Daniel was only sixteen when he was taken from Jerusalem into Babylonian captivity in 605 B.C. In chapter nine, he was in his eighties and still retained his perennial devotion and steadfastness to the only true and living God. He was determined and focused to abide by God's law in a far away and strange land. Perennial means "to last or endure an indefinitely long time."
Knowing that his enemies were trying to trick him into disobeying King Darius' decree (not to worship or petition any god but Darius alone), Daniel opened his windows toward Jerusalem and "...he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously." (Daniel 6:10, Proverbs 15:15)
Today, our Father in Heaven is looking for people who are faithfully committed in their devotion and loyalty to Jesus Christ. Like Daniel, who was not swallowed up in a pagan culture, all God's people must strive to "...come out from their midst and be separate, says the Lord. And do not touch what is unclean; and I will welcome you."(2 Corinthians 6:17)
How about you? Do you have a perennial passion, or are you content just being seasonal in a lukewarm relationship with Jesus Christ?
NOW GO LIVE IT!
Are you prepared to defend your faith and hope in the gospel of Jesus Christ?
Peter wrote to the Jewish believers who were struggling in the midst of persecution. “Persecution can cause either growth or bitterness in the Christian life. Response determines result.” (NASB Commentary on I Peter)
Peter encouraged these believers to, “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense (give an answer) to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence. And keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.
In our world today, there has been such an increase in hostility and egregiousness toward Jesus Christ and His gospel message of salvation to the lost. Unfortunately, no matter what response is given to some who may ask of the hope of the gospel within you, they will go on to walk in despair and darkness. Nevertheless, are you prepared? Are you ready and confident to defend the gospel being empowered by the Holy Spirit?
The word translated “answer” in I Peter 1:15 is the Greek word “Apologia” that means “defense” from which we get the English word, apologetics. Apologetics is the branch of theology that is concerned with defending or proving the truth of Christian doctrines.
We must remember that defending the gospel of Jesus is not an option, for Jesus said, “Everyone therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven, but whoever shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in Heaven.”
Jesus also said, “The mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man out of his good treasure brings forth what is good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure brings forth what is evil.”
May you be stirred to be more eager to receive God’s word implanted in your heart and most able and willing to give an answer (defend) to anyone who asks you, of the hope you have in the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ!
References: I Peter 3:15-16, Matthew 5:13-14; Matthew 10:32-33; Matthew 12:34-35
Take a piece of blue taffy and a piece of yellow taffy – two distinctly separate objects – and bring them together. Make them intimate with each other. No, seriously, take the time to do this!
Wrap them, smash them, twist them together; press and stretch and turn them together. Whoa, this is close contact! After a short time, you will begin to see streaks of the yellow and blue running in various directions. Exert more pressure and mold them together. Crush and push in all directions. Smash them between your palms and fold and refold. Notice they are warmer and softer? You get the idea. In time, what do you have? The whole lump is green!
This is like our relationship with Jesus. The more we desire and allow Him to work with us, the deeper and more intimate our relationship becomes until we can no longer distinguish beginnings and ends. Put on the mind of Christ – my mind is not distinguishable – He in me and I in Him so that I may say, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:20)
NOW GO LIVE IT!
We know that Satan is behind all blasphemy, ridicule, and mockery of God. It is his mission to garner disrespect, rebellion, and insurrection against the rule and authority of God. In fact, insurrection comes to us from the Latin word, insurgere, meaning to rise up.
God knows a life of disobedience to Him is a life destined to crash and burn. For example, Zedekiah, the young king over Judah and Jerusalem did evil, stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against turning to the Lord God. Others also including priests and officials chose to follow the abominations of the heathen nations around them.
God, in His great mercy, sent word to those defying His authority again and again because He had compassion on them. However, they continued to mock the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets until His anger could not be restrained and there was no remedy. (See 2 Chronicles 36:11-16)
Today, God and Jesus are also being openly mocked in our society, but “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” (Galatians 6:7)
NOW GO LIVE IT!
We must approach our most high God with the deepest honor and reverence. He is God. He is in charge and He is calling all the shots. Because He is also good, you can rest more in trusting Him to know what He is doing.
Things often go wrong or against us because of the world (others), the flesh (you) or the devil (Satan), not God. Yet the most High and Holy One sometimes is the only one to bear the brunt of our foolish anger when things go wrong.
He says to be of good cheer when various trials and sufferings happen. Is God crazy? No way! It’s just that, often, we are just so ignorant.
1 Peter 4:12, 16, 18 and 19 tells us, "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you…But if any one suffers as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed, but in that name, let him glorify God…And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner? Therefore, let those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.
Whew!—better seek Him now, with all your might! Endure the fire—it’s producing pure gold!
God so often cautioned His people to not forget and stray from His statutes and laws. When the people obeyed, there was life and when the people rebelled and disobeyed without repentance, there was judgment and often death.
God would have us to remember that we were created by Him and for Him. Our purpose on this earth is to love, worship and serve God alone. David kept the memory of God’s glorious acts ever before him and said, “…and men shall speak of the power of your awesome acts; and I will tell of your greatness. They shall eagerly utter the memory of your abundant goodness and shall shout joyfully of Your righteousness.” In these verses remembrance is with an implication of honor, worship and celebration. David also said “Remember the wondrous works He has done” and “Remember His covenant forever.”
Moses addressed the people of God and said, “only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things which your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life: but make them known to your sons and your grandsons.” He also said, “Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb when the Lord said to me, ‘assemble the people to Me, that I may let them hear My words so they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.’”
Be encouraged to be more passionate and diligent to worship God—Make known His deeds! We must live in memory of our new covenant relationship we have with God—a covenant of eternal life through Jesus Christ who shed His blood and redeemed us from death, hell and the grave.
References: Genesis 12:1-3; Deuteronomy 4:1-24; Psalm 145; I Chronicles 16:7-36; I Corinthians 15:1-2; Psalm 30
NOW GO LIVE IT!
When our lives reflect the love of God, those around us will feel His presence. Be the vessel through which Christ brings the dry bones of this dying earth back to life.
What an enormous joy and privilege to serve our mighty God and King. May we never forget that salvation and sanctification are the holy work of God’s grace and have never and can never come from man. It is not what a man says or does that saves a soul but, rather, God alone. Our job is to live that disciplined life and be helpers to ourselves and others to be wholly yielded to God.
Oswald Chambers reminds us that, “One life wholly devoted to God is of more value to God than one hundred lives simply awakened by His Spirit.” Unless you are wholly a servant unto the Lord, you may become an irritating dictator instead of an indwelling disciple!
Jesus never dictates to us. Whenever our Lord talked about discipleship, He always prefaced it with an “if”, never with an emphatic “you must”. Discipleship carries an option with it…you get to choose!
Hopefully, we all will learn by God’s wisdom and Jesus’ example that we cannot “make” things happen but, rather, live the joyful, free life He has for us and let God do what He does best…rule and reign. Endure the fire—it’s producing pure gold!
Look up; forever look up! Can we say as Paul did in Philippians that:
And don’t stop there. Don’t stomp your feet and complain because something hasn’t changed or you didn’t hear anything yet or get anything yet.
No…slow down. You need to let the next verse seep in. This is a promise, a contract, a portion of God’s covenant agreement from God. He cannot lie…He will do it! “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Is this sinking in yet? While we wait for God’s response, He will give that peace of His – not ours. Our peace comes only when the answer comes, His peace exists through the whole ordeal! This peace isn’t just a “feel- good” peace. It’s a peace that guards our hearts (protects those sensitive feelings about the situation) and guards our minds (so we won’t be blasted with stinkin’ thinkin’ while we wait on God). And all of this, it says, is done in Christ Jesus. No one is going to snatch, remove, stain, destroy or steal anything guarded by Him!
We have sometimes been foolish to try to work out things with our limited wisdom and biased judgments. Let’s change and do it God’s way. Read Philippians 4:6-7 again and ask God to sink it deep into your soul. Endure the fire—it’s producing pure gold!
How great and wonderful is our God. He has given us all the tools of salvation, starting with His Son, Jesus. Being saved in that great redemption removes the death sentence that we were born into, but it doesn’t end there…you must continue to know and grow in the ways of God.
If you say you love Him but do not obey His commands-He says you’re a liar (1 John 2:4-5). If you say you love Him and yet continue to walk in darkness, you lie to yourself (1 John 1:6).
Take heart though, the Lord tells us in Philippians 1:6, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Thank you, Lord, for we have all fallen short many times, but do not give up…it is God working on you and He will have His completed, finished result! Endure the fire—it’s producing pure gold!