Tuesday, September 30, 2008

An End and a Beginning

September 30: Malachi 1-4

1 “For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. 2 But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. 3 And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the Lord of hosts.

4 “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel.

5 “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. 6 And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”
Malachi 4:1-6

An End and a Beginning

Our reading today marks an end that points to a new beginning. Malachi pronounces the final warnings against His unfaithful people who, among other things, brought the sick and lame animals for sacrificing to the Lord instead of the best of their flock.

Malachi 4 pronounces a final curse against those who do not fear the Lord and an encouragement to those who remained faithful to the Lord. To the evil He states,

For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.

But to the righteous He promises,

The sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the Lord of hosts.

How often have we seen this same contrast in the books of the prophets: cursing against the wicked and promises of rest for the righteous? Yet, Malachi ends with one more important promise.

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”

So, the Old Testament ends much like it began, with a promise of the Messiah. He was first foretold in Genesis 3:15, and here He is promised in the last two verses of Malachi.

As you go about the duties of this day, think about an end and a beginning. This same Messiah promised in Malachi 6:5-6 is offered to this day as our Redeemer. He alone can give us an end to a life of wickedness and the beginning of a new life of salvation through Him. Go to Christ--He will save you now!

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Remember the Joy!

September 29: Nehemiah 11-13 & Psalm 126

27 And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, with thanksgivings and with singing, with cymbals, harps, and lyres. 28 And the sons of the singers gathered together from the district surrounding Jerusalem and from the villages . . .

And the singers sang with Jezrahiah as their leader. 43 And they offered great sacrifices that day and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and children also rejoiced. And the joy of Jerusalem was heard far away.
Nehemiah 12:27-28a & 42b-43

1 When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
3 The Lord has done great things for us;
we are glad.
Psalm 126:1-3

Remember the Joy!

Our Scripture passage today from Nehemiah offers a mixture of emotions, beginning with shouts of great joy and ending with Nehemiah taking drastic steps to restore a backsliding people. Do you remember that phrase in the song, "Come Thou Fount" that says:

Prone to wander, Lord I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love?

How often we nod in agreement with those words, desiring to follow Christ with our whole hearts and then finding ourselves slip away at the next bend in the road. That is exactly the state that Nehemiah discovered in Jerusalem.

The wall had been built and it was time for the people to rejoice and praise the Lord for His faithfulness. I love that last sentence in verse 43 shown above, And the joy of Jerusalem was heard far away. It is wonderful to have times of great rejoicing, for as we travel the road of life we must often remember the joy of serving the Lord to keep from falling away.

How grieved Nehemiah must have been when he returned from a trip back to King Artaxerxes in Babylon, to find the great backsliding that occurred in his absence. Undaunted, he took on the task of rebuking and admonishing the people to return to the Lord. Nehemiah 13:30 & 31 tells us,

30 Thus I cleansed them from everything foreign, and I established the duties of the priests and Levites, each in his work; 31 and I provided for the wood offering at appointed times, and for the firstfruits.

Remember me, O my God, for good
.

No wonder the Psalmist declared,

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream
.


Do we not experience the same thing in our own lives? When God restores our backsliding hearts, the joy we experience is like those who dream.

Pray that God will not allow you to be overcome by difficult times, but would rather help you to remember the joy of that time when you first believed.

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

They Had Understood

September 28: Nehemiah 8-10

1 And all the people gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate. And they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the Lord had commanded Israel. 2 So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard, on the first day of the seventh month. 3 And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.

9 And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law. 10 Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” 11 So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved.” 12 And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them.
Nehemiah 8:1-3 & 9-12

They Had Understood

I am in awe of the many nuggets of truth that lied buried in the Scriptures, just waiting for us to dig them up, polish them, and apply them to our own lives. Our devotional today contains such a "nugget" as the subject of this devotional.

The wall was completed, the breaches were repaired, and the gates were hung! Through fierce opposition the task was completed. Now came the time for rejoicing.

The people gathered together to hear the Book of the Law of Moses read to them by Nehemiah, the governor. He read to them from early in the morning to mid-day, and we are told that, The ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law. As a matter of fact, they were so moved by the words they heard that many of them began to weep. This day, however, was not to be a day of mourning, but a day of rejoicing. Nehemiah, Ezra, and the Levites encouraged the people, Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

So where is this little nugget of truth? Look at the end of verse 12 shown above: because they had understood the words that were declared to them.

That begs the question, Does everyone who reads or hears the Word of God understand it? How can one person delve into the Word and find salvation, peace, and comfort, while another can only find an angry God filled with vengeance? They are reading the same book! Why the difference?

This is a very important question for us to consider today. The Holy Spirit opens hearts to hear and understand the Word, while others remain dull to its meaning. The Word of God is a living book; it is not a book about dead men and women who lived thousands of years ago. It is a book filled with the living waters of salvation gracing its pages.

If God has opened our hearts to understand the salvation granted to us as provided by the blood of Christ, it is truly a day of rejoicing. Oh, we may weep as well, but they are just tears of great joy.

Go to Christ today and thank Him for opening your heart and mind so that you understand the Word of God.

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Rumors

September 27: Nehemiah 6-7

1 Now when Sanballat and Tobiah and Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies heard that I had built the wall and that there was no breach left in it (although up to that time I had not set up the doors in the gates), 2 Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come and let us meet together at Hakkephirim in the plain of Ono.” But they intended to do me harm. 3 And I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” 4 And they sent to me four times in this way, and I answered them in the same manner. 5 In the same way Sanballat for the fifth time sent his servant to me with an open letter in his hand. 6 In it was written, “It is reported among the nations, and Geshem also says it, that you and the Jews intend to rebel; that is why you are building the wall. And according to these reports you wish to become their king. 7 And you have also set up prophets to proclaim concerning you in Jerusalem, ‘There is a king in Judah.’ And now the king will hear of these reports. So now come and let us take counsel together.” 8 Then I sent to him, saying, “No such things as you say have been done, for you are inventing them out of your own mind.” 9 For they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will drop from the work, and it will not be done.” But now, O God, strengthen my hands.
Nehemiah 6:1-9

Rumors

Our devotional for today seems especially appropriate in our country with the media being dominated by the upcoming presidential candidates. As the candidates rally themselves toward the promise of victory, charge after charge is slung at their opponent; it is very hard to tell the true accusations from the false ones. This is not a new tactic known only to our day. As a matter of fact, Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem found mud-slinging to be a very effective tool against Nehemiah.

First, Sanballat and Geshem sent word to Nehemiah that they wanted to meet with him. Knowing that they were intending to do him harm, Nehemiah refused to stop the work of rebuilding the wall to meet with them. When that did not work, the rumors began to spread among the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the surrounding cities that the Jews were rebuilding the wall because they intended to rebel against the king and make Nehemiah their king.

The sad thing about rumors is that it does not matter in the least whether they are true or false to be effective. That is why it often hurts us so much if our good name is slandered in the community in which we live. Even though the rumor spread may be proved to be false, the damage is already done. How do we handle that?

How did Nehemiah handle the rumors? He wrote a letter of denial to Sanballat and Geshem, prayed to God for strength to go on, and continued building the wall.

Did Nehemiah's enemies finally give up? No. If one plan failed, they soon generated another plan. Do not be surprised if you are experiencing the same thing. Pray for the strength to respond like Nehemiah. Our goal while here on this earth is not to try to please everyone or to be liked by everyone. Of course we would love it if that could ever happen, but as long as sin exists in the world, the enemies of God will plot against His children. The more we attempt to live for the Lord, the stronger Satan works to discourage and defame our name.

The only One we are to please is God, Himself! That is enough of a task in and of itself! Proverbs 16:7 tells us, When a man’s ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

Pray for strength and wisdom to commit your life wholly unto the Lord, and to please Him in all that you do.

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Work for the Night is Coming!

September 26: Nehemiah 1-5

3 And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.” . . . Now I was cupbearer to the king.
Nehemiah 1:3 & 11b

2 And the king said to me, “Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of the heart.” Then I was very much afraid. 3 I said to the king, “Let the king live forever! Why should not my face be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' graves, lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” 4 Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. 5 And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers' graves, that I may rebuild it.”

And the king granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me.

18 And I told them of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, “Let us rise up and build.” So they strengthened their hands for the good work. 19 But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite servant and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they jeered at us and despised us and said, “What is this thing that you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?” 20 Then I replied to them, “The God of heaven will make us prosper, and we his servants will arise and build, but you have no portion or right or claim in Jerusalem.”
Nehemiah 2:2-5, 8b & 18-20

1 Now when Sanballat heard that we were building the wall, he was angry and greatly enraged, and he jeered at the Jews. 2 And he said in the presence of his brothers and of the army of Samaria, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they restore it for themselves? Will they sacrifice? Will they finish up in a day? Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish, and burned ones at that?” 3 Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, “Yes, what they are building—if a fox goes up on it he will break down their stone wall!”

7 But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward and that the breaches were beginning to be closed, they were very angry. 8 And they all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it. 9 And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.
Nehemiah 4:1-3 & 7-9

Work for the Night is Coming

The book of Nehemiah begins with some troubling news for Nehemiah, the cupbearer to King Artaxerxes. Men who just returned from Judah reported to Nehemiah, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.” Devastated by this news, Nehemiah then devised a plan to make repairs to the wall of Jerusalem and to the city gates. Nothing is ever easy, and such was this case; as soon as some non-Jewish men in Jerusalem heard of Nehemiah's plans, opposition began.

Some things never change, do they? It is not unusual in our day to find some jealous people trying to stop or destroy the work of others--even in our churches. How did Nehemiah handle this problem?

But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite servant and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they jeered at us and despised us and said, “What is this thing that you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?” Then I replied to them, “The God of heaven will make us prosper, and we his servants will arise and build.

When Sanballat and Tobiah saw that their jeers were ignored, they decided they needed to do something more forceful to stop the rebuilding of Jerusalem.

7 But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward and that the breaches were beginning to be closed, they were very angry. 8 And they all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it.

Again, how did Nehemiah react?

9 And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.

They not only prayed for protection from God, but they also began to work with a weapon in one hand and tools for rebuilding in the other! What a lesson for us to learn! When obstacles keep coming our way in our Christian walk, do we quickly become discouraged and give up? Nehemiah knew he was in the right, and he knew that God would always be there to aid and protect them.

Have things changed today? No, not at all. We must understand and expect that the more we do for the Lord, the more opposition and problems we will face. Like Nehemiah, let us pray for grace to work all the harder with one hand on a weapon and another on our tools!

As the song implores us, let us:

Work for the Night is coming
When man's work is done!

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

God Leads His Dear Children Along

September 25: Ezra 7-10

8 And Ezra came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king. 9 For on the first day of the first month he began to go up from Babylonia, and on the first day of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem, for the good hand of his God was on him. 10 For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.

12 “Artaxerxes, king of kings, to Ezra the priest, the scribe of the Law of the God of heaven. Peace. And now 13 I make a decree that anyone of the people of Israel or their priests or Levites in my kingdom, who freely offers to go to Jerusalem, may go with you. 14 For you are sent by the king and his seven counselors to make inquiries about Judah and Jerusalem according to the Law of your God, which is in your hand, 15 and also to carry the silver and gold that the king and his counselors have freely offered to the God of Israel, whose dwelling is in Jerusalem, 16 with all the silver and gold that you shall find in the whole province of Babylonia, and with the freewill offerings of the people and the priests, vowed willingly for the house of their God that is in Jerusalem.

27 Blessed be the Lord, the God of our fathers, who put such a thing as this into the heart of the king, to beautify the house of the Lord that is in Jerusalem, 28 and who extended to me his steadfast love before the king and his counselors, and before all the king's mighty officers. I took courage, for the hand of the Lord my God was on me, and I gathered leading men from Israel to go up with me.
Ezra 7:8-10, 12-16 & 27-28

21 Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods. 22 For I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemy on our way, since we had told the king, “The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him.” 23 So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty.
Ezra 8:21-23

God Leads His Dear Children Along!

Time had passed for those who had returned to Jerusalem to build the temple; sin and discouragement had set in so that the building had completely stopped. Ezra, who had set his heart to study and teach the Law of God, was again determined to return to Jerusalem with a large group of Israelites to encourage those who were in Jerusalem.

God miraculously provided for them through an amazing decree by Artaxerxes allowing any who desired to return to Jerusalem the freedom to go; the king also provided gold, silver, bronze, and precious stones to take with them.

For you are sent by the king and his seven counselors to make inquiries about Judah and Jerusalem according to the Law of your God, which is in your hand, and also to carry the silver and gold that the king and his counselors have freely offered to the God of Israel.

Noting the king's decree, Ezra wrote in his journal:

I took courage, for the hand of the Lord my God was on me, and I gathered leading men from Israel to go up with me.

Sometimes we forget that men such as Ezra faced the same weaknesses and temptations that we face. As the people were ready to set out for Jerusalem Ezra declared a three-day fast to beseech the Lord God for His protection, for he was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect them.

For I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemy on our way, since we had told the king, “The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him.”

It was an amazing time! God called Ezra for a particular job, provided a decree from the king allowing the people to return to Jerusalem, and gave the exiles a safe passage to their homeland. God, who had a specific task for Ezra to do, provided everything necessary for the trip, including a large sum of gold, silver, and bronze, offered freely by the king and his servants.

How many times do we shrink back from doing something for the Lord because the obstacles seem too great to overcome? Just as God was faithful in providing for Ezra, so He will faithfully provide for His children today. We must never forget our true purpose for being here, and continually seek God for wisdom in knowing what He would have us to do.

Ponder the words of this gospel song written by G. A. Young, as you go about your duties of this day.

In shady green pastures, so rich and so sweet,
God leads His dear children along.
Where the water's cool flow bathes the weary one's feet,
God leads His dear children along.

Some thru the waters, some thru the flood,
Some thru the fire, but all thru the blood;
Some thru great sorrow, but God gives a song,
In the night season and all the day long.

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Justice is Served!

September 24: Esther 6-10

1 On that night the king could not sleep. And he gave orders to bring the book of memorable deeds, the chronicles, and they were read before the king. 2 And it was found written how Mordecai had told about Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king's eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, and who had sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. 3 And the king said, “What honor or distinction has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?” The king's young men who attended him said, “Nothing has been done for him.” 4 And the king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the king's palace to speak to the king about having Mordecai hanged on the gallows that he had prepared for him. 5 And the king's young men told him, “Haman is there, standing in the court.” And the king said, “Let him come in.” 6 So Haman came in, and the king said to him, “What should be done to the man whom the king delights to honor?” And Haman said to himself, “Whom would the king delight to honor more than me?” 7 And Haman said to the king, “For the man whom the king delights to honor, 8 let royal robes be brought, which the king has worn, and the horse that the king has ridden, and on whose head a royal crown is set. 9 And let the robes and the horse be handed over to one of the king's most noble officials. Let them dress the man whom the king delights to honor, and let them lead him on the horse through the square of the city, proclaiming before him: ‘Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor.’” 10 Then the king said to Haman, “Hurry; take the robes and the horse, as you have said, and do so to Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king's gate. Leave out nothing that you have mentioned.” 11 So Haman took the robes and the horse, and he dressed Mordecai and led him through the square of the city, proclaiming before him, “Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor.”

12 Then Mordecai returned to the king's gate. But Haman hurried to his house, mourning and with his head covered. 13 And Haman told his wife Zeresh and all his friends everything that had happened to him. Then his wise men and his wife Zeresh said to him, “If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of the Jewish people, you will not overcome him but will surely fall before him.”
Esther 6

Justice is Served!

It would be extremely difficult to summarize today's reading in just a few verses, so I have recorded all of chapter 6 above. You may really want to read chapters 7-12 as well--it is not a very long passage.

Yesterday we spoke of the plot of Haman against Mordecai and all of the Jews; today we will see how God brought true justice to His people.

Just as Haman was devising plans to seek the king's permission to hang Mordecai on the gallows a very interesting thing happened. Not being able to sleep, the king read through his book of memorial deeds. What should he discover? Mordecai, who had uncovered a plot to assassinate the king had never been honored for his loyal service to the Ahasuerus. The next morning, before Haman could even speak to the king about his plan to hang Mordecai, the king asks him what he should do for someone he chooses to honor. Thinking that the king meant to honor him, he listed everything he would like to have the king do for him. Imagine his shock at the king's response.

Then the king said to Haman, “Hurry; take the robes and the horse, as you have said, and do so to Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king's gate. Leave out nothing that you have mentioned.”

This was the first inkling Haman had that things were not going well; even his wife and family noticed when they said to him,

“If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of the Jewish people, you will not overcome him but will surely fall before him.”

Their omen certainly turned out to be true. Not only was Haman and his sons hung on his own gallows, but all of the enemies of the Jews throughout the entire land had to face the Jewish soldiers who were allowed to defend their families against the evil intentions of Haman.

God brought about a great victory that day for His people; best of all, He still does the very same thing for His children today. Make no mistake, those who are not believers hate God and all of those who follow Him. That has not been as evident in the United States since its origin, but it is beginning to be felt now. Remember, when people hate you for being a Christian, it is really God they hate!

We need to pray for those around us that God would be gracious to them as He has been to us in granting a salvation which we have neither earned nor deserved. No matter how things may appear, remember that with God, justice is served--it will always be served!

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Queen of Queens

September 23: Esther 1-5

Now Esther was winning favor in the eyes of all who saw her. 16 And when Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus, into his royal palace, in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign, 17 the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.
Esther 2:15b-17

8 Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, “There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom. Their laws are different from those of every other people, and they do not keep the king's laws, so that it is not to the king's profit to tolerate them.

13 Letters were sent by couriers to all the king's provinces with instruction to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all Jews, young and old, women and children, in one day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods.
Esther 3:8 & 13

. . . Mordecai told him all that had happened to him, and the exact sum of money that Haman had promised to pay into the king's treasuries for the destruction of the Jews. 8 Mordecai also gave him a copy of the written decree issued in Susa for their destruction, that he might show it to Esther and explain it to her and command her to go to the king to beg his favor and plead with him on behalf of her people. 9 And Hathach went and told Esther what Mordecai had said.

10 Then Esther spoke to Hathach and commanded him to go to Mordecai and say, 11 “All the king's servants and the people of the king's provinces know that if any man or woman goes to the king inside the inner court without being called, there is but one law—to be put to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter so that he may live.

15 Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, 16 “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.”
Esther 4:7b-11 & 15-16

Queen of Queens

Everyone loves the story of Esther; all of the elements of a good story are here. We have a king, a beautiful woman who becomes queen, an adversary, and a plot to rid the world of the queen's people. The difference, however, is that this story is true!

When Queen Vashti displeased the king because of her disobedience, it was decreed that she would be replaced. God raised up beautiful Esther who gained the favor of those around her, including the king. She was chosen to be queen, but little did she know that God had a specific duty for her to perform.

Haman, an important person in the king's court, commanded that everyone bow to him as he went by. When Mordecai, a faithful servant of God, refused to bow to Haman, he became enraged and sought a way to destroy, not only Mordecai, but all of the Jewish people living in the entire Medo-Persian kingdom. Convincing the king that the Jewish people did not obey the king's laws and should be put to death, he was able to draft a law signed with the king's own signet ring. Such a law could never be revoked.

Mordecai went to Esther, requesting she go to the king with this matter. When she explained that she could be put to death for going to the king without being summoned, Mordecai stated in Esther 4:13b-14,

“Do not think to yourself that in the king's palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

How did Esther reply? In Esther 4:16 she stated,

“Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.”

As we finish this book tomorrow we will learn how everything comes together and how God uses Queen Esther to overcome wicked Haman's plans.

Everyone has a purpose! We may never be the queen of queens as was Esther, but God has put each and every one of us in the exact place we are now, to do our part in advancing the kingdom of Christ. Go to Christ; pray for grace to live faithfully before Him every day.

We may never know the ways in which he used us here on this earth until we reach the gates of heaven, but we can be assured that we are right where we are today for a reason!

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Holy to the Lord!

September 22: Zechariah 8-14

1 And the word of the Lord of hosts came, saying, 2 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: I am jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I am jealous for her with great wrath. 3 Thus says the Lord: I have returned to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem, and Jerusalem shall be called the faithful city, and the mountain of the Lord of hosts, the holy mountain. 4 Thus says the Lord of hosts: Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of great age. 5 And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets. 6 Thus says the Lord of hosts: If it is marvelous in the sight of the remnant of this people in those days, should it also be marvelous in my sight, declares the Lord of hosts? 7 Thus says the Lord of hosts: behold, I will save my people from the east country and from the west country, 8 and I will bring them to dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in faithfulness and in righteousness.”
Zechariah 8:1-8

3 Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle. 4 On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley, so that one half of the Mount shall move northward, and the other half southward.

6 On that day there shall be no light, cold, or frost. 7 And there shall be a unique day, which is known to the Lord, neither day nor night, but at evening time there shall be light.
8 On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea. It shall continue in summer as in winter.


9 And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day the Lord will be one and his name one.

20 And on that day there shall be inscribed on the bells of the horses, “Holy to the Lord.”
Zechariah 14:3-4, 6-9 & 20

Holy to the Lord!

As the book of Zechariah continues, God again prophesies of the peace to come to His people, and ultimately of His victory over all of the enemies of Judah. We are again reminded of God's comfort and care for His people as well as His ultimate victory over sin and death.

Thus says the Lord: I have returned to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem, and Jerusalem shall be called the faithful city, and the mountain of the Lord of hosts, the holy mountain.

Jerusalem, that troubled city which has known no peace, shall be ruled by the Lord and shall be called the faithful city. There is hardly a day when Jerusalem is not in the news; the battle between Israel and the surrounding nations continues to rage on. This is not a new battle, neither is it one that man will be able to stop; this battle began in the days of Isaac and Ishmael, and Jacob and Esau. Jerusalem will never know peace again until the Lord returns and reigns supreme; at that time all nations will bow down before Him.

And on that day there shall be inscribed on the bells of the horses, “Holy to the Lord.”

I really love this verse! In our day when the Ten Commandments are torn from the courts of the land, it hardly seems possible that God's name will appear everywhere. Even the bells of the horses will bear the inscription, "Holy to the Lord."

As Christians we often feel as though we are the outcast minority, but do not ever believe that! They who are with us are more than all the hosts of the enemies; God's angels surround His people with peace and protection. Nothing that happens in our day is done apart from God's knowledge; in the end, He will bring peace to this world.

So let us all say today, "Holy to the Lord!"

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Visions and More Visions

September 21: Zechariah 1-7

8 “I saw in the night, and behold, a man riding on a red horse! He was standing among the myrtle trees in the glen, and behind him were red, sorrel, and white horses.

18 And I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, four horns!
Zechariah 1:8 & 18

1 And I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, a man with a measuring line in his hand! 2 Then I said, “Where are you going?” And he said to me, “To measure Jerusalem, to see what is its width and what is its length.” 3 And behold, the angel who talked with me came forward, and another angel came forward to meet him 4 and said to him, “Run, say to that young man, ‘Jerusalem shall be inhabited as villages without walls, because of the multitude of people and livestock in it. 5 And I will be to her a wall of fire all around, declares the Lord, and I will be the glory in her midst.’”
Zechariah 2:1-5

1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2 And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?”
Zechariah 3:1-2

1 And the angel who talked with me came again and woke me, like a man who is awakened out of his sleep. 2 And he said to me, “What do you see?” I said, “I see, and behold, a lampstand all of gold, with a bowl on the top of it, and seven lamps on it, with seven lips on each of the lamps that are on the top of it.
Zechariah 4:1-2

1 Again I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, a flying scroll! 2 And he said to me, “What do you see?” I answered, “I see a flying scroll. Its length is twenty cubits, and its width ten cubits.” 3 Then he said to me, “This is the curse that goes out over the face of the whole land. For everyone who steals shall be cleaned out according to what is on one side, and everyone who swears falsely shall be cleaned out according to what is on the other side.

5 Then the angel who talked with me came forward and said to me, “Lift your eyes and see what this is that is going out.” 6 And I said, “What is it?” He said, “This is the basket that is going out.” And he said, “This is their iniquity in all the land.”
Zechariah 5:1-3 & 5-6

1 Again I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, four chariots came out from between two mountains. And the mountains were mountains of bronze. 2 The first chariot had red horses, the second black horses, 3 the third white horses, and the fourth chariot dappled horses—all of them strong. 4 Then I answered and said to the angel who talked with me, “What are these, my lord?” 5 And the angel answered and said to me, “These are going out to the four winds of heaven, after presenting themselves before the Lord of all the earth.
Zechariah 6:1-5

Visions and More Visions

In the first seven chapters of the book of Zechariah, the Lord sends to the prophet vision after vision. As I read through them, I began to see one general theme bringing them all together into a single message. God's people sinned, God afflicted His people, God punished the nations who captured and abused His people, God called His people to return to Jerusalem and to return to Him, and God promised victory and protection for His people.

In Zechariah we are brought to see the "real" world; the world in which God rules supreme. We see Satan accusing Joshua, the high priest; in response God takes away his filthy garments and clothes him in pure white. In another vision, God sends four horsemen to patrol the entire earth, and in another God builds a wall of fire around Jerusalem.

Through Christ, we have an advocate before God, the Father. Just as Joshua's filthy garments, representing sin, were removed from Him, and replaced with garments of pure white, our sin has also been removed before the sight of God. Christ, through His death for our sins, has removed our filthy sinful garments and replaced them with sinless robes of pure white. Does that mean we do not sin? No, unfortunately sin will be with us while we remain on this present earth; Christ, however, has covered our sins with His own blood so that God sees the righteousness of Christ upon us.

Do you think God's four horsemen only existed in Zechariah's day? Do you think God still patrols the earth in our day as well? We are so busy living our lives that we forget that we only see a portion of the real picture; God and His angels are continually at war with Satan and his angels. This war is taking place right now! God's protection remains upon His people; not one child of God is forgotten.

The angel of God, in another vision, is measuring Jerusalem to see if it will hold all of the people. This was rather strange in Zechariah's time because there were so few inhabitants of Jerusalem that there was no problem fitting everyone in the city. The angel, here, is speaking of a time to come when all of God's people will be gathered together in Jerusalem. There will be so many that they will overflow its boundaries, at which time God will build a wall of protective fire around the people so that none may reach His children.

As we think of these three particular visions of Zechariah--Satan accusing Joshua, the horsemen patrolling the world, and God protecting Jerusalem with a wall of fire--let us remember that we are really just a small part of the "real" world. Though this war that we cannot see rages on, we need not fear because our God has already won! So, read through these visions and more visions and thank God for His saving grace and eternal protection of His people.

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Bag with Holes

September 20: Haggai 1-2

5 Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. 6 You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.

7 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. 8 Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the Lord. 9 You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the Lord of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house. 10 Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. 11 And I have called for a drought on the land and the hills, on the grain, the new wine, the oil, on what the ground brings forth, on man and beast, and on all their labors.”
Haggai 1:5-11

A Bag with Holes

Eighteen years! It had been eighteen years since the decree of Cyrus allowing the rebuilding of the temple. Remember how glorious it was? The people wept and praised God at the same time expressing their joy upon finishing the foundation of the new temple. It was not long, however, until discouragement set in when the workers were threatened with their very lives. Now the tools of their labor had remained silenced for fourteen years!

Oh, they were still busy--building their own houses! Financially, however, they just could not seem to get ahead. Did they understand that their difficulties came from the Lord?

5 Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. 6 You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.

Does that sound familiar? With the rapidly changing economy, our money just does not seem to go as far as it once used to go. When our wages increase, prices increase all the more until it seems that we just put our money into a bag with holes.

Through the message of Haggai, the people began to understand that the Lord was sending financial pitfalls their way. But why?

You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the Lord of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house.

How did the people respond to Haggai's message from the Lord?

Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the Lord their God had sent him. And the people feared the Lord.
Haggai 1:12

But, you may ask, "How does Haggai apply to my life?"

The general principle of Haggai's message centers around our hearts, does it not? Where is our heart? Who or what do you we serve first? Is Christ first in our lives? In our "busy-ness" of life, where do we center our affictions?

Does our money just seem to fall into a bag with holes? Perhaps we should stop and take a moment to reflect upon our relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ, and remember that our real purpose in this life is to serve God and to advance His kingdom here on earth--first!

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Accusations!

September 19: Ezra 4-6 & Psalm 137

4 Then the people of the land discouraged the people of Judah and made them afraid to build 5 and bribed counselors against them to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.

6 And in the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, they wrote an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.
Ezra 4:4-6

“To Artaxerxes the king: Your servants, the men of the province Beyond the River, send greeting. And now 12 be it known to the king that the Jews who came up from you to us have gone to Jerusalem. They are rebuilding that rebellious and wicked city. They are finishing the walls and repairing the foundations. 13 Now be it known to the king that if this city is rebuilt and the walls finished, they will not pay tribute, custom, or toll, and the royal revenue will be impaired.
Ezra 4:11b-13

17 The king sent an answer . . . 21 Therefore make a decree that these men be made to cease, and that this city be not rebuilt, until a decree is made by me.
Ezra 4:17a & 21

2 Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak arose and began to rebuild the house of God that is in Jerusalem, and the prophets of God were with them, supporting them.
Ezra 5:2

“To Darius the king, all peace. 8 Be it known to the king that we went to the province of Judah, to the house of the great God. It is being built with huge stones, and timber is laid in the walls. This work goes on diligently and prospers in their hands.
Ezra 5:7b-8

7 Let the work on this house of God alone. Let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews rebuild this house of God on its site. 8 Moreover, I make a decree regarding what you shall do for these elders of the Jews for the rebuilding of this house of God. The cost is to be paid to these men in full and without delay from the royal revenue, the tribute of the province from Beyond the River. 9 And whatever is needed—bulls, rams, or sheep for burnt offerings to the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, or oil, as the priests at Jerusalem require—let that be given to them day by day without fail, 10 that they may offer pleasing sacrifices to the God of heaven and pray for the life of the king and his sons.
Ezra 6:7-10

Accusations

Solomon said in the book of Ecclesiastes, "There is nothing new under the sun." Today's reading certainly is proof of that. We just left Ezra 3 in yesterday's reading with the people shouting and weeping in praise to God for His answer to their prayers. Yet, here we are in the very next chapter witnessing accusations made against the Jewish people for rebuilding the temple. (For a more complete account of today's reading I would suggest that you read the entire portion of Ezra 4-6.)

However, look how God worked on behalf of His people through the reigns of several kings. Cyrus issued the decree that the temple be rebuilt; Darius issued the decree that the building of the temple be stopped. Then Artaxerxes, the king, issued another decree that the rebuilding of the temple should cease after the people had ignored the decree of Darius. But, God did an amazing thing.

Artaxerxes commanded his people to search through the records to see if Cyrus had, indeed, made a decree that the temple should be rebuilt as the Jewish people had stated. Of course, you know what he found!

I love the end of this matter. This time, Artaxerxes commanded that not only should the rebuilding of the temple be allowed, but that money should be given to the Jewish people out of the king's treasuries to purchase supplies for the building as well as bulls, rams, or sheep to be used for their burnt offerings.

But, that was not all! He further decreed that if anyone tried to stop the work of the rebuilding, he should be impaled upon a beam pulled from his own house! In other words, God used the accusations of His enemies to produce results that would actually aid in the work of rebuilding His temple.

Just think about that as you go about your duties of this day--events that seem bad to us may actually be a case of God using the accusations of His enemies to further the building of His own Kingdom.

To God, alone, be all praise and glory!

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the Enlish Standard Version of the Bible.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Fifty Thousand

September 18: Ezra 1-3

2 “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. 3 Whoever is among you of all his people, may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and rebuild the house of the Lord, the God of Israel—he is the God who is in Jerusalem. 4 And let each survivor, in whatever place he sojourns, be assisted by the men of his place with silver and gold, with goods and with beasts, besides freewill offerings for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.”

7 Cyrus the king also brought out the vessels of the house of the Lord that Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem and placed in the house of his gods. 8 Cyrus king of Persia brought these out in the charge of Mithredath the treasurer, who counted them out to Sheshbazzar the prince of Judah.
Ezra 1:2-4, & 7-8

1 Now these were the people of the province who came up out of the captivity of those exiles whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried captive to Babylonia. They returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his own town.

64 The whole assembly together was 42,360, 65 besides their male and female servants, of whom there were 7,337, and they had 200 male and female singers.
Ezra 3:1 & 64

10 And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests in their vestments came forward with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the Lord, according to the directions of David king of Israel. 11 And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord,

“For he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel.”

And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. 12 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers' houses, old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, though many shouted aloud for joy, 13 so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people's weeping, for the people shouted with a great shout, and the sound was heard far away.
Ezra 3:10-13

Fifty Thousand

As we weave through the minor prophets in our daily reading, we come to a fascinating narrative in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, as well as other minor prophets who were contemporaries of this time. As the end of the seventy years of the captivity of the Jewish people draws near, Cyrus, king of Persia, issues a decree.

Whoever is among you of all his people, may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and rebuild the house of the Lord, the God of Israel—he is the God who is in Jerusalem.

Does it not seem a little out of place that the king of Cyrus should issue such a decree? Was he a believer? This is one of the most remarkable examples of God working in the heart of a pagan king to fulfill His purposes for His children. In Isaiah 45, God speaks to this very issue.

1 Thus says the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus,
whose right hand I have grasped . . .

4 For the sake of my servant Jacob,
and Israel my chosen,
I call you by your name,
I name you, though you do not know me.
5 I am the LORD, and there is no other,
besides me there is no God;
I equip you, though you do not know me,
6 that people may know, from the rising of the sun
and from the west, that there is none besides me.
I am the LORD, and there is no other.
Isaiah 45:1a-6

Notice particularly these two phrases:

I call you by your name, I name you, though you do not know me.

I equip you, though you do not know me.

God clearly expresses that he has called Cyrus by name to make this decree to allow the Jewish people to return to Jerusalem to begin the rebuilding of the temple. He also clearly states that Cyrus does not know Him. As a matter of fact, Cyrus states in his decree (Ezra 1:3): He is the God who is in Jerusalem. In other words God was the God who was in Jerusalem, but He was not Cyrus' god.

How many people responded to this decree of Cyrus? Was it just a small band of religious zealots? According to the numbers given in Ezra 3:64, fifty thousand people responded to the decree of Cyrus and joined the caravan going to Jerusalem to rebuild their temple.

You can imagine the emotions present when the foundation was laid for the new temple. According to the directions given to them by King David, the priests came forward in their vestments with trumpets and cymbals to celebrate the name of the Lord. We are told that the old men who had seen the first temple wept with a loud voice while others shouted for joy.

So that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people's weeping, for the people shouted with a great shout, and the sound was heard far away.

After seventy years of captivity, how glorious that must have been. Think of what it will be like when we reach God's final temple in heaven and fall down to worship our Lord of Glory. Will we weep for joy or shout praises to our wondrous and faithful God?

Just take that picture with you as you go about your duties of this day.

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Wise Shall Shine

September 17: Daniel 10-12

1 “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. 2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

8 I heard, but I did not understand. Then I said, “O my lord, what shall be the outcome of these things?” 9 He said, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are shut up and sealed until the time of the end. 10 Many shall purify themselves and make themselves white and be refined, but the wicked shall act wickedly. And none of the wicked shall understand, but those who are wise shall understand.
Daniel 12:1-3 & 8-10

The Wise Shall Shine

As we come now to the last three chapters in the book of Daniel, we find a most unusual occurrence.

4 On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river (that is, the Tigris) 5 I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, a man clothed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. 6 His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a multitude.
Daniel 10:4-6

Who was this man, and what was the message He had to convey to Daniel? This man clothed in linen was none other than the Lord Jesus Christ! He came to His beloved Daniel and related to him the things that will come to pass in the future.

The message is quite long, and the exact interpretation has been disputed over the centuries, but I would like to focus on the end of chapter 12. Throughout the entire Bible we are aware of two separate classes of people, the righteous and the unrighteous, or the saved and the unsaved. In Daniel 12 the distinction between these two groups is made even clearer when the end of time is at hand.

We love to find gray areas, do we not? How would we determine who is righteous and who is not? It would be an impossible task for any of us. As a matter of fact, only the Lord Jesus Christ knows without a doubt who are His children and who are not. Here at the end of times, there are no more gray areas.

And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.
Daniel 12:3

Many shall purify themselves and make themselves white and be refined, but the wicked shall act wickedly. And none of the wicked shall understand, but those who are wise shall understand.
Daniel 12:10

Daniel was greatly troubled for His people; the news that Christ brought to him was terrifying! How often do we feel the same way when we ponder the world events occurring all around us? We must take comfort in the knowledge that nothing is out of the hand of God; everything He has planned will come to pass. Jesus will separate the righteous from the wicked, and not one of His children will be left behind.

Remember, the wicked will never understand! Do you find yourself "barking up the wrong side of a tree" when you try to explain the Word of God to those around you? Or, are you ridiculed for your antiquated beliefs by a world which has obviously (to their way of thinking) evolved to a much higher level?

Let us be among the wise who will shine like the brightness of the sky and like the stars forever and ever. By the grace of God alone, we will understand!

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ancient of Days

September 16: Daniel 7-9

9 “As I looked,

thrones were placed,
and the Ancient of Days took his seat;
his clothing was white as snow,
and the hair of his head like pure wool;
his throne was fiery flames;
its wheels were burning fire.
10 A stream of fire issued
and came out from before him;
a thousand thousands served him,
and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him;
the court sat in judgment,
and the books were opened.

13 “I saw in the night visions,

and behold, with the clouds of heaven
there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
and was presented before him.
14 And to him was given dominion
and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
that shall not be destroyed.
Daniel 7:9-10 & 13-14

Ancient of Days

Daniel experienced many visions whose meanings scholars still struggle to completely understand, but the two visions shown above are quite clear. First we see a depiction of God, the Ancient of Days, upon His throne ready to pronounce judgment on the ten thousands of ten thousands standing before Him. A few verses later we see the Son of Man, the Lord Jesus Christ, coming before God and receiving dominion over His kingdom.

Look at Daniel 7:9-10; what an amazing scene. Can you picture it?

Thrones were placed,
and the Ancient of Days took his seat;
his clothing was white as snow,
and the hair of his head like pure wool;
his throne was fiery flames;
its wheels were burning fire
.


Who are those standing before Him, and who were those serving Him?

How often do we flippantly talk about the Judgment Day, but here in this scene it is no joking matter. God the Father, the Ancient of Days, is sitting upon his fiery throne, with the books opened, ready to judge those before Him. Everything ever done, both good and bad, has been written down in these books. Among these books will also be the Lamb's Book of Life with the names of those who have been purchased by the blood of the Lamb.

In the next scene, the Lord Jesus Christ is presented before the Ancient of Days.

And to him was given dominion
and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
that shall not be destroyed
.


Who will be in the kingdom of Christ? Only those whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life will be allowed into this everlasting kingdom that shall not be destroyed.

In our rush to busy ourselves which the many duties of each day, we can easily set this picture aside; somehow it does not seem all that important--it is just sometime in the future. "Reality TV" has become quite popular in the last few years, but this is true reality! Judgment Day will come, God will sit upon His throne with the books opened. The question we each must ask ourselves is, Where will my name appear? Will I be among those serving the Ancient of Days, or one of those who will be awaiting the final judgment and eternal death in Hell.

It is a sobering thought, is it not?

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Praises from Pagan Kings

September 15: Daniel 4-6

1 King Nebuchadnezzar to all peoples, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you! 2 It has seemed good to me to show the signs and wonders that the Most High God has done for me.

3 How great are his signs,
how mighty his wonders!
His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and his dominion endures from generation to generation.
Daniel 4:1-3

34 At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever,

for his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;
35 all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
and he does according to his will among the host of heaven
and among the inhabitants of the earth;
and none can stay his hand
or say to him, “What have you done?”

36 At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and splendor returned to me. My counselors and my lords sought me, and I was established in my kingdom, and still more greatness was added to me. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.
Daniel 4:34-37

25 Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: “Peace be multiplied to you. 26 I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel,

for he is the living God,
enduring forever;
his kingdom shall never be destroyed,
and his dominion shall be to the end.
27 He delivers and rescues;
he works signs and wonders
in heaven and on earth,
he who has saved Daniel
from the power of the lions.”
Daniel 6:26b-27

Praises from Pagan Kings

As I read today's Bible reading I was struck with the praises from pagan kings! Look at their amazing testimonies in Daniel 4: 3 & 34b-35, and chapter 6:26b-27. Does this mean that these pagan kings became Christians?

What an important question to consider? When rulers of nations speak words of praise to God does that necessarily make them Christians?

Look at those first words of praise from King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4:3; what an impressive testimony. Yet, just a few paragraphs later the king has another disturbing dream. The interpretation of this dream is a declaration against the king himself. Look how Daniel pleads with him after giving him the interpretation in verse 27.

Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you: break off your sins by practicing righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed, that there may perhaps be a lengthening of your prosperity.

Did all of this change the heart of Nebuchadnezzar? Just twelve months later we hear the king speaking these words.

“Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?”

Whose glory does Nebuchadnezzar praise? Where is God now? We know the rest of the story; the king was driven from the palace to the fields to live with the animals for seven years.

31 While the words were still in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, “O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, 32 and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.”

In chapter 6, verses 26b-27 we hear similar praises from Darius, the Mede, who overthrew the Babylonian kingdom. Making a vibrant testimony praising God for the marvelous things He has done does not make us a Christian! Remember, Christianity is a religion of the heart. When in our hearts we bow before Christ, repenting of our sins and accepting Him as our only possible Savior, Christ comes into our hearts and lives with us forever!

Did these pagan kings become Christians? I do not know, though I think it was very unlikely. We never hear of these kingdoms leaving their own gods to follow the one and only, true and living God. In the end, however, we cannot know another person's heart; only God has that power.

These are good questions for those of us who live in the United States to ponder in this election year.

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.