Saturday, May 31, 2014

Daniel stopped the mouth of lions



This is from the blog Daily Meditation:

Daniel 6:20: And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?

The people who surround Daniel were envious of him because he was about to be elevated above them. They formed themselves into an investigative panel so that they can look for fault with him. They made a thorough search of issues concerning him but saw that he was blameless (Daniel 6).

They decided that they their only alternative is to create a conflict that does not exist before between Daniel’s commitment to the God of Israel and the law of the Medes and Persians.

They made the king set up a law that no one should pray to any other god except the King for period of 30 days and anyone who disobeyed will be fed to the lions. Daniel would immediately contravene that law by praying to God facing Jerusalem as he used to. And of course he was arrested and thrown into den of lions. But God saved him.

He explained later that God whom he served unflinching and who supports him unbendingly, sent his angels to save him from the lions.

And in a classic case of one with God being a majority, the king fed the people who schemed against Daniel and their families to the lions. They were paid back in their own coin. They fell into the trap they have laid.

Because Daniel was focused on obedience to God, he shut the mouth of the lions. And in your case, what is meant to devour you will only promote you when you stand in faith. That was what happened with Daniel. What was meant to crush him crushed his adversaries.

The writer of the book of Hebrews obviously referred to Daniel, when he said by faith some people shut the mouth of lions (Hebrews 11:33). That shows that underneath the whole drama of Daniel going to and coming from the lions’ den, his faith was in operation.

What is meant to bring you down will only take you up when you are in faith. Faith uses adversity as soaring board. Faith says that it is not over until you win. When Daniel was thrown into that dark pit of a den full of lions, his adversaries thought that was the end to him. They thought he would no longer be any threat to them or their ambition, that they have rid themselves of him. But God would have none of that.

And Daniel would be given a public recompense of his devotion to God and his enemies will be given a public recompense of their opposition to the man who is with God. The Lord is committed to oppose those who oppose you. You can stand secure in his protection. God said, touch not my anointed and do my prophets no harm (Psalm105:15). You are marked by the anointing and you are protected. John wrote that this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith in God (1John 5:4). And greater is he who is in us than the one who is in the world (1John 4:4).

Faith is about bridging between heaven and earth. It presents a possibility above human ability. It activates the activity of angels.

When Jesus was about to be arrested, he said he can ask his father in heaven and he will make available 12 legions of angels to his defense (Matthew 26:53-54). He declined to activate faith to save himself, because of his commitment to go through with dying on the cross to save humanity.

Angels hearken to the word of God according to the testimony of scriptures (Psalm 103:20). So when you put the word of God in your mouth, declaring it over your situation, angelic activities are activated. The words you declare shows that you believe in God and angels get excited when they are around someone who believes in God and his declaration lines up with that.

I know that because when Zechariah, a priest, John the Baptist’s father was before angel Gabriel, he irritated Gabriel by mouthing disbelief to the word of God (Luke 1:18-20). And as punishment the angel said that the priest will be dumb for a season. He said that because he was pissed off by the unbelief of that priest. That was a negative action of the angel.  Faith does the opposite; it activates the positive actions of angels on behalf of the believers.

Faith unleashes enormous power. The bible says that the prayer of faith saves the sick and that the effectual fervent prayer of the righteous man avails much (James 5:13-18), dynamic in its working and makes tremendous power available. That shows there needs to be present, for tremendous power to be made available, the threesome of righteousness, faith and prayer.

Daniel was standing in faith and his connection to God was without fail, which is righteousness. He was also a man of prayer; he defied the law of the land to go and pray on the pain of death by being eaten alive by lions. Prayer, righteousness and faith were present in his life and the three give forth a formidable combustion of spiritual energy as released by angels.

Righteousness is about a lifestyle that pleases God; faith is stepping out on the word of God, with active expectation that what he says, he will do, and prayer, is focusing the word of God as a laser beam in the realm of the spirit to get the will of God done.

But since God does not hear sinners, it means that righteousness is the core of all these. A life of faith starts with obedience to God, which is another definition of righteousness. There can be no activation of the help of God when you are not right with him. He is holy, remember?

However, the gift of righteousness that we receive from Jesus takes care of any acceptance issues between us and God (2Corinthians 5:21).  In Jesus, we are covered on the righteousness front. And God accepts us as he accepts Christ. The sacrifice he made was because our sin was laid on him, so that according to the logic of divine exchange, his righteousness can be put on us. He didn’t do anything to deserve the cross in the same way that we didn’t do anything to deserve his righteousness.

That, however, is not the same as license for lawlessness (Romans 6:1-2). After accepting the blood sacrifice of Jesus and we are now born again, we need to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4), walk in the truth (3John1:4), walk in the light (1John 1:7), walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16). Though we start with the gift of righteousness we are supposed to go on from there with the life of righteousness (1John 3:7). Because what Christ gives us is not just a gift, it is a change. We are new creatures (2Corinthians 5:17).

In Jesus we have our righteousness, in him our faith stands firm, and we use his name in prayer. He therefore represents for us victory over the lions of this world, whatever they are, and victory over whatever seeks to consume us.

_____

"A man with God is always in the majority."

"Let a thing be noted, that the prophet of God sometimes may teach treason against kings, and yet neither he nor such as obey the word, spoken in the Lord's name by him, offend God."

     --John Knox

Friday, May 23, 2014

Snare


This is from the blog Daily Meditation:

Ezekiel 12:13: And I will spread my net over him, and he shall be taken in my snare. And I will bring him to Babylon, the land of the Chaldeans, yet he shall not see it, and he shall die there.

The theme of the snare runs through the bible. In the book of GenesisAdam and Evefell into the deceptive trap of the devil (Genesis 3). The serpent approached Eve with a proposition, acting as if he was only looking out for her best interest, but it was a trap, a distraction from the will of God.

People around us come with similar propositions, they seems to have your best intention in mind. They may even mean well, not knowing their advice if taken would be nothing more than a major distraction from the will of God, from the best of God.

During the time Job was down and seemingly out with many troubles (Job 2:5, 9), his wife told him to curse God and if he was struck by him in judgment of death (showing her jaundiced view of God) them he will die and he will be free from pain. His wife wanted the best for him, but her definition of the best was short-sighted at best and satanically inspired at worst.

It will like cutting your nose to spite your face. It will like cutting off the head to solve an headache problem. In the confusion of his difficulties, to a lesser man that proposition would have been appealing. But Job said that even if God strikes him he will still trust (Job 13:15). He did not bite that bait; on that snare, he passed.

David wrote about the snare of the fowler (Psalm 91:3). In the snare, the benefit is presented while the danger is hidden, like the fine print, too fine to be see, and the smooth talker trying to sell you a broken down vehicle.

Before you take an advice check in your heart, and ask yourself what God is saying? Because something is appealing does not mean it is good. Because something glitters does not mean it is gold. Because everyone is doing it does not means you should. Because it is the fad does not mean you should tag along. You are not a photocopy. you are an original.

Anything that pulls you away from the will of God is a snare, it doesn’t matter how it is presented. Paul said that Demas departed from him having loved this world (2Timothy 4:10). Demas was trapped by the love of the world (1John 2:15-17), as he was distracted from being part of Paul’s ministry team.

When Jesus told the disciples that he would soon be hung on the cross, Peter thought he was taking things too far and told him to perish the thought (Mark 8:31-33). But Jesus rebuked him, saying: get behind me Satan, you are not after the will of God but self-will.

Abraham experienced a snare from his wife Sarah, she gave him the suggestion the way out of their childlessness that he should sleep with their Egyptian maid (Genesis 16:1-9, 21:8-15). It sounded cool, culturally acceptable, and naturally sensible.

But that was the end to the peace in his household. First the pregnant Hagar acted up against Sarah, and after Ishmael (standing for the self-will of Abraham) was born, about a decade later Isaac (standing for the will of God, the word of God, the promise) was born. And Ishmael (self-will) became a threat to Isaac (God’s will), mocking him. So Abraham had to die to his own will. He had to chase Ishmael away. And it was painful for him to do that. That was the cross he had to carry, he had to die to self-will to be able to elevate the will of God to its place of preeminent. But what was meant to be a means for him to have children turned out to be a snare. On the long run, Ishmael did nothing but complicate Abraham’s life. Self-will always does that. It is a trap.

For David, Bathsheba was a snare. It was supposed to be an unannounced adulterous event, but it made him a bull’s-eye for God’s judgment (2Samuel 11). Same with Adam and Eve. What was sold to them as a good thing, eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, made them enter into the judgment of death. If that was not a trap, then nothing else is.

The temptations of Jesus by the devil were snares. He told him, bow down and worship me and I will give you the kingdoms of the world and their glory (Luke 4:1-13). Jesus did not yield. He was able to judge the situation correctly, and dodge the satanic snare. Paul said: we should not give any foothold to the devil, lest he takes advantage of us (2Corinthians 2:11).

Because what you want is being offered does not mean you should take it, it may come with strings attached.

When Pharaoh first agreed to let the children of Israel go, to worship God in the wilderness (Exodus 10:8-11, 24, 12:31), he gave some conditions. He said they should not take their children with them, or that they should leave their cattle.

But Moses refused, he had his eyes on the will of God, which is full freedom for the children of Israel, just as He spoke to Abraham (Genesis 15:13-16), that his children will be enslaved in a foreign land and by the supernatural hand of God, they will released after 400 years in the land.

The will of God is freedom, total freedom, because to the limit that we are free from anything else is the limit is the limit we can serve God. Therefore God sent Moses with a message to Pharaoh: let my people go that they may serve me.

God does not want anything holding you down, no ideology, no sentiment, no sin. The book of Hebrews teaches that we should lay aside every weight and sin which doth easily beset us and run with patience the race that is set before us (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Paul said he was careful so that after he had preached to others he will not be a cast away, having been snared (1Corinthians 9:27). He doesn’t not want anything holding him back from the fullness of God, and he wants the same thing for those he wrote to.

He doesn’t want them snared, he doesn’t want their affection taken over by anything/one else but Christ, knowing that any attachment other than to him is a trap in disguise.

Jesus and Paul warned about the trap of money. Jesus said we cannot serve God and Mammon (Matthew 6:24), we cannot serve two masters, we cannot swear allegiance to Mammon and God at the same time. Attachment to money is a distraction from God. Paul said that the love of money is the root of all evil (1Tiimothy 6:10).

That was Judas’ undoing. He was in charge of the money bag for the twelve and Jesus (John 12:1-6). He stole some of it. He sought to get money by selling Jesus out (Matthew 26:15), fully entrapped by money.

And later he killed himself, racked by guilt for betraying Jesus. Suicide is indicative of a man in a snare. Ditto depression. In a snare you do not see a way out, seeing everything from the fulcrum of your pain or even need.

Negatives habits are snares, they are shackles that we should be free from. Because Jesus was free, he can help us to be free. He said that the enemy came to him and found nothing in him (John 14:30). He was free from all satanic entanglements, of the mind, spirit and body.

So because Jesus is free we are also free, because he is truth and when we grow in his knowledge we grow in freedom. Understand that the “truth” that does not lead you to more freedom is a lie, is a snare.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Persecuted for Truth



This is from the blog Daily Meditation:

Jeremiah 20:2: Then Pashur smote Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the high gate of Benjamin, which was by the house of the LORD.

Jeremiah got into trouble because he spoke the truth. He was God’s mouthpiece and God, because of the unrepentant nature of the children of Israel and their leaders in their unfaithfulness, had damning things to speak through prophet Jeremiah. But human beings do not have an ear for truth, has the tendency to believe lies.

Jesus said that John the Baptist, came not eating and drinking and they did not believe him (Matthew 11:18-19), but Jesus came associating with people, eating and drinking, and they still did not believe him. So what do they want? So note your persecutors are not going to be convinced whatever you do.

A bunch of people came to Jesus asking him to give them a sign. He refused to indulge them (Mark 8:12). The power of God is not for gaming; it is not for show off. Jesus was not amenable to their wished so they persecuted him. He did not match their expectation, so they persecuted him. If you do not yield to people, they may set out to persecute you no matter what.

Jesus was persecuted for truth. Once, because the people did not like the words he speaks to them, they wanted to throw him over the cliff (Luke 4:28-23), but God gave him a way of escape.

Stephen the first martyr of the church was killed because of his commitment to truth. He presented a perspective to the people of the ways of God, x-raying their wicked heart. He was stoned to death. That showed the hardness of their heart, their response to the truth was to kill the bearer (Acts 7).

Then it was clear that being a Christian could actually be a death sentence. It is in the context of the physical danger that Paul was faced on a daily basis because he bore true that he said: I die daily (1Corinthians 15:21). He was committed to preaching that circumcision is not required to come into a relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, since Jesus’ blood offers a different set of benefit, deeper and higher than the Levitical priesthood. And for that the Jews wanted to kill him since he was “ruining the very basis of their religion.” At a time some Jews bound themselves with an oath that they will not eat until they have killed Paul (Acts 23:21), but God gave him a way of escape.

Jesus said to the disciples that they have been sent as sheep among wolves, so they be wise as serpent and as gentle as dove (Matthew 10:16). The wolf is meant to devour the sheep, but to be able to navigate the difficult terrain of life we are meant to be skilful in associating (snake) and dissociating (dove) from the world.

The dove is a bird that flies while the serpent crawls. We must be both divinely savvy (dove) and earthly savvy (snake), we are meant to be both gentle (dove) and wise (snake), powerful (snake) and weak (dove), forceful (snake) and subtle (dove).

Because the serpent seeks for opportunity to strike, we are not supposed to be onlookers in life but be sensitive to know when it is right to strike people with the message of the gospel, infuse them with truth.

Peter and John at the beautiful gate were aware of this. When the man lame from his birth and forty years of age looked to them for some money while they approached the temple, they told him: silver and gold we have not but what we have we give to you, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk (Acts 3-4). And he did, to the amazement of everyone there. Peter then “struck” the people with the message of the gospel, and five thousand people were won to Christ (infused with the truth of the gospel). But for that they soon faced persecution, they spoke truth, but the Pharisees set out to punish them for it. Therefore, there is always the risk of persecution, as long as you are committed to truth.

We cannot live a life blended with the world, when we are of heaven, as light in the world’s darkness. Paul had a commitment to truth and was persecuted in like measure. Because of the danger of telling the truth the fearful cannot walk with God. Jesus said that we should not fear those who can only destroy the body but not the soul (Matthew 10:28), but we should fear God who can destroy both the body and soul in hell. Paul charged Timothy that he should not yield to the spirit of fear but should manifest power, love and sound mind (2Timothy 1:6-7) though he was going to face opposition to the truth he represents and communicates.

Because what you stand for is true does not mean people will not oppose you. So if you are focused on being liked by everyone you cannot be a follower of Christ. Jesus said woe to those who are liked by everyone because that was how they liked the false prophets.

The word of God is not all sweet. It has rebuke, correction, which was what stirred rejection in the people of Israel to whom Jeremiah was sent; so they persecuted him. People do not want to be told they are wrong. They are bent on their own way. That is the fruit of the rebellion in the Garden of Eden. In the absence of the light from God, everyone sets out to be his own “light,” following the dictates of his own heart.

Abel was persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for truth (Genesis 4:1-12). He did the right thing but became the target of retribution from his brother Cain. That was the ultimate kind of rejection (premeditated murder) so much so that his blood cried out from the ground to God for vengeance.

Daniel was the butt of persecution when as a Jew he stood out among the administrators in the land of his captivity. They set a trap for him and he was thrown into the den of lions but was rescued him by an angel to shut up the mouth of the lions (Daniel 6).

When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were told to bow down and worship the image made by great king Nebuchadnezzar on the fear of being thrown alive into a burning furnace. They called the bluff of the King. Though persecuted for truth, they came out on the top and they were preserved supernaturally when they were thrown into the furnace. When they did not bend in their commitment to truth even though persecuted, the king bent to their God (Daniel 3).

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Vital Intercession



Oswald Chambers, 1874-1917

"As we continue on in our intercession for others, we may find that our obedience to God in interceding is going to cost those for whom we intercede more than we ever thought. The danger in this is that we begin to intercede in sympathy with those whom God was gradually lifting up to a totally different level in direct answer to our prayers. Whenever we step back from our close identification with God’s interest and concern for others and step into having emotional sympathy with them, the vital connection with God is gone. We have then put our sympathy and concern for them in the way, and this is a deliberate rebuke to God.
"It is impossible for us to have living and vital intercession unless we are perfectly and completely sure of God. And the greatest destroyer of that confident relationship to God, so necessary for intercession, is our own personal sympathy and preconceived bias. Identification with God is the key to intercession, and whenever we stop being identified with Him it is because of our sympathy with others, not because of sin. It is not likely that sin will interfere with our intercessory relationship with God, but sympathy will. It is sympathy with ourselves or with others that makes us say, 'I will not allow that thing to happen.' And instantly we are out of that vital connection with God.
"Vital intercession leaves you with neither the time nor the inclination to pray for your own 'sad and pitiful self.' You do not have to struggle to keep thoughts of yourself out, because they are not even there to be kept out of your thinking. You are completely and entirely identified with God’s interests and concerns in other lives. God gives us discernment in the lives of others to call us to intercession for them, never so that we may find fault with them."
--Oswald Chambers