Living in the Lion’s Den


 daniel_angel_lion

As I have continued studying the book of Daniel, using Beth Moore’s workbook and video, I am amazed at how much more I am learning about God and His protection of us. I think often times we don’t see how He has protected us, perhaps moment-by-moment.

Take Daniel in the Lion’s Den. This is a story we have all probably heard many times. We love the happy ending – the angel shut the mouths of the lions and Daniel was not harmed. It must have been a terrifying night for Daniel, sitting so close to the lions.

We’re all living in a lion’s den to some extent. Consider 1 Peter 5:8, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

Sometimes we may feel like we are in a lion’s den, but God is close. We may not be able to see Him,  He’s sent His angel to shut the mouth of the lion, even if we can’t see Him.

Psalm 121:7-8   

The Lord will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going  both now and forevermore.

2 Thessalonians 3:3

But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.

2 Samuel 22:3-4

My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior—from violent people you save me. “I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and have been saved from my enemies.

Isaiah 41:10

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 54:17 

No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the Lord.

Psalm 46:1

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 

Psalm 91:1-3

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.

Psalm 138:7  

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life. You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes; with your right hand you save me.

 

We may feel like we are spending a terrifying night in the lion’s den, (or maybe a long season of time) but we are not seeing the work God is doing in our behalf – shutting the mouth of the lion.

May you feel God’s Peace.

Daniel, Lives of Integrity, Words of Prophecy, by Beth Moore, Lifeway Publishing, Nashville, TN, 2006

Scripture: www.biblegateway.com

Image: google images.

 

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Lifting Each Other Up


17.-Encourage-sunset

I have been absent from blogging for a few weeks, first due to an illness, then due to traveling to a speaking engagement. I really miss reading all of your blogs because they are so uplifting. I also have missed writing for my Lord.

Have you ever wondered why God gifted you with the ability to write? And how you are to use that marvelous gift?

I wonder about this. I wonder why God led me to blog, and to write a Bible Study. I think the answer is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”  Through the gift God has given us, we lift each other up.

1 Corinthians 14:26

What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.

Hebrews 10:24-25

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Romans 14:19

So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual up building.

May you be lifted and encouraged today.

Scripture: www.openbible.info

Image: Google Images

Bloom Where You Are Planted


fruit tree by a stream

One of the most exciting things about studying the Bible is realizing how all parts of the Bible work together. John 15 is perhaps my favorite chapter in the Bible. I love the imagery and directions for Christian living; and this passage directly relates to other favorite passages in Scripture.

On the night Jesus was betrayed, He gave us the allegory of the Vine and the Branches. In this chapter Jesus explains that His Disciples (and us) are to bear fruit, and how we are to bear that fruit–by remaining in Him

John 15:1-8

The Vine and the Branches

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

So what is the fruit we are to bear? Paul tells us in Galatians 5:23-24, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

Let’s not stop there. Where and when are we to bear this fruit? Psalm 1 tells us that when we meditate on God day and night we are like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields fruit in season.

Psalm 1:1-3

Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.

Trees don’t relocate. They bloom, and yield fruit, where they are planted. So it is with us. We are to bear fruit right where we are. Never underestimate your location or your position. You can bear much fruit right where you are.

Blessings on your day.

Scripture: www.biblegateway.com

Image: google images

Christmas Light


bethlehemstarmotion01

Why are Christmas lights so magical? We have beautiful lights on display at other times of the year. Perhaps it’s because there are more lights at Christmas time, or maybe it’s because Christmas lights represent a promise fulfilled one quiet night some 2,000 years ago.

Christmas light is revealed twice in the story of the birth of Christ. The narrative is found Luke 2:1-40. We’ve read the story many times, but take another look. Christmas light is promised to everyone, it says so in the announcement. Beginning in verse 8, we learn the shepherds are visited by an angel of the Lord. The news is very special.

8 ‘And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”’

The glory of the Lord was shining! That light brought the first revelation of Christmas light, found in verse 10. The angel brought news of great joy for ALL the people. But there is more light in the story, continuing with verse 22:

Jesus Presented in the Temple

22 ‘When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord  …

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout.  He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismissyour servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.”

33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

There it is in verse 31 and 32. We see that Christ is a light for revelation to the Gentiles. Again, ALL the people were included in the promise.

But there is more light in the story of Christmas. We find it in Matthew 2.1-12. Matthew’s gospel tells us the story of the Magi following the Christmas star to find the baby Jesus, and worship Him. Verses 9-11 tell us about the star: 

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 

Imagine the light of this beautiful star! The Christmas star directed the Magi, just as the light of Christ will direct us, if we are open to Him.

Christmas light is our precious Lord and Savior.

John 8:12

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

 

May you and yours receive the full blessings of this Christmas Season.

Scripture: www.biblegateway.com

Image: Google Images

10 Basic Blessings To Be Thankful For


thankful.024-001

I’m glad the calendar has changed to November. I love autumn, and Thanksgiving particularly. It’s not the meal that I love so much; it’s the idea of being thankful for what we have. As I type this post, I can think of dozens of things for which I am grateful.

Despite the bad news that comes to us on a daily basis, we have much to be thankful for. I ran across this article, and thought it was most relevant. I have included the link at the end of the post.

Many blessings on your day.

10 Basic Blessings You Should Be Thankful For

9:30AM EST 2/11/2013 J. LEE GRADY

Americans today face economic challenges, but we have nothing to complain about.

We Americans are a blessed people, but we are also spoiled. I know I am. I can get flustered over the stupidest things—like when my cellphone doesn’t get a good signal, when a flight is delayed or when my computer takes too long to load a website. Most people in the world don’t have iPhones, can’t afford air travel and don’t have computers. My impatience reveals my ungrateful spirit.

So how can we avoid this virus of selfish immaturity? Thankfulness is the antidote. It melts our pride and crushes our sense of entitlement. It reminds us that everything we have comes from God, and that His mercy is the only reason we are blessed.

I pray you will invite the Holy Spirit to convict you of any whining. Here’s a list of 10 blessings that many people in the world don’t have. Go over this list and then see if you still have anything to gripe about.

1. Got clean water? The next time you uncap a bottle of water or grab a drink from the tap, remember that one in eight people in the world (that’s 884 million people) lack access to clean water supplies. Millions of women around the world spend several hours a day collecting water. When you take a five-minute shower, you use more water than a typical person in a developing country uses in a whole day.

2. Do you have a bathroom? About 40 percent of the world’s population (2.6 billion people) do not have toilets. Lack of sanitation facilities spreads disease and is a major reason why more than 2 million people die annually of diarrhea.

3. How’s your electricity? The power in my house might be interrupted briefly three times a year because of Florida storms. But 1.6 billion people—a quarter of humanity—live without any electricity. And, because of unreliable infrastructure, at least 2 billion people on earth don’t have any light at night.

4. Got a roof over your head? One billion people live in slums. That’s almost one-sixth of the world’s population. Of this total, 640 million children live without adequate shelter; they live in cardboard boxes, tin-roofed shacks, one-room mud huts or filthy, crowded tenements. It’s been estimated that 1.4 billion people will live in slums by 2020. Meanwhile here in the United States, between 2.3 to 2.5 million people are classified as homeless.

5. Is there food on your table? In the United States we are battling an obesity epidemic. Yet according to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty. Approximately 790 million people in the developing world are chronically undernourished, and almost 28 percent of all children in developing countries are estimated to be underweight or stunted.

6. Got a stove? In developing countries, some 2.5 billion people use fuelwood, charcoal or animal dung to meet their energy needs for cooking. In sub-Saharan Africa, more than 80 percent of the population depends on these crude, traditional means for cooking, as do over half of the populations of India and China. The really sad part: Indoor air pollution resulting from the use of solid fuels claims the lives of 1.5 million people each year, more than half of them below the age of 5.

7. Got regular income? You may have had to take a pay cut during the recession. But keep in mind that at least 80 percent of humanity lives on less than $10 a day. The world’s average income is about $7,000 a year. Still, only about 19 percent of the world’s population lives in countries with per capita incomes at least this high.

8. Did you go to school? Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names. Enrollment data shows that about 72 million children of primary school age in the developing world were not in school in 2005 (and 57 percent of them were girls).

9. Are you generally healthy? Americans face illness like people in other nations—and more than 12 million Americans are battling cancer in any given year. But many of us have access to health care. In the developing world, more than 2.2 million children die each year because they are not immunized. An estimated 40 million people in developing countries are living with HIV/AIDS. Every year there are 350–500 million cases of malaria, with 1 million fatalities, mostly in Africa.

10. Are you free to worship God? More than 400 Christians die for their faith every day around the world, and most of these believers suffer in Islamic countries—although the top hot spot for Christian persecution, according to Open Doors International, is the atheist regime of North Korea.

In these tough economic times you may feel the urge to complain. Be thankful instead! God calls us to live above this negativity. When we give thanks in all things, God gives us a supernatural attitude adjustment. When we thank God for all He has given us, acknowledging that we don’t deserve His goodness, our grumbling melts into gratitude and our impatience turns to praise.

J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma. You can follow him on Twitter at leegrady. His most recent book is 10 Lies Men Believe (Charisma House).

http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/14683-10-basic-blessings-you-should-be-thankful-for

Breaking Habits


habits wordle

A habit is an acquired behavior or thought pattern that you have repeated so many times that it has become almost unconscious. As you likely already know, habits can be both helpful and harmful. (See link at the end of this post.)

If we have a habit that is less than Christ-like, we must first identify that habit, then work to change it. If you want to break a habit, it feels odd. It turns out there is science behind that. (See link.) However, with Christ’s help we can do anything, including changing unpleasant or unfruitful habits.

I have a habit of checking my email and Facebook account too often. Breaking that habit could free me up to do other things. I used to watch a lot of TV. Now I rarely watch it. I managed to break an unfruitful habit. I know I can change other habits.

I bet we all have some habits we can change for the better, but it will take time. The average time it takes to break a habit is 66 days (see link.) You will have to work at changing the habit; Christ wants to help.

Philippians 4:13

I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

1 Corinthians 10:13

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 

Ephesians 4:22-24

To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. 

Romans 12:1-2

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. 

Here’s an interesting article on breaking habits. It’s geared toward business and careers, however, the ideas can apply to everyday life as well.

http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/bad-habits.htm

Blessings on your day.

Scripture is from www.openbible.com

Image is from Google images

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The Restoration of Peter


I wanted to blog about Peter because we all fall short of doing what our Lord asks of us. The Restoration of Peter is a reminder that we can all be restored to Jesus.

What changed Peter? He was one of Jesus’ inner circle, but yet he went on to deny knowing Christ (Luke 22:54-62). Then, in Acts 2, he preached the sermon that converts 3,000 to Christ. Something happened in-between. We know the Holy Spirit came upon the Disciples in Acts 2:1-4. But I think the change in Peter happened before that.

The text I will refer to is John 21.

After the death and resurrection of Jesus, the disciples returned to fishing (John 21:1-3). Maybe they were returning to that way of life, maybe they were simply providing for themselves. We just know they didn’t catch anything that night.

In verses 4-6, Jesus returns and directs their work. The lesson here is that when we work with divine guidance we will be successful.

Watch what Peter does in verse 7. Peter couldn’t wait for the boat to see Jesus again; he had to jump out of the boat to get to Jesus as fast as he could. This is the disciple who had previously denied his Lord.

Peter’s Restoration:

After the disciples enjoy breakfast with their Master, Jesus asks Peter the same question three times. In verses 15-16 Jesus inquires about Peter’s love. Peter responds that “You know I love You.” Then Jesus tells Peter to “feed His lambs and tend His sheep.” Forgiveness and restoration has already been given, along with a command of what to do next.

But Jesus goes on to ask Peter again, this time asking Peter if he loves Him more than “these” (verse 17).

What does “these” mean? It could refer to the large catch of fish, assuming Peter intended to return to being a fisherman. It could also mean the other disciples. In any case, the Lord wants our love and devotion above all other things, and people. One of the ways we do this is in service to other people. Jesus is telling Peter he must give himself to the service of God’s people.

Notice that Jesus does not ask Peter for a public apology, nor does he publicly humiliate Peter. But he does allow Peter three public affirmations of love to replace the three public denials of Him. At the same time, Jesus restores Peter to service.

Finally, in the call on Peter’s life, in verse 18-19, we see the phrase that applies to every one of us, “Follow Me.”

Wherever we fall short, Jesus can and will restore us, and allow us to serve Him, perhaps in miraculous ways. Never think your shortcomings have ended your service to our Great God.

Matthew 4:19 (ESV)

And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

 Scripture is from www.BibleGateway.com

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