10/26/T – The Writing on the Wall

Daniel 5:13-31; 2 Peter 2:11-22; Psalms 119:105-112; Proverbs 26:13-16

OT: “Then Daniel answered the king, “You may keep your gifts and give your rewards to someone else; however, I will read the inscription for the king and make the interpretation known to him… But you his successor, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, even though you knew all this. Instead, you have exalted yourself against the Lord of the heavens. The vessels from his house were brought to you, and as you and your nobles, wives, and concubines drank wine from them, you praised the gods made of silver and gold, bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or understand. But you have not glorified the God who holds your life-breath in his hand and who controls the whole course of your life. Therefore, he sent the hand, and this writing was inscribed. This is the writing that was inscribed: Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin. This is the interpretation of the message: ‘Mene’ means that God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end. ‘Tekel’ means that you have been weighed on the balance and found deficient. ‘Peres’ means that your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” Then Belshazzar gave an order, and they clothed Daniel in purple, placed a gold chain around his neck, and issued a proclamation concerning him that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom. That very night Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans was killed, and Darius the Mede received the kingdom at the age of sixty-two.” (‭‭Daniel‬ ‭5:17, 22-31‬ ‭CSB)

This is the story that the phrase “the handwriting on the wall” comes from. The phrase has come to mean that some misfortune is impending. In the story, Belshazzar threw a banquet during which he got very drunk. Then he had the unfortunate idea of gathering the holy implements from the Jewish temple and use them in his raucous and overtly pagan celebration. As Belshazzar’s friends, wives and concubines drank from the holy vessels, a mysterious hand appeared and wrote four words on the wall. Belshazzar became terrified and called for the mediums and diviners to interpret what had just happened. When no one could make sense of the writing, Daniel, who had apparently fallen out of favor, was brought in.

In this story, Belshazzar is referred to as the king. In actuality, he was not the official king of Babylon. If we take a look at who Belshazzar was, we can get more insight into what actually went on. Belshazzar was the son and crown prince of Nabonidus, and was most likely a grandson of Nebuchadnezzar. Nabonidus wasn’t actually Nebuchadnezzar’s heir to the throne. That was King Labashi-Marduk. Nabonidus, with help from Belshazzar, instigated a coup which overthrew Labashi-Marduk and put Nabonidus in power. There is a good chance that Daniel fell out of favor when Labashi-Marduk was removed from power. Belshazzar’s illegitimate claim to the throne may be one of the reasons for Daniel’s low regard for the regent. The reason why Belshazzar offered Daniel the 3rd highest position was probably because Belshazzar occupied the 2nd highest position just below his father Nabonidus.

Of course, like any foolish person, Belshazzar held himself in high regard and thought much too highly of himself. His wanton disregard and disrespect for the things of God was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. Nebuchadnezzar had been an arrogant man, and God humiliated him. Belshazzar knew of his grandfather’s humbling experience, yet chose to lift himself above the God of gods just the same. So depraved was Belshazzar, that Daniel wanted nothing to do with him or his rewards. Daniel agreed to interpret the message, not out of respect for Belshazzar, but to make sure that Belshazzar got and understood the message.

The message from God to Belshazzar was that his days were numbered. He had been weighed and found wanting, and the kingdom that he claimed and aspired to inherit would be taken from him and given to the Persians. As Jesus taught in the gospels, “he who has, more will be given – but the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.” Belshazzar was severely deficient on many levels, and what he had was taken away. Daniel, on the other hand, was extremely faithful and he would be sustained through the transition of power and given more.

Psalms: “Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path. I have solemnly sworn to keep your righteous judgments. I am severely afflicted; Lord, give me life according to your word. Lord, please accept my freewill offerings of praise, and teach me your judgments. My life is constantly in danger, yet I do not forget your instruction. The wicked have set a trap for me, but I have not wandered from your precepts. I have your decrees as a heritage forever; indeed, they are the joy of my heart. I am resolved to obey your statutes to the very end.” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭119:105-112‬ ‭CSB)

The psalmist who wrote Psalm 119 was nothing like Belshazzar. Instead of arrogantly disregarding and disrespecting the Lord God, the writer of Psalm 119 humbled himself completely under the mighty hand of God and submitted himself fully to the Lord’s word, will and ways. It was by the Lord’s word that the psalmist was able to see where his next step should be taken (lamp for his feet) as well as the long-term destination of his life (light on his path). Though the psalmist suffered afflictions, experienced danger, and dealt with threats; he knew that as he remained committed and submitted to the Lord, what he had would not be taken from him. Unlike Belshazzar, whose life was snuffed out, the psalmist would thrive in life and have an enduring heritage. When you are walking in faith with the Lord God, submitted to His word, will and ways, the “writing on the wall” contains a much different message.

Prayer: Lord, I thank You that when I live my life submitted completely to You in faith, the “writing on the wall” for my life is not impending misfortune, but sure hope and blessing. You resist the proud, but give grace to the humble. I, like the writer of Psalm 119, choose to make Your word, will and ways the lamp for my feet and the light for my path. By Your grace, as I humble myself before you in faith, make my life a steadfast and consistent display of Your glory and not a flash-in-the-pan life of folly. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

10/25/M – The False and the True

Daniel 5:1-12; 2 Peter 2:1-10; Psalms 119:97-104; Proverbs 26:9-12

NT: “There were indeed false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, and will bring swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved ways, and the way of truth will be maligned because of them. They will exploit you in their greed with made-up stories. Their condemnation, pronounced long ago, is not idle, and their destruction does not sleep.” (‭‭2 Peter‬ ‭2:1-3‬ ‭CSB)

Overall, the book of Second Peter was written near the end of Peter’s life to warn believers of false prophets and teachers, and help them recognize the difference between truth and counterfeit. The first chapter of the book was focused on laying out the truth: the truth of all that we have in Christ and the power of the true word of God. In order to avoid being duped by counterfeit “truth” and false teaching, we need to know and be intimately familiar with what is true.

In the second chapter of the book, Peter began describing false teachers. In order to remain on the path of truth, we also need to be able to recognize the purveyors of falsehood when they come along. There will be false teachers… there is no “if” in the playbook. For various reasons, they will bring destructive heresies as they exploit unwary believers with their customized doctrines and made-up stories. Satan is a master counterfeiter and deceiver, and he uses those tactics to lure people out of faith in Christ. We need to know the truth of God – cognitively and experientially – in order to stay off Satan’s evil path.

Psalms: “How I love your instruction! It is my meditation all day long. Your command makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is always with me. I have more insight than all my teachers because your decrees are my meditation. I understand more than the elders because I obey your precepts. I have kept my feet from every evil path to follow your word. I have not turned from your judgments, for you yourself have instructed me. How sweet your word is to my taste — sweeter than honey in my mouth. I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every false way.” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭119:97-104‬ ‭CSB)

The psalmist loved the instruction of the Lord through His word and meditated on them all day long. Because of his love for and attention to the word of God, he was full of wisdom, insight and understanding. He was able to keep himself from traveling down the path of evil and deception because of how well he knew the truth contained in the word of God. The same can be true of us. We can become deception-proof by knowing and giving priority to the word, will and ways of God. By intimately knowing the truth of God’s word, we will be able to recognize every false way and avoid falling for the enemy’s traps.

Prayer: Lord, I thank You for the truth that is found in Your word. I also thank You that I can know (cognitively, experientially, and relationally) the Truth by knowing You. I know that the more I know You, the better I will be able to recognize and stay clear of false teachings and false teachers. Open my eyes to be able to discern truth from falsehood as I follow Your word, will and ways by faith. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

10/24/Su – Heeding the Word of God

Daniel 4:28-37; 2 Peter 1:10-21; Psalms 119:89-96; Proverbs 26:6-8

OT: “All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. At the end of twelve months, as he was walking on the roof of the royal palace in Babylon, the king exclaimed, “Is this not Babylon the Great that I have built to be a royal residence by my vast power and for my majestic glory?” While the words were still in the king’s mouth, a voice came from heaven: “King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared that the kingdom has departed from you. You will be driven away from people to live with the wild animals, and you will feed on grass like cattle for seven periods of time, until you acknowledge that the Most High is ruler over human kingdoms, and he gives them to anyone he wants…” But at the end of those days, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up to heaven, and my sanity returned to me. Then I praised the Most High and honored and glorified him who lives forever: For his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation… Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt, and glorify the King of the heavens, because all his works are true and his ways are just. He is able to humble those who walk in pride.” (‭‭Daniel‬ ‭4:28-32, 34, 37‬ ‭CSB)

Chapter 4 of Daniel is an interesting chapter. The entire chapter was written by King Nebuchadnezzar, as he recounted a dream, a prophetic word, and the fulfillment of that word in his life. Despite the multiple times that God was glorified before Nebuchadnezzar through the lives of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, he continually walked in pride and lifted himself up above the knowledge of the God of Israel. God gave him a dream as a warning. Daniel interpreted that dream, and told him that if he didn’t humble himself and acknowledge God, then God would humiliate him. Nebuchadnezzar ignored that word and warning and continued glorifying himself. Then one day, when he was feeling especially proud of his accomplishments, God fulfilled his word and Nebuchadnezzar was humiliated for a time – until he humbled himself and proclaimed the Lord as God. Eventually, Nebuchadnezzar did humble himself, and chose to glorify God as the King of all kings. Then God restored the humbled Nebuchadnezzar back to his office.

NT: “Therefore, brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election, because if you do these things you will never stumble. For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you… For we did not follow cleverly contrived myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; instead, we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased!” We ourselves heard this voice when it came from heaven while we were with him on the holy mountain. We also have the prophetic word strongly confirmed, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you know this: No prophecy of Scripture comes from the prophet’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the will of man; instead, men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (‭‭2 Peter‬ ‭1:10-11, 16-21‬ ‭CSB)

The “therefore” in verse 10 referred to Peter’s challenge to the reader to continue growing by grace in godliness, otherwise – though saved – they would become shortsighted, blind and useless, and risk drifting away from the faith, forgetting the things they had heard and believed. The believer does not endure in faith and grow in godliness by passively existing as a saved person. The true disciple of Christ makes every effort to fortify and firmly root his calling and election in Christ by doing the things the Lord instructed and growing by the grace supplied by the Holy Spirit. God doesn’t just make us mature believers and disciples. He provides the grace by His power through the Holy Spirit – but we must make effort to walk in the grace He provides by heeding and obeying His word, will and ways. As we heed and obey Him, He will give us the grace and guidance to not stumble.

The gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ that contained the power of God to save us is not a cleverly contrived story or myth. It is the word of God. Peter was one of the few people that actually witnessed Jesus Christ in His glorified state on the mount of transfiguration. He was there and heard God’s voice from heaven confirm who Jesus was and is. True prophetic words (not false prophecy) that continue to be given are not just phrases contrived by men and women – they are words from the heart of Father God given to encourage, comfort, exhort and lead us in His will and ways. Instead of being like King Nebuchadnezzar of old who pridefully ignored the word of God, we need to pay attention to, obey, and walk in the word of God – and by doing so, we will grow in godliness and become more and more firmly rooted in faith.

Psalms: “Lord, your word is forever; it is firmly fixed in heaven. Your faithfulness is for all generations; you established the earth, and it stands firm. Your judgments stand firm today, for all things are your servants. If your instruction had not been my delight, I would have died in my affliction. I will never forget your precepts, for you have given me life through them. I am yours; save me, for I have studied your precepts. The wicked hope to destroy me, but I contemplate your decrees. I have seen a limit to all perfection, but your command is without limit.” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭119:89-96‬ ‭CSB)

Unlike the words of any other, the word of God is eternal. Heaven and earth will pass away, but the words of God and Christ will ever pass away. God’s faithfulness to His word transcends the passing of time and endures for every and all generation. If we understand that, why would we ever ignore the word of God and trust our own will and ways above His? The psalmist knew that it was by heeding and adhering to God’s word that he was able to survive and thrive though all the challenges he faced. There is a limit to perfection on earth, but there is no limit to the faithfulness, power, peace, joy and life found in the word of God. Like the psalmist, we would do well to heed God’s word.

Prayer: Lord, I thank You for Your word, given to save, grow, edify, comfort, exhort and lead me. I don’t ever want to be found guilty of ignoring Your word and walking in my own will and ways instead. I choose to make Your word, will and ways my delight. Use Your word to root me and mature me as I heed and obey it in faith. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

10/23/S – Everything We Need

Daniel 4:1-27; 2 Peter 1:1-9; Psalms 119:81-88; Proverbs 26:3-5

Psalms: “I long for your salvation; I put my hope in your word. My eyes grow weary looking for what you have promised; I ask, “When will you comfort me?” Though I have become like a wineskin dried by smoke, I do not forget your statutes. How many days must your servant wait? When will you execute judgment on my persecutors? The arrogant have dug pits for me; they violate your instruction. All your commands are true; people persecute me with lies — help me! They almost ended my life on earth, but I did not abandon your precepts. Give me life in accordance with your faithful love, and I will obey the decree you have spoken.” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭119:81-88‬ ‭CSB)

Many times, when we go through challenges, tests and trials, God’s promised deliverance does not come on our time table. That appears to be the case with the psalmist. He trusted God… he hoped in God, but it seemed like God’s comfort and strength were not coming when he felt like he needed them most. The longer God’s promise was delayed, the more difficult it was for the psalmist to endure in faith. We must remember that God uses challenges and trials to refine and strengthen us. If God swooped in like a helicopter parent and never allowed our faith and endurance to be tested, we would never grow and would remain spiritual infants our entire lives. Like the psalmist, as things grow harder, we must lean into the word, will and ways of the Lord even more. Even though we may not realize it fully at the time, as we press into God and keep our faith in Him, He will give us everything we need to both endure the trial and come out the other side victorious and stronger.

NT: “His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. By these he has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. The person who lacks these things is blind and shortsighted and has forgotten the cleansing from his past sins.” (‭‭2 Peter‬ ‭1:3-9‬ ‭CSB)

God is not as committed to our comfort as He is committed to our growth. When we come to saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and keep our faith in Him, He gives us everything that we need… everything that is required to live a life of godliness through Him. He does not do our living for us, but He shares His divine nature with us through the filling and indwelling of the Holy Spirit. That is why Paul often talked about walking in the Spirit instead of walking in the flesh. When we walk in and according to the Holy Spirit – the divine nature of Christ within us – we will not satisfy the desires of the flesh, but will live for and do the things of God.

Notice the progressive nature of growth and transformation that Peter explained here. We begin our walk and relationship with Christ through faith. Peter said, add to your faith goodness. Goodness in this passage is referring to moral excellence and purity. That is something that only comes from God and is one of the things He supplies us with as we walk in faith. To goodness, we add knowledge as we study, meditate on and apply God’s word. To knowledge, we add self-control, which is a fruit of being filled with the Holy Spirit. Self-control is the divinely empowered ability to master our carnal desires and passions and walk in the things of God. To self-control, we add endurance (steadfastness, patience and constancy). To endurance, we add godliness (reverence and respect toward God). To godliness, we add a love for our brothers and sisters in Christ. To brotherly affection (philadelphia), we add love (agape) – the self-sacrificing, others-focused, enduring and covenantal love of God.

Those are all the things that we need to be fruitful and full of life – to walk according to the kingdom and live righteously – to have an eternal impact on the world around us. Thankfully, those are the things that God’s divine power affords us generously as we remain in Him by faith. If we fail to grow in these things, we may be saved, but we will not be fully useful to God.

Prayer: Lord, I thank You that everything I need to live a life of godly impact on earth is available through You. You call me to a life that is far beyond just being saved. You call me to a life of ever-increasing godliness and kingdom impact on earth. Help me to grow in all the things I need as I keep my faith in You and continue to be filled with Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

10/22/F – The God of All Grace

Daniel 3:1-30; 1 Peter 5:1-14; Psalms 119:73-80; Proverbs 26:1-2

OT: “King Nebuchadnezzar made a gold statue, ninety feet high and nine feet wide. He set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon… A herald loudly proclaimed, “People of every nation and language, you are commanded: When you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, drum, and every kind of music, you are to fall facedown and worship the gold statue that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. But whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire.” …Some Chaldeans took this occasion to come forward and maliciously accuse the Jews… “There are some Jews you have appointed to manage the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men have ignored you, the king; they do not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” Then in a furious rage Nebuchadnezzar gave orders to bring in Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king. Nebuchadnezzar asked them, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, is it true that you don’t serve my gods or worship the gold statue I have set up? Now if you’re ready, when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, drum, and every kind of music, fall down and worship the statue I made. But if you don’t worship it, you will immediately be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire — and who is the god who can rescue you from my power?” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to the king, “Nebuchadnezzar, we don’t need to give you an answer to this question. If the God we serve exists, then he can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and he can rescue us from the power of you, the king. But even if he does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.”” (‭‭Daniel‬ ‭3:1, 4-6, 8, 12-18‬ ‭CSB)

In Daniel chapter 2 is the story of Daniel knowing and interpreting King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. In the dream, Nebuchadnezzar saw a large statue with a golden head. After Daniel interpreted his dream, he knew that the golden head stood for him. There is a good chance that King Nebuchadnezzar took that image and ran with it – making a gold statue of himself for everyone to worship. Some of the Chaldeans were apparently jealous of the Jews’ elevated status and took their commitment to their God as an opportunity to put them in bad sorts with the King. When Nebuchadnezzar heard that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to worship his image, he became furious. He then brought them in to confront them first-hand. Even in the face of a furious king threatening to execute them, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to worship any other god or image other than the Lord their God. Nebuchadnezzar asked them… challenged them by saying “who is the god who can rescue you from my power.” Well… Nebuchadnezzar would soon find out.

Nebuchadnezzar had the furnace stoked 7 times as hot as normal – so hot that the men who threw Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in, died from the heat. Yet, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego walked around in the furnace unharmed. The only thing on them that burned were the ropes that they were bound with. With them in the furnace was a forth man that Nebuchadnezzar said looked like the son of God. God, the God of all Grace was present with His faithful followers in the fire and protected them. They got free in the midst of the fire, and when they came out, God was glorified.

NT: “I exhort the elders among you as a fellow elder and witness to the sufferings of Christ, as well as one who shares in the glory about to be revealed: Shepherd God’s flock among you, not overseeing out of compulsion but willingly, as God would have you; not out of greed for money but eagerly; not Lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. In the same way, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. All of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your cares on him, because he cares about you. Be sober-minded, be alert. Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Resist him, firm in the faith, knowing that the same kind of sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world. The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little while. To him be dominion forever. Amen.” (‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭5:1-11‬ ‭CSB)

Leaders (elders and pastors) in the church are not to lead out of compulsion or greed. They are not to lord their positions of authority over the flock. They are to serve as under-shepherds fully submitted to the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ. The flocks they serve do not belong to them, but to Christ – they are merely stewards shepherding what has been entrusted to them. In the same way, those in the flock are to submit themselves under the leadership of the elders… and everyone is to be clothed in humility toward one another.

God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. Ultimately, when we submit to our elders and submit to one another, we come under the mighty hand of God. It is then, as we are humbly submitted under His hand that He gives grace. It is when we are under the mighty hand of God that we are able to resist the devil effectively. It is when we are under the mighty hand of God that the God of all Grace restores, establishes, strengthens, and supports us – even in the midst of the fires of trial and tribulation – that we may be overcomers that glorify Him.

Psalms: “Your hands made me and formed me; give me understanding so that I can learn your commands. Those who fear you will see me and rejoice, for I put my hope in your word. I know, Lord, that your judgments are just and that you have afflicted me fairly. May your faithful love comfort me as you promised your servant. May your compassion come to me so that I may live, for your instruction is my delight. Let the arrogant be put to shame for slandering me with lies; I will meditate on your precepts. Let those who fear you, those who know your decrees, turn to me. May my heart be blameless regarding your statutes so that I will not be put to shame.” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭119:73-80‬ ‭CSB)

The psalmist knew who his God was… he knew who his maker and creator was, and it was the Lord God that he honored, trusted and hoped in. Even though arrogant people slandered him for his commitment to God’s word, will and ways, he would not relent and become unfaithful. The psalmist knew that the God of all Grace would comfort him and sustain him, and ultimately bring shame on his enemies.

Prayer: Lord, I thank You that as I submit myself under Your hand in humility and walk in steadfast faithfulness to Your word, will and ways, all grace is available to me to withstand any trial and endure any suffering. May I be like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Give me the boldness and conviction to refuse compromise with the culture, and honor You always. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

10/21/Th – Sober-minded Service and Suffering

Daniel 2:24-49; 1 Peter 4:7-19; Psalms 119:65-72; Proverbs 25:28

NT: “The end of all things is near; therefore, be alert and sober-minded for prayer. Above all, maintain constant love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve others, as good stewards of the varied grace of God. If anyone speaks, let it be as one who speaks God’s words; if anyone serves, let it be from the strength God provides, so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen. Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you, as if something unusual were happening to you. Instead, rejoice as you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may also rejoice with great joy when his glory is revealed. If you are ridiculed for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. Let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or a meddler. But if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed but let him glorify God in having that name. For the time has come for judgment to begin with God’s household, and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who disobey the gospel of God?” (‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭4:7-17‬ ‭CSB)

Ever since Christ promised to return and then ascended into heaven, believers have hoped and expected His return to be near. No one knows when the Lord will return – but we do know that His return is certain. Until that day, followers of Jesus are called to be about the Master’s work, to be ready and to stay alert. In the processes of staying alert, Peter wrote that we must also remain sober-minded.

Sober-mindedness has to do with staying in your right mind – having self-control over your thoughts, curbing your passions and not allowing your thoughts to get off balance. I have been a part of the church, literally, my entire life – and a born-again believer for about 43 years. One thing that I have seen a lot of is believers becoming “unbalanced” in their preoccupation with end-times prophecies instead of staying ready by remaining engaged in the Master’s work. Sober-minded believers do not go chasing down every new end-times prophecy that comes down the pike, but carry on, steady-on in the commands and commission of our Lord and Savior until He returns. By remaining alert and sober-minded, we will be able to pray kingdom-focused prayers that are effective here on earth to see God’s kingdom come and His will be done, just as it is in heaven.

One of the things that Christ commanded His followers was to serve one another sacrificially, just as He sacrificially served us. He demonstrated that command on the night He was betrayed by washing His disciples’ feet. In our alertness and sober-mindedness, we are to serve one another. We are to maintain constant love for one another. We are to be hospitable to one another without complaining. We are to minister to one another with the gifts and graces given to us by the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – and not out of our own strength and wisdom. As we do that, everyone will receive what they need, everyone will be equipped, strengthened and encouraged, and God will be glorified through the work of His Son in our lives.

As we sober-mindedly serve the Lord and one another, we will inevitably experience various levels of trial and persecution, which will cause suffering. We shouldn’t be surprised when trials and persecution come – especially since Jesus told us that they would come. Instead of allowing those trials to cause you to lose your sober-mindedness, Peter told us to rejoice… rejoice that we are counted worthy to fellowship with Christ in suffering for His name… rejoice that those trials are going to refine us even further and glorify God through our lives all the more. As Peter said, “If you are ridiculed for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.” Suffering as a Christian is nothing to be ashamed about, but something to glory in. Speaking of being sober-minded – here is a sobering truth: before the Lord returns, He will allow His household to go under the refinement of His judgement first. Some will pass the test and come out of the fires of refinement purified and full of glory. Many will not. When those fires come, will we be ready?

Psalms: “Lord, you have treated your servant well, just as you promised. Teach me good judgment and discernment, for I rely on your commands. Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word. You are good, and you do what is good; teach me your statutes. The arrogant have smeared me with lies, but I obey your precepts with all my heart. Their hearts are hard and insensitive, but I delight in your instruction. It was good for me to be afflicted so that I could learn your statutes. Instruction from your lips is better for me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭119:65-72‬ ‭CSB)

God does not call us to sober-mindedness, and then leave us to our own devices. When we remain committed to the word, will and ways of the Lord, He will teach us, through His word, will and ways, good judgement and discernment. The psalmist wrote about his experience with the fires of affliction and the challenges of facing ridicule. He said that before he was afflicted, his mind was not always stayed on the word of God – but the experience of going through affliction… of being slandered and smeared with lies… caused him to lean in to and trust God’s word. In the end, he was thankful for the affliction, because of what it worked in him and worked out of him. Are we willing to trust the Lord, obey His word, remain sober-minded, and allow suffering to refine us into the image of Christ?

Prayer: Lord, I thank You, that as I keep my faith fully planted on You and follow Your word, will and ways, You will keep me alert and sober-minded. You will lead me away from unbalanced thinking and prevent me from getting caught up in distractions and diversions. Lord, my desire is to be included among the people who come out of Your refining fires purified and full of glory. Help me, through the leading and empowering of Your Holy Spirit, to remain alert and sober-minded, serving You and Your people by grace, and enduring and embracing suffering when it comes. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

10/20/W – How are We Spending our Time?

Daniel 2:1-23; 1 Peter 4:1-6; Psalms 119:59-64; Proverbs 25:25-27

NT: “Therefore, since Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same understanding  — because the one who suffers in the flesh is finished with sin  —  in order to live the remaining time in the flesh no longer for human desires, but for God’s will. For there has already been enough time spent in doing what the Gentiles choose to do: carrying on in unrestrained behavior, evil desires, drunkenness, orgies, carousing, and lawless idolatry. They are surprised that you don’t join them in the same flood of wild living — and they slander you. They will give an account to the one who stands ready to judge the living and the dead. For this reason the gospel was also preached to those who are now dead, so that, although they might be judged in the flesh according to human standards, they might live in the spirit according to God’s standards.” (‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭4:1-6‬ ‭CSB)

The ‘therefore’ at the beginning of chapter 4 refers to what Peter wrote at the end of Chapter 3 – that “Christ suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring you to God.” Christ was put to death in the flesh, but was made alive by the Spirit. If Christ suffered because of sin, and we understand that, why would we be willing to keep on sinning with the time that we have left on earth? If walking in righteousness causes us to suffer in the flesh, we should not reject righteousness and embrace sin in order to avoid suffering. Suffering for righteousness sake actually refines, strengthens, matures and perfects you. Rejecting righteousness and embracing sin may allow you to avoid suffering in the flesh for now, you won’t avoid the spiritual suffering that lasts for eternity.

Unbelievers spend much of their time alive pursuing human desires. They spend time participating in behaviors and activities that bring momentary pleasure to their flesh. Redeemed believers’ commitment to righteousness and the pursuit of God’s purposes threatens the unbelievers’ pursuit of pleasure. They can’t understand why committed followers of Jesus don’t celebrate their pursuits and participate in their pleasures. As a result, many Christ-followers are “slandered” – and that causes suffering. Faced with that suffering, many believers placate the demands of unbelievers by compromising convictions and accepting their sinful behavior as normal and right.

Which is worse? Coming under the judgement of sinful humanity now, or coming under the judgement of God later? Many redeemed people over the millennia have suffered, died or been martyred for the sake of Christ and His righteousness. Though they were judged in the flesh according to human standards, they now are alive in the spirit according to God’s standards. With that said, how should we spend the time that we have remaining on earth? Should we spend it pursuing comfort and compromising with sin, or should we spend it pursuing God’s kingdom and His righteousness?

Psalms: “The Lord is my portion; I have promised to keep your words. I have sought your favor with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise. I thought about my ways and turned my steps back to your decrees. I hurried, not hesitating to keep your commands. Though the ropes of the wicked were wrapped around me, I did not forget your instruction. I rise at midnight to thank you for your righteous judgments. I am a friend to all who fear you, to those who keep your precepts. Lord, the earth is filled with your faithful love; teach me your statutes.” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭119:57-64‬ ‭CSB)

Based on this passage from Psalm 119, it appears that the psalmist evaluated how he was spending his time and what he was pursuing with the days that were given to him. He wrote, “I thought about my ways and turned my steps back to Your decrees… in fact, I hurried, not hesitating to keep Your commands.” Even when the “ropes of the wicked” were wrapped around him, he was not willing to forget God’s instruction and walk in God’s ways. Instead of being a friend to the world, he chose to spend his time walking with and partnering with those who also kept the Lord’s precepts. That does not mean that we do not engage with the world. It means that our partners… our comrades… our close friends should be people that have the same kingdom-minded priorities and are committed to the word, will and ways of God.

Prayer: Lord, I thank You that You were willing to suffer and die for my sins, that You would be able to bring me to God. Help me now to be willing to endure suffering for Your sake. Give me boldness, faithfulness, and steadfastness through Your Spirit. Help me to not become intimated by the threats and pressures of the world, but to spend the rest of my days pursuing and furthering Your kingdom and Your righteousness. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

10/19/T – Living in Babylon

Daniel 1:1-21; 1 Peter 3:8-22; Psalms 119:49-58; Proverbs 25:23-24

OT: “In the third year of the reign of King Jehoiakim of Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to Jerusalem and laid siege to it. The Lord handed King Jehoiakim of Judah over to him, along with some of the vessels from the house of God. Nebuchadnezzar carried them to the land of Babylon, to the house of his god, and put the vessels in the treasury of his god. The king ordered Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the Israelites from the royal family and from the nobility —  young men without any physical defect, good-looking, suitable for instruction in all wisdom, knowledgeable, perceptive, and capable of serving in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the Chaldean language and literature. Among them, from the Judahites, were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. The chief eunuch gave them names; he gave the name Belteshazzar to Daniel, Shadrach to Hananiah, Meshach to Mishael, and Abednego to Azariah. Daniel determined that he would not defile himself with the king’s food or with the wine he drank. So he asked permission from the chief eunuch not to defile himself. “Please test your servants for ten days. Let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then examine our appearance and the appearance of the young men who are eating the king’s food, and deal with your servants based on what you see.” At the end of ten days they looked better and healthier than all the young men who were eating the king’s food. So the guard continued to remove their food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables. God gave these four young men knowledge and understanding in every kind of literature and wisdom. Daniel also understood visions and dreams of every kind. The king interviewed them, and among all of them, no one was found equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. So they began to attend the king. In every matter of wisdom and understanding that the king consulted them about, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and mediums in his entire kingdom. Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus.” (‭‭Daniel‬ ‭1:1-4, 6-8, 12-13, 15-17, 19-21‬ ‭CSB)

The book of Daniel follows the life and records the prophecies of Daniel. Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem in the late sixth century B.C. Over the course of twenty-plus years, captives were taken into exile as slaves, along with treasures from Jerusalem’s royal palace and temple. Daniel, along with Hanahiah, Mishael and Azariah, were taken captive early in that process because of their noble status in Judah. Most likely, the four young men were castrated in order to serve the King of Babylon as eunuchs.

Years ago, my pastor presented a sermon series on the book of Daniel entitled, “Living in Babylon without Babylon living in you.” When Daniel and his four comrades arrived in Babylon, they were trained in the language, literature and culture of the Chaldeans and offered the best delicacies of the land. It would have been very tempting and very easy for Daniel to fully assimilate into the Chaldean culture and forsake his Jewish identity and convictions, but that is not what he did. Instead of conforming to the Babylonian culture, he chose to remain consecrated unto God. Though he learned the language and ways of the culture and lived in Babylon for the rest of his life, he didn’t allow Babylon to live in him, and because of that, he and his comrades stood out from the rest of the exiles and the rest of the Babylonians as well.

One of the first tests that Daniel faced was with food. The pagan Babylonians did not have the same dietary restrictions as the Jews. Would Daniel and his comrades compromise with the culture and begin enjoying the Babylonian delicacies from the King’s table, or would they remain consecrated to the Lord’s word and sacrifice convenience and comfort for their convictions. They chose the latter – and because they remained consecrated despite pressures from the Chaldean culture, the Lord was with them, graced them, caused them to stand out, and gave them favor.

NT: “Finally, all of you be like-minded and sympathetic, love one another, and be compassionate and humble, not paying back evil for evil or insult for insult but, on the contrary, giving a blessing, since you were called for this, so that you may inherit a blessing. For the one who wants to love life and to see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit, and let him turn away from evil and do what is good. Let him seek peace and pursue it, because the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do what is evil. Who then will harm you if you are devoted to what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear them or be intimidated, but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. Yet do this with gentleness and reverence, keeping a clear conscience, so that when you are accused, those who disparage your good conduct in Christ will be put to shame.” (‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭3:8-16‬ ‭CSB)

In essence, Peter was challenging the believers of Asia Minor to “live in Babylon without allowing Babylon to live in them.” Peter was challenging them to remain consecrated and committed to the Lord… to not react to things the way that the people of the culture react, but to be loving, compassionate, humble – returning evil and insult with blessing. Will there be people that envy and revile us and cause us to suffer, even though God’s favor is on us and our conduct is good? Yes. Hanahiah, Mishael and Azariah were thrown into a fiery furnace for their consecrated commitment to the Lord. Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den for his uncompromising commitment to the Lord. However, in the midst of their suffering, they were blessed and God was glorified all the more. Don’t compromise and give in to the culture. Don’t behave the way ungodly people behave. Don’t let the ways of the world defile your life.  In your hearts, regard Christ the Lord as holy. Seek peace and pursue it. Be ever ready to give a defense for your hope… and if you are disparaged, allow your good conduct put those who disparage you to shame.

Psalms: “Remember your word to your servant; you have given me hope through it. This is my comfort in my affliction: Your promise has given me life. The arrogant constantly ridicule me, but I do not turn away from your instruction. Lord, I remember your judgments from long ago and find comfort. Fury seizes me because of the wicked who reject your instruction. Your statutes are the theme of my song during my earthly life. Lord, I remember your name in the night, and I obey your instruction. This is my practice: I obey your precepts.” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭119:49-56‬ ‭CSB)

Our comfort in the midst of affliction is the word of God. When we are committed to the word, will and ways of God, we will find comfort – even in the midst of trials and tribulations. Daniel knew that. In the midst of being carried away to a foreign land and then castrated with no hope of a future posterity, Daniel found comfort and eternal hope in the word, will and ways of God. When the psalmist was ridiculed for His love and zeal for God’s word, he did not run away in fear. He held steadfastly to God’s word and obeyed His instruction. He made it his practice to obey the Lord’s precepts – and in doing that, he found hope, comfort and life. No matter how hard Babylon presses on you to conform, remain consecrated and committed to the Lord and you will find the same.

Prayer: Lord, I thank You for Your word, will and ways that bring life, peace, comfort and blessing. You have called me to live in the world, but not be of the world. You have called me to be holy as You are holy and to remain consecrated and set apart for You. I thank You that as I hold fast to and obey Your word, will and ways, You will grace me and empower me to be light in the darkness and salt on the earth. May your grace, blessing and favor rest on me as I hold fast and follow You in faith. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

10/17/M – Confidence in Submission

Ezekiel 48:1-35; 1 Peter 3:1-7; Psalms 119:41-48; Proverbs 25:20-22

Psalms: “Let your faithful love come to me, Lord, your salvation, as you promised. Then I can answer the one who taunts me, for I trust in your word. Never take the word of truth from my mouth, for I hope in your judgments. I will always obey your instruction, forever and ever. I will walk freely in an open place because I study your precepts. I will speak of your decrees before kings and not be ashamed. I delight in your commands, which I love. I will lift up my hands to your commands, which I love, and will meditate on your statutes.” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭119:41-48‬ ‭CSB)

Often times in our very Independence-drive culture, submission is seen in a negative light. Submission to rules and regulations is seen as a hinderance to freedom and creativity. Submission prevents a person from becoming their true selves… from being all that they can be. While there is such a thing as overregulation to the point of suffocation, good regulation actually provides security and promotes creativity. For instance, in music, there are rules around what sounds good and what doesn’t sound good… what creates a harmonious sound verses a horrible noise. The collection of those rules and “laws” of music is called music theory. Within the confines of good music theory is a vast playground that has not, in thousands of years of musical history, found the limits of expression. If a composer musician stays within the confines of good music theory, and the musicians submit to the notes written by the composer, the result is a beautiful symphony.

Submitting to the word, will and ways of God is the same way. In this passage from psalm 119, the psalmist extols the confidence and freedom he found in staying within the lines of God’s word, judgements, instructions and precepts. Walking according to your own will and ways will actually provoke fear and anxiety. When we come under the covering of God’s will and ways, we find safety. By submitting to the word of God, the psalmist found that he had the courage to answer those who taunted him, the freedom to fully enjoy all that God had provided him, and the confidence to speak to kings and not be ashamed. Therefore instead of shunning submission, the writer of Psalm 119 welcomed and embraced the well-placed rules and regulations of God’s word.

NT: “In the same way, wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, even if some disobey the word, they may be won over without a word by the way their wives live when they observe your pure, reverent lives. Don’t let your beauty consist of outward things like elaborate hairstyles and wearing gold jewelry or fine clothes, but rather what is inside the heart  — the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For in the past, the holy women who put their hope in God also adorned themselves in this way, submitting to their own husbands, just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him Lord. You have become her children when you do what is good and do not fear any intimidation. Husbands, in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker partner, showing them honor as coheirs of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.” (‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭3:1-7‬ ‭CSB)

One of the areas where submission is most maligned is in the area of male/female relationships – probably because godly submission has been so misunderstood, and thus became the cause of much abuse. In this section of his epistle, Peter sought to bring some understanding on what submission within the husband/wife relationship was to look like and why it was a good thing.

When Peter wrote, “in the same way,” he was referring to the description of Jesus’ submission to The Father that he gave at the end of the previous chapter. In the same way Jesus submitted to The Father, wives are called to submit to their husbands. In the same way that Jesus subjected Himself to suffering for our sakes, husbands are to show the same level of sacrificial care to their wives, while honoring them as equal heirs to the grace of God. Submission here is not about being bossed around. It is given for protection and covering and within the context of mutual respect and honor.

The word translated as submission here is the Greek word ‘hypotasso.’ Hypo means under. Tasso means to mutually appoint, arrange or order. When you put those two words together, hypotasso literally means to mutually arrange under. It is not a forced subservient position. It is a mutually agreed upon order and arrangement where one comes under the care of another… and the other agrees to care for the one. In non-military applications, hypotasso was a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, and assuming responsibility.

Among the believers that Peter was writing to, there apparently were a lot of believing women who were married to non-believing men. In the midst of explaining a healthy husband/wife relationship, Peter was also helping the wives lead their husbands into the faith. Instead of conducting themselves like the unbelieving gentle women in their community, Peter advised them to conduct themselves like Christ. Instead of constantly pushing back against their husbands and badmouthing them, they should voluntarily submit themselves under the care and leadership if their husbands. Instead of focusing all of their attention on their outward appearance and trying to stay sexually attractive, they should focus on becoming beautiful from the inside out and develop a beauty and grace that doesn’t waste away with time. As they submitted to the word, will and ways of the Lord and thus came under the care and protection of their husbands, they would find the freedom and confidence to be all that God called them to be, and possibly win their husbands to the Lord in the process.

Prayer: Lord, I thank You for the protection and safety, care and confidence that comes through submission to Your word, will and ways. I know that as I submit fully to You, I will find the freedom to become everything you call me to become by Your grace. As I endeavor to be like You, help me (as a husband and father) to love like You love, care like You care, and empower like You empower. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

10/17/Su – Living Water

Ezekiel 47:1-23; 1 Peter 2:11-25; Psalm 119:33-40; Proverbs 25:18-19

OT: “Then he brought me back to the entrance of the temple and there was water flowing from under the threshold of the temple toward the east, for the temple faced east. The water was coming down from under the south side of the threshold of the temple, south of the altar. Next he brought me out by way of the north gate and led me around the outside to the outer gate that faced east; there the water was trickling from the south side. As the man went out east with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a third of a mile and led me through the water. It came up to my ankles. Then he measured off a third of a mile and led me through the water. It came up to my knees. He measured off another third of a mile and led me through the water. It came up to my waist. Again he measured off a third of a mile, and it was a river that I could not cross on foot. For the water had risen; it was deep enough to swim in, a river that could not be crossed on foot. He asked me, “Do you see this, son of man?” Then he led me back to the bank of the river. When I had returned, I saw a very large number of trees along both sides of the riverbank. He said to me, “This water flows out to the eastern region and goes down to the Arabah. When it enters the sea, the sea of foul water, the water of the sea becomes fresh. Every kind of living creature that swarms will live wherever the river flows, and there will be a huge number of fish because this water goes there. Since the water will become fresh, there will be life everywhere the river goes… All kinds of trees providing food will grow along both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. Each month they will bear fresh fruit because the water comes from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be used for eating and their leaves for healing.”” (‭‭Ezekiel‬ ‭47:1-9, 12‬ ‭CSB)

In Ezekiel’s vision of the new temple of the Lord, he was given a tour of the entire temple. Toward the end of his tour, Ezekiel noticed a trickle of water coming from the Holy of Holies. He was led outside, and saw that the trickle flowed under the south side of the East gate – and in just over a mile the trickle of water became a river so deep and wide, it could not be easily crossed. The river flowed east into the Dead Sea, and as the waters of the river flowed into the brackish Dead Sea, the salty water became fresh and full of life. Everywhere the river flowed, there was life. The trees along the banks of the river were perpetually fruitful, and their fruit provided food and their leaves provided healing. Ezekiel’s vision of the river of God parallels John’s vision of the river of life in Revelation 22:1-2, where the river flowed from the throne of God… along both sides of the river grew the tree of life that produced fruit every month and had leaves that were for the healing of the nations. Through both of these visions, we see that life, fruitfulness and healing ultimately flows from the temple of God.

In John 7, Jesus said, “The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.” John went on to explain that when Jesus said that, He was talking about the Holy Spirit. In many of his epistles, the Apostle Paul taught that those who are in Christ by faith are the house of God and the temple of the Holy Spirit. In a way, believers in Christ who are full of the Holy Spirit are (and should be) a right-now fulfillment of Ezekiel’s and John’s visions. As we place our faith in Christ and are filled with His Holy Spirit, rivers of living water bubble up from within us – the temple of the Holy Spirit – and flow out of us to bring life to barren people, bear good fruit that is edifying to those around us, and provide healing to the nations. In this age, between the already and the not-yet, faith-filled believers in Christ are and should be rivers of living water to the dead, dry and barren people who need the life of Christ.

NT: “Dear friends, I urge you as strangers and exiles to abstain from sinful desires that wage war against the soul. Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that when they slander you as evildoers, they will observe your good works and will glorify God on the day he visits. Submit to every human authority because of the Lord, whether to the emperor as the supreme authority or to governors as those sent out by him to punish those who do what is evil and to praise those who do what is good. For it is God’s will that you silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good. Submit as free people, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but as God’s slaves. Honor everyone. Love the brothers and sisters. Fear God. Honor the emperor… For you were called to this, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. He did not commit sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth; when he was insulted, he did not insult in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten but entrusted himself to the one who judges justly.” (‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭‭2:11-17, 21-23‬ ‭CSB)

When we come to faith in Christ and become the temple of God’s life-giving Holy Spirit, we are also transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God. Though we live on this earth and hold citizenship in the nation that we inhabit, our true citizenship is in the kingdom of heaven. We are not to act like the people of the world. We are not to follow the ways of the kingdom of darkness. As carriers of the life-flow of God, we are to be people that bring life, health, order and peace into every situation. We are called to conduct ourselves with godliness, even if and when we have every earthly right to treat people otherwise. We are to respect authority. We are to practice good works, even when people treat us with malice and evil intent. Ultimately, we are to have the same attitude and composure of Christ who when He was insulted, did not insult in return… who when caused to suffer, did not threaten suffering. In everything He trusted His Father to bring justice in His manner and time. As we are filled with Christ’s Holy Spirit and bear the character of Christ through the Spirit’s fruitfulness in our lives, we are to be carriers of life and healing, not death and destruction.

Psalms: “Teach me, Lord, the meaning of your statutes, and I will always keep them. Help me understand your instruction, and I will obey it and follow it with all my heart. Help me stay on the path of your commands, for I take pleasure in it. Turn my heart to your decrees and not to dishonest profit. Turn my eyes from looking at what is worthless; give me life in your ways. Confirm what you said to your servant, for it produces reverence for you. Turn away the disgrace I dread; indeed, your judgments are good. How I long for your precepts! Give me life through your righteousness.” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭119:33-40‬ ‭CSB)

This one line communicates the main intent of this section of Psalm 119: “Help me stay on the path of your commands.” God’s word, God’s will, and God’s ways bring life. Everything outside of and opposed to God’s word, will and ways is in the end completely worthless, brings disgrace, and ultimately leads to death. May we, as the psalmist did, long for the Lord’s precepts and obey His instructions with all our hearts – and in the process find life through His righteousness.

Prayer: Lord, I thank You for the rivers of living water that are available to me through faith in You and the filling of Your Holy Spirit. I desire to be someone who stays on the path of Your commands, who comports myself with forgiveness and grace, and brings life, good fruit and healing into every situation. I know that as I remain in You by faith and remain full of Your Holy Spirit, you will make my life into a river of living water that will bring life to the barren and lifeless world around me. Help me to do just that by Your grace. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.