Thursday, May 26, 2016
We know that Daniel was a fervent pray-er. I grew up with people like that. My parents were fervent pray-ers. All through the book of Daniel we find that the Babylonians described him as being someone "full of the spirit of the gods." When someone is full of the Spirit of God - it is OBVIOUS - even to heathen Babylonians. When they need help, they know who to call. I watched this in the lives of my parents. People would scoff at them because of their unyielding devotion to God and His ways. But WHEN THEY NEEDED PRAYER... when they wanted a daughter to conceive a baby... or a father to be healed... or a job to materialize.... THEY KNEW WHO TO CALL.
Daniel prayed three times a day... facing toward Jerusalem. We know that there is NO POWER in a city... but Daniel faced Jerusalem, I believe, because he remembered he was praying to the God of his fathers. Jehovah - the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He wasn't praying to a compromised version of a conglomeration of Babylonian gods and Jehovah. Sometimes "Babylon" can get in to our spirit and we can begin to think that the gods of Babylon - gods the people made themselves - are capable of helping and providing for us. The kings of Babylon were consistently warned by God to not think that THEY had accomplished IN THEIR OWN STRENGTH and POWER what they had accomplished. When they refused to acknowledge that only GOD gives whatever they happened to have - He took it away. While we live in "Babylon" we have access to great advances in technology, medicine, finance and knowledge. But they are simply tools that God is using to provide for us. We acknowledge that anything we have comes from God.
Daniel prayed for two reasons - according to Daniel 6 - He gave THANKS and HE ASKED GOD FOR HELP.
He was THANKING GOD while in CAPTIVITY? YES. And though he had prospered in Babylon... he didn't rely on his OWN ABILITIES but asked God for HELP. You can prosper in Babylon doing things the Babylonian way. That's true. But to be PROMOTED to a level of INFLUENCE - you need God. ONLY GOD can do that. Promotion comes from God. Remember this and rejoice when someone you know who loves God and is filled with His Spirit is prospering. It is God who is promoting that person. So they can be an INFLUENCE in BABYLON.
The Bible doesn't say Daniel stepped on his Babylonian neighbors to achieve what he'd achieved. GOD PROMOTED DANIEL. God decided to give Daniel the wisdom and ability that promoted him to such a position of influence in a foreign land.
This annoyed the Babylonians around him.
THAT'S why they made the law to trip him up.
Daniel 5:17 shows us something else about Daniel: he didn't want the Babylonian's money or approval. He wasn't concerned about his popularity on Twitter or Facebook. He wasn't about HIS REPUTATION.. and HIS "PLATFORM." He was just FULL OF GOD AND HIS SPIRIT. Why? He prayed.
The end of the story is that the way God dealt with those jealous Babylonians was to throw THEM in to the lion's den they had prepared for Daniel. They and their families were destroyed. What they wished for Daniel happened to them. And their families.
Daniel was simply a man of prayer.
God took care of Daniel... and the people who were jealous of him.
Be careful when you are jealous of someone simply because God has chosen to bless that person.
And don't worry when people mean to do you harm because God is with you.
Keep your eyes on God. Continue to thank Him and acknowledge that you are nothing without His help.
God will take care of you. And your enemies.
Saturday, May 21, 2016
The backstory of the story of Daniel is that he was living as a captive slave in Babylon. God had warned His people that they would suffer dire consequences if they didn't begin to live the way He had instructed them to live. Truth is... God's warnings to them became like, "Right.. God.. blah.. blah.. blah.. Judgement.. blah.. blah.. blah.. You keep sending warnings.. and then nothing happens... " They weren't so concerned with being God's people. Or concerned with God. They just lived like the world around them, unwilling to be set apart. So, He removed His protection from them and badda bing! - they were conquered and led away as slaves to heathen Babylon.
So we know the story. The King is talked in to signing a law that specifically targeted Daniel. A law forbidding anyone to pray to anyone but the King for 30 days. THIS IS WHO DANIEL WAS WORKING FOR --- A HEATHEN KING WHO HAD NO PROBLEM SIGNING A LAW REQUIRING EVERYONE TO PRAY TO HIM. AND TO HIM ALONE.
Here's what Daniel DID:
- Daniel decided to be diligent in his work... even though he was working for a heathen. HIS LIFE gave glory to God even though the people he worked for did not. (This story can be found in the book of Daniel, Chapter 6)
- Daniel's life was SO trustworthy that the people who hated him could only find HIS RELIGION as something to trap him with. Daniel was diligent to live according to God's design even though he was surrounded by Babylonians who HATED HIM.
- Daniel's exemplary life caused the KING to encourage Daniel to trust God - "May your God whom you serve so faithfully rescue you." (v. 16) DANIEL'S LIFE BEFORE THE LION'S DEN WAS SEEN AS FAITHFUL TO HIS GOD EVEN BY THOSE WHO DID NOT TRUST GOD.
- God delivered Daniel. "Not a scratch was found on him for HE had trusted in HIS GOD."
Here's what Daniel did NOT DO:
- He did NOT stop praying or practicing his faith in God even though the world around him hated him for doing it.
- He did NOT defend himself against those who hated him.
- He did NOT start a mass boycott against the Babylonian super store.
- He did NOT post rants on Facebook about the fact that the Babylonians were acting like.. uh... uh... heathen Babylonians. He kept looking to and praying to GOD. His eyes were on God. NOT the Babylonians. NOT the LIONS..
- He acknowledged that the current situation of God's people was the fault of God's people turning from God rather than God turning from His people. (Daniel 9). His prayers were NOT "God this is NOT FAIR." but.. rather.. "God you are right to have done this to us. We neglected and rejected you.. yes. .WE your people did."
- He DID NOT try to get out of the lion's den, but rather trusted God to take care of the lions.. and his enemies.
- He DID NOT blame the heathen King. He DID NOT blame God. He just continued to live righteously.
So.. for those of us who are existing in "Babylon"... we can learn from Daniel that while you're living in Babylon keep your focus on the God of Heaven. If Daniel had lived a cushy life with no resistance from the heathens.. there would be no glory being given to His God.
God received glory from Daniel's life.
If being hated will bring God glory.. then... maybe we will be like our LORD.. who was hated.. killed.. and RESURRECTED. And is coming back to get this planet back to square one.. He will rule in righteousness.
People around us are watching us. Some watch to accuse and criticize. But others are watching to see if what we say about God.. is real. Some are watching to see if the "God of ________(insert your name) is the One True God. " Your life - the way you live - will bring others to acknowledge God as God. And be delivered also. And be saved. And be children of God.
In our flesh.. we want to protest. Scream. Lash out.
In the Spirit... we give all things to our Lord.
We are living in Babylon. Someday we will be home. Someday our Homeland will became reality. Until then don't expect the Babylonians to act like God's people.
God's people need to act like God's people.. and let the Babylonians do what Babylonians do.
God will deliver us.
From the mouths of lions.
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
When we fail the Lord... and we all do at times.. the enemy comes in and tells us that He's done with us. He doesn't want us anymore. But that is a lie.
I was reading Mark 16 this morning. It's the story of the women who went to Jesus tomb and found it empty. Well, not exactly empty. They saw "a young man clothed in a white robe sitting on the right side." It was an angel. "The angel said, 'Don't be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn't here! He is risen from the dead!"
THE MOST IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT IN THE HISTORY OF HUMANITY.
The angel continued, saying, "Now go and tell his disciples, INCLUDING PETER, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee."
INCLUDING PETER? The greatest announcement in the history of the world, and PETER the loser follower of Jesus gets a personal shout out from an angel?
Wow. So the Big Time Deny-er of Jesus.. was singled out? Yes.
While Peter was walking with Jesus for three years, and congratulating himself for being the most important and most dedicated disciple..
JESUS KNEW that Peter was way weaker than he thought he was.
He allowed Peter to see who and what HE ACTUALLY was... in order that Peter could comprehend who JESUS really is.
It isn't until we see our WRETCHEDNESS that we can fully understand HIS LOVE.
Is it good to fail the Lord? Not in any way. Is it the end of our relationship with Him when we do? Not in any way.
So...... you've walked away from Him.
So...... you can remember when you USED TO love Him.
So.......you let go of Him.
So.......you're embarrassed of your behavior.
Jesus is calling today.
He isn't calling to perfect followers.
He is calling to followers like me.
Followers like you.
It isn't about YOU holding on to Him... but HIM holding on to you.
He will never let go.
He has gone ahead of us. Not to Galilee but to His Father's side. He has gone there to prepare a place for us. He has gone there so that where He is we can also be.
If you think Jesus is done with you, you are thinking incorrectly.
If you think Jesus disappointment with you is bigger than His love for you, you are thinking incorrectly.
TO ALL OF THE LOSER FOLLOWERS OF JESUS, He says,
"Go and tell My disciples.. including ________________________ (insert your name) that I have gone ahead to prepare eternity for them."
You are not too far gone.
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
It has been eleven months now and I don’t really talk to anyone about how much I miss my mother and father. After all, they were 91 and 92 years of age. They lived long, happy, fulfilling lives. They died within 37 days of one another. Their marriage of seventy-two years was a happy one and we were blessed with the great security children have when their parents adore one another for over seven decades. I know people who have suffered incredible grief, people who have lost children and spouses and parents at a young age. I am aware that my parent’s lives ending peacefully after living it for more than nine decades is not a tragedy. It is simply the thing we call “Life.” You are born, you live and then you die. I have the wonderful hope and assurance that although they are absent in their bodies, they are now “in the presence of the Lord.” It was what they lived for all their lives. To see Jesus. To be together with Him. I am happy for them.
But though they are there, I am still here. And whether or not my tragedy pales compared to the tragic events others have endured, it doesn’t keep me from missing my mommy. Missing my daddy. I had them in my life for over six decades. And now they are gone. The Lord is helping me, just as He assured my mother He would. She knew how close we were. She knew that her passing was going to be a challenge for a little girl who grew in to a grown woman who still called her ten times a day. And for the last fifteen years, they lived so close to our home, that we saw them almost every day. As she was dying she assured me, “Jesus has promised me that He will help you through when I am gone.” And He has.
Still, there are times when I just MISS THEM. I JUST MISS THEM. The other day I was shopping in a craft store, and for some unknown reason, the thought popped in to my mind that there is no one alive anymore who calls me daughter. I thought, “Wow. I am no one’s daughter. No one calls me ‘daughter’ anymore.” It was a small thought with a big tug at my heart. Being my parent’s daughter was one of my primary identities. And now it’s gone. I sighed the sigh that people sigh when there’s absolutely nothing you can do about something that you wish you could change because it makes you sad. I pushed my shopping cart, the tears welled up.
And then I "heard" His voice so loudly in my heart, it was almost audible. He said:
“I call you 'Daughter'. You are My daughter.”
Oh. Right. I have a HEAVENLY FATHER. I am in AN ETERNAL FAMILY. Death cannot come and end that relationship. Death cannot separate us. It will endure NOW and FOREVER. His voice brought me peace. As it always does. And reminded me that my parents are members of that ETERNAL FAMILY. We will see each other again. UNTIL THEN....AS I LIVE EACH DAY ON EARTH...
There is Someone who calls me daughter.
And He always will.
"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God."
1 John 3:1