~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
Daniel 6:1-28 ~ 2 Peter 3:1-18
Psalm 119:129-152 ~ Proverbs 28:21-22
Okay, we are definitely in the midst of some amazing readings today! The book of Daniel is continuing to challenge and inspire me - as certainly 2 Peter is. And Psalm 119 I seem to be appreciating more than ever. I hope you are having a similar experience!
Old Testament - Daniel chapter 6 today is probably more famous than chapter 5's writing on the wall! Today Daniel goes into the lion's den... Several things, as always, are going on in this chapter. One big note is that Daniel is about 80 years old at the time of this chapter. He's not a young man. And yet he is running laps around the other kingdom administrators with his work - and for this he is honored more and more by the king. And others are getting jealous of this old man Daniel. They realize the only way to trip him up is on his religion. And - by appealing to the king's pride with a law that makes people worship the king only. Interesting thing that pride... pretty easy sin for us humans to fall into? :) Well, then the old man Daniel gets tossed into the pit of lions - and comes out alive through the grace of God. And the king realizes he was duped by the admins and tosses them & their families into the pit of lions. But enough of my Cliff Notes here... let's check out a few verses... (below is a painting of "Daniel in the Lion's Den" by Peter Paul Rubens, circa 1615)
Verse 4 makes me reflect on my life and the way I live it: "Then the other administrators and princes began searching for some fault in the way Daniel was handling his affairs, but they couldn't find anything to criticize. He was faithful and honest and always responsible." How are we in handling our affairs? Our job, our tempers, our finances, our time? Are we faithful in all of these areas? Honest? Always responsible?
Verse 10 helps us look at how we should act / react when challenging circumstances come into our lives: "But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God." Daniel continued to worship God as he always had in the midst of bad news of the new law. He didn't blink. He didn't flinch. He didn't take a break from God. He kept worshiping. How do we act when bad news comes into our lives? Do we sulk? Do we decide to avoid God for a while? Or do we continue to worship God as we have always - giving thanks to God? Even in the midst of severe challenges, will we still give thanks to God for who He is?
Verse 20 is a wonderful verse from the mouth of the remorseful King Darius: “When he got there, he called out in anguish, "Daniel, servant of the living God! Was your God, whom you worship continually, able to rescue you from the lions?”” First of all - I love the term “the living God”. Do you believe that God is indeed a living God? Not a stoic God who just sets up the universe and then lets it run on its own - but a God who is in the midst of every single one of our experiences - good and bad? A living God? A God who is with us on the mountain tops - and in the lion's den? Do you believe God is indeed a living God? Do you worship the living God continually? Like Daniel, are you a servant of the Living God? Do you want to be a servant of the Living God? The Living God that will send His angels to protect you from even lions in their den?
New Testament - Today we finish the letter of Second Peter! Again, I have been so blessed reading through this letter this year. It's always a good thing to read a letter from a guy that Jesus said this about in Matthew 16:18 - "And I tell you that you are Peter [which means rock], and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades [or hell] will not overcome it." Do you believe that the gates of hell will not overcome the church of Jesus Christ? (church - that's us. you and me and him and her. not the buildings...)
Verse 3 is a reminder to us all: "First, I want to remind you that in the last days there will be scoffers who will laugh at the truth and do every evil thing they desire." Keep in mind that we live in the last days - everything post-Jesus' resurrection and ascension into heaven is last days. So, in the time of Peter and the early church there were scoffers who laughed at the truth and did every evil thing they desire. Is this still happening today? (I couldn't resist this Matrix picture below of a scoffer... :)
Verse 9 is helpful in knowing why Jesus has not yet returned: "The Lord isn't really being slow about his promise to return, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to perish, so he is giving more time for everyone to repent." He is giving more time for everyone to repent! Will we repent?
Verses 15 & 16 are very interesting. They are basically Peter giving praise to Paul's writing: "This is just as our beloved brother Paul wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him-- Some of his comments are hard to understand, and those who are ignorant and unstable have twisted his letters around to mean something quite different from what he meant, just as they do the other parts of Scripture." Have you ever found Paul's writing hard to understand?! :) I know many of my friend's have. And I have too. But, there is so much going on in Paul's letters that need to be looked at contextually and in depth. Overall, Paul's letter's have been such a blessing to me personally, and I look forward to reading them and studying them again in 2007 with you! Below is "The Apostle Paul" by Rembrandt, circa 1657: (A randomly interesting side note about this painting below and Rembrandt. 4 years later, in 1661, Rembrandt painted another portrait of Paul... sort of... it was actually a self-portrait of Rembrandt as if he was the Apostle Paul! :) Seriously. You can view Rembrandt's self portrait of himself as Paul at this link.)
Peter closes the letter today with the beautiful verse 18: "But grow in the special favor and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be all glory and honor, both now and forevermore. Amen." I don't know that I can add any more to this than simply another "Amen."
Psalms - Psalm 119 is continuing with its amazing verses about God's holy Word, the Bible, and how it can transform our lives. Verse 138 is just one more small example from this incredible Psalm - "Your decrees are perfect; they are entirely worthy of our trust." Do you believe that God's Word, the Bible, is perfect? Is it entirely worthy of our trust? Would you consider the Bible to be a perfect book of counsel for your life?
I can't forget verse 130 which used to be at the top of this blog in the NIV translation! (verse 130 got bumped by verse 105 earlier this year - any votes for another Psalm 119 verse to bump 105 in 2007?? :) Let me know your favorite Psalm 119 verse in the Comments below!) Verse 130: "The unfolding of your words gives light..." Do you believe this is true? Does reading God's Word, the Bible, bring light into your life? If you did not read God's Word would you be in darkness?
Proverbs - Proverbs 28:21 tells us: "Showing partiality is never good, yet some will do wrong for something as small as a piece of bread." This is a great reminder to not sell-out or sin for anything - no matter how seemingly "small"! Oftentimes I do think it is the tiny things in life that really trip us up and lead us down the wrong path. Is there any area of your life where you are selling-out or sinning? Even in what might seem to be a "small" area of your life...? This Proverb reminds me of Jesus' words in the parable of the talents from Matthew chapter 25 verse 23: ""His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'" Do you want to hear these words from Jesus at the end of your life? Let us be faithful then in the few things - the small things. For in the future we will inherit our Master's happiness in many things!
Comments from you - What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!