Re:Verse passage – Daniel 4:1-37 (day seven)
“Therefore […] break away now from your sins by doing righteousness and from your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor.” vs 27
He had the advice. He knew what to do. All King Nebuchadnezzar had to do was repent and humble himself before the Lord. Instead, he attempted to raise himself up to the level of God and boast in his own accomplishments. He did not realize his errors until he had hit rock bottom. Once he finally realized his insignificance, he was able to humble himself and acknowledge that God was in control.
We know the advice. We know what to do. Even more than Nebuchadnezzar, we have all the tools and information to know that it is God who is in control, but we still seek our own power and our own accomplishments for selfish gain. We often wait until it is too late to set our pride aside. Repentance is freeing. Don’t wait until you hit rock bottom. We need to be a repentant people.
Repent. Witness. Disciple. Even in quarantine!
Re:Verse passage – Daniel 3:1-30 (day seven)
“[…] nor had the smell of fire even come upon them.” vs 27
If you have ever sat around a camp fire, you know that it is impossible to avoid the smell of smoke. It saturates your clothes, your hair, and even your skin. It requires a full on cleaning to get that smell out. Yet, this was no camp fire nor a bon fire for that matter. This was a fire that killed those who even got near, and still, they didn’t even smell like smoke. It was as if they were never there to begin with.
This shows the comprehensiveness of God’s protection on these young men in a direct answer to the question of the king, “what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?” To a man who considered himself a god, God showed off His true power by not only delivering these young men safely but protecting them from every aspect of the fire.
God saves us in the same way. He removes our sin and cleanses even the stench of what was once there. It is as if it was never there to begin with. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12.
Re:Verse passage – Daniel 2:31-49 (day seven)
“ And Daniel made request of the king, and he appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego over the administration of the province of Babylon.” vs. 49.
Daniel’s first order of business when he gets into power is to request a promotion for his fellow Israelite companions. It may seem like a ploy for his friends to benefit off of Daniel’s success, but Daniel knows the importance of these three men. They were with him from the very beginning. They were there to stand with Daniel as he denied the king’s food. They were there to pray with Daniel when he promised the king an interpretation. They were crucial to Daniel’s success, and Daniel recognizes this.
We are stronger when we are together. We are stronger when we come alongside and encourage one another. We are stronger with community. This is what the church was designed to do.
Even on a day when it may seem like we are separated, we are still together. Our community is bigger than the walls of our building. Today we stand together to worship and pray with our families in our homes. All across this city and across this nation, we stand together to praise the King who is on the Throne. Our community is still together!
Re:Verse passage – Daniel 2:1-30 (day seven)
Yahweh is making war with pagan gods. Just like He did in Egypt. Just like He did in Canaan. God had allowed the Israelites to be taken into captivity, but He was not abandoning them! On the contrary, He was using their displacement to make it known that Yahweh is the One True God. Look at what the Chaldeans said after the king asked them to tell him the dream, “there is no one else who could declare it to the king except gods, whose dwelling place is not with mortal flesh.” Now look at Daniel’s response, “there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries.” Not only is He the One True God who could know this dream, but He actually reveals His knowledge to mortals. Omniscient yet intimate. Omnipotent yet personal. This is not another god. This is The God, and He is making Himself known to the world.
Re:Verse passage – Daniel 1:1-21 (day seven)
“As for these four youths, God gave them knowledge and intelligence in every branch of literature and wisdom” vs 17
Have you ever found yourself at a place where you might have to compromise your integrity to please someone else? Maybe this was peer pressure of the teenage/college years of your life, or maybe this was to succumb to the demands of an employer. You found yourself at a crossroads knowing that there would be consequences for whatever direction you went. These four youths found themselves at a similar crossroads. Despite their subjugation and lack of familiarity with the customs of this new life, they were obedient to their heavenly authority over their earthly authority, and their obedience was rewarded.
Faithful and consistent obedience to God creates a holistic shift in our daily focus from fear and uncertainty to confidence and empowerment. This kind of obedience alters our mind, body, and soul bringing us into a state of greater awareness of who He is and what He is doing around us, thus increasing our knowledge, intelligence, and wisdom.
Re:Verse passage – Matthew 20:29-34 (day seven)
Every time I read a passage about Jesus healing the blind (the Gospels show us that He does this more than once), I am immediately taken to the great Hymn “Amazing Grace”: I once was blind, but now I see.
Through these scriptures of healing the blind, Jesus communicates to us a sense of spiritual blindness that is inherently in us all. The fact that this happens multiple times in the Bible has me wondering; did the Gospel writers understand this metaphor too? Did they associate the literal healing of blindness with the miracle that happens in us when we realize how spiritually blind we are? There is a profound message to be said in this metaphor when you realize the men asked for their “eyes to be opened” and the very next thing that happens after they regain their sight is the Triumphal Entry. God is opening our eyes to see the plan He had from before time began: Amazing Grace.
Re:Verse passage – Matthew 17:24-27 (day seven)
Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free.”
Today we concluded a huge event for our Youth Ministry: Freedom Weekend. This retreat is a time for our students to get away from the distractions of their day-to-day lives and fix their eyes on Jesus. We have fun and games, but the most important thing is we center the weekend around Scripture showing our students that we find true Freedom when we shape our lives through the Word of God. This year we focused specifically on 1 John 4. Love comes from God! We can only know love because He loves us. What a great message for our students to hear!
Today, our students (and volunteers) will rest. Later this week, they will go back to school and have to go back to their day-to-day routine. Pray as they reflect on this weekend that they will challenge themselves to let this message permeate everything they do. Pray that they will walk back into their schools knowing they are loved. Pray that they will share about this love to others. Pray that this weekend doesn’t stop here!
Re:Verse passage – Matthew 17:14-21 (day seven)
There are moments that arise that seem larger than life; crises that we feel are impossible to overcome. We feel that in our humanity, we could not possibly handle something like this. We feel as if this is only something God can handle. Our crime and that of the disciples is that we do not believe Jesus when He says, “he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do.” (John 14:12). The disciples thought they needed Jesus to perform this miracle. God performs the miracles, but what the disciples failed to realize is that the Power of the Spirit is available to us to facilitate miracles. All it takes is the faith the size of a mustard seed and we can do “greater works” too.
“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory. ” – Ephesians 3:20-21a
Re:Verse passage – Matthew 15:21-28 (day seven)
“But He did not answer her a word.” -23a
This woman’s initial request was met with silence. Her child was in turmoil and she had no where else to go. Now this man, the only man that could heal her daughter, is silent. Have you ever felt this before? Have you come before the Lord with boldness and faith only to be met with silence? The perception is that the one person who could help in this time doesn’t seem to care about your needs, but that could not be further from the truth. Charles Spurgeon once said, “Answers to prayers may be delayed; but delays are not always denials.”
Jesus was not denying this woman her petition. He just had a different plan. It was bigger than her. He knew He was going to heal her daughter, but His delay allowed for a teaching opportunity to His disciples that would shape their theology. His silence provided healing for so many more people than just this one gentile family. His silence is always precisely planned.
Re:Verse passage – Matthew 14:22-33 (day seven)
When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. vs 32
The question I have always found myself asking when I study this passage is “How did they get back in the boat?” Did Jesus pick Peter up like a child and carry him back to safety? Did the disciples throw a rope from the boat and drag Peter back in as Jesus walked by his side and coached his faith? Or did Jesus pull Peter up and walk with Him back to boat hand in hand on top of the water again? No matter how this played out, Peter called for Jesus to help, and Jesus personally took action. Jesus helped Peter get back in the boat.
When we fall down, Jesus is always there to pick us back up. When we call for help in the middle of a storm, Jesus always has His hand outstretched to pull us back to safety. He will help us get back in the boat, and the storm will pass.