Daniel 1 & 2
1 Peter 5.1-14
We’ve finished another O.T. book (Ezekiel) and will finish 1 Peter today. We’re closing in on the end of the year! What has God shown you as you’re read your Bible this year? I’d love to get your thoughts.
Struggling to Trust God?
Daniel 1 & 2:
When Struggling to Trust God
Daniel was a contemporary of Ezekiel, so this book backs up to the beginning of the Babylonian conquest when Daniel was kidnapped and taken to Babylon along with other intelligent, handsome young men. They were to be brain-washed through education and exposure to rich-living so they would be useful to the leadership in Babylon, possibly to help with the other Jews who would later be brought to Babylon in larger numbers.
Instead, because of his character, God would use Daniel to influence two pagan kingdoms. Just as He did with Joseph, God would use his personal circumstances to alter the course of history. And in it all, Daniel gave glory to God (Dan. 2.28-30).
Daniel would face the temptation to compromise his beliefs (Dan. 1.5-8, 6.6-7) and the threat of death (Dan. 2.12-13, 6.6-7). Yet he stayed faithful to God. He didn’t rely on his own devices but prayed continually for God’s wisdom and help (Dan 6.10).
What a great example of God using “all things,” even an unsaved king and unfair, undeserved circumstances, for good (Rom. 8.28).
But what about your life and your difficulties? Has someone sinned against you in grievous ways? Are you struggling to trust God in your life?
If you’re a believer, God’s promises are true for you, too! He has not allowed anything in your life that He cannot use for your good and His glory. Others may have meant it for evil, but God means it for good (Gen. 50.20).
What Possible Good!
We need to understand that God’s love isn’t a pampering love. It’s a purifying love. His goal in our lives is to lovingly help us become conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8.29). He uses tests and trials for that purpose.
Jesus said the two greatest commandments are to love God and love others (Matt. 22.37-40). When we face tests and trials we become more sensitive and compassionate about the struggles others face. In short, we learn to love better, one aspect of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5.22-23).
Remember the goal is to become like Christ who perfectly manifested all the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
As we wait on God to answer our prayers or work in our situation, we grow in patience. As we learn to trust Him, we grow in faithfulness. As we suffer the consequences of our own sinful behavior, we learn that kindness, gentleness, and self-control are better choices. So when we’re tempted to get discouraged in a trial, we might ask ourselves, “What aspect of the fruit of the Spirit might God be growing me in?”
But even when we don’t understand what God is doing, we can trust that He is using it for our ultimate good. Many times I’ve looked back and thought, “I didn’t like it at the time, but I’m so glad I went through _______. I wouldn’t be where I am in my relationship with Him without it!” I know many of you can say the same.
Today’s Other Readings:
God & God Alone
Daniel understood what the psalmist said in these verses, that heathen gods have no power—that God and God alone is to be praised, worshiped and feared. As we read through the book of Daniel in the coming days, we’ll see that demonstrated in some amazing ways.
Good for Evil or Evil for Good
“The bloodthirsty hate the blameless, but the upright seek his well-being.”
Even while being hated by godless men, true believers pray for and desire to see them come to the knowledge of God and be saved from an eternity in hell.
1 Peter 5.1-14:
Accepting God’s Gracious Work
Again and again in Scripture, we see that one of the character qualities believers are called to develop is humility (1 Pet. 5.5-6). We think of humility as merely a lack of boasting, but humility is also the ability to trust God and be joyful in the midst of difficulty—that is to humbly accept His gracious work in our lives. This is just one more way that God uses our trials for good.
Throughout history men and women who have been mightily used by God have had to first submit themselves to God’s providential work in their lives. Daniel was carried off to Babylon and forced to leave his family and everything he knew. Joseph was betrayed by his brothers, falsely accused, imprisoned, and forgotten. Ruth lost her husband and was left to care for a bitter mother-in-law.
In what area of your life are you struggling to trust God? In what circumstance are you impatient for a change? Are you allowing that desire to drive you to your knees in humble obedience or have you stiffened your neck in pride and anger?
“… humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time … for He cares for you” (v. 6).
Share your struggles and concerns in the comments section. I’d love to pray for you. And I’d like to recommend Jerry Bridges book Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts.
How has God spoken to you today? Did you see a passage in a new light? Did you see an area where you need to grow and change? Did you find a promise to hold on to? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
In the next few days, we’ll talk about false teachers, friendship, judgment, the Rapture and the Tribulation and how blameshifting leads to despair. We’ll also discuss the question, “Is the Bible enough in a complex world?”
Be sure to sign up here so you won’t miss any of these upcoming daily posts. If you sign up now you have a chance to win a bible and journal. You can see the details below.
Getting ready for 2018
The holidays are just around the corner and the new year will be on us before we know it. What will you do to make Bible reading and prayer an ongoing habit in the coming year? I’d like to encourage you to set a goal to read through the Bible and to sign up for my daily encouragement. This year I’ll be adding Scripture-based prayers to each day’s post. If you sign up before December 15 you’ll have a chance to win a MacArthur Daily Bible and a journal to record your thoughts and those Scripture-based prayers.
I hope you’ll sign up for my daily email. It can serve as a gentle reminder to stay on track. I try to make comments that are relevant to the daily struggles and questions that I hear in my counseling and discipleship ministries.
Start today so you can begin the habit and it will be a regular part of your day come January.
You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or Google+. Just click on the social media icons. But nothing replaces having the daily devotion pop up in your inbox each day. It, usually (once in a while life gets in the way), goes out at 3 a.m. MST, so it’s there for early risers no matter what time zone you’re in.
So will you join me and, possibly, encourage someone else to do the same. (Why not email or call them right now?) Let’s get ready and grow in our relationship with Him together.
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Today’s Featured Resource:
Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts
In an effort to strengthen his own trust in God during a time of adversity, Navigator author Jerry Bridges began a lengthy Bible study on God’s sovereignty. The revelations changed his life. In Trusting God, Jerry shares the scope of God’s power to help you come to know Him better, have a relationship with Him, and trust Him more—even when unjust things happen. Tragedy, grief, loss, and death are part of life. Discover how Trusting God can reveal biblical truths about God.