Read:  Joel 1:1-20

Alas for that day!
    For the day of the Lord is near;
    it will come like destruction from the Almighty.  Joel 1:15

Well that was fun, wasn’t it? This is the kind of thing preppers are prepping for. Total destruction, everywhere you look. A massive army of locusts ravaging everything in sight til there is absolutely nothing left – not even the wild animals can forage enough to survive. The nation of Israel would not stand a chance against the devastation brought by this invading army. Suffering and death was all that they would know.

But it hasn’t happened yet.

The prophet, Joel, was warning the nation of Israel that this is what will happen if they don’t turn back to their God. The level of suffering they would have to endure sounds like such a cruel punishment – but isn’t that what sin produces in our lives. Truly, the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).

Over the last few months I’ve indulged in way too many holiday treats and even as the scale went up I found it easy to ignore the consequences of my sin. But after a while, as I reached for another Cranberry Bourbon Chocolate Chip Cookie (I almost linked to the recipe here – they were so utterly delicious, but then I was like – what are you thinking??? Your welcome), I thought to myself, “Do you really think that eating this does not have any consequences?” I was certainly acting like there would be no consequences. My lack of self-control (i.e. sin) definitely has consequences.

So Israel is heading for the day of judgement, but God, in His infinite mercy continues to warn them. He continues to speak to them through the prophet Joel, calling them back to Himself and telling them that they were going down a path that leads to destruction and death. “Israel! Do you really think the way you are living does not have any consequences?”

Galatians 6:7 says, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” When we turn away from the One True God – and replace Him with something else, whether legal or illegal (Christmas cookies, alcohol, drugs, money, TV), that decision has dire consequences. And yet we have such a loving, compassionate Father who gives us every chance to run back to His open arms to receive grace and forgiveness. He actually went to great lengths to clear a path for us back to Himself. There is no one who loves us more.

The Israelites had plenty of warning. If there had been a road sign in front of them, it would have said “Danger Ahead!” I pray that we would heed the Lord’s warnings and turn from whatever sidetracks us in our relationship with Christ – that our road sign would say “Disaster Averted!” – to the glory of our great and awesome God!

Almighty God, thank you for your great mercy and compassion on me. Thank you for all that you’ve saved me from and all that you’ve saved me for. I pray that you would search my heart and reveal to me any areas that are not under your loving control. I want to bring you glory and pour your love out on the people around me. Help me to follow you closely, Lord. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

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