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And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten.

Joel 2:25


As we begin 2023, I hope you look forward with hope and excitement over what God has is store for you. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, one thing to be joyful over is that we are getting closer to being able to meet Him face-to-face and live with Him forever. We can also be joyful over God’s faithfulness in carrying us through last year whether it was prosperous or difficult, you made it! However, if you are like me, your joy may be tempered with the realization that there have been situations where you fell short of God’s best for you and that you may have failed Him in ways. God’s grace is abundant and He is merciful and kind, but to us, we may feel like we have suffered great loss due to our own failures or things in life that we never expected to happen. In the book of Joel, Joel was serving as a prophet to the people of Judah in warning them of the consequences of their unfaithfulness to the Lord. God had sent locusts/grasshoppers to destroy their land in judgment. God often uses what seems to be natural means to get our attention and to correct His people and bring them to repentance. Perhaps you have suffered great loss in these last years and it has brought despair, depression and discouragement into your soul. You may wonder if things can ever be right in your life again. These are the times we must learn to draw ever closer to God and openly confess our feelings and heart to Him. The worst thing we can do is turn away from Him to go our own way, as only God can bring true healing and restoration to us. Reading and focusing on the Psalms, Jeremiah 29 or Romans 8:28 can be a huge benefit to you along with your time of prayer. What we all need in our difficult times is hope. God gave Joel a message of hope along with the message of correction. Both were essential. The Book of Job reveals that although great pain and challenges can arise in life, God can heal and remove them and restore all we lost. To be sure, some opportunities, relationships and even possessions will be lost forever, but God can bring in a new “crop” and new “years” to replace what we have seen go away. Our God is a creating, restoring and redemptive God, who loves us and will do what is best for us now and in eternity. Our job is to trust and obey Him and leave results in His hands. Do you have Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Have you trusted only in Him for forgiveness of sins and entrance into Heaven? Are you seeking Him today and trying to honor Him with your priorities, choices and actions? If so, God has good things in store for you even during trying times. I have personally witnessed the goodness of God in my life and of those I have known where things looked very hopeless and much loss had been incurred, and yet the Lord restored and blessed later in His perfect timing. No matter how you feel about facing 2023, be sure you are trusting in Jesus, His Word and the Holy Spirit to lead you. Live faithfully and watch how the Lord can restore the years lost and do much more than you can ever imagine. Blessings!

Love in Christ,

Pastor Gary Houdek