Looking forward to His coming!
Today’s Reading: Daniel 7:1-28 (additional reading: Psalm 119:153-176 & Proverbs 28:23-24 )
Maybe the count down has already started for you or your family, but tomorrow is the day when people all over the world will wake up and open their advent calender. The count down for Christmas is on! With each passing day, the excitement and preparations for its arrival have been accelerating. Lights and decorations have been put up, stores are full, and music is filling the air. A lot of people, especially children, are eagerly anticipating a visit from Santa Claus.
Now that may be important to many people, but the One whose coming I’m looking forward to this morning won’t be coming from the North Pole or riding in a sleigh. Instead, He’s coming from Heaven and arriving on the clouds of the sky! This is the vision which Daniel had in today’s reading (Daniel 7:13-14).
In a vision, Daniel says that he saw the Son of Man coming with the clouds of Heaven in glory & power. And all the people & nations of the entire world worshipped Him! And Daniel wasn’t the only one to talk about His coming. Look at what the Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Church in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18.
Jesus isn’t sending an ambassador – He is coming Himself! And we need to be ready for that day. Advent actually comes from the Latin word adventus meaning coming, it’s a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of Jesus coming, both at His birth and as we await His return.
Isn’t it fun to watch the excitement grow on the faces of children as Christmas Day approaches? With each passing day the grins grow, the adrenaline level rises and the expectation almost bursts forth from every pore. We should be even more excited! You & I can be excited about the coming of our King dressed in all His radiance & riding the clouds of heaven.
So as you start to celebrate advent tomorrow, don’t forget it’s true meaning. As you start to rush around, don’t forget to celebrate ‘Jesus is coming!’ In 2 Peter 3:11-12, Peter asks a question of the people, “What kind of people should you be?” Peter, answers his own question by saying, “You should live holy lives and serve God, as you wait for and look forward to the coming of the day of God.”
Are you ready and waiting for Jesus to return?
Father, Thank You that You are true to Your word! Thank You that Jesus is coming back and is going to call us to spend eternity with you. Help us to live ready. In Jesus’ name, Amen
Confronting our limitations
Today’s Reading: Daniel 6:1-28(additional reading: Psalm 119:129-152 & Proverbs 28:21-22
Dr Madison Sarratt taught mathematics at Vanderbilt for many years. Before giving a test, he would put things in perspective for his students by admonishing his class with these words: “Today I am giving two examinations: one in trigonometry, and the other in honesty. I hope you will pass them both. But, if you must fail one, fail trigonometry. There are many good people in the world who cannot pass trigonometry, but there are no good people in the world who cannot pass the examination of honesty.”It doesn’t take long to realize that the really important tests in life come outside of the classroom.
In today’s reading, Daniel was now facing his greatest test yet! In this test, we can see a very important truth that is meant by God to help us through the tests that we will inevitably face in life.
God’s tests are often designed to confront you with the reality of your own human limitations. Humanly speaking, Daniel’s situation was without hope. Verse 16 tells us that he had just been thrown into the lions’ den. A large stone was placed over the mouth of the den to ensure that there was no physical way for Daniel to escape and the placement of the royal seals on the secured den. Every precaution was taken to make sure that the deliverance of Daniel was humanly impossible. I know that some of you reading this feel like you are facing some personal impossibilities. And you are on the verge of giving up. Some of you are under-employed. For some of you, it’s an ongoing financial problem. For others it’s relational. You’ve almost given up on your marriage making it. In spite of all you have done, things just are not improving. They seem to be getting worse. For some parents here today you are deeply concerned today about your children. For some, it’s a health problem or a recurring sin or addiction that you wonder if you will ever be able to conquer. No matter what you do, there just seems to be no way out. No hope for change. Whatever lions’ den you may find yourself in, now or in the future, sooner or later you must come face to face with your human limitations. Why? What good is that? To face all our human limitations seems counterproductive and defeating!
The truth is that it is the most spiritually productive place you could ever be! You see, God brings you into the lions’ den because he loves you. He does so because he knows that it is only when you come to the end of yourself that you will ever be able to taste the joys of truly knowing his presence and power in your life. It is only in dying to yourself that you can come alive to God.
God’s tests are designed to lead you into deeper levels of dependence on him to deliver you. God takes great pleasure in taking the most difficult situations in life—those that seem humanly impossible to us—and using those impossibilities as a way of increasing our faith in his unlimited capability.
What Lion’s den are you facing?
Father, Thank You that You use all sorts of things in life to mould us and shape us into the people You want us to be. Help us to respond correctly in testing times and to keep our trust in You. In Jesus’ name, Amen
What will it take to get your attention?
Today’s Reading: Daniel 5:1-31 (additional reading: Psalm 119:113-128 & Proverbs 28:19-20)
What would happen if someone gave a party—and God crashed it? Belshazzar exemplifies the playboy philosophy so prevalent in our day. His end and goal of life was to provide satisfaction and pleasure for the body.
In the first verses of Daniel chapter 5, we find a description of a rather wild party thrown by king Belshazzar. Then we are told how his party was crashed. Right in the middle of the party, at what was probably the loudest and wildest part, an unexpected and unusual guest suddenly appeared that brought the party to an abrupt end. A set of fingers. In view of all the astonished party revellers, the uninvited hand wrote a mysterious message on the palace wall that no-one understood.
He had everything he could have desired. He was wealthy enough to throw a feast for a thousand of the political leaders of the empire. No doubt their wives and escorts were present as well. His were. Archaeologists have unearthed banquet room that would seat 10,000 people, but none of them knew what God was saying.
Our lives can be the same. So many are living lives like Belshazzar, lives too drunk with power, pleasure, and possessions to even see the handwriting on the wall, let alone understand it. Belshazzar put all his wealth and power to work to try to understand what was happening. All his wisest advisors failed even though promised wealth and power. The king became even more terrified. Into every life there comes sooner or later, a dilemma that cannot be solved without the help of a Someone mightier than any human, a situation which only God can solve. The good news is that every time your in this situation, God provides someone who can help. In this case, it was David, he was now in exile for more than 70 years, maybe still asking why? But God had him there for this hour.
So we can learn two lessons from this passage.
1) It’s time to pay attention to what God is trying to teach us, He will get the message through to us eventually, but it is so much better when we are in tune with Him.
2) If your somewhere and you don’t know why, maybe it’s to help someone who is confused and explain God’s message to them.
Are you paying attention to what God is trying to tell you?
Father, Thank You that You communicate with us as people. Help us to be quick to listen and to respond to You. Help us to witness for You in all situations. In Jesus’ name, Amen
Stop procrastinating and put it right!
Today’s Reading: Daniel 4:1-37 (additional reading: Psalm 119:97-112 & Proverbs 28:17-18)
Have you ever wondered why some people choose to learn things the hard way? King Nebuchadnezzar was that type of person. Nothing came easy for him. He was a perpetual slow learner when it came to spirituality. If given the choice between a hard way and an easy way, King Nebuchadnezzar would choose the hard way. Are you that type of person?
King Nebuchadnezzar was a very prideful man. Prideful people are close-minded. They have their own ideas and often feel threatened by other people who might oppose them such as Shadrach, Meshach & Abendego in Ch. 3. And while King Nebuchadnezzar routinely sought advice, he did not always like the advice that was given to him. He was a very prideful man. The Bible teaches that “Pride goes before a fall” Prov. 16:18. According to the Living Bible “Pride goes before destruction” This was true of the King. His pride would soon become his downfall.
When Daniel warned the King regarding the dream, he put off taking action until it was too late. When Daniel interpreted the dream, he advised the King to renounce his sins by doing what was right and taking care of the poor. Sadly the advice that was most appropriate for King Nebuchadnezzar was forgotten for a whole year.
What about you? Are you a procrastinator? We all procrastinate things of varying degrees of importance. We may procrastinate things like paying bills, spending time with our family, making apologies. And sometimes we feel pain and pressure of procrastination. But there is one thing we never want to procrastinate. We never want to procrastinate spiritual priorities, the price is too high and the pain too great.
King Nebucadnezzar procrastinated making important life changes for a whole year. He put off until tomorrow things that he should have been doing today. And as a result, he was driven into the wilderness to live like a wild animal.
If there is something you should be putting right, don’t let pride blind you or get in your way! Stop procrastinating and put it right!
What do you have to put right today?
Father, Thank You that You allow us to respond to You. Help us to listen to Your prompting and to stop putting things off. In Jesus’ name, Amen
Standing firm for God
Today’s Reading: Daniel 2:24-3:30 (additional reading: Psalm 119:81-96 & Proverbs 28:15-16)
To compromise one’s beliefs as a Christ follower is a constant pressure in our culture. Often it is a subtle pressure that occurs in conversation or while watching TV or in front of your computer. How can we stand up under that pressure?
You and I may never have to face persecution and death like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. But we’ve all felt pressure to compromise. We’ve all had moments when we were not as bold for Christ as we should have been. We’ve all had moments when God wanted us to say something, or God wanted us to do something, or God wanted us to take a stand on something, but we backed off because we were afraid.
We were afraid that someone might be offended. Afraid that people won’t like us anymore. Afraid that someone might say, “What gives you the right to force your value system on me? What gives you the right to act as judge and jury over how I live my life? What gives you the right to say that your way of doing things is better than my way of doing things?” Proverbs 29:25 says “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.”
This scripture came true in the lives of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Their firm answer to the king is one of the most courageous moments in Bible history.
This passage raises questions for us: Will you be loyal to God even if He doesn’t give you everything you want? Will you be loyal to God even if He doesn’t heal your husband’s cancer? Will you be loyal to God even if you don’t get the promotion you want? Will you be loyal to God even though He is the One who is calling the shots instead of you?
God is not a magic lamp that you can rub to get what you want anytime you want it. The true God is the all-powerful Creator of the Universe. The true God is sovereign over the kingdoms of men. The true God is greater than all other gods, and greater than all other kingdoms. The true God has a purpose for our lives that overrules all of our second guessing and all of our protests.
When do you find it most difficult to make a stand for God?
Father, Thank You that You never back down from Your Word or Your commitment to us. Help us to make a stand for You and to avoid compromise. In Jesus’ name, Amen
Integrity replaces compromise
Today’s Reading: Daniel 1:1-2:23 (additional reading: Psalm 119:65-80 & Proverbs 28:14)
The life of Daniel is the story of a young man that “Lived a Life Without Compromise.” He lived a life of integrity. Webster’s defines integrity as, “1.firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values: incorruptibility 2: an unimpaired condition: soundness 3 : the quality or state of being complete or undivided: completeness.” It is closely related to the word honesty. I defined it last week as doing what you say, and saying what you do. It is where word and deed are in agreement. It is sticking to your guns no matter what the circumstances. It sounds easy, but it’s not. What do you do when the pressure to change builds in your life?
Daniel and his three friends were among the hostages Nebuchadnezzar took with him back to Babylon. Daniel was from a royal family and only a teenager at the time. Daniel found himself in a pressure situation. His life was in turmoil at every level. His emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being was being threatened by world events.
Daniel was in a difficult, stressful situation that was going to test his faith and principles at a fundamental level. The Israelite was to change into a Babylonian. How was he to meet this challenge?
One way to deal with the pressures to our beliefs is to surrender. He could have sold out. Simply give up and bow to the peer pressure, circumstances, or whatever is compelling you to change your beliefs. Nobody would have blamed him, he was out of town. When in Rome…
Another way he could have handled it was to lie about what he was doing. Keep the court official and the king in the dark and do everything behind their back. No one would have been the wiser. Just eat and drink what you want in keeping with God’s law but pretend to be obedient. Fake everyone out. Many are willing to tell a little white lie as long as the circumstances warrant the lie.
How did Daniel handle it? He stood his ground by offering a solution. Daniel offered a win-win solution to his problem. He found an answer that allowed him to obey the Lord and obey the laws of the king. Daniel went in with confidence because he knew where he stood and he knew the Lord would honour him if he honoured the Lord.
How do you handle these kinds of situations? Do you just try to blend in or do you offer a win-win?
Father, Thank You for allowing us to live for you. Help us not to give into the world around us but to remain faithful to You. In Jesus name, Amen
Get into the deep
Today’s Reading: Ezekiel 47:1-48:35 (additional reading: Psalm 119:49-64 & Proverbs 28:12-13)
This river that Ezekiel saw in this vision was coming from God. It represents: Grace, Love, Redemption, Healing, and the Holy Spirit. If there was a stream of water anywhere on earth that would do all these things for whoever stepped into it every one of us would be making arrangements to go get into this river.
I would like to ask you a question. Are you in the centre of God’s will and that you are right where God wants you to be in your spiritual growth? The truth of the matter is, we all have plenty of room for improvement!
That’s what today message is all about. It’s about becoming more of what God wants each of us to be. It’s about leaving the shore of stagnant, disappointed Christianity and wading out into the deep spiritual waters of the born-again life. It about getting in over our heads and not just paddling around in the shallows.
God is telling Ezekiel about wading out into the deep spiritual waters of the Spirit-filled life. What has happened in the modern church is that we have become too afraid to give our all to Jesus Christ. We are afraid because we think that God may require more of us than we are willing to give. We reason within ourselves that, if I don’t commit to the work fully then I won’t be found guilty of failing in my commitment to Christ.
We see in today’s text 4 levels of commitment: 1)Ankle depth – V3 Ankles or the feet are where the whole body stands on. It speaks of our foundation. God wants to rebuild the foundation of faith. 2)Knee depth – V4 Serving God in knee-deep water means that we must work a little harder and study a little more. 3) Waist depth – V4 At the waist level in a flowing river, we are beginning to lose control of our movement in the water. We cannot run anymore at waist level. God wants us to let go of our strength and the control of our lives to Him 4) Swimming depth – v5 At the swimming depth, our feet cannot touch the ground We have very little control of our body. At fast currents in the river, the current carry us along the river. God wants full control and navigation rights of our life.
A deeper commitment means wading deeper and deeper into a strong relationship with Jesus and allowing the Holy Spirit to have complete control of their lives, helps us to stay close to God. At the swimming depth, the river takes us wherever the river flows. The river controls us we can’t control the river.
How deep is your relationship with God?
Father, Help us to trust You fully and to leave the safety of the shore and allow You to take us into deeper waters. Thank You for remaining with us wherever we go. In Jesus’ name, Amen
Everyone has an answer
It seems that we have moved on from the world where everyone is looking for answer into a world where everyone and his dog has the answers. Doesn’t matter what your looking for you can find the answer on a TV shopping channel or from the old lady at the bus stop or the man in the pub. But is this really wisdom and are these really the answer that we need to hear?
In 1 Corinthians 1, Paul introduces Christians to the higher realm of godly wisdom. This kind of knowledge and understanding isn’t available through human intelligence and reasoning; it comes strictly through divine revelation. Only those indwelt by God’s Spirit have “the mind of Christ” (v. 16) and access to “the things freely given” to them by God (v. 12).
Even believers need to guard against trying to fit God into their preconceived image of Him. The Bible is the only reliable source of divine revelation, but we must be careful to consider the Scriptures as a whole—it’s critical that we don’t just pick and choose the verses we want to believe. For example, by focusing only on passages that emphasize the Lord’s lovingkindness while excluding those that speak of His holiness and justice, we misunderstand His true nature.
Let’s seek to know the Lord in truth by considering the entire counsel of Scripture. Divine wisdom is available to every believer through the Holy Spirit, who searches the depths of God. May we never try to limit Him to fit our preferences. Instead, may He enlarge our minds to embrace His thoughts.
Today’s Reading: Ezekiel 40:28-41:26 (additional reading: Psalm 118:19-29 & Proverbs 28:3-5)
Throughout their ordeals as a nation the Jews have recognized three Temples – They were: 1. Solomon’s, 2. Herod’s and 3. Messiah’s.
However, we read this in the book of Exodus chapter 15, “17 You will bring them in and plant them in the mountain of Your inheritance, in the place, O LORD, which You have made for Your own dwelling, the sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands have established. 18 “The LORD shall reign forever and ever.” This first dwelling place was a temporary home for our Lord’s presence. Once in the land then a permanent structure could be built.
The first Temple was built by King Solomon as 2 Chronicles 3 tells us, this is the one that was destroyed. Hundreds of years later, in the New Testament, in order to try to please the Jews Herold went on a massive building spree. He enlarged the Temple mount and the Temple itself, thus giving record as this remodeled Temple being credited under his name. In 70 AD, the Roman army destroyed the city and this remodeled Temple.
But then we have the temple that God builds. A dwelling place in the hearts of His people which will never be destroyed. While outwardly, you may not have the beauty of splendour of Solomon’s or Herold’s temple. Inwardly, as God’s children, we have something much better.
What does it mean to you to know that God has decided to dwell with you?
God is there
Today’s Reading: Ezekiel 39:1-40:27 (additional reading: Psalm 118:1-18 & Proverbs 28:2)
This year as we have been reading through the Old Testament together we have seen a number of names for God. In biblical times, names tell us important things about people. – People were named after – events in their lives, circumstances they found themselves in, personal characteristics or even their ministry function. And God’s names are no different. They are an important source of knowledge of who God.
Today we come to the name Jehovah Shammah – The Lord is There. The only time this name is used is in the passage we read earlier in Ezekiel. However, the truth that the Lord is Present with us is right throughout scripture.
The word “There”, is interesting. If we look up the Hebrew term for this word guess what it means … “There.” That’s right – there means there. Just like the ball is over there. Not here, there. So the name the “Lord is There”, means, the “Lord is There”, speaking about some location.
And where is God in Ezekiel’s prophesy which we just read? He is in the city. What city? Jerusalem. In chapter 40, we read that Ezekiel had a vision. It was in 574BC, in the 25th year of his exile, 14 years after the destruction of Jerusalem. To understand the significance of this name to Ezekiel and in fact to all Israelites, you have you pause and think about what this meant for the people. Think about what it would be like if God was Lord over everyone and everything in this world. If God was physically there with us. It would be paradise, wouldn’t it? It would be just what it was like in the Garden of Eden. Now there’s a fantastic picture of God relating to man. You can read it in Gen 3. He walked through the garden in the cool of the day. There walking with him was Adam and Eve. They had everything – security, love, acceptance, innocence, perfection and an intimate relationship with God – Face to face contact. What an amazing experience that must have been to be there with God.
Unfortunately, that close communion was destroyed by sin entering the world and the result of this act of rebellion was that God threw Adam and Eve out of his garden – out of the nearness of his presence. God was still there in the world, but not like he had been in the Garden. In the Garden, God was There – right there – able to be seen and touched even. But after the fall – everything changed. The proximity of our contact changed. After the fall, the closest the Israelites came to God dwelling with them was his presence in the tabernacle and the temple. God was there – in his temple. But it was not the same as before the fall. There was no intimate fellowship as in the garden. There were no relaxed walks in the cool of the garden. Instead of God being just there, he was just over there. The other side of that wall, inside that curtain – he was set apart.
How great for us that God takes his residency with us and makes us into the His temple. 1 Cor 3:16-17 – “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” God is no longer over there, but there right inside of us and living through us.
Does God seem near or far from you?
Father, Thank You for saving us and restoring a closeness in our relationship to You. Help us to remain close to Your presence and to seek You more and more. Thank You for welcoming us into Your family. In Jesus’ name, Amen