Handling the Truth

Today’s reading:

Daniel 10:1-12:13

My Selection:

“He shall seduce with flattery those who violate the covenant, but the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action.  And the wise among the people shall make many understand, though for some days they shall stumble by sword and flame, by captivity and plunder.  When they stumble, they shall receive a little help. And many shall join themselves to them with flattery,  and some of the wise shall stumble, so that they may be refined, purified, and made white, until the time of the end, for it still awaits the appointed time”  Daniel 11:32-35.

Praise God that He gives us the truth about life and eternity.

There is an insidious message being proclaimed in all the world that God exists primarily to make everyone healthy and happy.  Suffering is a result of unbelief.  God never wants us to suffer in any way.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Can you handle the truth?

The truth is we suffer in this world because God’s purpose is to make us holy and fit us for eternity.  Meanwhile, godly men like Daniel knew that “some of the wise shall stumble, so that they may be refined, purified, and made white, until the time of the end” (Daniel 11:35).

The Apostle Paul said it this way:

“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived”             2 Timothy 3:12,13.

And,

“… through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God”  Acts 14:22.

God’s purpose and end for us

God is perfecting us through trials and struggles, but His end is to bring us to His kingdom to glorify Him.

“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.

By God’s grace, we can handle the truth and the trials He sends our way, learning from them until He takes us home and completes His work. Meanwhile, stand firm in Him today.

[For more reflections on today’s reading, see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

[Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.]

Confession of Sin

Today’s reading: Daniel 7:1-9:27

My selection:

“While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my plea before the Lord my God for the holy hill of my God,  while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice.  He made me understand, speaking with me and saying, “O Daniel, I have now come out to give you insight and understanding.  At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved. Therefore consider the word and understand the vision.”

Daniel 9:20-23 (ESV)

Confession of sin is not morbid introspection

On numerous occasions in the Bible we read of people whose close encounter with God brought them to recognize their unworthiness and sin.   God’s presence shines on the hearts of men and exposing their depravity.  Daniel experienced this, too, and was driven to a thorough confession of his sin and the sin of his people.

Confession of sin should not be morbid introspection driving us to hopelessness.  The Apostle John exhorts us:

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”  1 John 1:8-10 (ESV)

Confession is a lifestyle

Confession leads to forgiveness and cleansing.  It is not a once-for-all event but a lifestyle which brings growth in both holiness and praise.  Be diligent in confession.

[For more reflections on today’s reading, see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Daniel’s Unlikely Disciple

Today’s reading: Daniel 4:1-6:28

My selection:

 At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever,

for his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
    and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;
all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
    and he does according to his will among the host of heaven
    and among the inhabitants of the earth;
and none can stay his hand
    or say to him, “What have you done?”  Daniel 4:34-35 (ESV)

Daniel was used by God to disciple King Nebuchadnezzar.  While that term was not used in the Old Testament, the prophet and adviser to the emperor was sent by God into captivity where he flourished and honored God to the benefit of his captors.

Jesus would send His disciples into the world to make more disciples (Matthew 28:19-20).  Pray that God may use you to teach God’s truth to those in your world, unlikely as they may be.

[For more reflections on today’s reading, see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Prepared for Death

Today’s reading: Daniel 2:1-3:30

My selection:

Then Daniel went to his house and made the matter known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions,  and told them to seek mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his companions might not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven. Daniel answered and said:

“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
    to whom belong wisdom and might.  Daniel 2:17-20 (ESV)

My reflections:

While we do not know all that lies ahead in our lives, we do know that death is a certainty for all who do not live to see the return of Jesus Christ. Daniel was prepared to live [see yesterday’s post], but he was also prepared to die.  In the face of possible death at the hands of the enraged Nebuchadnezzar, the prophet keeps his cool, and remembers God’s promises to Israel.  So he calls a prayer meeting.  He and his friends seek the Lord’s wisdom, and they get it.

My challenge:

God’s word equips the man or woman of God for life and for death.  Keep reading so that your prayer life is informed by God’s truth.  Like Daniel, you will be blessing the name of God to whom belong wisdom and might.

[For more reflections on today’s reading, see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Prepared for Life

Today’s reading: Ezekiel 47:1-Daniel 1:21

My selection:

And the king spoke with them, and among all of them none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Therefore they stood before the king.  And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom.  

Daniel 1:19-20 (ESV)

Unexpected Trials

The account of Daniel and his three friends, held in captivity by the Babylonian emperor, illustrates why knowledge of and commitment to the Word of God is essential for life. These men found themselves in a foreign land ruled by pagan law, but they knew God’s law and Daniel graciously appealed to the king’s representative to allow them to continue to obey the dietary laws of their religion.  Their appeal was granted and the results proved successful.

Thorough Preparation

We do not know what lies ahead in our lives.  We do not know what challenges and trials we may face.  What can we do to prepare?  Know the Bible.  Read carefully and pray for wisdom.  You will be equipped for whatever comes.  You will be prepared for life.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,  that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.                             2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV)

[For more reflections on today’s reading, see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Defying Authority

The solution to abusive authority is not to question the concept of authority but to reject authority which defies God.

Today’s reading: Daniel 11-12; 3 John 1

36 “And the king shall do as he wills. He shall exalt himself and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak astonishing things against the God of gods. He shall prosper till the indignation is accomplished; for what is decreed shall be done.           Daniel 11:36

9 I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. 10 So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church.

11 Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.                                                                3 John 1:9-11

As we see in today’s readings, the problem of defying authority is prevalent down through history and in all areas of life, political and ecclesiastical.

Daniel had a vision about a self-exalting king who lifted himself up above every other god and spoke against the true God of Israel. He would seem to be invincible for a time conquering kingdoms and amassing wealth, but in the end he would fall with no one to help (11:45).

In John’s time there was a man named Diotrephes who had a similar defiant attitude. He disregarded the apostle and spoke against him. He was inhospitable and excommunicated those in the church who attempted to be hospitable. He was a picture of selfishness and pride. No wonder John tells his readers not to imitate evil but to imitate good. A person like Diotrephes can influence many to follow his wicked example.

“Question authority” may be a popular bumper sticker but the solution to abusive authority is not to question the concept of authority. We need to submit to God’s authority and to duly instituted authority in the civil sector. Beware of defying authority (Romans 13:1-7; Hebrews 13:7,17).

There’s a War On

Since the Fall of man, the cosmic war has been going. Satan and his minions deceive and oppose God’s people.

Today’s reading: Daniel 9-10; 2 John 1

13 The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia, 14 and came to make you understand what is to happen to your people in the latter days. For the vision is for days yet to come.”                                                                    Daniel 10:13-14

For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.        2 John 1:7

Daniel was in a time of deep mourning for three weeks. He fasted and prayed. God sent an angel to him, but, at first, he was more frightened than strengthened. The angel addressed him kindly and called him a man greatly loved. Daniel’s prayers had been heard from the first day of that three week period, but the angel had been opposed by the prince of the kingdom of Persia.

John, in this second epistle, warns his readers about the deceivers in the world. They are identified as those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. The Reformation Study Bible [1] notes observe that a heresy called Docetism taught that Jesus did not have a real human body but was some sort of phantom who only appeared to be human. John declared these false teachers to be of the antichrist.

Once again in these passages, we see the very real nature of the spiritual war going on around us. Satan and his forces wield a certain amount of power, but God does hear His children when they pray. He does send aid. He will judge all the hosts of wickedness and deliver His own safely to glory (Isaiah 24:21; Ephesians 6:11-12; 2 Peter 2:4; Revelation 17:8; 20:10).

There’s a war on, but God has all things under His control. Trust Him and obey His truth. As we saw yesterday, His children will be victorious over the world through Jesus Christ.

[1] The Reformation Study Bible, Sanford, FL, Reformation Trust, 2015, p. 2279

Overcoming Faith

Believers in Jesus Christ should expect changed lives and victory over the world.

Today’s reading: Daniel 7-8; 1 John 5

14 And to him was given dominion
and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
that shall not be destroyed.                                                                       Daniel 7:14

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?           1 John 5:3-5

Daniel recorded here his visions of what was to come. He found them troubling because they were not easy to understand. We have the advantage of history and can draw some lines between the things he saw and what later occurred. The vision of the beasts seems to refer to the kingdoms of Nebuchadnezzar (Babylonia), Medo Persia, and Alexander the Great. The fourth is not so clear, but some believe it to be the Roman Empire.

What was clear was that none of these kingdoms would endure. The Ancient of Days gives the everlasting kingdom to the son of man, which clearly points to Jesus Christ. His kingdom will not pass away.

John the Apostle knew the Son of Man, his and our Lord Jesus Christ. John wrote that He was the propitiation for our sins ( 1 John 2:2;4:10). In Him we are given light and have fellowship with God and with all His people who also walk in the light with God (I John 1:7). This fellowship with God results in a changed life. This changed life includes: faith in Jesus Christ, love for God, and obedience to His commandments. Those changes demonstrate a new birth and results in victory over the world.

Should we settle for a hum-drum spiritual life? No. Not according to John. We should expect substantial changes. No, not perfection. We will always be going to Him to confess our sins and to be cleansed (1 John 1:9). If you do not see evidence in yourself of a new birth, call upon Him for mercy and grace to grant you overcoming faith.

Safe in the Lions’ Den

God shows His power in the apparently impossible and hopeless crises of His faithful children who have even been found safe in the lions’ den.

Today’s reading: Daniel 5-6; 1 John 4

26 I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel,

for he is the living God,
enduring forever;
his kingdom shall never be destroyed,
and his dominion shall be to the end.
27 He delivers and rescues;
he works signs and wonders
in heaven and on earth,
he who has saved Daniel
from the power of the lions.”

28 So this Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.                                                                                                   Daniel 6:26-28

Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.                                                                      1 John 4:4

God’s people down through history have been tested and oppressed by evil forces in this world as was predicted in Genesis 3:15. They are not always delivered from those trials, but, by God’s grace and power, they remain faithful to Him and are never overcome by them. [See also The Grand Narrative].

Daniel was set up by political opponents to be trapped in a dilemma. He resolved not to compromise his faith but to trust God to see him through the consequences of maintaining his practice of prayer. He was protected through a night in the lions’ den. King Darius saw the power of God and decreed that all should tremble and fear before Him.

John’s readers in the first century and beyond were reassured of God’s power in the face of opposing spiritual forces in the world. He called them “little children” perhaps because of his tender love for them but, probably, also because they were not spiritual giants. Nevertheless, he said they had overcome the false prophets, also called the spirit of antichrist and the spirit of error.  Unlike those in the world, these little children did not listen to the false spirits.

Daniel prospered under the pagan kings. Those John addressed were victorious against the forces of spiritual darkness. Not all who are faithful prosper in this world, but all who are faithful know God’s faithfulness and the ultimate deliverance of what Darius called the kingdom that shall never be destroyed. Stay faithful and confident. You are safe in the lions’ den.

Everyday Persecution

God’s people, living in a fallen world, must not be surprised if they are unrecognized, at best, and targeted for persecution and death, at worst.

Today’s reading: Daniel 3-4; 1 John 3

28 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God.                                                                          Daniel 3:28

The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 1 John 3:1b

The Jews living in captivity in Babylon faced serious trials. Their faith and practice got them into trouble at times but the message of Daniel is that God always saw them through vindicating their faith and His power.

Nebuchadnezzar needed repeated evidence that the God of Israel was the God Most High. When he mandated worship of an idol, the three friends of Daniel refused to bow. They were given one more chance. Once more they stood their ground and were thrown into the fiery furnace. Yet even that fire could not destroy them. They came forth without so much as the smell of smoke. Nebuchadnezzar was forced to honor God and reward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

The Apostle John instructs his readers about the life of one who has fellowship with God. There will necessarily be a qualitative difference in the person who loves God. It affects his relationships with others and his attitudes toward the trinkets of this world. He practices righteousness and loves his brother. Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you, he tells them” (vs. 13). Why? Because the world did not know God.

Daniel and his friends experienced severe tests of their faith. They were prepared not to be vindicated, although they were, quite rapidly (Daniel 3:18).  Others, like John, may not have seen vindication in this world but were prepared to endure until they saw Him “as he is.” Be ready for everyday persecution, but also expect to be transformed by Him when you see Him.