant sin, which always leads to death.

God (Love) is eternal. However, the time for making the decision to connect or re-connect with God is finite. We must reach out for God before we die. Seeing as how we cannot know exactly when that time will come, we can’t put off for another minute establishing or re-establishing our connection.

For that day of the LORD is great and very terrible; who can endure it? Joel 2:11 NKJV

Great and terrible. The day of the LORD will be great for those who love God, but terrible for those who don’t. This is not an exercise of divine capricious cruelty. God laid out these rules to us over three thousand years ago. Yet because of God’s great love for all the people, He continues to reach out for them, even if they have walked away from Him:

“Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.” Joel 2:12, 13. ESV

The Hebrews used to tear their clothes in times of anguish and sorrow because it symbolized having a broken heart. Here, God is asking them to get into a real experience of sorrowful repentance so that He can lavish His love and mercy upon them. To motivate them, He paints a picture of their potential restoration:

“So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten…You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied; and praise the name of the LORD your God, who has dealt wondrously with you; and My people shall never be put to shame.” Joel 2:25, 26. NKJV

God wants to ensure that His children are covered with HIs love, grace and mercy – now and forever. And even though it is we who bring the locusts into our lives, God wants to help us clean them out of it, to deliver us into His love:

“It will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and daughters will prophecy, your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions.” Joel 2:28 NASB

“And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD. And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” Joel 2:31, 32. NKJV

“…the heavens and the earth will shake; but the LORD will be a shelter for His people…” Joel 3:16. NKJV

Wow! When we approach the end of time, every child of God will be filled with the Holy Spirit. This process actually began to happen shortly after Jesus’ ascension to heaven, on the Day of Pentecost. The exciting thing to see, is that it is still progressing – empowering the recipients to both enter the kingdom of God and to advance it.

We also see that God is going to reshape the earth and the universe it sits in into something so wondrous that we cannot yet comprehend it.

It will be a chaotic time, frightening and final for those who turned their backs on God; but for those whose hearts are bent towards Him, it will be the beginning of heaven…

Goodnight and God bless.

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Will You Help God Help You? – Part 4

We have been looking at tools that we can bring to our disposal for creating a keen sensitivity to realizing when we fall of the path that God has set for us – i.e. sliding back into the destructive ways of the world. That sensitive alert we want to cultivate is one that motivates us to immediately return to God.

The first three tools we considered were:

1. Willingness: a willingness to call upon God for help and to conform to His ways.

2. God: If you could live your highest and best life through your own efforts, you would have done so by now. No one can. We have to look for the help that transcends our humanity. That assistance only comes from our Creator.

3. Meditation: a practice for rooting out the thought processes that prompt us to act in ways that are deleterious to our spiritual and physical well being. It allows us to stay in the present moment where life lives and our connection with God exists.

Let’s finish by examining the last two:

Inquisitiveness:

You were born perfect but you were unconsciously conditioned. You didn’t know that the meanings you attached to the world around you would become hazardous to your health – false interpretations especially facilitated through that voice construct in your head and lived out in the masks you try to cover your true self with.

It’s not your fault, but neither is it an excuse to be a victim. A victim sees no possibility. You have infinite possibilities. Now is the time to ask yourself questions. It’s not your fault for where you’ve been, but is your total responsibility to learn how to wake up and see what is real. Then you can see what is possible.

Definitions change as knowledge increases. Carlos Castaneda

You must question everything about how you’ve been living your life and look to see who has been in charge – deconstructing your false self in the process so that you can be free from your own opinions. It’s time to sow seeds of doubt in the voice in your head – time for you to take yourself off autopilot and grab hold of the helm.

This is not a one-on-one battle to try to get the voice to shut up. It doesn’t know how. However, you can neutralize it with the power of truth. You can always recognize your adversary when it’s around. It’s that mental barrage that is totally devoid of love.

It might say something like, ‘You’re stupid!’ Instead of rolling up into a fetal position, ask your heart, not your head, ‘Is that really true?’ Your heart will tell you ‘no,’ and it never lies. Think about what happens to you physically and emotionally when you’ve lived in agreement with the lies in your head. Respond to that apparition, ‘I’m far better than that.’ The voice will hiccup in disbelief.

Ask yourself (your heart), ‘What would my life be like, what would I be like, if I didn’t believe this lie, and instead embraced the truth of the wonder of how God made me?’ The voice gulps.

Commit to be kind and loving with yourself every time that voice squeaks. Do something that you don’t think you deserve – walk on the beach, do nothing for 30 minutes, get a root beer float.

Suppose that voice tells you not to go to a party you’ve been invited to, because the people there will make fun of you for being such a geek. Moreover, it says it knows just how you feel and suggests you reach for the bottle of wine you have in the kitchen to make yourself feel better.

What if you said to yourself, ‘Who says I’m a geek? It’s just that old lying ghost in my head. I don’t need a judge in my life any longer. It only brings me grief. I’m not believing anything it says ever again.’ And you go to the party! The voice moans.

However, let’s say you lost this round and chugged that bottle. The following day, when the voice berates you for your drunkenness, instead of exposing your flesh to be scourged, what if you respond with ‘Yes, I did something that was not good for me. I’m going to forgive myself for my unconscious behavior and act differently for my greater good.’ The voice begins to dissipate.

You see how much more powerful that is when you exhort yourself, give yourself another chance and hold out love and hope? Instead of hating yourself, continue to ask powerful questions to help you dethrone that mental tyrant. For example:

‘Can I allow myself to decide that I’ve been punished enough? Could I let go of wanting to punish myself? Will I let it go? Wouldn’t I rather be free? Can I stop from planning any more punishment against myself in the future? Could I let that feeling go?’

When will I do these things? Is there any reason why that moment can’t be right now?’

Questions are powerful. That voice in your head cannot stand up to inquisition, nor can it stand against love. If it says you are a monster inside, tell it to show that monster to you. (It can’t, because the monster doesn’t exist. It never did.)

Everything the voice says is a lie. Whatever it says, answer with ‘Who cares?’ Then tell yourself the opposite of its accusation. Always ask, ‘What is real, true and important here?’ When you become aware of your old ways of being and choose to do otherwise, (i.e. God’s ways) you will have real freedom.

Write your powerful questions down and post them around your house to remind you to return to your present moment. You are now in the process of living from the heart and leaving the mind behind…

Action:

‘Transforming moments’ consist of revelations (ah-ha moments of truth) that can literally change your life – if and only if you implement them. You cannot wish your problems away. You must reach out to God and challenge your adversary. God will move on your behalf, but you must act first.

That opens the way for you to create something new – a life that you want by putting your faith in your transforming moments (ultimately sent to you by God) and act!

You have to participate in getting back the life you were meant to have. And that’s exactly what we are going to do together…

Next time.
Goodnight and God bless.