Summary: The prophet calls the people to return to a merciful God and promises and outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

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Advent is the season of preparation. Most of us are decorating Christmas trees and putting up angels, nativity scenes, snowmen and Santas , baking Christmas cookies and planning or attending Christmas parties. It is a busy time of year--so busy that we might forget we need to do more than think about what we are going to get Uncle Ned. We need to prepare for the coming of Jesus, also.

In the text for today, the prophet Joel issues an invitation to prepare for Jesus' arrival. We do this by returning to the Lord, discover God's love and mercy, and being filled with the Holy Spirit.

Return to the Lord

There are times when we are so preoccupied with the demands of everyday life that we do not have time to think, meditate or draw near to the Lord is pushed aside. We tell ourselves that we will skip our devotional time today and catch up with it tomorrow. We don't have the time to think so we say that we will sleep on it.

At other times we are so focused on what we are doing that we are totally oblivious to life around us. Experts say that we are "in the zone."

For all the people like you and me the prophet Joel issues this invitation,

The New Revised Standard Version Chapter 2

return to me with all your heart,

The word, "return" is often translated "repent." The word "return" however means much more than to "change one's mind." The word means to become aware of God's presence.

Part of preparing our hearts and lives this Advent/Christmas season is to become aware of God's presence.

• Be aware of God's presence in the fellowship of others and in worshiping with them

• Be aware of God's presence with a still heart and a silent mind

• Be aware of God's presences by observing acts of kindness and love

Discover God's Love and Mercy

The prophets had often issued harsh words to the People of Israel. They hesitated to approach God because they feared God's wrath or displeasure.

Joel reassure the people that God is not a God of wrath and judgment. Joel writes,

The New Revised Standard Version Chapter 2

Return to the LORD, your God,

for he is gracious and merciful,

slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love,

and relents from punishing.

When we encounter God's love and mercy, we are encouraged in our walks of faith. God's love and mercy gives us hope in desperate and hopeless times. Thanksgiving and praise bubble up in our hearts and come out of our mouths when we are embraced in God's love and mercy. We receive a holy hug.

The Spirit Poured Out

Previously in the Old Testament the Spirit descended upon individuals at special times. For example, the prophets would often receive the Holy Spirit when they were going to speak on God's behalf.

God promises to pour out the Spirit on everyone. There is no hierarchy; we are all on the same level.We are not divided by the haves and the have nots. We all have the Spirit.

We not only all have God's presence in our lives, but we are also all empowered to serve God.


The prophet Joel calls us home--home to God's presence. We don't return home to experience Dad's generosity or to feast on Mom's cookies. We come home so that we can be refreshed and renewed--able to receive Jesus when he comes as a child and as a king.


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