Ten Times Better

Re: Verse reading–Daniel 1 (day four)
2 Chronicles 16:9 says, “For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He might strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” Certainly, the Lord saw Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.  Their hearts were intent on obedience to God…so much so, that they were willing to incur the wrath of the king in order to be found faithful before God.  How did God support them?  Verse 17 says, “God gave them knowledge and intelligence in every branch of literature and wisdom;” Verse 20 says, “As for every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king consulted them, he found them ten times better than all the others.” Have you ever asked God to make you ten times better at something?  It can’t be a selfish request…remember, you heart has to be completely God’s!  God is sovereign over all the earth…He will exalt His name.  Let’s seek to be the instrument used to bring glory to His name!


Re: Verse reading–Daniel 1 (day three)
“[Daniel] asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.”  The scriptures tell us that “Daniel resolved not to defile himself.”  As undesirable as the circumstances appeared to Daniel, his first inclination was not to rail against his surroundings, but to please the Lord within his surroundings.  There was a voice in Daniel’s life–from the Lord, from his upbringing, from wise counsel, from somewhere–that expressed this thought to him: “You’re here; what are you going to do about it?”  It’s the same thing Paul knew later on: “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well-fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”  Early on, Daniel, like Paul after him, decided that his priority, wherever he found himself, was to live with God.  Here.  Now.  Security followed.

Are You Hopeful?

Re: Verse reading–Daniel 1 (day two)
“…The Lord handed Jehoiakim king of Judah over to him…” Jehoiakim’s name means “the LORD raises up.” He didn’t choose to be king of Judah. His father, King Josiah, was killed in battle. His brother lasted as king for 3 months. Then the conquering ruler made Jehoiakim king (see 2 Kings 23). In defeat, Jehoiakim’s name rang true although he was no longer “raised up.” Daniel is clear. It is the Lord who “raised up” this conquering king of Babylon. The Lord gives the city over to defeat. Ironically, this is the note of hope amidst crushing defeat. If God was sovereign in defeat, then God will be sovereign in restoration. Perhaps this pattern was on Jesus’ mind when he said, “I lay down my life-only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord” (John 10:17-18). In a surprising way, the pattern applies to us as well. “Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers” (1 John 3:16). The greatest evidence of a hopeful Christian is sacrificial service. So are you hopeful?

No compromise

Re: Verse reading–Daniel 1 (day one)
“But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself”  (v 8)  Handsome, young, gifted man.  Opportunity for advancement in a secular culture.  The price?  Accomodate his beliefs.  Compromise the commandments of God.   It is a classic story of temptation and faithfulness.  Daniel searches his heart and then searches for a way to serve Nebuchadnezzar and still serve Jehovah.  He resolves that his commitment to God is first.  He will not compromise the path of purity commanded by God.  In doing so, he becomes our example.  Does purity matter?  Is obedience to God’s law a realistic path in a secular world?  Daniel concludes that the answer is yes and resolves to walk the path with courage.  Part of God’s equipment for his people is a clear conscience before the Father.  “Therefore, if a man cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.”  (2 Timothy 2:21)

Enduring love

Re: Verse reading–Psalm 118 (day seven)
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”  (v 1)  God’s love is not partial or temporary.  God’s love is resilient, undiluted and permanent!  It is how we survive.  The only way.  I am preparing today for the ordination service for Josh Bolch.  Sweet, spiritual privilege Sunday night for us to lay hands on this young pastor.  In preparation, I’m reading again Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 4:16.  “Therefore, we do not lose heart, for though our outer man is decaying, our inner man is being renewed day by day.”    Why does God not give up on us?  Because He LOVES us in His Son.  Why does He not get weary with our weakness and doubt?  Because HIS LOVE ENDURES forever!  “I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor things present, nor things to come. . .shall separate us from the love of God.” (Romans 8:38)  Why?  Because His love endures forever!

Christian assertiveness

Re: Verse reading–Psalm 118 (day six)
“The Lord is with me. . .  I will look in triumph on my enemies.   (vs 7)  Assertiveness is a good thing.  In the right moment, it is a Christ-like thing.  It is not a sin to “overcome the world” or even desire to.  Sometimes I get fuzzy on this point.  I remember Christ’s teaching on loving enemies.  I also remember Him cleansing the temple and publically confronting the Pharisees.  Maybe I don’t always know HOW to balance these two responsibilities.  I do know that I MUST balance these two responsibilities.  Psalm 118 assumes that we recognize the tension that exists between the Lord and this rebellious world.  There is a war going on.  Being passive or apologetic is not an option.  Assertiveness is (can be) a good thing.  On Monday, Memorial Day, I will be grateful for people who did not back down from a fight.  I will also remember that the same is required of me.

Message of Christ

Re: Verse reading–Psalm 118 (day four)
Psalm 118 is the final psalm of the Egyptian Hallel (praise), chapters 113-118.  It was recited or sung at the Passover by every Jewish family.  118 was the last psalm recited, following the final blessing.  It may well have been the psalm sung by Jesus and the disciples at the Last Supper before they went out to Gethsemane.  It is giving thanks to God for His deliverance.  It was recited at the Passover and its theme is remembered at our present day Lord’s Supper.  In Passover, it looked ahead to the coming Messiah.  In our Lord’s Supper, it acknowledges Christ as the Messiah come to earth.  Jesus used this psalm to refer to himself in Matthew 21:42.  Reference is made to Psalm 118 by Jeremiah, Ezra, and Peter.  The message of Christ is a thread through all of Scripture.  God has so inspired His Word to communicate His vast love through all of history.  Want to know God and His plan for you?  Read His Word!


Re: Verse reading–Psalm 118 (day three)
“From the house of the Lord we bless you.”  A friend of mine, in commenting a few days ago on verses 26 and 27 of this Psalm, which give us a picture of people assembling for a worship service, made this remark: Some songs you just want to sing in a group.  That’s exactly right.  The psalmist recounts how the Lord has rescued, saved, preserved, defended, and delivered time after time.  And near the end of this Psalm, he gathers with people to remember together with them all the ways in which the Lord has saved their necks.  It seems strange to say it, but people forget these kinds of things.  We just do.  So we need to remind each other.  This is one way we come to know God better.  Some songs you just want to sing in a group.

Paper Prayer Chain

Re: Verse reading–Psalm 118 (day two)
It’s not the prayer chain that consists of five people I call to alert everyone of a need for prayer. It’s a prayer chain hanging from the wall in my kitchen. Each paper link represents a specific prayer that my young boys have prayed and seen God answer. The latest addition to the chain reads, “God, bless our family with a baby.” Around November, we are expecting our family to grow, and our prayer chain is growing too! Psalm 118 serves as a paper prayer chain too. Recited every Passover, Jewish families would recall the Lord’s miraculous deliverance from Egypt. Remembering the answered prayer stirred up thankfulness, and thankfulness stirs up joy. Maybe that’s why the apostle Paul taught his churches to be thankful (Philippians 4:6)? He knew that thankfulness was the pathway to the joy he expected from them…and us (Philippians 4:4). Start your own paper prayer chain or answered prayer list. It is a simple step down the path of life long joy.

Praise and problems

Re: Verse reading–Psalm 118 (day one)
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. . .They (the nations) swarmed around me like bees. . .the stone that the builders rejected has become the capstone. . .this is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”  (vs 1, 12, 22, 24)  Life is always a strange mixture of good and bad, joy and sorrow.  Our praise remains constant.  God’s goodness does not change when circumstances are painful or tense.  Our obligation to worship doesn’t change either.  “Shall we ACCEPT good from God and not ACCEPT adversity” said Job (Job 2:10)  Great question!  Paul and Silas sang hymns of praise in prison at midnight.  Great liberty!  So, when our enemies surround us like a swarm of bees. . .when the builders (i.e. the leaders) reject Christ and build culture on secular values, (there will be days like this)believers see God’s hand and God’s goodness.  This is God’s day, let us rejoice in it!