ODJ: No Longer Lost

October 8, 2016 

READ: Joel 2:1-25 

I will give you back what you lost to the swarming locusts, the hopping locusts, the stripping locusts, and the cutting locusts (v.25).

I knew someone who had a difficult time believing she would ever truly experience God’s goodness and faithfulness (Joel 2:23). She grew up with an emotionally and physically abusive mother and absent father. In addition, she had been sexually assaulted by numerous men. In time, she thought she’d overcome the tragedy of her childhood and early adulthood. But even though she was faithful to Jesus and did her best to serve others, she couldn’t easily shake some of the dark influences that shadowed her.

This woman started to realize she couldn’t do anything about what had happened in her past. She took responsibility, however, for some of the poor decisions she had made in more recent years. And because she had made some bad choices over the past decade, she felt doomed and accursed. The nagging negative events of her childhood and early adulthood—along with her personal failures—were like locusts that destroyed the good “land” of her life, leaving it desolate (v.3).

Thankfully, God is much greater and more powerful than our circumstances and sin. And His grace is much bigger than any of our past hardships or bad decisions we’ve made. I reassured and reminded her that God “forgives all [our] sins and heals all [our] diseases. He redeems [us] from death and crowns [us] with love and tender mercies. He fills [our] life with good things” (Psalm 103:3-5).

We will all suffer the consequences of our own sin or sins committed against us by others in this life. But when we begin to rely on God, we find that sin doesn’t have the last word. He does. He starts righting the wrongs in our life and giving us back what one day will be fully restored in Jesus! (Joel 2:25; Acts 3:21).

—Marlena Graves

365-day plan: Acts 2:14-40

Reflect on Psalm 103:8-13. Where have you seen God’s love and mercy in your life? 
Why is it important to know that in Jesus we’re no longer condemned before God? How do God’s mercy and forgiveness encourage you to live in ways that honor Him?