Render a New Song

Alas, for the day! The day of the Lord is near… (Joel 1:15).

I have been reading in Psalms for most of this year. But I felt called to jump into the minor prophets during my days of “self isolation”. I am by no means a scholar, but I hope to learn so much during my time in these books. Most of these books I have honestly never read, or read with a heart ready to learn.

Currently, I am in Joel. What a timely book it seems. Joel is a very curious author, there is very little known about him. But Peter quotes him in Acts 2 during his sermon.

Joel begins with a vision of desolation. Locusts have devoured the land. As they came and destroyed everything in sight they also destroyed the grain for the grain offering to the Lord.

The grain offering and the drink offering are cut off from the house of the Lord. The priests mourn, the ministers of the Lord.

Joel 1:9

Is anyone feeling cut off right now? I imagine many people globally are feeling cut off and in desolation.

Desolation: a state of complete emptiness or destruction. Also, anguished misery or loneliness.

Dictionary definition

Churches around the world met for online services last week. Friends met over zoom to check in on each other. Our world has been turned upside down by a global ‘pandemic’. We have lost dreams of walking down the aisle surrounded by friends. We have lost the vision of graduating with the people we have spent the last 4-5 years in school with, while family watches and celebrates. The last few months of school with friends, business meeting/deals, conferences, vacations, and the list continues.

We are in a state of disbelief and many are in a state of grief. Joel discusses this kind of grief in chapter one. He shows a picture of loss from the eyes of the brides, farmers, drunkards, priests, and even creation.

We mourn the plans we had, the hopes and dreams were counted on, and the provision we thought we had stored up. Many are losing their jobs and still more are waiting for the call that they too can no longer work.

The word of the Lord does not end there for the people in the book of Joel and it doesn’t end there for us either.

“Alas for the day! The day of the Lord is near!”

Joel 1:15

Joel cries out to the Lord and reminds the people again that the Lord is coming. His return is near! The Lord has not returned yet SO this reminder is for us too. “The day of the Lord is coming; it is near.” Joel goes on to give a vision of this mighty day when the Lord returns. The Lord says,

“yet even now, return to me with your whole heart. With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning. and render your hearts and not your garments.”

Joel 2:12

Joel reminds the people “to return to the Lord because He is their God. He is slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and He relents over disaster.” What a beautiful beckoning that we could also use. I love how he says in verse 13 to ‘render your hearts and not your garments.’ It was time for them to do some serious heart work and we need that too. Don’t just mourn, change your hearts. I love in Ephesians:

Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.

Ephesians 4:28

What sin have you ignored, justified, or hidden? The time is NOW to bring it to the Light. No more ‘I am sorry, I won’t do it again’ and then choosing that sin again when temptation feels crushing. The time to render our hearts to the Lord is NOW. He is gracious and slow to anger – abounding in steadfast love. That is your King.

Further on in Joel the Lord has pity for His people. He answers their cries and sends them grain, wine, and oil. All of this is needed for the daily Old Testament sacrifices but it is also needed for daily provision of nutrients. He is the bread and the wine poured out. He provided not only what was needed for nurishment but what was needed for worship.

This is what struck me about Joel. He is always faithful to provide what He knows, in His wisdom and goodness that we need.

Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice, for the Lord has done great things.

Joel 2:21

The Lord promises to RESTORE to them the years that the locust ate. What have you lost in this time of isolation? God will restore that. It might not be the way you envisioned, but as you trusted Him to save you when you were His enemy, trust Him to restore what has been lost in His perfect way.

In this time of isolation and loss remember that the Lord has provided and will provide. Return to that heart attitude found in Joel 2: 12 – return to the Lord and do it with sincerity. We are being forced to stay home, we have NO excuses why we can’t read our Bibles. Open those pages of scripture and soak it up like a drink of water in a parched land. Don’t let desolation separate you from the King who is on the throne. And just like he provided physical and spiritual nurishment for the elders and the people He is doing that for us.

Worship is our work now. We will not, and cannot survive the days ahead without it. We must set up spiritual disciplines and wait with anxious and ready hearts for the day of the Lord – it is drawing near.

Here are 3 simple Spiritual Disciplines can start right now to grow your heart of worship during this time of confusion, loss, and hurt.

3 Simple Spiritual Disciplines

{1} Daily Reading :: You knew this one would be on here didn’t you? But serious, I used to roll my eyes a little when people would say “read your bible, read your bible, read your bible” but all along they were right. Even 5 minutes! I have found it helps to read a small passage and journal one or two verses that stick out. Some times I write about it or document a prayer but other times I just simple write the verse. It helps cement it in my mind.

{2} Prayer :: Start your time in God’s word with prayer and then end it by asking Him to help you remember and meditate on His word.

{3} Worship :: Worship comes in SO many forms. What form speaks to your soul? Do you find yourself at peace in God’s presence when you are in nature? Being creative? Singing? Playing? Whatever it is DO IT! I wish I was gifted with singing ability but I just wasn’t. That has stopped me in the past from belting it out with worship music. When I stopped letting my insecurities hold me back I found I was so blessed by my times singing my heart out to God in worship, even when I knew I didn’t sound too pleasing. Another form of worship is fasting. It is mentioned over and over in scripture and yet it is rarely done. When was the last time you fasted? I think this time in history is a perfect time to begin habits of fasting. When we fast we are proclaiming that Jesus is BETTER than whatever we put our hope in every day without even realizing it.

The day of the Lord is near. Don’t waste the days living for this temporary home. Turn your eyes to heaven and remember the steadfast love of your God!


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