God Works Wonders

By on October 14, 2018

Part 24  in Sermon Series: A Region Ripe for Revival

Scripture reading from Joel 2:19-32

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2 Comments to “God Works Wonders”

  1. Anonymous
    October 16, 2018

    BBC Locust video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bx5JUGVahk

  2. Donald McMahon
    October 16, 2018

    “God Works Wonders” (Joel 2:19-32)(10.14.18)
    Joel 2:19–32 (NIV84)
    19 The Lord will reply to them:
    “I am sending you grain, new wine and oil,
    enough to satisfy you fully;
    never again will I make you
    an object of scorn to the nations.
    20 “I will drive the northern army far from you,
    pushing it into a parched and barren land,
    with its front columns going into the eastern sea
    and those in the rear into the western sea.
    And its stench will go up;
    its smell will rise.”
    Surely he has done great things.
    21 Be not afraid, O land;
    be glad and rejoice.
    Surely the Lord has done great things.
    22 Be not afraid, O wild animals,
    for the open pastures are becoming green.
    The trees are bearing their fruit;
    the fig tree and the vine yield their riches.
    23 Be glad, O people of Zion,
    rejoice in the Lord your God,
    for he has given you
    the autumn rains in righteousness.
    He sends you abundant showers,
    both autumn and spring rains, as before.
    24 The threshing floors will be filled with grain;
    the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.
    25 “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—
    the great locust and the young locust,
    the other locusts and the locust swarm—
    my great army that I sent among you.
    26 You will have plenty to eat, until you are full,
    and you will praise the name of the Lord your God,
    who has worked wonders for you;
    never again will my people be shamed.
    27 Then you will know that I am in Israel,
    that I am the Lord your God,
    and that there is no other;
    never again will my people be shamed.
    28 “And afterward,
    I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
    Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
    your old men will dream dreams,
    your young men will see visions.
    29 Even on my servants, both men and women,
    I will pour out my Spirit in those days.
    30 I will show wonders in the heavens
    and on the earth,
    blood and fire and billows of smoke.
    31 The sun will be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood
    before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
    32 And everyone who calls
    on the name of the Lord will be saved;
    for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem
    there will be deliverance,
    as the Lord has said,
    among the survivors
    whom the Lord calls.
    The word of God for the people of God.
    Title: God Works Wonders
    When Carol and I lived down on the Mississippi Delta, there were a lot of insects. One particularly memorable yearly event was the hatching of the dragon flies. It was kind of creepy. You didn’t want to walk through the cloud of dragon flies and they would cover the whole exterior of the house.
    That is the closest I have ever been to experiencing a locust swarm. Likely, none of you have either. I believe watching this video might give us some insight into what Joel is describing as an army of locusts. It may give us some sense of the devastation that a plague of locusts can produce. (show video)
    The locusts are the product of sin. Because God’s people, Israel, have turned their back on the great I AM, the locust army was raised up. The locust army is to be an instrument of God’s wrath; it is the rod of affliction. Sometimes sin itself is the punishment. Think about how living in addiction is its own rod of affliction. Ultimately, a life of sin leads to a barren wasteland stripped clean of every nourishing thing.
    As I learned more about locusts this week, I saw what a great metaphor they are for sin. Their eggs can lay dormant in the ground for 20 years and then when conditions are right they come crawling out of the ground. In a moment of weakness; in a moment of doubt; in a moment of unbelief; we give into the flesh; we give into the world; we give into the devil.
    Doesn’t sin multiple? Sin begets sin. One lie leads to another. One step off the narrow path leads to another and another. Every sin muffles the voice of the conscience a little more. Every sin quenches the Holy Spirit a little more. Before we know it, a swirling swarm of sin surrounds us.
    The locust swarm is driven by the wind. It goes from high pressure to low pressure. Wherever resistance to sin is lowest, that is where destruction descends.
    Scientist Iain Couzin studied locusts in North Africa and discovered something previously unknown. You saw in the video that young locusts are called hoppers because they cannot fly. They travel along the ground. One thing that moves them forward is following the scent of fresh green growth to devour. But Couzin discovered that they are voracious cannibals. If one stops moving, another hopper will try to eat it. And, while they eat a fellow locust, they have to keep moving or they themselves will be a victim of cannibalism.
    Think about that for a minute. When gang members kill other gang members, isn’t that very similar? When members of one crime family kill members of another crime family, isn’t that very similar? It is commonly known that certain areas of our cities are “crime infested.” This means the environment feeds on sin. Unfortunately, too often we take an attitude of indifference, as long as we don’t have to live there.
    When the locusts have consumed everything possible, they die. The Lord says he will drive the army into barren land, into the seas. The result, which is emphasized by saying it two different ways, is a terrible terrible odor. And in fact, the carcasses of billions of locusts does create an horrific stench.
    People that have to work around pigs, or fish, or petroleum products can get use to the smell so that it is barely noticeable to them. They get use to it. Have we become oblivious to the stink of sin? Sin leads to death and surely we cannot become oblivious to death.
    Are not these the days when good is called evil and evil is called good? There is a common thread of thought: people are going to do it whether it’s legal or not. So, let’s legalize everything, and then tax it.
    I saw a very intelligent man giving a presentation on TV the other day. He argued, “Let’s legalize the sex industry like they do in Europe. It will be safer for the sex workers. It will be safer for their clients. It removes the criminal element. It generates significant tax revenue that can be used for good.” This is all very practical and sound advice; right?
    Except that it has a stench to which too many have become immune. Paul warns in Galatians 5:19–21 (NIV84)
    19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
    Are these acts of sin obvious in our culture? Are they obvious but not considered sin? In fact, much the Bible calls sin is celebrated. How about you? Can you smell the stench?
    With all of our modern technology, we have been very ineffective at dealing with locust swarms. The Lord, because the people repent, will destroy this army. Surely He has done great things. Two weeks ago, when we read verse 13, we heard, the Lord relents from sending calamity. The Almighty is in control. In verse 25, God establishes that the locust army was under his authority. He used it to bring the people to a place of repentance. Surely the Lord has done great things.
    Have you wondered about the number of so-called “natural disasters?” It seems to me that there are a lot more catastrophes than there used to be. There is no doubt that because of improved communications and media coverage, we have more access to bad news. So, I spent a few minutes with Mr. Google and asked him about it. The search results make it pretty clear that over the last couple of decades there has been a substantial increase in significant storms. Many explain this by pointing to climate change and humankind’s culpability. Might this be another form of a great locust army? A friend posted on Facebook that the flooding from Hurricane Florence in their neighborhood left behind a terrible stench.
    The repentant nation of Israel is promised blessings from the Lord. The fields are restored to green life-giving grass. The trees are bearing fruit; not meagerly, but a crop of rich figs and grapes. The grain harvest is plentiful. The grape and olive harvest produces an overflow of the storage vats. God’s blessings will more than make up for the years of desolation.
    When you step back and look at the Lord’s pursuit of his people, you know that Yahweh loves them. An old song popped into my head when I started working on this message. The Monotones sang “The Book of Love.”
    I wonder, wonder who, who-oo-ooh, who
    (Who wrote the book of love)
    Tell me, tell me, tell me
    Oh, who wrote the Book Of Love
    I’ve got to know the answer
    Was it someone from above
    (I wonder, wonder who, mmbadoo-ooh, who)
    (Who wrote the Book Of Love)
    Isn’t the Bible the Book of Love? The Almighty God keeps pursuing His people and will use every means possible.
    What is the proper response towards God? All creation is to respond with rejoicing. The land, the earth itself, is to rejoice. Rains in right seasons bless all living things. Even the wild animals join in the blessing. The people of God are to be glad. The people of God are to rejoice. They will be satisfied. Praise for the Lord our God cannot be contained.
    How about you? Is there gratitude in your heart? The Lord loves you and has rescued you.
    What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul,
    what wondrous love is this, O my soul!
    What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss
    to bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
    to bear the dreadful curse for my soul.

    The Lord your God has worked wonders for you and tells us so here in Joel. Do you see it? Carol was listening to the Christian radio station K-Love. A mother was asked by her almost five year old, how do I hear God? K-Love posed the question to their audience.
    One woman answered how her church intentionally teaches everyone to see God working today. In many places of the church, they have bulletin boards with a stack of post-it notes. People, even the children, are asked to write down how they saw God working. They write down what they have experienced of God. There is an expectation that they will see and hear, that God is active in the lives of His people.
    God declares, “Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the Lord your God, and that there is no other.” Yahweh is in the place of Israel and in the people Israel. The Lord Jesus is in the church, in the Body of Christ, and we manifest Jesus as we submit to the Holy Spirit within us. There is no other God. When we put little “g” gods of our own creation before the big “G” God of all creation, then calamity will be sent to bring us to our knees.
    1. To God be the glory, great things he hath done!
    So loved he the world that he gave us his Son,
    who yielded his life an atonement for sin,
    and opened the lifegate that all may go in.

    Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
    let the earth hear his voice!
    Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
    let the people rejoice!
    O come to the Father thru Jesus the Son,
    and give him the glory, great things he hath done!

    2. O perfect redemption, the purchase of blood,
    to every believer the promise of God;
    the vilest offender who truly believes,
    that moment from Jesus a pardon receives.

    3. Great things he hath taught us, great things he hath done,
    and great our rejoicing thru Jesus the Son;
    but purer, and higher, and greater will be
    our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see.
    One preacher said, “Restoration is God’s constant. From death he brings life to all nature. Spring is the grand annual illustration of it.”
    Another preacher proclaimed, “All of God’s judgments have a purpose. They terminate an old way of life to usher in a new one – a life guided by the eternal reign of God.
    This past year, we have had church members die. Others have moved away. Some are now housebound or in assisted living. At the same time, there are signs for a hopeful future. When God’s people return, rend their hearts and repent of their waywardness, then the Lord will rescue. More than that though. God will bless with provision, with joy, with hearts of gratitude filled with praise for our loving God. God has worked wonders. God is working wonders. And, God will work wonders.
    I have confidence for the future for the Lord promises, “And afterward, I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth.” Are you ready to be amazed? How marvelous is our God!
    1 John 3:1 (NIV84) How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!
    O come to the Father thru Jesus the Son,
    and give him the glory, great things he hath done!
    Amen and amen. Let us pray.


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