At the request of a young lady who needs encouragement, I offer the following message which was preached on the first Sunday of 2010. The premise is simple: 2009 is gone and we need to press on. We need to let the mistakes and sins of the past be buried as we look ahead to the wonderful provision God has for all who put their trust in him. Stop worrying about yesterday and begin stretching your faith in order to believe for big things.
Look at Philippians 3:12-16 for a moment and allow the scriptures to speak to your spirit:
12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
We really have no choice if we are going to see the blessings of God as never before. Your hopes and dreams are just as real now as they ever were; the enemy of your soul has robbed you and taken the air out of your sails, but now it is time to believe God for victory. Press on, child of God, press on!
Foundational Scripture: Joel 1:1-5
The word of the Lord that came to Joel, the son of Pethuel: 2 Hear this, you elders; give ear, all inhabitants of the land! Has such a thing happened in your days, or in the days of your fathers? 3 Tell your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children to another generation. 4 What the cutting locust left, the swarming locust has eaten. What the swarming locust left, the hopping locust has eaten, and what the hopping locust left, the destroying locust has eaten. 5 Awake, you drunkards, and weep, and wail, all you drinkers of wine, because of the sweet wine, for it is cut off from your mouth.
What we think our Christian lives are supposed to be and how they actually are often contradict each other. For years we have been taught the Christian life has no pain, no grief, no failures, only joy and peace and happiness. The promises in God’s word are vividly clear.
A. The Christian Walk
1. Our Christian Life Should
- Be Radiant John 1:4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
- Be Eternal John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
- Be Abundant John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
- Be Filled With Resurrection Power John 11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,
- Acknowledge Jesus as the path of life John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
2. Our Joy Joy is that deep-settled peace even in the midst of the storms of life. You can’t buy joy or happiness; you can have joy in the most severe trials.
- Neh. 8:10 Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
- Psa. 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Exceeding gladness)
- Psa. 30:5 For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
- Psa 42:4 These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival. (A wink of the eyes; a very short space of time.)
- Psa. 126:5 – 6 Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! 6 He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.
3. Our Peace
- Peace is a gift John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (How often do our hearts race with fear, doubt and disbelief)
- Based on the Word of God John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
- One of the fruit of the Spirit Gal. 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
- Guards our hearts and minds Phil. 4:6-7 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
4. Our Power
- We wear or put on this clothing Luke 24:49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
- Comes from the Holy Ghost Baptism Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
5. Our Strength
- Psa. 27:1 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
- Psa. 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
- Isa. 40:29 He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.
- Isa. 40:31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
OUR LIVES SOMEHOW DON’T MEASURE UP!
The problem lies in the fact that the locusts have eaten up your expectations. Let’s look again at the prophecy. It really has a two-fold meaning.
- Cutting locust (Palmerworm): eats the top away from the crops (fulfilled in the Assyrians)
- Swarming locust (Locust): swarming cloud (eats the stalks) (fulfilled in the Babylonians)
- Hopping locust (Cankerworm): licks up the stubble, devastating (fulfilled in the Roman empire)
- Destroying locust (Caterpillar): goes under the earth (eats seeds) (will be fulfilled at the Battle of Armageddon.
B. Personal Level
Fields represent who we are and reflect our deepest desires. Some had wonderful visions about what you wanted to do for God. The zeal you once had has grown cold and has been plundered. Your faith has grown cold and the joy you once felt has somehow given way to a feeling of despair. There is an empty feeling and you somehow feel you have been cheated out of everything God desired to give you.
If something good ever did happen in your lives, you would wonder if something was wrong. The things God meant for our good have been turned around and used against us by the army of locusts the enemy sent our way.
- God’s Promise to Restore
God is in the restoration business and delights in seeing his people put back together again. Life is often hard and the enemy of our souls does everything in his power to make sure our eyes are not fixed on the Lord. If he can detract us long enough, he knows we are more apt to fall. Take heart child of God, there restoration ahead, and we win. God is for us and not against us.
Joel 2:23 through Joel 2:27
“Be glad, O children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given the early rain for your vindication; he has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the latter rain, as before. 24 “The threshing floors shall be full of grain; the vats shall overflow with wine and oil. 25 I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you. 26 “You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame. 27 You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God and there is none else. And my people shall never again be put to shame.
C. Pictures in our lives
- Locusts of self-pity. Poor me. You focus on self instead of God. Any time you do this, you tied the hands of God and you will never succeed. We all need to quit thinking the world revolves around us and know God is in control of our lives.
- Locusts of loneliness. “I’m the only one.” Remember what Elijah said in 1 Kings 19:9-10? “God, there’s nobody righteous except me. I’m all you’ve got left.” God told him there were yet 7,000 who hadn’t bowed their knees to the image of Ba’al, and that there were three other prophets waiting in the wings: Jehu, Hazael, and Elisha. Child of God, you are not the only one fighting the good fight of faith. Get up, child of God – quit whining!
- Locusts of meaninglessness. “I don’t count for anything.” Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever thought your live was absolutely without any purpose? Paul said he “despaired even of life.” II Cor 1:8 “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.”
- Locusts of isolation. “I don’t know the will of God.” Let’s look at the life of John Baptist. In Luke 7:19-23, we find him in prison and sending his disciples to find out if Jesus was really the one prophesied about. There was a time when John knew who Jesus was without any doubt. There was a time when this man of purpose boldly declared the message of the cross. This sounds like many of us who have somehow lost sight of the person of Jesus Christ and have felt the despair of isolation. Look at John 1:29 “The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John was confused about things and felt isolated from the promises of God. At first he would never have doubted God, but now there’s a question.
The only way for us to gain the victory is to accept the generous provision the Lord has offered to every believer in every generation. God said He would restore the years the locusts have eaten; will you not receive this great gift? Put down your cares and burdens at the foot of the cross of Calvary. Let the Lord of glory fill you with His marvelous touch this very hour.