SOUL THIRST

deer drinking

How would you describe soul thirst?

Putting soul and thirst together creates the idea in my mind of a deep, personal, longing for a relationship that can only be met through God.

The picture above is of a wild deer standing in a stream drinking water. The background is lush and green. The water appears to be rippling with movement.

Now, imagine if there was no water or green plants for that deer to find due to a drought followed by fire.

That deer would be suffering from physical thirst and hunger.

Let’s see what Joel 1:20 has to say about not only physical thirst and hunger, but also soul thirst.

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FIRE

Fire

What is your immediate reaction to the image of fire above?

Are you afraid of fire and the powerful damage it can cause?

Or does the image of fire bring about fond memories of campfires,  beach bonfires, or fireplace ambience?

Maybe you think of candlelight or oil lamps burning?

Even if your first reaction to the image of fire is positive, I expect you still take precautions when around a fire out of respect for its capacity to cause serious damage.

Fire is a powerful image frequently used in scripture.

Joel 1:19 is one of those times.

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Even the Sheep Suffer

Sheep

Do you ever consider that animals, even sheep, can suffer?

What things immediately come to mind that could cause animals, even sheep, to suffer?

Over the years I have enjoyed having dogs and cats as a part of my own household.

Currently I have a fifteen-year-old dog who is mostly blind, seriously arthritic and dealing with some dementia. Occasionally there will be a yelp of pain but mostly she is still a very content and happy dog. Time is precious though.

I also have a ten-year-old dog that requires special supplements to keep her intestinal tract healthy and now is sprouting growths we need to monitor. The most recent one appears to have been cancerous but is healing thanks to an herbal injection that sloughed out the yuck. Other than the frustration of being in a “cone of shame” and having to be wrapped with gauze pads she is not expressing that she is in pain. Time is also precious here.

One of the cats is fifteen while the other is seven. The eldest is showing signs of arthritis but otherwise does not seem to have much pain. Just a bit of grumpiness, mostly toward the younger cat.

The youngest cat? Although she is in excellent health and quite limber you would think the world had come to an end when it is feeding time! Oh, the meows and the running about she does then!

In contrast to my fur children’s medical issues and antics,  Joel 1:18 paints a dire picture of animal suffering.

What can we learn from Joel today?

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Neglect

neglected building

What happens when we neglect a building?

No matter how solid the building may have originally been, if neglect of maintenance occurs it will begin a process of decay.

The longer the neglect, the greater the decay.

The picture above shows an example of a granary that has suffered neglect.

What do you think led to the neglect of the building in the picture?

Prior to the building being in this state of neglect something had to have happened that either prevented or distracted the owner or caretaker from doing maintenance to avoiding the current state of disrepair.

Joel 1:17 states that Judah’s storehouses for grain have become desolate due to shriveled up seeds and thus being torn down.

What are we being told with this imagery?

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Emotions

helplessness

How would you use the picture above to describe your emotions over the past months?

I am feeling the emotion of helplessness. People around me have lost jobs. People I love and care about have died. One death was anticipated. Another death came from an undiagnosed cancer battle that appeared suddenly and ended swiftly.

Would you agree the picture above could portray the sense of helplessness I am feeling?

Have you ever felt a sense of helplessness?

The community of Judah is in exactly this state in Joel 1:16.

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Perspectives and Opinions

Perspectives

What is the difference between perspectives and opinions?

  • Perspective can be defined as a way of looking at or thinking about something.
  • Opinion can be defined as an idea that is believed to be true or valid without positive knowledge.

Although the two words are certainly related, what is the difference that you see from the definitions above?

Perspective is the way you look at or think about something. Opinion is an idea you believe to be true even if you have no positive knowledge to support the idea or belief.

For example , what is your immediate reaction to the picture used for this post?

  • Did you first think, “Oh that looks pretty” or “Ooh, yuck, dandelions”?
  • What is the perspective of the first opinion? The second?
  • Is your opinion of dandelions that they are beautiful flowers or pesky weeds?
  • What did you use to establish those opinions?
  • How does the different perspectives inform the expressed belief of the two opinions?
  • Can both expressions be valid? How?
  • Are either expressions taking into consideration that the entire dandelion plant is actually edible?
  • Can you see how interrelated perspective and opinion are?
  • Can you also see that opinions may not always be based on all the facts?

What current event do you need to step back and analyze your perspective to be able to express an informed opinion?

Joel 1:15 provides a great example of the importance of perspective informing one’s opinion.

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Crying Out

crying out

Have you been crying out?

  • What images leap to your mind when you read the words crying out?
  • Do you first think of sad or painful reasons for crying out?
  • Or do you first think of joyful or pleasurable reasons for crying out?
  • What is the purpose in crying out?

Over the last thirteen weeks we have been journeying a verse at a time through the first chapter of Joel.  Joel has announced himself as a prophet of God sent to wake up the inhabitants of Judah about their current circumstances.

We have read about locusts wreaking havoc on the agriculture productivity of Judah’s nation. The people and animals are without food to eat. Clearly, this is not a time of celebration but one of great mourning.

How should they respond?

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Dressing for Spiritual Leadership

dressing for spiritual leadership

Dressing  for  Spiritual Leadership in a Time of Crisis

Have you ever thought about the importance of dressing for spiritual leadership?

  • What do your spiritual leader’s wear during a worship service?
  • Do they wear robes or power suits?
  • Maybe they wear jeans and a casual shirt?
  • What is the reason behind what they wear?
  • Do they change what they typically wear in a time of crisis?
  • Should they?

Today’s verse, Joel 1:13, gives instructions on dressing for spiritual leadership in a time of crisis.

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What is Joy?

Joy

Losing Joy During Difficult Times

Given current events in May 2020 many have expressed losing joy during these difficult times. Instead they are experiencing fear as their primary emotion.

Joel 1:12 also speaks about losing joy during difficult times. It describes a time when the entire nation of Judah’s joy dried up.

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Shame, Distress, or Despair

recession

What causes shame, distress, or despair to surface in you?

Given the current events of early May 2020 many are struggling with these very emotions. Some are feeling shame, distress, or despair because their personal skillsets were not deemed “essential” which resulted in loss of a livelihood for themselves and their family.  Hair salons and barbershops are certainly in this challenging place.

Joel 1:11 describes a similar precarious situation where shame, distress, or despair are not just unpleasant emotions but a call to action.

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