Sun, Dec 22, 2013 at 10:30am to Sun, Dec 29 at 10:00am EST

Joel 3:2

Joel 3:2 NIV

I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will put them on trial for what they did to my inheritance, my people Israel, because they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land.

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Joel 3:9-14

Joel 3:9-14 NIV

Proclaim this among the nations: Prepare for war! Rouse the warriors! Let all the fighting men draw near and attack. Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears. Let the weakling say, "I am strong!" Come quickly, all you nations from every side, and assemble there. Bring down your warriors, lord! "Let the nations be roused; let them advance into the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit to judge all the nations on every side. Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, trample the grapes, for the winepress is full and the vats overflow— so great is their wickedness!" Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the lord is near in the valley of decision.

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Day of Judgment

The day we are talking about is the Day of Judgment! God throughout the Bible has declared that there will be a Day of Judgment. In Joel 3:14 we see it will happen in the Valley of Jehoshaphat or the Valley of Decision. The Valley of Jehoshaphat is interpreted as “Yahweh judges.” It is in this valley that the decision of the Lord will come down on all who have chosen to deny God. This valley will see the vengeance of the Lord take place against all who have not believed in the Lord God and the message of His Son, Jesus. Joel 2:11 says, “The Day of the Lord is a terrible and dreadful, who can endure it?” In Revelation 20:11-15 we have a description of that judgment.

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Revelation 20:11-15

Revelation 20:11-15 NIV

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

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The Valleys

We call this Lake of Fire – Hell. The verdict of God will be pronounced upon an unbelieving world. It will be too late to decide to follow God for it will be the Day of Judgment for the enemies of God and salvation for the people of God. One writer says, “The Day of the Lord is near and when it comes this “Valley of Decision” will not be where man decides to follow God, it is where God pronounces His decision of judgment against those who have decided against the truth of Jesus and the message of God from the beginning.” There are several valleys mentioned in the Word of God. One is the “Valley of Praise” found in 2 Chronicles 20:26 where the people of God led by King Jehoshaphat were given a great victory by God without even having to fight. God went before His people because of the faith and obedience of His servant Jehoshaphat. God destroyed the enemy of Israel in this valley. Then we all know the “Valley of the Shadow of Death” for Psalm 23:4. David speaks of this valley of the shadow when he writes this great poem about having the presence of God with him as he has to travel through the valley. The shadow of death cannot harm him because there is the presence of God and His rod and staff. Because of the Lord’s presence David did not have to fear for the presence of God comforted him. Then there was the “Valley of the Dry Bones” which we spoke of recently and that is found in Ezekiel 37. We remember that the Spirit of God had taken the prophet Ezekiel to this valley and he was to prophesy to the dried up parched bones for them to come to life and be the army of God. We realize that the Power of the Spirit of God is seen in this depiction of the dry bones coming alive and that God can do anything that He desires even resurrecting parched bones into live human beings. In each of these valleys God was with His people and cared for them and helped them with His presence and power but now we come to the “Valley of Decision.” God’s presence is here in this valley too but in a different way. In this valley the Person of God, Jehovah Himself, will declare judgment upon those who chose not to believe. When will this time come? The prophet Joel thousands of years ago said that it would be near when he wrote about it. The New Testament writers thought it might be very close to their time. Could it be that the Day of the Lord is at hand? Both Paul and Peter say in the New Testament that this Day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night when no one knows, so we must be always be ready for it. The Bible declares that today is the day of salvation and that you have no guarantee of another day before either God takes you home through death or “The Day of the Lord” comes to all who are alive and those who have died who did not have faith in Jesus and accepted Him as their personal Savior and Lord.

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Romans 2:5

Romans 2:5 NIV

But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.

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Why Today?

So why are we having this conversation today? If you have NEVER decided to follow Jesus by faith and give Him your heart and life, then you are standing on thin ice when it comes to the Valley of Decision. Let’s look at the scripture. Joel’s writing is about the judgment time for Israel and for us too. Even though Joel talks of Judgment he also speaks from the Lord a word of compassion.

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Joel 2:12-13

Joel 2:12-13 NIV

"Even now," declares the lord, "return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning." Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.

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Return to God

God desires for us to repent and turn to Him so that He will save us from the coming of this terrible judgment. We must be willing to “return to the Lord God.” For Israel God meant to stop worshiping idols and living against God’s laws to be faithful and obedient to God. For us in this New Testament time, He speaks of the fact that we need to come to see that God has sent His only Son, Jesus, to save us from our sins and He is inviting us to come to Him for forgiveness of sin and to receive eternal life in Christ. We do that through repentance and faith. Jesus said in John 11:25-26,

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John 11:25-26

John 11:25-26 NIV

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

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Do You Believe?

One of the questions then I have for you who are here today is this, “Do you believe this?” By this I mean, is Jesus who He says He is? He said that He is the Resurrection and Life and that the one who believes in Him will live, even though they die, and then Jesus said that “whoever lives by believing in Me will never die.” Now that is something to think about. Do you believe that? We can have our own “valley of decision” right here today. But it is different from the Day of the Lord when God will not allow anyone to choose Jesus then but the decision will be God judging everyone who has chosen to say “No” to Jesus. Today you still have a chance to say “Yes.” Jesus pleads with all who are here, “Believe in Me and I will give you life ever after with God in heaven and I will give to you now abundant life right now.” (John 10:10, “…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.) Is that Good News or what! The God of the universe loves us enough that He has given us Christmas. He sent His only Son to Bethlehem to be born a human being, to be like us, so He can save us from our sin and yet Jesus is still God in every way. Today is that Day of Salvation in this new Valley of Decision! Jesus invites you to come to believe in Him by faith that He is the Son of the Living God and He will in turn give you eternal life in heaven. You will escape the Day of the Lord in the Valley of Decision of the judgment of God to all who are lost! For all believers, the Spirit of the Lord has lead Paul to write us a note in reference to this dreadful day that will come.

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1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 NIV

Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

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May the Lord Convict Your Heart

First if you are lost give your heart and life to Jesus by faith now don’t wait another minute. Come as soon as the music starts ready for Jesus to change your life!!!! Second if you are saved to walk as children of the light being sober of spirit and putting on faith, love and hope that only God can give the child of God. Then encourage one another and build each other up….as I know that you are doing!!! Be thankful for Christmas and the real true meaning of this special celebration.

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