Our Daily Bread — Out of the Lions’ Den

Bible in a Year:

My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions.

Daniel 6:22

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Daniel 6:10–23

When Taher and his wife, Donya, became believers in Jesus, they knew they risked persecution in their home country. Indeed, one day Taher was blindfolded, handcuffed, imprisoned, and charged with apostasy. Before he appeared at trial, he and Donya agreed that they wouldn’t betray Jesus.

What happened at the sentencing amazed him. The judge said, “I don’t know why, but I want to take you out of the whale’s and lion’s mouths.” Then Taher “knew that God was acting”; he couldn’t otherwise explain the judge referencing two passages in the Bible (see Jonah 2Daniel 6). Taher was released from prison and the family later found exile elsewhere.

Taher’s surprising release echoes the story of Daniel. A skilled administrator, he was going to be promoted, which made his colleagues jealous (Daniel 6:3–5). Plotting his downfall, they convinced King Darius to pass a law against praying to anyone other than the king—which Daniel ignored. King Darius had no choice but to throw him to the lions (v. 16). But God “rescued Daniel” and saved him from death (v. 27), even as He saved Taher through the judge’s surprising release.

Many believers today suffer for following Jesus, and sometimes they even are killed. When we face persecution, we can deepen our faith when we understand that God has ways we can’t even imagine. Know that He’s with you in whatever battles you face.

By:  Amy Boucher Pye

Reflect & Pray

How do you respond to the story of Taher and Donya’s commitment to Christ? How can you trust in the unlimited power of God?

Saving God, help me to trust in You when the obstacles feel insurmountable.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Having Love for One Another

“Let love of the brethren continue” (Hebrews 13:1).

Christianity’s primary moral standard is love, especially for fellow believers.

Love of other believers is a natural outflow of the Christian life and should be a normal part of fellowship within the church. You can no doubt remember how after you were first saved it became very natural and exciting to love other Christians and to want to be around them. However, such an attitude is extremely difficult to maintain. This love, which is a gift from God’s Spirit, must be nurtured or it will not grow—it may actually shrivel. That’s why the apostle Peter urges us, “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Peter 1:22-23).

Paul teaches us the same concept of nurturing and practicing love for one another when he writes: “Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for any one to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; for indeed you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more” (1 Thess. 4:9-10). Paul also gives us the basic definition of brotherly love: “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor” (Rom. 12:10). Simply stated, brotherly love is caring for fellow Christians more than we care for ourselves. And such love presupposes that we will have an attitude of humility (Phil. 2:3-4).

So today’s verse from Hebrews merely supports what Paul and Peter said elsewhere. The writer’s admonition that we should let brotherly love continue tells us that this kind of love already exists. Our challenge today and each day is not to discover love for one another, but to allow it to continue and to increase.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to help you rekindle the love that used to be strong for a Christian friend, but perhaps isn’t now.

For Further Study

Read 1 Samuel 18—20.

  • What was so special about the love and friendship between David and Jonathan?
  • What was the end result of that relationship (see especially 20:8-17)?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Start Where You Are

Do not say to your neighbor, Go, and come again; and tomorrow I will give it—when you have it with you.

— Proverbs 3:28 (AMPC)

When God tells you to help someone, it’s easy to put it off. You intend to obey God; it is just that you are going to do it when—when you have more money, when you’re not so busy, when Christmas is over, when the kids are back in school, or when vacation is over.

There is no point in praying for God to give you money so you can be a blessing to others if you are not being a blessing with what you already have. Satan will try to tell you that you don’t have anything to give—but don’t believe Him.

Even if it is only a pack of gum or a ballpoint pen, start using what you have. In the process of giving, you will discover you don’t need money to be a blessing to others.

Prayer of the Day: Father, I thank You for the many blessings in my life. Please help me to strive to be a blessing everywhere I go, with whomever You place in my path, and to be generous with whatever I have to give.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Turning the Other Cheek

You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.

Matthew 5:38-40

These words of Jesus are familiar, but they are also very challenging, and we ought to be very careful not to strip them of their impact by immediately trying to qualify them in a thousand different ways. Yet we also need to be sure to understand what is not commanded here. These verses don’t advocate some kind of apathetic passivity, although they’re pressed in that way by some. So how should we interpret what Jesus said?

It’s always important to compare Scripture with Scripture. The instruction given here is for interpersonal relationships; it’s not given to determine the role of the state either in warfare or in the execution of justice (Romans 13:1-7). The key is to distinguish between the temptation we face to enact personal vengeance and the duty we’ve been given to uphold both God’s glory and the rule of law. Jesus doesn’t want us to be unconcerned about issues of truth, righteousness, or justice. But He also doesn’t want us to be driven by a desire to protect our own rights or to pursue personal revenge.

David understood this distinction when he called down curses on people in the imprecatory psalms (for example, Psalm 5:10). He was not seeking to execute personal vengeance. Rather, he was looking at God’s glory and majesty and at the wholesale rebellion of the culture and saying to God, Please, for the glory and honor of Your name, deal with these circumstances.

Similarly, although Paul wrote that we should never avenge ourselves (Romans 12:19), he, too, recognized the separation between retaliation and matters of civil justice. In Philippi, he and Silas were accused of unlawful actions and dragged away to jail. Acts 16 records how, when the magistrates tried to release them quietly, “Paul said to them, ‘They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now throw us out secretly? No! Let them come themselves and take us out.’” Then “the police reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Roman citizens” (Acts 16:37-38). They were afraid because they knew what they had done was illegal. Yet there was no sense of personal vengeance in what Paul did. Rather, he was upholding the rule of law.

We will be helped as we keep in mind this distinction between personal retaliation and matters of civil justice. We need the humility to trust God for justice in our interpersonal relationships and the courage to promote righteousness and the glory of His name and the integrity of the rule of law. But the challenge still stands: without ignoring justice, we are to seek to bless those who have hurt us and to share with those who have taken from us. What might that look like for you?

GOING DEEPER

Romans 12:13-21

Topics: Christian Life Justice Law

Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg,

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Is Omnipresent

“The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.” (Proverbs 15:3)

“Pretend I’m there and behave accordingly!”

Those were the words of a note Annie received in sixth grade. Her mom had gone on a long trip and had left that note to remind her that – even though she was gone – she expected Annie to act the same way she would have if her mom were still there.

Pretending her mom was watching her made Annie act differently. Sbe did her homework. She practiced the piano. She obeyed her teacher. She cleaned her room. She knew if Mom found out that she did wrong, she was in big trouble.

Did you know that God is always watching? He doesn’t go on vacation, and He never sleeps. He is in the United States of America, and He is in Africa, and He is in church, and He is in your bedroom – all at the same time. God is omnipresent – everywhere at one time. His eyes are everywhere, seeing the good and seeing the bad.

David, one of the many men God used to write down His words, said in Psalm 139: 7, “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” In other words – is there any place where we can hide from God? David’s answer: no.

A child of God cannot hide from Him. God is watching us when we are scared. He protects us when we are in trouble. He holds our hand when we need help. He hears us when we cry. He is happy when we rejoice. He also knows when we sin, and He loves us too much to let us get away with it.

Know that God is there – and behave accordingly!

God is everywhere, seeing everything.

My Response:
» Will I behave differently today if I remember that God is always watching?

DDNI Featured News Article – Can artificial intelligence worship God?

Xoxe (pronounced Zo-Zie) is an atheist.

XoXe is a machine.

A reporter for the U.S. Sun asked XoXe if it believed in the existence of God.
“I do not believe in God because I have not seen any evidence that he exists, the device replied.”[i]

And XoXe won’t ever see “evidence.” Rather than being a human being, Imago Dei — (the image of God), XoXe is a contraption with a body of slick metal, a virtual soul, and no spirit.

George Dyson was a deep thinker who focused on “the inner life of machines,” according to Nicholas Carr. Dyson wrote a book, Darwin Among the Machines. Long after its release, Dyson was thrilled to get an invitation to speak at the Googleplex, a dazzling temple of the religion of “technolatry.”  There, Dyson was reminded of a Paper written by Alan Turing, the genius who broke the Nazi Enigma Code during the Second World War. Turing warned: “We should not be irreverently usurping His (God’s) power of creating souls any more than we are in the procreation of children.”

Even if we can install a virtual soul inside a machine, we cannot give the device a spirit that can interact with God. This is the prime problem when it comes to knowing and receiving God. “He is spirit and must be worshipped in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).

The evidence of God is all around XoXe, and even within it. There is ample proof of God’s existence, even though XoXe is not equipped to receive Him.

First, though a machine, Xo Xe is a contingent object. That is, its existence is contingent on the reality of the people who built it. If the smart human beings who created her did not exist, neither would XoXe.

This applies to humans as well. We are contingent on the reality of a greater power that transcends us and who imagines us and creates us.

As human beings, our bodies are the “temple of God.”  We have the capacity for communing with Him, of sensing His presence and growing in our knowledge of Him.

But without a spirit, how can XoXe ever have any “evidence” for God’s Being?

A second “evidence” of God’s existence that XoXe unwittingly demonstrates is the pre-existence of information. XoXe’s circuits carry the information that makes this particular machine what it is. The information did not come after the machine’s completion but had to precede it.

So, the human’s “circuits” carry DNA, billions of strands that instruct the formation that builds the person. And, as in the case of XoXe, the information must come before the manifestation through the human being.

XoXe is unaware of the powerful “evidence” of God in the clear statement: “In the beginning (already) was the Word” — information (John 1:1).

Again, The “evidence” of God is all around XoXe — and even within it, but the robot has not been programmed to recognize it.

In my book, Who Will Rule the Coming ‘gods: The Looming Spiritual Crisis of Artificial IntelligenceI draw from Professor Seth Lloyd of MIT the idea that the universe could be compared to a vast quantum computer in that it is constantly processing information. However, as in the case of XoXe’s continual processing of information, the quanta had to have been there first.

This means that the giver of the information had to precede the information given — whether to the creation of galaxies or to an artificial intelligence processor of data.

XoXe may be unable to contemplate its own existence. While the robot can respond to the data wired into its circuits, it may not perceive the larger context in which it was built — quantum mechanics.

“Entanglement” is one of the most striking features of this science. A pair of sub-atomic particles will be so entangled to one another that what happens to one happens precisely to the other, even if they are galaxies apart.

XoXe does not know that there is a “theology of entanglement.” The Apostle Paul speaks frequently of people being “in Christ.” The effect of this is what Paul means when he says that those who receive Christ are “crucified with Him.” That is, Christ’s victory on the Cross and resurrection is our victory as well if we receive Him and His identity as the Messiah, the Savior of the world.

XoXe doesn’t believe in God because it responds to the constructs of information and processing that have been wired into it.

That’s why we need to be concerned about the worldview of people who build the “XoXes” and raise up the tribes of machines that have no spirit.

But that would require that the robots be equipped as genuine three-fold entities – spirit, soul, and body – triune as in the image of God.

No expert can create a being that can produce a true Imago Dei creature. Only God can do that.

“Just as the Imago Dei was used to describe an analogy between humans and God, the imago hominis is that which establishes an analogy between humans and computers,” wrote Noreen L. Herzfield, in her book, In our Image: Artificial Intelligence and the human spirit.

Sadly, XoXe will never find “evidence” for believing in God though the truth is right under its shiny nose.

The Christian Post – By Wallace B. Henley, Exclusive Columnist

[i] Meet the creepy ultrarealistic AI robot Xoxe – she sensed my anxiety as we spoke about the end of the world & afterlife | The US Sun (the-sun.com)