August 2, 2015


Joel
When disaster strikes, understanding of God is at risk....It is the task of the prophet to stand up at such moments of catastrophe and clarify who God is and how he acts.  If the prophet     is good...the disaster becomes a lever for prying people’s lives loose from their sins and setting them free for God.  Joel is one of the good ones.  Joel uses a current event in Israel as a text to call his people to an immediate awareness that there wasn’t a day that went by that they weren’t dealing with God.  

We are always dealing with God....There is a sense in which catastrophe doesn’t introduce anything new into our lives.  It simply exposes the moral and spiritual reality that already exists but was hidden beneath an overlay of routine and self-preoccupation and business as usual....

Joel gives us opportunity for “death-bed repentance” before we die, while there is still time and space for a lot of good living to the glory of God.
                                    
Joel 1-3 -
Attention elder statesmen!  Listen closely, everyone, whoever and wherever you are!  Have you ever heard anything like this?  Has anything like this ever happened before---ever?...  What the chewing locust left, the gobbling locust ate; What the gobbling locust left, the munching locust ate; What the munching locust left, the chomping locust ate....

You who lead people in worship, lead them in lament...get them into God’s Sanctuary for serious prayer to God...God’s judgment is on its way---the Day’s almost here!...  But there’s also this, it’s not too late--God’s personal message!  “Come back to me and really mean it!  Come fasting and weeping sorry for your sins!”  Change your life, not just your clothes.  Come back to God, your God.  

And here is why: God is kind and merciful.  He takes a deep breath, puts up with a lot.  This most patient God, extravagant in love, always ready to cancel catastrophe....

Declare a day of repentance, a holy fast day...Make sure the elders come, but bring the children too, even the nursing babies, even men and women on their honeymoon--- interrupt them and get them there....At that, God went into action to get his land back.  He took pity on his people.  God answered and spoke to his people.  “Look, listen-- I’m sending a gift: Grain and wine and olive oil.  The fast is over--eat your fill!...

Fear not Earth!  Be glad and celebrate.  God has done great things...He’s giving you a teacher to train you how to live right---Teaching like rain out of heaven, showers of words, to refresh and nourish your soul, just as he used to do... You’ll know without question that I’m in the thick of life with Israel.  That I’m your God, yes your God, the one and only real God. Never again will my people be despised.
  
And that is just the beginning: After that--”I will pour out my Spirit on every kind of people....I’ll even pour out my Spirit on the servants....I’ll set wonders in the sky above and signs on the earth below....Whoever calls, “Help, God!  gets help.... 

Acts 23:11 - 23:35 - 
That night the Master appeared to Paul.  “It’s going to be all right.  Everything is going to turn out for the best.  You’ve been a good witness to me here in Jerusalem.  Now you’re going to be my witness in Rome!”  

Next day the Jews worked up a plot against Paul.  They took a solemn oath that they would neither eat nor drink until they had killed him. Over 40 of them ritually bound themselves to this murder pact, and presented themselves. 

Paul’s nephew, his sister’s son, overheard them plotting the ambush...The centurion brought Paul and his nephew to the captain to share this info.... The captain called up two centurions to ready 200 soldiers and 70 cavalry in order to leave that night at 9 pm and send him safely to the Governor (Felix). Then the captain (Claudius Lysias) wrote a letter to the Governor informing him that the situation  “turned out to be a squabble turned vicious over some of their religious differences, but nothing remotely criminal.....

The guard took Paul safely to Caesarea and handed him over to the Governor where he inquired what province he came from then indicated he would take up his case when his accusers show up.  Paul was then ordered locked up in King Herod’s official quarters.