Daniel and his friends faced the same dilemma that we do today—how to live a holy life. At times, our society seems to accept Christian values and standards, but that’s not always the case. Our challenge is to live under God’s authority while remaining in submission to the law of the land. But what if we are forced to choose between the two? Our first inclination should be to seek the Lord’s guidance before marching forward.
Had Daniel bluntly declared, “I won’t eat this food!” he wouldn’t have lasted long, and we wouldn’t have the book of Daniel in the Bible. But the Lord gave him the wisdom to humbly seek permission from the person who was in a position of authority over him. God honored the young man’s commitment and provided a way for him to live righteously in a pagan world.
We tend to hold up Daniel and his three friends as extraordinary people who lived amazing lives. But they were regular people, just like us. Have you ever wondered what the Lord could do in the life of an ordinary person like you or me? The determining factor is not the individual’s greatness, but rather his or her commitment to a heavenly Father who can do remarkable things in a life fully devoted to Him. That’s the kind of person God is looking for.
Although we don’t know all that God could do in and through us if we radically committed ourselves to Him, the thought of missing out on His plans should be enough to motivate us to obey. On arriving in heaven, we don’t want to discover blessings were forfeited because we weren’t fully devoted to Him.
Bible in One Year: Ezekiel 37-39
Read: Psalm 30:1–12
Bible in a Year: Proverbs 3–5; 2 Corinthians 1
Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.—Psalm 30:5
I recently stumbled across some of my journals from college and couldn’t resist taking time to reread them. Reading the entries, I realized I didn’t feel about myself then the same as I do today. My struggles with loneliness and doubts about my faith felt overwhelming at the time, but looking back now I can clearly see how God has carried me to a better place. Seeing how God gently brought me through those days reminded me that what feels overwhelming today will one day be part of a greater story of His healing love.
Psalm 30 is a celebration psalm that similarly looks back with amazement and gratitude on God’s powerful restoration: from sickness to healing, from threat of death to life, from feeling God’s judgment to enjoying His favor, from mourning to joy (vv. 2–3,11).
The psalm is attributed to David, to whom we owe some of the most pain-filled laments in Scripture. But David also experienced restoration so incredible he was able to confess, “Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” (v. 5). Despite all the pain he had endured, David discovered something even greater—God’s powerful hand of healing.
If you are hurting today and need encouragement, recall those times in your past when God carried you through to a place of healing. Pray for trust that He will do so again. —Monica Brands
Lord, when our struggles feel bigger than what we can handle, help us to find comfort and strength in how You’ve carried us before.
God is lovingly working toward restoration and joy in and through the pain of our lives.
He seemed to brace himself for what had become the typical barrage of questioning after stating his occupation. The once unrecognized field of “forensic science” now comes attached with visions of beautiful men and women swabbing for DNA, replicating gunfire trajectories, decoding cyber movement, and piecing together the truth with hair, bugs, and CODIS. The tremendous popularity of forensic dramas has made crime scene investigating a household subject. So with a real forensic scientist standing in front of me, I admit it was hard to repress my enthusiasm. Predictably, I asked if he watched any of the shows. Humoring my line of questioning for the moment, he admitted that he did not.
The vast public intrigue with forensic science has been increasing as feverously as the viewerships of crime scene television. In Great Britain alone, the increase in students applying for forensic programs is up nearly 33 percent, attributed entirely to the influence of CSI, NCIS, Bones, and many similar programs.(1) They come into their programs believing they already know a great deal about the job because they have seen it all performed. In a more damaging vein, criminologists note the pervasive misinformation that is powerfully influencing criminal justice systems in various ways, particularly and significantly in the minds and expectations of jurors.(2)
Analysts refer to this global phenomenon of forensic pop culture and its consequences as the “CSI Effect,” though speculation on the reasons for our feverish embrace of the motif is wider ranging. In my own right, I find something compellingly clean in the uncomplicated movement from mystery and crisis through clues and evidence to truth. In less than an hour, viewers are taken from dark riddle to conclusive resolution. Truth and justice emerge plainly, even where deception, obscurity, and injustice once reigned. In the rare instance when the suspect does not personally own up to the crime after the facts have emerged, the science and its expert witnesses are so definitive that it hardly matters. The truth is clear.
For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.
— Ephesians 6:12
Are you facing challenging circumstances? Are you in need of provision in some area and not sure where it’s going to come from? Many Christians today are dealing with serious hardships. Some have lost their jobs and benefits. Others struggle with critical health problems and live with constant concern about how to cover the cost of medicine and doctor visits in addition to simple necessities such as shelter, food and clothing.
There are many things in the world that threaten us. But our biggest enemy—fear—is not “out there.”
Ephesians 6:12 reminds us that we are at war not with flesh and blood, but with the enemy of our souls. We must not be confused about the identity of the enemy in our battles.
Thankfully, our unseen God is more than capable of dealing with our unseen enemy. When we come to a deep understanding of God’s unconditional love for us, we realize He will always take care of everything that concerns us.
You don’t have to be afraid of your unseen enemy. Trust in God, the only One who can defeat the spiritual forces of darkness.
“The meek and lowly are fortunate! for the whole wide world belongs to them” (Matthew 5:5).
When you think of the word “meek,” does the name Casper Milquetoast or some other similar figure come to your mind? True meekness in no sense means or implies spinelessness. In truth, genuine meekness is patience in the face of injuries, insults, abuse and persecution, whether physical or mental. It is not cowardice or a surrender of our rights. Rather it is the opposite of anger, malice, prejudice or resentment.
Meekness today is seen in the actions of believers who allow God to be their defense instead of making an effort to avenge real or imagined hurts. It is patience in the midst of extreme difficulties or humility under fire, as described in 1 Corinthians 13. It hardly even notices when others make a mistake.
Certainly this is one of the major characteristics of our Lord who claimed to be gentle and humble at heart. Matthew 11:28,29: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy- laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you shall find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28,29, NAS).
The meek, like our Lord, are those who have remarkable, controlled strength and are calm and peaceful when all around there is confusion and chaos. These are the ones who will inherit the earth, who will be sought out as leaders. They are the ones who will help to build a better world.
Bible Reading: James 4:5-10
TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Dear Lord, I pray that you will help me to be meek as You count meekness. Give me a right reaction to insult and injury, real or imagined, to demonstrate strength under control following the example of my Lord.
What will happen if your job disappears? Or your health diminishes? Or the economy takes a nosedive? Does God have a message for his people when calamity strikes?
He certainly had a word for Isaiah. The prophet wrote, “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up. . .above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: The whole earth is full of His glory” (Isaiah 6:1-3).
God calmed the fears of Isaiah, not by removing the problem, but by revealing his divine power and presence. Rejoice that God is able to do what you cannot do! Your anxiety decreases as your understanding of your heavenly father increases!
Read more Anxious for Nothing
For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.
A magnitude-8.1 earthquake struck Mexico last night, leaving one million people without power. Mexico’s president called it the strongest quake his country has seen in a century. And Hurricane Katia is threatening to strike his country tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Hurricane Irma is coming. The second-strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean, Irma is responsible for at least thirteen deaths so far. This morning, the National Weather Service warned that the eye of the storm could strike Miami directly. The governors of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina have all declared states of emergency.
And there’s more bad news: Hurricane Jose is strengthening and threatens islands devastated by Irma.
What can we do to help?
A week ago, I asked you to join Denison Forum in raising funds for Hurricane Harvey victims. Our ministry contributed a $25,000 matching grant to this effort. All donations would be given through Texas Baptist Men (TBM) to help those devastated by the tragedy.