This week I have had the privilege of spending the best hours of my day thinking through the book of Joel, and particularly the first chapter. When it comes to the minor prophets, from my own experience, not many Christians feel like they are on comfortable ground, often thinking that they can be obscure and strange. However, if we are to learn from the entirety of God’s word and if we truly believe that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16) then we also need to think about the minor prophets.

The first chapter of the book of Joel tells the tale of our human hearts and calls us to wake up to the seriousness of our sin. Too often I have heard people say that they are willingly and knowingly going to sin because “Jesus will forgive me anyway”, that is a seriously slippery slope to be on. Jesus calls his followers to a radical way of living where you ‘cut off’ what causes you to sin (Matthew 18:8-9). I think that we are in danger of people too comfortable with sin.

Joel chapter one calls a sinful people to wake up and realise their sin, to stop trying to escape the reality and seriousness of their actions, and whilst there are many differences, this is such a relevant message for the church to hear today.

How often do we play with sin, thinking that we are stronger than our fallen nature and that we can poke the snake without being bitten? As Christians our desire should be to live lives that glorify God, lives that point people to see that we are different and we serve God not our own hearts desires.

But we can’t stop there…

Yes, we must recognise the seriousness of sin but we also need to see the greatness of our saviour! As a Christian I believe that Jesus took my punishment on the cross, that he bore the wrath of God so that I could be declared free from my deserved punishment. Jesus bore the whole punishment for my sins, and that was costly.

I wonder how our attitude to sin would change if we took time each day to consider the cost that Jesus paid on the cross, would it make us want to sin less and love Jesus more? I think it would!

And how often do we pray for the Spirit’s help to transform our hearts and actions to be more like Jesus?

The book of Joel is a gem and I am looking forward to our short sermon series on it.

Let’s not run away from the difficult parts of the Bible, but let’s wrestle with them, learn from them and challenge each other as we grow together through reading them.

God’s Word is challenging, and I have been challenged by Joel 1 to ask myself how seriously I take my sin.

If I’m honest I don’t take it seriously enough, in my preparation for preaching Joel 1 I have been challenged to see the damage that my sin has caused but I’ve also been blown away by the grace of God for sending His son so that a sinner like me could be forgiven.