Daniel 4 - “Dare to be a Daniel!”

Daniel 4 - “Dare to be a Daniel!”

“Dare to stand alone! Dare to have a purpose firm! Dare to make it known.

Many giants, great and tall, Stalking through the land, Headlong to the earth would fall,
If met by Daniel’s band.

Hold the Gospel banner high! On to vict’ry grand! Satan and his hosts defy, And shout for Daniel’s band.” (Philip P. Bliss, 1873)

Here in chapter 4 brother Daniel does indeed ‘stand alone’- with confidence and courage in the Lord – holding the ‘Gospel banner high!’ May the Lord help us to join his band!

Daniel 6.22 - Blameless!

Daniel 6.22 - Blameless!

In this last story about Daniel, even his enemies find him blameless! He has held high office in Babylon now long beyond retirement age, and their microscope of jealousy finds nothing. Well done, brother Daniel!  Therefore, when you read in the Psalms that the psalmists offer up their blamelessness and uprightness and integrity and righteousness to God, don’t over-spiritualize it. Don’t treat it as perfectionism. Don’t think of it as legalism. Don’t demean it as a defective part of the “old covenant.” Take it for what it is: a godly man, who knows he is a sinner, pardoned for God’s name’s sake, justified by grace, trusting God’s mercy, depending on God’s Spirit, taking refuge in God’s protection, delighting in God’s beauty, keeping God’s covenant, and therefore walking in integrity and honesty and uprightness.

Daniel 12.9 - Dream by the Book

Daniel 12.9 - Dream by the Book

We stand in a different position before God than our brother Daniel. For him the final Word remained distant, “the words are shut up and sealed until the time of the end” (Daniel 12.9). But now “the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals” (Revelation 5.5). In our Risen Lord we now have a complete 66 volume Book of God - our finished salvation inscribed in final Scripture. These God-breathed Words now give us faithful “teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness.” Rightly knowing Scripture makes us “complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3.16,17). Are we done with dreams and visions? No, especially not in the many places without The Book. Rejoice and receive these written, tested, trusted, and Spirit-taught Words – our strong and sure path for discipleship.

Jonah 1.3 - Take a Break God

Jonah 1.3 - Take a Break God
 

God is with you always! This truth is a great comfort - most of the time. But sometimes we might like Him to take a siesta. Jonah was a believer who wanted a vacation from God. He was a prophet whose former obedience had been used by God to accomplish great things (2 Kings 14.25). But now he wanted to be left alone. Today some want God to close His eyes while they surf the web, or close His ears while they spew out the juicy gossip they can’t hold in any longer. Maybe God could have a rest while we step out for an evening of “entertainment,” or take an afternoon off while we close that very important business deal. Maybe He could cut you some free time while you plagiarize your final thesis. God knows you have been really busy this semester serving Him!

Malachi 2.16 - “till death do us part”

Malachi 2.16  - “till death do us part…”

There is one biblical end to marriage – death. Abraham and Sarah had a number of marital challenges. There was unfaithfulness, lying, deceit, along with countless hurts and misunderstandings. In one hundred years of marriage you can give your spouse a lot of pain, even if you are heroes of faith.  But divorce was not an option. Later Moses “allowed” divorce due to “hardness of heart.” But this was a concession to fallen sinners, not God’s creation design. Jesus points us back to the divine blueprint – one man, one woman, for life, “And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery” (Matthew 19.3-9). “God hates divorce” (Malachi 2.16). Not that God hates divorced people, but He hates what divorce does to children, extended families, societies, nations, and to the married couple. The pain and problems last forever.

Matthew - A “Ledger Book” Gospel

Matthew - A “Ledger Book” Gospel

Encarta describes a “ledger” as “a book with columns for debits and credits on which to transcribe financial records.” Matthew the tax collector gives us a terse record of Jesus words and works built around 5 columns/sermons - Sermon on the Mount (chs 5-7), Mission Instructions (ch 10), Kingdom Parables (ch 13), Church Life (ch 18), and Future Judgment (chs 23-25). He tells stories with much less vivid detail. (Mark adds many more colorful features.) But Matthew’s pithy text conveys the heart of Jesus’ declarations and demands. The facts are clear for all to examine, like a good ledger book should be! He presents a sufficient record to compel his readers to invest their lives and follow King Jesus. In worldly terms, Matthew left more “behind” than most of Jesus’ young followers. Tax collection was lucrative. But putting Jesus in his dividend column brought eternal returns.

Matthew 1.23 - Come!

Matthew 1.23 - Come!

The people of God want Him near. As they feel overwhelmed by the challenges of life, they yearn for His wisdom and strength. As they feel the weight of guilt and shame, they claim His mercy and grace. As they feel oppressed and abused, they cry for His justice and righteousness. Those who do not know God want Him as far away from them as possible - they crave darkness! But the faithful eagerly anticipate His advent. (‘Advent’ is Latin for ‘come.’) So we enter the season of Advent once again – looking back with gratitude that God in Christ has come, rejoicing with confidence that He is with us now, and trusting with certain hope that He will come again. God has come, God is here, and God will come again!  “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’   Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22.20).