Thursday, December 12, 2019

Helping the lost...

"And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever." - Daniel 12:3
There is a real sense of satisfaction when we help someone find the way to their destination. The most meaningful way to provide direction is when we take the time and lead the way. Why do we find joy in such an effort? Probably due to those occasions when we were lost and needed help. There's no GPS that can take the place of the personal guidance of a good Samaritan. And there's no greater accomplishment than helping the lost find their way. 
When prophetic Scriptures come to fulfillment and bring about the coming Kingdom, who will be the most honored? As the scene is explained to Daniel, emphasis is placed on those who who were spiritually wise in choosing eternal life. Along with the wise, are the givers of direction. Many will shine because of those who turned them to righteousness. And there's no greater accomplishment than helping the lost find their way... to God. 
Everyday we meet someone who is lost. They may not know it yet, but they need someone to show them the way. It doesn't take a seminary degree to give directions. And, when we do, we find great joy. Paul the apostle wrote.. "For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy." (1 Thess. 2:19) Remember, there's no greater accomplishment than helping the lost find their way... to God

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The quality of mercy...

"O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy." - Daniel 9:18" 
"The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven Upon the place beneath."  - The Merchant of Venice, Act IV, Scene I
As William Shakespeare worded this plea in his play, the characteristic of mercy was beautifully stated. This defense given for the merchant Antonio, explained that mercy blesses the one who gives and the one who receives, it's mighty, majestic, and divine. And, it was well noted in a that without mercy, no one would see salvation.
Now, why didn't this successful and high ranking prophet of God appeal from a life of personal righteousness? His record of total faithfulness and ultimate sacrifice could have been used to provide leverage in prayer. But, he confessed, early in his prayer, "To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him..." Daniel’s prayer was both forthright and totally contrite, fully resting on the mercy of God, without which he couldn't be saved or forgiven. 
This lesson begins with our first step of faith with God, as Peter the apostle mentions in 1 Peter 1:3...."Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." Then, all along the journey... “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love." (Psalm 103:8) So, don't try to go it on your own, because without His mercy no one can be saved or forgiven. 


Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Superior Orders...


"When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously." - Daniel 6:10
Between November 20,1945 to October 1,1946, a number of military tribunals took place in Nuremberg, Germany. The surviving leadership of Nazi Germany were tried for the crimes committed in the holocaust and other war crimes. The repeated excuse for such crimes against humanity was "We were just following orders." This was a defense referred to as "Superior Orders". But, they failed to recognize the ultimate "Superior Orders" of God.
Daniel was informed of the "Superior Orders" of King Darius..."whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions." (vs 7). Still, he had a prayer practice like King David of old... “Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice." (Psalm 55:17) While Daniel understood the Kings order, he continued with his daily prayers because he recognized the ultimate" Superior Orders" of God. 
Your life is filled with authorities in every corner. You are also surrounded by peers that challenge and often threaten you to take an ungodly path. "Superior Orders" come at you day by day with conflicting demands. If you fail to comply you might lose your job, friends or family ties. So, what should you do as a Christian? Peter the apostle provided the answer in Acts 5:29... "But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than men."" We are expected to recognize the ultimate "Superior Orders" of God.


Monday, December 9, 2019

Scales...

“‘TEKĒL’—you have been weighed on the scales and found deficient." - Daniel 5:27 (NASB95)
Most Americans find that when they are weighed on the scales, they are found excessive. This is why they will avoid scales at any cost. These well designed instruments of revelation are only desired when one is prepared to discover the truth. You can fool yourself for only so long, but when your doctor weighs you on the scales, reality comes to light.
The Lord had previously chosen to bless Nebuchadnezzar with power and success. But, his audacious pride brought him to his knees before the Most High God. Sadly, his son failed to learn from his father's experience... "And you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this, but you have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven." (vs 21-23) When weighed on the scales of God, reality came to light.
The selfish and sinful misuse of the Lord's blessings, without gratitude and  repentance, will eventually catch up to us. Paul the apostle put it this way..."For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth... For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened." (Romans 1:18, 21) Why wait for the scales of God to bring reality to light?


Sunday, December 8, 2019

Resolve...

"But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself. And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs," - Daniel 1:8–9
The New Year is soon approaching and with it will come many resolutions. Some will be to exercise more, while others will be to eat less. Most of these resolutions will last just long enough for the water to get hot. By March the treadmills will start to gather dust and bakery business will be booming again. Maybe we don't fully understand the meaning of "resolve".
Daniel was a young man of Biblical faith and understood the importance of obedience to God. It didn't matter that he was living in a foreign country with little possibility of ever returning home. The record tells us that "Daniel resolved" and he followed through to the letter. There was no question that resistance at such an early time could have been life threatening, but he stayed on course. Daniel fully understood the meaning of "resolve".
What are you willing to resolve for the Lord this coming year my friend... increased prayer, daily Bible reading or regular witnessing? The study of Daniel should help clarify your plans and strengthen your efforts to succeed. You will notice that the Lord gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of his unbelieving captors. If you take steps to improve your spiritual life and service, the Lord will give you the grace to succeed. But, do you fully understand the meaning of "resolve"?

Saturday, December 7, 2019

The "Who" of Hope...

"Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.” - Daniel 3:24–25

Every Labor Day weekend, when I was growing up, we watched the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon. It was entertaining and quite inspiring. We looked forward to the last few minutes of the show when Jerry would emotionally sing "You'll Never Walk Alone". The message was one of hope to all the MDA children that struggled with the disease. But, the lyrics never mentioned the "Who" of the hope.
The incredible story before us today centers on three men of strong conviction. They ended up in the worst situation imaginable and there didn't seem to be any way out. Simply put, their plight was hopeless. Then, everything changed when they were no longer "walking alone". They were filled with hope and delivered by "Who" of the hope. 
Hope is an inspiring and encouraging word. Songs and books of all kinds have been written about hope. We couldn't possibly face hard times without hope. Paul the apostle spoke often about hope, as in Romans 15:13... "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." But, most importantly, he knew the "Who" of hope... Do you? 



Friday, December 6, 2019

Jehovah Shammah...

"The circumference of the city shall be 18,000 cubits. And the name of the city from that time on shall be, The Lord Is There.” - Ezekiel 48:35
We live in a lovely mountain community with a wide variety of homes tucked away in the woods. As you visit the area you will find well crafted signs posted at the entrances of many homes. There will be family names of course, but quaint references such as "cove", "hollow", "haven" or "retreat" are often found. Such names elicit inviting and pleasant thoughts about the location. Sometimes a name says it all. 
We've been reading through the dark and distressing history of Israel's drifting from God and the devastating results. The final chapters have shown a steady movement toward a promising future restoration. After all the predicted details of rebuilding and spiritual healing were given, a well crafted name was needed. And, "Jehovah Shammah" - "The LORD Is There" says it all. 
Do you have a quaint well crafted sign posted at the entrance of your home? The truth is, we all have a sign at the door of our lives. Some signs say "buzz off" or "beware". Other signs are more inviting, but the sign that says "The LORD is There" is the one that says it all.