Archive for July, 2019

Praying Like you Mean it (Daniel 9)

July 31, 2019

17 Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord,[b] make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate. Daniel 9:17

I know I am not supposed to judge according to Matthew 7:1, so I will speak in generalities.  It seems to me that not everyone who prays really is talking with God.  When it comes to prayers offered, I place them in the following categories:

  • Business meeting prayers:  The person praying seems to be conducting a prayer according to Robert’s Rules of order.
  • Form letter prayers:  This person prays the same way every day. They have certain prayers for every occasion.
  • Meal prayers:  A.K.A. lets get to the food.
  • Real prayers (Daniel’s prayer in this chapter falls here).

Daniel’s life (according to Scripture) is filled with real prayers.  His life models I Thess. 5:18 “pray without ceasing.”  In every circumstance he came before God.

In Chapter 9 Daniel has completed his studies in the prophecies of Jeremiah.  He has concluded that the time of his nations captivity was coming to an end.  He also realizes his nation still has not repented.

Questions are flowing through his mind:  Would God extend the period of judgment?  Would the people repent?  What did the future hold?

Daniel comes with a real prayer.  His prayer was filled with passion, humility, sorrow, pleadings, mournings, confession, repentance, and pleas for mercy!

Question:  Does your prayer life look like Daniel’s?

What would happen if the church prayed like Daniel?

  • God would hear.
  • God would forgive.
  • God would act on our behalf.

Brothers and sisters, in Matthew 6 Jesus expands our understanding in this discussion of prayer:

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.[a]
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,[b]
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,[c]
12 and forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.[d]

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Here are 4 guidelines for real praying:

  1. Set aside daily one-on-one time with God, Vs: 5-6.
  2. Be genuine with God as you pray, Vs: 7-8.
  3. Follow God pattern for prayer, Vs: 9-13.
  4. End every day clean with God and with your fellow man, Vs: 14-15.

If we could see the future (Daniel 8)

July 30, 2019

 26 The vision of the evenings and the mornings that has been told is true, but seal up the vision, for it refers to many days from now.” Daniel 8:26

Years ago Sherry and I watched a movie that told the story of a person who was able (fiction) to develop a time machine.  In the movie the person was able to be transported into the future and then back to present day.  In the movie the guy was now faced with a moral dilemma, what would he do with the knowledge he possessed?  In the movie the guy sold the cure for a dreaded disease.  In the movie the guy bet on sporting events that he knew the outcome.  In the movie the guy invested in stocks with companies that he knew would become successes.  But at the end of the movie, the guys dies alone and miserable because no one wants to be around someone who fails to do the right things with what they know.

Question: if you could see in the future, what would you do with your discoveries?

Well, we don’t have to ask Daniel this question, because we already know the answer.  Daniel was overcome with the sorrow of what was coming upon the world in the last days.  But there was more, Daniel strengthened himself in the Lord and served to the best of his ability his captors.  I believe it was this knowledge that led Daniel to lead future kings to saving faith.  Daniel was a man who made the most of what he knew.

Question:  What are you and I doing with what we know?

For a moment, let’s consider Jesus.  Here is an exert from Matthew 23:

37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 38 See, your house is left to you desolate. 

  • Jesus weeps for what is coming upon the world.
  • Jesus warns the world of what is coming.  Check out Matthew 24-25 as an example.
  • Jesus went to the cross so that you and I could be saved from what is coming on the world, John 3:36.
  • Jesus gave the church the mission of showing people the way to heaven, Acts 1:8.

All of this is so important to our day.  If the Bible is true, and I believe it is, how can we fail to both see the signs and share the news of the signs that predict the coming of the end, maybe even in our day?

Today, if we are preoccupied with our stuff, we will not see or we will ignore the signs.  If we fail to study God’s Word we will quickly loose the burden to reach people before the end.  If we fail to die to self we will grow cold toward a world plunging itself to a certain eternity apart from God.

However, if you and I are preoccupied with loving God and loving others, we will share what we know about the future.

The end of the matter (Daniel 7)

July 29, 2019

”Here is the end of the matter.  As for me, Daniel my thoughts greatly alarmed me, and my color changed, but I kept the matter in my heart.” Daniel 7:28

Sometimes I find myself getting tunnel vision.  It can really get down right tough when I become consumed with the moment of a circumstance and lose viewpoint about who is really in charge of all things.   It happened with me last week.

It is in those moments when the Lord usually reminds me of who He is.  It happened on the very day, last week, when I needed it most.  It was after 10 Pm.  Sherry and I had returned from the airport taking our children to fly back to their home.  As we arrived back, the sea was alive with the display of God’s power in a storm way out at sea.  We decided to walk out to the beach and watch God’s marvelous display.  As I stood there, I could not help but raise my hands to God and cry out, “your creation reveals your handiwork.”

When I opened my Bible to Daniel 7, I came away with the same reminder.  The book of Daniel has such reminders on every page.  In this chapter Daniel is given a vision of the present (his day), the future (our past) and the end-time future (The Great Tribulation to come) and the Second Coming of Jesus.

Keep in mind, this vision came before the events of Daniel 6.  Daniel is able to see God the Father (The Ancient of Days) seated firmly on the throne and he sees the Son of Man (Jesus) coming to receive eternal authority and power to reign forever and ever.

Three things to be reminded of:

  • This was an amazing moment for a man who was under foreign leadership.
  • This was an encouraging moment for a man who faced fierce opposition from his enemies.
  • This was a liberating moment for a man who was under the microscope of a pagan nation.

Brothers and sisters the end of a matter always is amazing.  It is what we need to bring encouragement and liberation.  Last week I needed it and today I need it as well.  I think I am not alone.

Feast on the words of Paul today:

”But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus, who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself.”  Phil. 3:20-21

A Different “Now” (Daniel 5)

July 26, 2019

”And you his son, Belshazzar have not humbled yourself against the Lord of heaven…” Daniel 5:23

They were different than day light and dark.  Their viewpoints were different and their dispositions were totally the opposite.  It was hard to believe they were father and grandson.  But this is exactly how it came to be between Nebuchadnezzar and his grandson, “Belshazzar.”

Yesterday we looked at Nebuchadnezzar’s life and today his grandson.  One thing comes rushing into my heart, these men were at one point alike, until God stepped into the picture.  What came to the be the difference in these two men?

  • One man humbled himself before the True God.
  • One man would not humble himself before the True God.

Oh, how many countless times I have seen this in families.  Could it be that one family member was smarter or more disciplined than the other?  We know, according to God’s Word, this is not the case.  The difference is in the heart attitude toward God.  You have heard of our God have you not?

He is the creator God, Acts 17:31, who reveals himself to men, Rev. 3:20.

He is the God who desires all people to be saved, II Peter 3:9.

He is the God who made a way for all people to be in relationship with God the Father, I Tim. 2:3-6.

He is the God who will not force anyone to follow Him, Eph. 2:4-54.

So the issue of the difference between father and grandson is an issue of the heart.  Jesus said, “out of the heart comes the issues of life…” Mk. 7:21.  Paul writes of how Satan comes and places before men’s eyes the pursuits of this life, II Cor. 4:4.  Men embrace the world system with all of their hearts.  They have no room for God because they see no need for God.  This was how Belshazzar lived his life.

However, God invaded Nebuchadnezzar life with truth that humbled him (Daniel 4) and changed him.  His heart changed (II Cor. 4:5-6) and he became a different man (II Cor. 5:7).

So how could these men be so different?  It’s simple, one man humbled himself before God and became a child of God (John 1:12) and the other hardened himself before God and defiantly faced the judgment of God.

Question: Where do the members of your family find themselves?  As I write this I am sitting at a table on vacation with my family, praising God that He has saved each of us.  I am praying that my grandson will someday open his heart to this Jesus.  I am praying for all those on my list of “who’s your one.”  And I am pleading with God for those in our flock who have lost loved ones.

This day I leave you with the sure hope that Jesus is opening the eyes of the blind and He is opening the hearts of those we think can never change their hearts!!!  Keep praying and keep sharing what God has placed in your heart.  It will someday pay off.

How to embrace the “New now,” (Daniel 4)

July 25, 2019

”Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of Heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.” Daniel 4:37

As I sit here writing, with the intent to cover the text in a contextual faithful way, I realize, if I had a child who was lost I would rejoice at the possibility in the above verse.  No matter how difficult my child may come, this verse gives hope in the saving power of God.

You, see if ever there was a man who the church world would say, is beyond hope, it would be Nebuchadnezzar.  But God reaches this man and brings him to a “new now.”

At the end of chapter three one would believe he had already made the change because of his decree that all his kingdom should allow the worship of the true God.

Now, pay close attention, this king understood there was a God who had great power, but he had not surrendered his life to him.  Chapter 4 reveals how God brings this king to a new now.  Several things characterize Nebuchadnezzar’s journey:

  • This king is a prosperous man who thinks the spoils of his life are totally because of his own efforts, Vs: 4.
  • This king is a foolish man who expects his kingdom to continue without end, Vs: 30.
  • This king is a marked man who experiences the glorious wrath of God in order that he might be saved, Vs: 31-32.
    • God brings him to true knowledge.
    • God opens his eyes to the need of faith.
    • God brings him to the now, Vs: 34-35.
  • This king becomes a saved man who embraces and shares the truth he has come to see, Vs: 37.

Brothers and sisters this is so good for those of us who have lost people around us.  No one is beyond the reach of God.  No one is able to stand against the God who opens hearts and reaches beyond the walls of opposition.

Today, I praise the God who takes us and makes us into new creations (II Cor. 5:17).  Today, I challenge you to be encouraged, God is doing what you cannot do.  Today, I am challenging you to get busy with faith sharing what God has done in you.  No longer allow discouragement to rob you of showing forth the new you.

Your family is not nearly as rough as Nebuchadnezzar’s.

Who Is Your God (Daniel 3)

July 24, 2019

”…And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands.” Daniel 3:16

Each new day brings challenges and choices.  For example I was up extremely late last evening.  I had a challenge before me the next morning.  Would I get up like I always do or would I listen to my body’s call to stay in bed.  I had a choice.

Now I now my challenge was much less serious than many of the choices you are faced with today.  The challenge for each of you is this, which God will you chose to listen to and follow?

In the book of Daniel we see both challenges and choices on every page.  In our reading for today a group of Jewish young men (we do not know the number) are faced with a challenge, would they bow to the God’s of their captors and worship the golden image their leader had set up.

For all but three in the group, there was only one choice.  They bowed.  But for the three, they would not and could not bow because they were  servants of the living God.

Brothers and sisters, what would you do?  Here is why the choice was no for the three:

  1.  They were following the One True God.
  2. They loved and honored the One True God.
  3. They knew they would be at odds with the dead gods of the world.

This very day, I am praying for each of you as you face life’s challenges.  The choice is simple, if you are following the correct God.  If the challenge places you in the fire’s of life, be reminded, there is one who walks in the fire with you.

By the way, I did get up early and I want you to know, it was worth it!  The day was very much effective because God gave me what I needed in those early hours of the day.

Why me Lord? (Daniel 2)

July 23, 2019

30 But as for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because of any wisdom that I have more than all the living, but in order that the interpretation may be made known to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your mind. Daniel 2:30

Years ago there was a song written entitled, “Why me Lord.”  Here are a few lyrics from the song: “Why me Lord, what have I ever done, to deserve even one of the pleasures I have known.”  This morning I took the time to look up the song and its author. I am now sitting here with tears praising God for all that he has done for me!

I believe Daniel must have felt the same way in his blessings from God.  Daniel has always been in my life, a hero who understood the importance of the largeness of God in his life.  In chapter one we read of how Daniel passed the test in public because his faith was firmly placed in both principle and practice focusing on the glory of God.

Here in chapter two Daniel we get a glimpse of Daniel’s high view of God.  Daniel’s influence was great because God was ever increasing in Daniel and the “i” of self was diminishing.

Daniel knew he was favored because of God’s mercy (Vs: 18).  Daniel understood the might of God and the majesty of God.  There was no one who compared to Daniel’s God.  Daniel’s mission in life was simple:  He was to lift up the name of God wherever the Lord placed him.

Here in chapter 2 God places Daniel in a position of interpreting a dream that saved the lives of hundreds of people who hated Daniel. Daniel is in a position to reveal to the king the sovereign plans of Holy God.  By the end of chapter 4, the earthy king is a follower of the eternal king!

Brothers and sisters, has God given you and I influence in this world?  If He has, I ask, let us use it for His glory!!!

The smaller you and I become, the greater His influence in and through our lives.

John the Baptist said it best:  “He must increase and I must decrease.”  John 3:30

Tested in Public ? (Daniel 1)

July 22, 2019

13 Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king’s food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see. Daniel 1:13

Recently a media fire storm was set off in the church when a Georgia man and woman became a part of a TV show called “Bachelorette.”  You can read Bucky Kennedy’s bog posts at his website for more details.  The fire storm came as these two Christians were far less than perfect in their actions on the show.  Bucky summed it up best when he wrote, “Luke was not spiritually prepared for what he faced.”

Has there ever been anyone else in this place?  I have more times than I want to admit.

When it comes to putting our faith to the test in public there are no less than two considerations:

  • There are amazing possibilities.

The Bible reveals the impact in Matthew 5:13-16. As our light shines the light impacts  and reaches more people than we can imagine.  For those who are willing to place their lives in the Media Fishbowl there are amazing possibilities.

  • There will be agonizing problems.

First you will often be quoted out of context, count on it. Also every past sin will be brought out and if you have any weak spots in the present they will be magnified.  However, if you are repentant (for the past) and real (for Jesus) in the present great things can and will happen for God’s glory.

Here are some insightful points to consider:

  1. If you are spiritually strong in your belief system, the light of Christ will shine in the darkness.
  2. If you are Spirit-filled the enemy will have to flee, I John 4:4.
  3. If you are Spiritually protected with God’s Armor (Eph. 6:10-18) you will take ground from the enemy.

Daniel is a great example of a spiritually strong believer.  Daniel both knew what God required of His life and Daniel was already living out the requirements.  This is why he was willing to stand up in a crowd and speak for this was already his conviction and practice in life.  Daniel was Spirit-filled in saying, “Test us.”  Daniel had the armor of God on for those ten days.  The proof was in the results ten days later, but also for the next 70 years as he was a leader in three different administrations.

Question:  Do you and I want to be used by God? If so, we need to get ready for the test.  Here is how to always be ready:

  • Dedicate your life to knowing and living out God’s Word.
  • Deepen your dependence on the Holy Spirit, Eph. 1:18.
  • Do not make a move without putting on the Armor of God.

Certainly there will be moments when we fail.  When we do fail we need to repent and get back in the race (I John 1:9), the test is still going on and God wants to use you!!!

The Next Generation (Psalm 78)

July 19, 2019

that the next generation might know them,
    the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children, Psalm 78:6

Last week I found myself at almost a loss of hope for the people on the island of Utila because of the generations of darkness I experienced.  But as I considered the hopelessness of the place I was reminded of the eternal hope in Christ that comes to all who receive Him.  34 children prayed to receive Christ last week. Out of those 34 if 10 are serious they can turn the island upside down for Jesus.

Question:  How did life become so dark for those people?  I do not have the for sure answer for them, but we do have the path before us in Psalm 78 that ensures the truth of the gospel going forth to all nations.

In Psalm 78, the author calls for all people to listen and then to share what they hear.  The Psalmist informs his readers about the glorious truth of who God is. Here are a few characteristics of God that we find in this chapter:

  • He is a merciful God.
  • He is a mighty God who does marvelous deeds.
  • He is a God who directs His people.
  • He is the Shepherd of His sheep.
  • He is the judge of all the earth.

Brothers and sisters, these characteristics alone are enough to reach the world.  Recently I heard a dad say to his son, “I will get to it son, just not today.”  Truly good intents are nice but good intentions alone without follow through leaves people in the same condition we find them in.

Here are five actions we can take to ensure the next generation receives the good news of Jesus Christ:

  1. Dig deep in God’s Word every day seeking to know who He is.
  2. Delight in teaching the next generation about God.
  3. Dedicate yourself to mentoring the next generation in how to live with and for God.
  4. Dedicate yourself to be an authentic witness before this generation and all those generations to come.

What Suits You? (II Timothy 4)

July 18, 2019

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound[a] teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, II Timothy 4:3

No matter where you are from or what you have or what you don’t have, you each have different likes and dislikes.  For example some people like fish to eat and some do not.  Question: when it comes to those who teach God’s Word, what suits you?

As Paul writes to Timothy, it is with the understanding that there would come a day when people will no longer like the authentic teaching of God’s Word. Paul writes, it will no longer suit them.

When people don’t like something they disregard it.  If it is food they simply don’t eat it.  If it is theory they simply reject it and if it is God’s Word they simply change it to suit their own desires.

I wonder, are you looking for pastors who will teach the Bible to suit you?

Paul challenges Timothy to preach the truth of God’s Word with accuracy. Paul wanted Timothy to know there would be seasons when people would like the Word and then there would be seasons when the Word would not suit them.

Brothers and sisters, God has not called you and I to follow teachers that suit us.  We are called to follow teachers who are faithful to accurately teaching God’s Word.   I want to be taught not what suits me but what will save me.  I want to be taught not what pacifies me but what purifies me. At the end of the day I want to know that I have been taught the Word in the way that leads to acceptance before God when He returns (Vs: 8).

If you have been blessed with a pastor who preaches accurately the Word of God, let him know how thankful you are for his faithfulness. Pray daily for Him and partner in getting this accurate gospel to the nations.