Man of Integrity

Daniel 6:5 Then these men said, “We will not find any ground of accusation against this Daniel unless we find it against him with regard to the law of his God.”

Daniel was a man full of integrity.  His enemies knew his character and knew that he did not do much wrong.  They knew that if they were to trap Daniel, they would have to do it with a law about God.  They knew that was the only time he broke man’s law, when it violated his relationship with God.  They did not like Daniel, because he was a good man and served the king well.  Daniel made them look bad and they did not like it.

Good people drive bad people crazy.  They think that good people are frauds and want them to fail so that they feel better about themselves.  The same is true of Daniel’s enemies.  They wanted to tear him down, so that they might look better.  Daniel’s integrity would win out in the end because he was faithful to God and the king.

How is your integrity?  If your enemies needed to accuse you of something could they find something easily?  Could they only catching breaking man’s law in regard to following God’s law instead?  We need to have the integrity of Daniel, because then we will have the witness we need for God.  Daniel made an impression on the king because he was faithful and full of integrity.  We can make an impressions on the people around us by having the same integrity.

Dear Jesus, help me to be full of integrity like Daniel.  Forgive me for the times that I fail at doing that.  Help me to be a witness for You to those around me.  Amen.

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Changed By Jesus

1 Corinthians 6:9-11
9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

Look at that list in verses 9 and 10.  I am sure we can all find ourselves on that list somewhere.  We have all failed God and done things which disqualify us from Heaven.  None of us deserve to go there.  However, when we accept Jesus as our Savior, those things are in our past.  We are changed by Jesus and we are new creations.  We are washed by His blood and made whiter than snow.  We no longer find ourselves in that list, all because of what Jesus did for us.

Some times we struggle to let go of our past.  We hang on to the guilt from our past sins.  When we do that we can move forward in our walk with Him.  We are chained and progress is slow.  We need to forgive ourselves, just as Jesus has already done.  We are past those sins.  They can longer haunt us, we are forgiven and free.  Accept your forgiveness and move on.

However, if you have not accepted Jesus as Your savior, you are still on that list and will not go to Heaven.  Instead you will justly go to Hell.  Only Jesus can save us and redeem us.  If you want to go to Heaven, you need to put your full trust in Him.  Do so today!

Dear Jesus, thank you for saving me.  Thank you for justifying me.  Thank you for washing me in Your blood.  I do not deserve and but gladly accept it.  You are so good and amazing.  Amen.

Grace and Humility

Daniel 4:27 ‘Therefore, O king, may my advice be pleasing to you: break away now from your sins by doing righteousness and from your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor, in case there may be a prolonging of your prosperity.’

The 4th chapter of Daniel contains a story of grace.  King Nebuchadnezzar has another dream.  From his dream, he learns he will go mad and live like an animal for a period of time, because he such a high opinion of himself.  This dream is a warning from God.  Daniel realized that, which is why he begged the king to turn from his sin.  Daniel knew God to be gracious and forgiving.  He knew that God would relent and not punish Nebuchadnezzar if the king chose to humble himself.  Ultimately he chose not to and the dream became a nightmare and happened.  He was driven away from his kingdom and lived like an animal.  He ate grass like a cow and his nails grew us claws.  After awhile of living like this, God gave him grace and he returned to his senses.  In the end, after God humbled him, he praises God.

The story could be true for us as well.  Nebuchadnezzar’s pride means he deserved to be punished and removed from being king.  God gave him grace.  He returned him to his throne.  God would have relented if he had humbled himself.  We all have times of pride and God wants us to be humble.  If we choose to not humble ourselves, God will do it and we do not want that.  But God’s grace is aplenty.  After we learn our lesson, God will restore us and take care of us.  God’s grace is amazing!

God not only wants us to be humble, but to turn from our evil ways and do what is right.  This is called repenting.  Stop doing what is evil and start doing what is right.

Dear Jesus, forgive for being prideful.  Help me to humble myself.  Thank you for Your grace.  I do not deserve it.  Help me to turn from my evil ways and do what is right.  Amen.

Always Serve God

Daniel 3:17-18
17 “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 “But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

Yesterday we talked about the statue that Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream.  Today we see that he built real life statue made out of gold.  He instructed all of the people to bow down and worship it when they heard the music.  Three Israeli youth (Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego), refused to do so and they were condemned to put in a furnace.  After hearing of their impending judgement, they tell the king that they are willing to die, instead of worshiping him or his statue.  They knew that Moses had instructed the people to only worship God.  They had made the choice long before this, to never break that commandment.  When the trials arose, their minds were already made up to serve God always, both in the good times and in the bad times.  They decided it was better to die serving God, than to live rebelling against Him.

Similarly, we need to make the same decision ahead of time.  We need to serve Him at all times.  No matter our circumstances, we need to continue serving Him and worshiping Him.   This is a choice we need to cement in our minds before the hard times come.  If we do not, we can be easily swayed from doing it.  God is faithful and will see you through.  He saw these three through, as they were able to survive the furnace.  And even better, they got to hang out with Jesus in there.  God will reward us for our faithfulness, either in this life or the next.  Choose now to always serve Him.

Dear God, thank you for Your faithfulness and that you see us through the hard times.  May we feel your presence when we are going into the furnace.  I pray that You meet us there and see us through.  Strengthen me to stand firm in the hard times.  Amen.

An Eternal Kingdom

Daniel 2:44 “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever.

This verse is part of a dream which Nebuchadnezzar had.  He saw a statue in his dream.  The head of the statue was made of gold, this represented Babylon.  The breast and arms were made of silver, which was the Medes and Persians.  The belly and thighs were made up of bronze, which were the Greeks.  The legs were made up of iron and clay, which are the Romans.  Each of these kingdoms were conquered by the next and the conquering kingdom inherited things from its predecessor.  At the end of the dream a rock is cut out without hands and smashes the statue.  The rock then grows into a big mountain and filled the whole earth.  This rock is the Kingdom of God.  Heaven will spread across the whole earth, filling it completely.

The Kingdom of God will last forever.  No other kingdom can come against it and overthrow it.  It will stand alone in all of its glory and power.  No other kingdom in all of history can compare it.  All of mans kingdoms have failed and were overthrown, but this will not happen to God’s Kingdom.  It will last forever and ever.  It will be ruled by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  No other kingdom in history, can even come close to comparing its king with Jesus.  What a sight it will be and personally I cannot wait for it.  Come soon Lord Jesus!

Will you be in His Kingdom?  Only those who accept Jesus as their Savior will be there.  He came and died for your sin and my sin.  Because of our sin, we deserve Hell.  Jesus paid the ransom that we have a get of Hell card.  His payment is out there, but needs to be accepted.  Have you?  We have a choice to make, trust Jesus as the only way or choose to reject Him and go to Hell.  The choice is yours…choose wisely.

Dear Jesus, thank you for Your amazing Kingdom.  I so look forward to being there one day with You.  How glorious and might it will be.  No one compares to You.  Amen.

Hell

2 Thessalonians 1:9 These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power

Hell is a real place, to which those who reject God’s give of salvation will go.  Hell is a just place, for we all deserve because of our sin.  Hell is a horrible place, where all who are there will be miserable.  Hell is a lonely place, for the presence of God will not be there.  Hell is a place of punishment, where the inheritance will burn in a lake fire and yet never burn up.   Hell is an eternal place, where the suffering will never end.  Hell is place of grumbling and cursing, because those there will continually scream from the agony.  Hell is a place you and I really do not want to go to.

As horrible a place Hell is, Heaven is as glorious.  First and foremost those there will be in the presence of God forever and ever.  His glory will shine and provide light.  The people there will see Him and be with Him.  They will know Him fully.  There will be no suffering, no sin, no tears, and no sadness.  The beauty of God’s creation will be fully enjoyed.  The beauty of it is beyond our imagination.  There will be joy and happiness.  Songs of praise will ring out to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ.  Heaven is place you and really want to go to.

So the question at hand is, do you know which place you are destined to?  The destination is up to us, because Jesus did all the work.  He died to pay the penalty for our sins.  His blood can redeem us from the punishment we all deserve, which is Hell.  He defeated death by rising three days later.  Now the choice is our.  If we want to go to Heaven, we must believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died for our sins.  We need to ask Him to save us and forgive us of our sins.  We need to accept His sacrifice and ask Him to apply His blood to us so that we might be redeemed.  We must accept His free gift.  That is only way to go to Heaven.  We cannot earn our way there, for our debt from our sin is just way too much to pay ourselves.  Only Jesus can save us.  To accept His free gift, is to accept your just punishment in Hell.  If you have not yet asked Him to save you do it today!

Dear Jesus, Thank you for saving me from Hell, a place I deserve to go it.  Thank you for loving me so much that You died for me and made a way for me to be with You forever.  Please be with anyone reading this, who does not know You.  I pray that You work in their hearts and open it to You.  May this be the day of their salvation.  Amen.

Encourage One Another

1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.

There is nothing like running to an encouraging person when we are down.  A person who knows just what to say.  Way too many people will say the wrong thing, but this encouraging person knows exactly what to say.  We need to learn to be that person for others.

Part of being a body, as we are in Christ, is the need to encourage one another.  We all have times where we feel down and that is when a fellow brother or sister need to step up and encourage them and build them back up.  The parts of a body need to be there for another part or the body will fall apart.  The strong need to protect the weak and be there for them.  The verses prior to this talk about how we who are saved are saved through Jesus and we will be together with Him.  What a comforting thought!

This is exactly what Paul is doing in this verse.  Notice the last section of the verse, “Just as you are also doing”.  He is encouraging them to keep up this good work.  He recognized what they were doing and by pointing it out he is building them up to continue on doing it.

Encouragement is a learned skill  We need to work on it and learn how to do it.  Charles Swindoll told a story in a book about walking by a construction site.  He said that the he noticed that the people who were tearing down the old building were not skilled craftsman, anybody can tear something down.  However, those who build up need to know what they are doing.  It is a skilled craft, for if they do it wrong the building will collapse.  The same is true about encouragement.  It is easy to tear another person down, anybody can and will do it.  It takes skill though to build that other person up, so that they will stand firm.  It is a skill we need to keep doing and learning.

Dear Jesus, help me to be an encourager.  Help me to build others up and give them the strength that they need to stand firm.  Give the right words to say and help me to know the words not to say.  Forgive me for the times I have failed, but thank you that You are always there to pick me up.  Amen.

Walk a Worthy Walk

1 Thessalonians 2:12 so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.

Paul wanted the Thessalonians believers to walk in manner which is worthy of God.  He encouraged them as a father encouraging his kids.  Paul looked at these believers as his kids in the faith.  A good father wants his kids to walk after God.  To walk in a way which is pleasing to God.  To live a life in such a way which glorifies God.  He implored them to do so.

So how is your walk?  It is good to pause and reflect.  Think about how you acted and how you can do better.  Pray about it.  Ask God to show you ways in which your walk can be improved.  Asked loved ones to share things they see in your life that might prevent a worthy walk.  It is one those questions that is good to ask ourselves from time to time.  Am I walking in worthy way?  Do others see God in my walk?  Does the manner in which I walk attract others or just distract them?  Is God getting any glory in what I do?

Dear Lord, help me to walk in a way that is worthy of You.  Show me areas in my life that should be concern.  Forgive for the times my walk was not very worthy.  Lead me down the right path, for Your name sake.  Amen.

Look It Up Yourself

Acts 17:10-11
10 The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.

Paul and Silas came to Berea in a hurry, for the people of Thessalonica were in an uproar over them.  This did not stop them from sharing Jesus with the people of Berea, who received the Gospel with great eagerness.  They were excited to hear it, but more important they were excited to read the scriptures for themselves.  It is not that they did not believe what Paul and Silas had to say, but they wanted to read it and study it for on their own.  Their eagerness led them to consuming the scriptures.  They were digging for treasures of knowledge.

The same should be true for us.  When our pastors preach on Sunday, we should be reading the passage they preached from and the verses they shared for ourselves.  Their preaching should encourage us to spend time in God’s Word.  We should not take their word for it, instead their word should push us to be in the Word.  We need to the Bible for ourselves.  It is not up to another to read it and interpret it for us.  We need to know on our own.  We need to do our own research.

Some churches believe that only the priests or ministers should read the Word and provide meaning to it.  That is not what God wants.  He wants us to read the Word and hunger for it.  He wants us to study His Word and memorize it.  As we read the Bible on our own, the Spirit talks to our hearts and give us understanding.  If you are not in the Word, you will miss out on the blessing of having the Spirit teach you.  Take time to read the Bible every day.  Study it and think about it.  Let it shape your life and you will be better for it.

Dear Jesus, help me to be in Your Word, learning about You.  Teach me Your ways, that I may walk in them.  Consume me with Your Word, that I may follow You.  Help me to memorize it, so that I can use it as a weapon.  Amen.

What Are You Thinking About?

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

What do you think about?  What kind of things do you day-dream about?  When you are alone and board, where does your mind wander off too?  The Apostle Paul tells us where is should go.  It should focus on true and honorable things.  On things that are right and pure.  On those items who are lovely and have a good repute.  On excellent and praise worthy thoughts are what we should think about.

All of the items on this list add up to thinking about God and His Word.  That is where are focus should be.  That is what we should be consumed by.  Songs of praise should fill our hearts.  Verses that talk about how wonderful God is, show flow through our minds.  This will give us peace, which is beyond our understanding (Philippians 4:7), when turbulent times come.  God wants our minds and hearts to be filled thoughts and knowledge of Him.  As Steven Curtis Chapman sang, God is to be our Magnificent Obsession.   The chorus goes like this:

This is everything I want,
This is everything I need
I want this to be my one
Consuming passion
Everything my heart desires
Lord, I want it all to be for You,
Jesus,
Be my magnificent obsession
Yeah-yeah, yeah, yeah

Be consumed by God and His Word.  May He be your obsession.  Think of Him at all times.  Chew on His Word.  Memorize His verses.  Sing His Praises.  Learn all you can about Him.  Fill your mind with knowledge of Him.  And love Him with all of your heart!

Dear God, help me to have thoughts of You, so much so that crowds out the worries of this world.  Help me to be obsessed by You, consumed by You.  Help me to memorize Your word.  Help me to never stop learning about You.  Be my first thought in the morning and my last thought at night.  Amen.