~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
Daniel 11:2-35 ~ 1 John 3:7-24
Psalm 122:1-9 ~ Proverbs 29:1
Old Testament - Daniel chapter 11 today is phenomenal when you realize that these prophecies were made in 537 B.C. and covered events for about 300 or so more years following. Essentially, we are getting a history lesson in this chapter - in advance of the history unfolding! This chapter really made me realize how "in control" God really is of everything. Which is actually very comforting for me, and hopefully is for you. I look at it this way - if God knows what is going to be transpiring hundreds of years in advance - if not thousands and millions of years in advance - why are we worrying about what's going to happen tomorrow? :) Or why are we fretting over what happened yesterday? A quote I heard many years ago and occasionally bubbles back up into my mind is this - "Let go. And Let God." Let go, and let God. Meaning - let go of your worries and fears and let God take the reins. He's got the reins anyway.... so why fret & fuss over our worries and fears? Sorry, I'm really digressing here from this Daniel chapter, but somehow the sweep of this prophecy seemed to make me realize that I worry too much about really insignificant stuff...
There is a ton of cool stuff going on in this chapter - and here's where again I highly recommend the Zondervan NIV Study Bible... it will give you all of the details of the names & dates of all of the kings this chapter peels through in rapid succession. I'll point out a couple of highlights. Verse 3 & 4 discuss Alexander the Great (336 - 323 B.C.) - "Then a mighty king will rise to power who will rule a vast kingdom and accomplish everything he sets out to do. But at the height of his power, his kingdom will be broken apart and divided into four parts." Many of the remaining verses then dive into kings of the line of Ptolemy in the south kingdom, or Egypt , and kings of the line of Seleucus/Anttiochus in the north kingdom, or Syria. Verse 31 covers 168 B.C. when an altar to the pagan god Zeus Olympius is set up in the Temple in Jerusalem by Antiochus Epiphanes - "His army will take over the Temple fortress, polluting the sanctuary, putting a stop to the daily sacrifices, and setting up the sacrilegious object that causes desecration."
Tell you what - there is so much going on in this chapter, I'd recommend jumping over to bible.org to read up more on what's happening. It really is fascinating stuff.
New Testament - 1 John chapter 3 verse 9 is powerful in today's readings - "Those who have been born into God's family do not sin, because God's life is in them. So they can't keep on sinning, because they have been born of God." Keep in mind that this does not mean that as a Christian you won't stop sinning completely and be perfect. However, you will be in the process of being sanctified and your life will be shown as someone who is compelled to do what is right, because God is in you, versus having a life that shows you are compelled to sin, if you were without God. But, this verse is still great for believers to reflect upon - we do not want to sin anymore and we're in the process of sinning less and less through sanctification - until the day we are in heaven with Christ when indeed we will never sin again.
Verse 16 is incredibly powerful for us to reflect upon - "We know what real love is because Christ gave up his life for us. And so we also ought to give up our lives for our Christian brothers and sisters." Jesus died on the cross for our sins. He gave up his life so that we may have eternal life with the Father through faith in him. Giving up his life for you and me is real love. How might we be able to show real love toward others? How might we be able to give up our lives for others? Not necessarily are we being called to death on a cross - but how about a figurative death in our lives on how we invest our time, energy, passions? Is it possible that our indulgence in luxury goods could cost the very lives of someone in need somewhere? Can we give up our "life" / our luxury goods so that we can show real love for others? Will we?
Psalms - Psalm 122 is the third in this series of Psalms of pilgrimage to Jerusalem. This is a joyful Psalm today! In verse 1 we read: “I rejoiced with those who said to me, "Let us go to the house of the Lord."” Where is the house of the Lord today? Could it be a church community? Are you part of a church community? Are you attending church on a regular basis? Do you believe that being in community with other Christians each week will help grow your relationship with God? Do you rejoice with others that you are going to the house of the Lord? If you are not part of a church community, will you seek one out?
And verse 6 is so true then as we've been reading in Daniel & Ezekiel recently - and still true now - "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem." Will you join me in praying for the peace of Jerusalem?
Proverbs 29 verse 1 has a very tangible example of stubbornness in the Old Testament through Eli's sons who died in 1 Samuel 2 verse 25 - "If a man sins against another man, God may mediate for him; but if a man sins against the LORD , who will intercede for him?" His (Eli) sons, however, did not listen to their father's rebuke, for it was the LORD's will to put them to death."
What verses or insights jumped out for you in today's readings? Please post up in the Comments section below!