The Impartiality of God

Romans 2.1-16

There is no partiality with God. Sin is sin, and the wages of sin is the same for the worst of sinners and the most pious of self-righteous…death. Wrath and indignation. Eternal damnation. Forever separated from God and all that’s good.

But God has made a way. Because of His amazing grace and His abounding love, God has made a way for us to escape His wrath. Through Jesus. You see, Jesus willingly accepted the consequences for our sin. He, the spotless Lamb of God, shed His blood to pay the penalty for sin, once for all. He satisfied God’s wrath on the cross, and then He rose on the third day showing that He had not only conquered sin, but also death. And now to everyone who believes in Him He not only gives forgiveness of sin, but also eternal life. To everyone who believes in Him.

Those who trust in Jesus are given eternal life (both present and future)…and experience glory and honor and peace now despite their circumstances. Those who reject Him are still under God’s wrath and will face eternal indignation aka eternal death. And they will experience tribulation and distress now no matter their circumstances.

If you have not yet trusted in Jesus, please make today the day.

pro rege

This post is based on a sermon from our Romans series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster

Paul at Corinth

Acts 18.1-17

Paul’s visit to Corinth proves to be an important strategic move for the Church. Paul himself receives a word of encouragement from the Lord to press on despite ministry fatigue, and the Church receives a word of confirmation from the Roman authorities of its legitimacy despite the objections of the Jewish antagonists.

Following Jesus is hard work at times. Opposition and obstacles are often in the way. But the Lord is with us, and He will see us through. He still has work for us to do…lots of folks who need to hear about Jesus. Prisoners who need to be set free. Now’s not the time to shrink back. Now’s the time to forge ahead…to storm the gates…and proclaim our Resurrected King.

Like Paul, it’s our job to share the gospel…good news for those who receive it, but a warning of impending judgment for those who reject it. Jesus is either our King, or He will be our Judge. No middle ground. You are either in or out, for or against, saved or lost.

And also like Paul, we all need encouragement. Who can you encourage this week? Maybe someone who is having a rough go of it. Maybe someone who has walked away from the faith for any number of reasons. Maybe someone who needs to take a step of faith. Maybe it’s something else. Whatever the situation…encourage them in the Lord this week.

pro rege

This post is based on a sermon from our Acts series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster

Thy Kingdom Come

Luke 17.22-37

Jesus is coming back…it will be a glorious day for those who are ready, for those who have trusted in Him. But for those who are not, then like the days of Noah and Lot, it will be a day of sudden, unexpected, final judgment.

Clearly there is a warning here for those who have not yet trusted in Jesus…do so before it’s too late. Recognize that you are a sinner in need of repentance. Believe that Jesus can save you. Trust Him to do so. Then you too can have a future secured in the kingdom. No need to fear the coming judgment. Jesus will be your King, not your Judge. Strength for today, hope for tomorrow.

But I do think there is a warning here also for those of us who claim to follow Jesus. Here is where the example of Lot is instructive. Noah is clearly a righteous man…clear from the Genesis account. Lot on the other hand…not quite as clear. His choices and actions leave a big question mark…especially when he ends up in Sodom as one of the elders of the city. Even though he’s a man of influence in the city, it’s clear as the story unfolds that he’s had zero spiritual impact on folks around him, including his wife. Abraham thought for sure at least there would be 10 righteous in the city after Lot’s tenure there. When the dust settles, we only know for sure that Lot is based on what Peter has to say (2 Peter 2.6-8). Without the mention of Lot being a righteous man living in Sodom…righteous soul being tormented day after day by their lawless deeds…not sure that we could make that call.

What was the difference between Lot and his wife? What would their friends have thought of them? My guess is…there was no noticeable difference. Lot and his wife looked the same on the outside…eating and drinking…going through the everyday rhythms of life with no thought of the kingdom, but one was saved and the other destroyed. Lot is a believer who cared more about his stuff or the things of this world than he did the kingdom…like the soil with the weeds, he bore no fruit to maturity. Don’t be like Lot. If you’ve trusted in Jesus, know that you were not saved to go to heaven. Otherwise you would already be there. You were saved to be a part of God’s rescue mission…to make an impact on the kingdom…to share the good news of salvation through Jesus with a lost and dying world…to storm the gates of hell…to live a dangerous life…a life worthy of the calling.

How do we not be like Lot? How do we avoid the trap of simply “eating and drinking”, going through the everyday rhythms of life with no thought of the kingdom? How do we ensure that folks are not surprised when they find out we are followers of Jesus? We have to be intentional. We have to be intentional about pursuing our relationship with Jesus through time spent with Him in His Word and prayer. We have to be intentional about spending time with other believers. We have to be intentional with those who don’t know Jesus around us. This is where our impact list comes in. It’s a tool that helps us to be intentional with bringing 1 person at a time closer to Jesus. All of which is possible because of the Spirit’s work in and through us. I love this quote from Tozer, “The Christian is a holy rebel loose in the world with access to the throne of God. Satan never knows from what direction the danger will come.” May that be true of us.

Jesus is coming back soon…are you ready?

Until next time…stay salty.

This post is based on a sermon from our series in the book of Luke. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster

Are You Ready?

Luke 12.35-48

Are you ready? If Jesus came back today…if He came back right now, would He find you faithful and wise? If not, why not?

Jesus told His disciples He would go away…first to a cross then He ascended into heaven. But He promised that He would return. That one day He would come back…that His kingdom would not just be a spiritual reign, but also a physical one. The end of sin and the reign of righteousness. No death. No tears. An eternity spent with our Creator and King, our Savior and Hero…forever delighting in His presence in new bodies that don’t break down or grow old or get fat. Hallelujah! That is our hope. And if that is our hope, then we must live with the end in mind.

So how do we do that? How do we live with the end in mind? By living a life worthy of the calling with which we’ve been called. Spending time in God’s Word getting to know who He is and, by the power of the Spirit, living in light of that truth. Spending time in prayer asking Him to transform us to live and love like Jesus. Acknowledging Jesus in the court here on earth. Faithfully following Him. Joyfully serving others. Loving our neighbors as ourself.

Sometimes we find ourselves asking, what’s the minimum that’s required? What’s the least I have to do and still get into the kingdom? That’s a scary question. Can you imagine standing at the altar with your future spouse asking them, “What’s the minimum you’re going to ask of me? I really don’t want to put forth that much effort.” Or if you were across the table from a potential future employer, and you asked them, “What’s the least I can do and still keep my job?” Or maybe you’re on a team and ask the coach, “I really want to be a part of a winning team, but I don’t want to have to do much. What’s the minimum requirement?” We wouldn’t do that in any other area of our lives, so why would we give Jesus anything less than everything? That’s why Jesus doesn’t clarify on the third and fourth responses. Like the parable of the soils…Jesus isn’t looking for the minimum. He wants everyone to be the faithful and wise servant…to be the good soil.

When Jesus returns, everyone will be evaluated on the lives they’ve lived…both believers and unbelievers. For believers, the evaluation covers the period of time from the moment you believed to the moment you are in Jesus’ presence. Paul describes it in 1 Corinthians 3…tested by fire and only what remains receives a reward, the rest is burned up. We will all smell like smoke…we all have things that we know we should do that we don’t or that we shouldn’t do that we do. It’s called sin. But as we progress in our Christian walk, we should see more and more faithfulness…we should begin to look more and more like Jesus. If not, there’s a problem.

If you haven’t yet trusted in Jesus, don’t wait. Like a thief in the night, Jesus could return at anytime. And if you’re not ready, you’re fate is sealed. Now’s the time to trust in Him.

Until next time…stay salty.

“May we be faithful and wise servants this week as we anticipate Jesus’ return.”

This post is based on a sermon from our Luke series, Live & Love Like Jesus. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster

The Long Awaited Hero

Luke 3.15-38

John’s job was straightforward…prepare the way for Jesus, so that when Jesus came folks would be ready to receive Him. His coming would be good news for those who were ready…but His coming would be bad news indeed for those who were not.

Jesus is the long awaited Hero of our story. It was confirmed by both the Father and the Spirit at His baptism. It was confirmed by His ancestry tying Him to the promises God made to David, Abraham and the serpent (Genesis 3.15). He is the Hero of our story…the One and only One.

John knew his place before God. He knew he wasn’t the Hero…that even he needed to repent of his sin. True repentance and a life of faith come from a deep understanding of who God is, and who we are before Him. He is our Creator and our Redeemer. He is the boss, we are not. John understood who God was and had the right perspective here on earth. He knew that the most important thing he could do with his earthly life was to spread Jesus’ message, “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

John’s audience only had two options…accept his message and repent (aka believe in Jesus) or reject his message and face judgment. There was no middle ground. There was no riding the fence. There was no “one foot in, one foot out”. The choice was simple…

The same is true for us today. We can either choose to believe in Jesus, or we choose to reject Him. There is no middle ground. There is no “both” option. Those who believe in Jesus should be evident by their actions…actions that flow from a life that has been transformed by Jesus. John calls it “bearing fruit in keeping with repentance”. As believers, living the way John the Baptist did, our lives should be marked with gratitude, confidence and freedom…gratitude knowing how good God is…to create us and then provide a path of repentance after our rebellion. How can we not live a life of gratitude, knowing that we are loved that much? Everything has been taken care of by Him. Confidence that our salvation is wrapped up in what Jesus did.. not what we do. That should make us breathe a sigh of relief. Freedom to love others despite how they love us.

Those who have not believed in Jesus, whether they’ve rejected Him outright or have not heard the gospel are mostly revealed by their actions…actions that flow from a life that is still dead in trespasses and sins. For them, Jesus’ coming is the unquenchable fire of judgment. One thing I want to be clear…we were all on the path of destruction. Every one of us. But Jesus came to offer a way of escape. He came to rescue us. So those who reject Jesus will face judgment, not simply because they rejected Jesus…we were all on under judgment, condemned to hell because of our rebellion against our Creator long ago…but because they rejected His offer of rescue. If that’s you, or you suspect it might be you, please know that it doesn’t have to be. The Bible says that if you believe that Jesus, the eternal Son of God, came to earth and lived a perfect life, the one we were supposed to have lived, He died a sacrificial death in our place, He was resurrected on the 3rd day conquering both sin and death, and that He is now at the right hand of God the Father, you are saved.

Then Jesus will be your long awaited Hero.

 

Until next time…stay salty.

“May we live like those who have been rescued and transformed by Jesus.”

This post is based on a sermon from our Luke series, Redefining the Family. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster

Ready or Not

Luke 3.1-14

John’s goal is to prepare a people ready for God’s salvation that comes through Jesus. His message is hope for the spiritually hungry, but a stern warning for the unrepentant. With the day of hope, comes the day of judgment as well…with the opportunity of promise comes the risk of rejecting the promise.

Just like John’s audience, we too need to be prepared. What needs to change? What then shall we do? For some of us, there are some barriers to faith that need to be removed…some things that we need to turn from or let go of so that we can lay hold of God. Judgment is coming…and it will be a day of wrath for those who are God’s enemies. The only One who can rescue is Jesus, but you have to have a personal encounter with Him. Your friends’ faith, your parents’ faith, your spouse’s faith…none of that can save you. There are no +1’s in the kingdom. But you may be saying, “You don’t know where I’ve been or what I’ve done”…there ain’t no mountain high enough, there ain’t no valley low enough, there ain’t no road too crooked, no heart to wicked that Jesus can’t save… But you have to choose to believe that Jesus, the eternal Son of God, came to earth and lived a perfect life, the one we were supposed to have lived, He died a sacrificial death in our place, He was resurrected on the 3rd day conquering both sin and death, and that He is now at the right hand of God the Father. By believing that, the Bible says that you are saved.

For some of us, we may say we’ve believed, but there has been no real change in our lives. If so, there’s a problem…because Jesus changes everything. Paul says you’ve passed from death to life. You are a new creation. You’ve been transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of the beloved Son. If nothing’s changed… Things won’t likely change all at once, but you should see some kind of growth in your desire for God and the things of God. You should see some change in character (fruits of the Spirit…love, joy, peace, patience, etc.). Either you haven’t truly believed, or like the weeds in the parable of the soils, the cares of this world are choking out the fruit. I would challenge you to take some time today to examine your life. Ask the Spirit to bring to light what needs to change…what’s keeping you from Jesus?

For some of us, we’ve believed and we’ve seen some changes…some fruit but we want to see more. Continue to pursue your relationship with Jesus. Last week we talked about Grow and discipleship. Join a community group or another group where you can study the Word together, pray together, encourage and challenge each other, where you can make much of Jesus. Find a place to serve. Prepare the way for others. Your impact list is a great place to start. What can you do to bring those around you one step closer to Jesus?

Ready or not, Jesus is coming.

Until next time…stay salty.

The psalmist challenges us…“Search me of God and know my heart, try me and know my anxious thoughts and see if there be any hurtful way within me and lead me in the everlasting way.” Ask God to search you and reveal anything that might be keeping you from Him.

This post is based on a sermon from our Luke series, Redefining the Family. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster

Our Reclaimed Hope

Daniel 12

What a ride! Fourteen weeks in the book of Daniel. Terrifying visions, steadfast faith, incredible courage, uncompromising commitment, a new chapter. The rules have changed during the Time of the Gentiles. Where doing the right thing once brought blessing, it now brings a curse (ex. fiery furnace and lions’  den). Conforming to the surrounding culture brings comfort. Good is called evil, and evil good. Right and wrong are a matter of public opinion. Following God will not be easy, but for those with insight and the courage to persevere, their inheritance is secure. As the divine messenger says, “Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” In the midst of a world seemingly out of control, Daniel is reminded (and reminds us) that God is still in control… “For wisdom and power belong to Him. It is He who changes the times and the ages; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men And knowledge to men of understanding. It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, And the light dwells with Him.” So don’t give up, don’t give in…God wins.

The first six chapters of Daniel are story…the adventures of Daniel and his three friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah in the kingdoms of Babylon and Persia. Daniel receives his first two visions while Belshazzar is king…still under the dominion of the first beast, Babylon. He receives these visions before the “handwriting on the wall” of Daniel 5. Daniel’s prayer and the last two visions are during the time of Darius/Cyrus. Why is that important? Because Daniel’s experience in the lions’ den (Daniel 6) could very well have come after this final vision. His response to persecution/suffering should inform our response…God can, God will, but even if He doesn’t, He is still sovereign and actively involved in the events of my life and is working for my good and His glory. And just as prayer was an indispensable part of Daniel’s life, it should be of ours as well.

God’s faithfulness to deliver the fantastic four…His faithfulness to deliver His people throughout history … should cause God’s people to want to be faithful in the face of tribulation and oppression. The Daniel’s visions are given within a context of persecution…there was tremendous pressure for him to compromise and even abandon his faith. Daniel writes to persuade folks who are suffering persecution to hold fast their faith and endure because God will rescue them even through death by resurrection (many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake…to everlasting life). Like the fantastic four, we too are tempted to compromise and abandon our faith, but don’t do it. We are called to live out our faith in a hostile world no matter the cost, being available to be used by God to boldly, yet compassionately point those on our impact list to Jesus, knowing that good triumphs in the end. Don’t give up, don’t give in…Jesus wins.

Is your name written in the book? Only those whose name is written in the book will be rescued and resurrected to everlasting life. And the only way to have your name written in the book…trusting in Jesus to rescue you. Then you too, like Daniel, will receive your allotted inheritance in the eternal kingdom. If your name is not in the book, or if you’re not sure…if you don’t know the God that Daniel speaks of today, the God of heaven, the Creator and Sustainer of all that exists, the Revealer of Mysteries, the Rescuer of our souls, please don’t wait. Only those who have insight, whose names are in the book…who have trusted in Jesus for everlasting life will be a part of His eternal kingdom. The rest will spend an eternity apart from Him. Lack of understanding will be no excuse.

May God give us the courage and steadfastness of Daniel to face life in the fourth kingdom, and may we do it with an undying hope.

Until next time…stay salty.

This post is based on our Daniel series entitled Reclaimed. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on twitter: @ccclancaster

Beyond Repair?

Daniel 5

Last week the great king Nebuchadnezzar learned a valuable lesson in humility. There’s only one God, and only one King of the universe. Nebuchadnezzar’s right to rule was a gift from the true King. We saw that anyone can be transformed by God.

Belshazzar also saw himself as a great king, but he was not a wise king. While Nebuchadnezzar was guilty of sacking the Jerusalem temple, he at least he showed reverence for the sacred nature of its vessels…not so with Belshazzar, not only does he drink out of them thus profaning them, he also uses them to worship his gods…gods of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone. Reminds me of Romans 1. “Although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man, and birds and four footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over…” Ironically, Belshazzar didn’t know the difference between the living God and dead idols until it was too late. Nebuchadnezzar humbly worships God and respected Daniel. Belshazzar was arrogant, dishonoring God and doesn’t know Daniel. Belshazzar fails to follow Nebuchadnezzar’s example. Even Daniel’s tone with him leads us to believe he was not the man Nebuchadnezzar was.

Belshazzar has undoubtedly heard the stories of Nebuchadnezzar’s life-changing encounters with God…the dream of the great statue that God through Daniel both revealed and interpreted; Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego’s miraculous rescue through the fiery furnace; and even Nebuchadnezzar’s 7-year stint as a wild animal…but we are all, like Belshazzar, skeptical, selfish people before God changes our hearts. No doubt Belshazzar had opportunities to respond over the years, following the example of Nebuchadnezzar by becoming a God-follower, but instead he chose to do his own thing. In chapter 5 we see God’s response to an unrepentant heart. The Lord acts swiftly with Belshazzar. The supernatural special effects of the hand have a decided impact on Belshazzar…it’s more than just a spooky, floating hand writing on the wall. Belshazzar knew this was for him…the implications might impact the kingdom, but this was personal. His sin was found out. He was undone. For each of us, there is that moment when our sin is found out and we are undone…we know we can’t escape. How will you respond? We are given opportunities in life to respond to God, but sometimes it’s too late. Our time to respond has passed and our life on this earth is over leading to an eternal death.

These two similar, but contrasting stories…of Nebuchadnezzar and of Belshazzar…should cause us to pause. While Nebuchadnezzar reminds us that anyone can be transformed by God, Belshazzar, on the other hand, reminds us that not everyone will be because of their choice to harden their own hearts. Even when the handwriting was revealed to Belshazzar…even then he might have repented and turned to the living God and have been rescued…his response is not repentance, but to give trinkets to Daniel. He trusts in the power of his earthy kingdom to protect him…a faith that was sadly misplaced.

We all like Belshazzar have been weighed in the balance scales and found wanting. But the good news is that though each of us has been weighed and found wanting, there is One who was weighed and found sufficient. That’s Jesus. Remember He is the Hero we’ve been looking for since the garden when our first parents rebelled. The Head-crushing Seed of the woman who was promised, the Rock cut without hands, who alone could reconcile us to Father God. And in the Gospels, we see Jesus arrive on the scene. He lives a perfect life and dies a sacrificial death and is raised on the third day, conquering both sin and death. When we trust in Him, the Father sees His sufficiency instead of our inadequacy. Jesus died and rose again so that we might also die with Him to sin and be raised again to eternal life, so that we might be transformed into the image of Jesus, learning to live and love like Him. There are only 2 choices in this life…eternal life or eternal death. We don’t know when it will be too late to respond, when we will be “weighed and found wanting” so if you haven’t trusted in Jesus and you are feeling and seeing God’s pursuit of you, why wait? Belshazzar is an example to us that tomorrow is never promised.

The handwriting is on the wall…

Until next time…stay salty.

This post is based on our Daniel series entitled Reclaimed. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on twitter: @ccclancaster

Easter Devotional – March 28

Matthew 25:31-46

The Judgment

31 “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 33 and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38 And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

41 “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ 44 Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Jesus is not giving us rules to add to our list, He wants us to be the sort of people who have been so transformed that we care for the sick, feed the hungry and help those in need like it’s second nature. Being “others” focused allows the name of Jesus to stand out in our “selfie” culture. Jesus intends for His followers to be
different — to be compelling — people who live and love like Him… which is very different from the rest of the world.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, may I gladly serve You each day. Teach me to live and love like You.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB © The Lockman Foundation (www.lockman.org)

OT Reading – January 12

Joel 1-3

Joel 1

The Devastation of Locusts

1 The word of the Lord that came to Joel, the son of Pethuel:

Hear this, O elders, And listen, all inhabitants of the land. Has anything like this happened in your days Or in your fathers’ days? Tell your sons about it, And let your sons tell their sons, And their sons the next generation.

What the gnawing locust has left, the swarming locust has eaten; And what the swarming locust has left, the creeping locust has eaten; And what the creeping locust has left, the stripping locust has eaten. Awake, drunkards, and weep; And wail, all you wine drinkers, On account of the sweet wine That is cut off from your mouth. For a nation has invaded my land, Mighty and without number; Its teeth are the teeth of a lion, And it has the fangs of a lioness. It has made my vine a waste And my fig tree splinters. It has stripped them bare and cast them away; Their branches have become white.

Wail like a virgin girded with sackcloth For the bridegroom of her youth. The grain offering and the drink offering are cut off From the house of the Lord. The priests mourn, The ministers of the Lord. 10 The field is ruined, The land mourns; For the grain is ruined, The new wine dries up, Fresh oil fails. 11 Be ashamed, O farmers, Wail, O vinedressers, For the wheat and the barley; Because the harvest of the field is destroyed. 12 The vine dries up And the fig tree fails; The pomegranate, the palm also, and the apple tree, All the trees of the field dry up. Indeed, rejoicing dries up From the sons of men.

13 Gird yourselves with sackcloth And lament, O priests; Wail, O ministers of the altar! Come, spend the night in sackcloth O ministers of my God, For the grain offering and the drink offering Are withheld from the house of your God.

Starvation and Drought

14 Consecrate a fast, Proclaim a solemn 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. 15 Alas for the day! For the day of the Lord is near, And it will come as destruction from the Almighty. 16 Has not food been cut off before our eyes, Gladness and joy from the house of our God? 17 The seeds shrivel under their clods; The storehouses are desolate, The barns are torn down, For the grain is dried up. 18 How the beasts groan! The herds of cattle wander aimlessly Because there is no pasture for them; Even the flocks of sheep suffer. 19 To You, O Lord, I cry; For fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness And the flame has burned up all the trees of the field. 20 Even the beasts of the field pant for You; For the water brooks are dried up And fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness.

 

Joel 2

The Terrible Visitation

2 Blow a trumpet in Zion, And sound an alarm on My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, For the day of the Lord is coming; Surely it is near, A day of darkness and gloom, A day of clouds and thick darkness. As the dawn is spread over the mountains, So there is a great and mighty people; There has never been anything like it, Nor will there be again after it To the years of many generations. A fire consumes before them And behind them a flame burns. The land is like the garden of Eden before them But a desolate wilderness behind them, And nothing at all escapes them. Their appearance is like the appearance of horses; And like war horses, so they run. With a noise as of chariots They leap on the tops of the mountains, Like the crackling of a flame of fire consuming the stubble, Like a mighty people arranged for battle. Before them the people are in anguish; All faces turn pale. They run like mighty men, They climb the wall like soldiers; And they each march in line, Nor do they deviate from their paths. They do not crowd each other, They march everyone in his path; When they burst through the defenses, They do not break ranks. They rush on the city, They run on the wall; They climb into the houses, They enter through the windows like a thief. 10 Before them the earth quakes, The heavens tremble, The sun and the moon grow dark And the stars lose their brightness. 11 The Lord utters His voice before His army; Surely His camp is very great, For strong is he who carries out His word. The day of the Lord is indeed great and very awesome, And who can endure it? 12 “Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “Return to Me with all your heart, And with fasting, weeping and mourning; 13 And rend your heart and not your garments.” Now return to the Lord your God, For He is gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness And relenting of evil. 14 Who knows whether He will not turn and relent And leave a blessing behind Him, Even a grain offering and a drink offering For the Lord your God? 15 Blow a trumpet in Zion, Consecrate a fast, proclaim a solemn assembly, 16 Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, Assemble the elders, Gather the children and the nursing infants. Let the bridegroom come out of his room And the bride out of her bridal chamber. 17 Let the priests, the Lord’s ministers, Weep between the porch and the altar, And let them say, “Spare Your people, O Lord, And do not make Your inheritance a reproach, A byword among the nations. Why should they among the peoples say, ‘Where is their God?’”

Deliverance Promised

18 Then the Lord will be zealous for His land And will have pity on His people. 19 The Lord will answer and say to His people, “Behold, I am going to send you grain, new wine and oil, And you will be satisfied in full with them; And I will never again make you a reproach among the nations. 20 “But I will remove the northern army far from you, And I will drive it into a parched and desolate land, And its vanguard into the eastern sea, And its rear guard into the western sea. And its stench will arise and its foul smell will come up, For it has done great things.”

21 Do not fear, O land, rejoice and be glad, For the Lord has done great things. 22 Do not fear, beasts of the field, For the pastures of the wilderness have turned green, For the tree has borne its fruit, The fig tree and the vine have yielded in full. 23 So rejoice, O sons of Zion, And be glad in the Lord your God; For He has given you the early rain for your vindication. And He has poured down for you the rain, The early and latter rain as before. 24 The threshing floors will be full of grain, And the vats will overflow with the new wine and oil. 25 “Then I will make up to you for the years That the swarming locust has eaten, The creeping locust, the stripping locust and the gnawing locust, My great army which I sent among you. 26 “You will have plenty to eat and be satisfied And praise the name of the Lord your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you; Then My people will never be put to shame. 27 “Thus you will know that I am in the midst of Israel, And that I am the Lord your God, And there is no other; And My people will never be put to shame.

The Promise of the Spirit

28 “It will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. 29 “Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.

The Day of the Lord

30 “I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, Blood, fire and columns of smoke. 31 “The sun will be turned into darkness And the moon into blood Before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. 32 “And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the Lord Will be delivered; For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem There will be those who escape, As the Lord has said, Even among the survivors whom the Lord calls.

 

Joel 3

The Nations Will Be Judged

3 “For behold, in those days and at that time, When I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations And bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat. Then I will enter into judgment with them there On behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel, Whom they have scattered among the nations; And they have divided up My land. “They have also cast lots for My people, Traded a boy for a harlot And sold a girl for wine that they may drink.

Moreover, what are you to Me, O Tyre, Sidon and all the regions of Philistia? Are you rendering Me a recompense? But if you do recompense Me, swiftly and speedily I will return your recompense on your head. Since you have taken My silver and My gold, brought My precious treasures to your temples, and sold the sons of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks in order to remove them far from their territory, behold, I am going to arouse them from the place where you have sold them, and return your recompense on your head. Also I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the sons of Judah, and they will sell them to the Sabeans, to a distant nation,” for the Lord has spoken.

Proclaim this among the nations: Prepare a war; rouse the mighty men! Let all the soldiers draw near, let them come up! 10 Beat your plowshares into swords And your pruning hooks into spears; Let the weak say, “I am a mighty man.” 11 Hasten and come, all you surrounding nations, And gather yourselves there. Bring down, O Lord, Your mighty ones. 12 Let the nations be aroused And come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat, For there I will sit to judge All the surrounding nations. 13 Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, tread, for the wine press is full; The vats overflow, for their wickedness is great. 14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. 15 The sun and moon grow dark And the stars lose their brightness. 16 The Lord roars from Zion And utters His voice from Jerusalem, And the heavens and the earth tremble. But the Lord is a refuge for His people And a stronghold to the sons of Israel. 17 Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, Dwelling in Zion, My holy mountain. So Jerusalem will be holy, And strangers will pass through it no more.

Judah Will Be Blessed

18 And in that day The mountains will drip with sweet wine, And the hills will flow with milk, And all the brooks of Judah will flow with water; And a spring will go out from the house of the Lord To water the valley of Shittim. 19 Egypt will become a waste, And Edom will become a desolate wilderness, Because of the violence done to the sons of Judah, In whose land they have shed innocent blood. 20 But Judah will be inhabited forever And Jerusalem for all generations. 21 And I will avenge their blood which I have not avenged, For the Lord dwells in Zion.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB © The Lockman Foundation (www.lockman.org)