High Standards

Re:Verse passage – Romans 8:1-4 (day four)

As a young teenager, I competed in the High Jump.  Never with any degree of success because there was a problem…the standard was raised with each jump until I could no longer clear the bar.  The standard was not at fault, it was my inability to jump high enough to clear it.

In our passage this week, we see the intersection of the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ vs. the law of sin and death.  The deficiency is not with the Law (God’s Law), it is with man’s inability to overcome the high standard on our own.  God’s Law has set a high and perfectly obedient standard and we cannot attain it…only in Christ can we achieve the standard!

If my short-lived track and field career could have had a spring board like Christ is to my spiritual life, I could have been an Olympic jumper.  Christ, through the Holy Spirit, enables us to achieve the high standard of the Law…it is only by His grace!

To the Ends

Re:Verse passage – Acts 1:8 (day four)

Looking at our passage this week in context, the disciples were still looking for a political leader to deliver Israel from their enemies.  Rather than turning inward to focus on their own nation alone, Jesus expanded their mission to reach the whole world.  It was a radical plan and without the power of the Holy Spirit, would have been impossible to accomplish.

In John 14:26, Jesus told the disciples that the Holy Spirit would teach them all things and will remind them of everything He had said to them.  Only the Spirit could change their narrow, nationalistic beliefs and give them a heart for the nations.

Has the Holy Spirit changed your heart and given you a heart for the nations?  Have you moved beyond your narrow perspective of restoring your own nation to sharing the Gospel with the remotest parts of the world?  God’s plan is still at work through the power of the Holy Spirit!

Sealed

Re:Verse passage – John 1:29-34 (day four)

John’s assignment was to prepare the way for the Lord.  He was to give witness to others of the Messiah.  In our passage, John is being faithful and obedient to his call.  John knew Jesus was the Lamb of God because he had been told by God that when he saw the Holy Spirit descend and remain, that would be the seal of divinity.  It was the work of the Holy Spirit to seal Jesus’ identity.

We are also sealed by the Holy Spirit.  Ephesians 1:13 says, “In Him (Jesus), you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.”  One of the greatest works of the Holy Spirit is sealing us for the day of redemption.  When we believe in Jesus, we have the faithful promise of God that we are forgiven and saved.  That promise is sealed…we are sealed…by the Holy Spirit!

Clouded By Sin

Re:Verse passage – Mark 11:11-19 (day four)

The Temple in Jerusalem was supposed to be a place of worship.  Jesus quotes the prophet Isaiah when He said, “My House shall be called a House of Prayer for all the nations.”  Jesus recognized that sinful man had so distorted the function of the Temple, that it was no longer a house of prayer.  In His love for God and zeal for His house, he cleansed the Temple.

In our lives, we can let sin take over to the point that the Holy Spirit cannot even work through us.  Ephesians 4:30 says, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”  Do we need to cleanse our lives as Jesus cleansed the Temple?  Do we need to overturn the tables of sin in our hearts so we can fulfill God’s plan in our lives?  Don’t allow sin to overshadow your life and cause you to no longer be of any use to the Kingdom.  Be imitators of Christ!

The Least of These

Re:Verse passage – Mark 1:1-8 (day four)

All through Scripture, God used men and women who were people of no worldly status to accomplish His work.  Moses was a fugitive; King Saul was the least of his tribe; King David was a lowly shepherd boy; Esther was an orphan; and Daniel was a refugee slave.  God chose each of these and more to serve Him and complete His plan.

John the Baptist had no rank or title…he said himself that he was not even worthy to untie the sandal thong on Jesus’ feet.  Yet John, whose ministry only lasted maybe six months, was said to be greater than any before him, by Jesus himself.  John was the very first to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  He believed in Jesus and preached His coming before anyone else.  He proclaimed the exclusive breaking news.  God had a plan for his life!

What about you?  What does God have planned for you?  Is it some grand assignment to lead a nation or proclaim the coming of God’s judgment? Or, is it to touch one life for Christ?  There are no small assignments in God’s plan.  To be chosen by the God of all the Universe to play any role in His plan is huge.  Even though we may be weak and small, His Holy Spirit will enable us to do greater things than John the Baptist!

Perseverance

Re:Verse passage – Daniel 12:1-13 (day four)

Blessings await those who persevere to the end…this is the message and promise that Daniel gives to his people.  There will be very difficult times along the way, but the end result will be worth it.  “Can’t we just skip the pain and difficulty and just move straight to the blessing! “ Our society in modern day has the same mindset…we do not want to go through heartache in order to arrive at blessing.  We want immediate reward…’take out blessing’ that is available right now.

Somewhere along the way, God’s people have gotten the idea that if we are obedient to God and have enough faith, everything in our life will be positive.  We will not experience any heartache or trials and we will always be prosperous and successful.  This model does not fit with biblical teaching…Daniel’s vision tells us that just the opposite will be true.  When hard times come though, we have God’s promise that blessing awaits those who persevere to the end.  Hold tight…it will be worth it!

Wars and Rumors of War

Re:Verse passage – Daniel 11:1-45 (day four) 

To read this passage in Daniel could have been very discouraging in his day.  One king after another, one nation rising after another, one kingdom overthrowing the last…there seems to be an endless parade of wars and conquerors, intrigue and deception, death and destruction.  All of this narrative seems to read like today’s headlines.

In just a few days, we, as a nation, will celebrate Memorial Day.  This holiday is a time to remember the men and women who have given their lives in war so we can have the freedoms we enjoy.  Wars are a part of the fabric of life.  Wars have continued from Daniel’s time, even until today and there seems to be no end in sight.  Scripture tells us that until the end of time, there will be wars and rumors of wars.

To find encouragement and comfort in the middle of all this conflict, remember who controls the outcome.  God is our strength, our very help in trouble!

Set Your Heart

Re:Verse passage – Daniel 10:1-21 (day four)

Battles are won only when we are fighting the right enemy.  While Daniel fasted and prayed for three full weeks, the real battle was going on in unseen heavenly places.  The messenger from God was sent to Daniel, the ‘first day he set his heart on understanding.’  His arrival though was delayed by a heavenly conflict to prevent him from coming to Daniel.

When we are opposed or persecuted for our faith…instead of being offended…we should immediately intercede for our detractors.  Sin has so overwhelmed mankind that, often, they are pawns in the hands of evil forces.  We should pray for those held in the grasp of sin.  Ephesians 6:12 says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”  Know your enemy…then allow God to fight the strategic heavenly battles.  Set your heart on understanding!

Joy

Re:Verse passage – Daniel 9:23-27 (day four)

But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves.”  These words could have been written by Daniel, but they weren’t…Jesus spoke these words in John 17.  Captivity and exile in Babylon was tough…the circumstances of daily life for the Jews were very difficult.  When Daniel explained his vision, he was offering hope and joy.  God was in complete control of their lives and circumstances, and the Jews could take comfort in that fact.

Do you feel that the circumstances of life are out of your control?  Are you overwhelmed by what the future may look like?  The message of Daniel and the message of Christ are the same…God is in control…He is sovereign over the circumstances of life…our relationship with Him brings joy that supersedes all circumstances.  We can rest in the calm assurance of His sovereignty and His love for us. We can have joy!

In Confusion, Seek the Lord

Re:Verse passage – Daniel 9:1-23 (day four)

When reading our passage this week, one character quality stands out for Daniel…humility.  This was not the first time Daniel sought the Lord, but when circumstances became overwhelming, he went to God for answers.  Daniel’s humility is evident as he confesses the sins of his nation…he includes himself in the intercession.

Daniel’s eyes were on the Lord.  He knew where to find truth amid the confusion.  When the voices of culture are screaming confusion and accusation, truth can be found in only one place…the Lord.  Daniel had oriented his life around his relationship with the Lord and he found understanding through prayer.  He recognized that each of us is responsible for obedience to God.

Are the circumstances around you confusing?  Are you hearing mixed messages everywhere you turn?  Whether it’s political speak, coronavirus speculation, or outright lies, the world will not give you truth.  Seek truth where Daniel found it…in humility, read His Word and pray.  You may discover how much God loves you!