Blameless

Then the other administrators and princes began searching for some fault in the way Daniel was handling his affairs, but they couldn’t find anything to criticize. He was faithful and honest and always responsible. So they concluded, “Our only chance of finding grounds for accusing Daniel will be in connection with the requirements of his religion.”

Daniel 6:4-5 (NLT)

Here is a man with wisdom and knowledge. This wisdom and knowledge has gained him great influence. Because of his influence, the other leaders become jealous and seek to find a way to destroy the man. Yet they cannot seem to find a way because the man in blameless. With no other options, they manufacture a way to catch him and have him arrested and killed.

Are we still talking about Daniel here?

A very similar story is repeated in the Gospels with the account leading up to Jesus’ arrest. Daniel’s story sounds a lot like the one that would play out centuries later.

So what’s the deal with these leaders who can’t stand to have a blameless person in their midst? The answer is right there—blameless. Daniel was able to accomplish more than all of the other advisors and princes were able to—without cheating or lying. He put them to shame because of his integrity. A worldly way of thinking just can’t handle the way of the blameless.

Read the news. Christians are still experiencing similar persecution. When the world doesn’t understand the way we live, they feel as though they must quash it. I believe it is because of their own shame that they do so. When Christians stand firm in their faith, it sends a message to a world that stands for nothing. And, to those who stand for nothing, it renders their existence meaningless. Can you imagine living a life void of meaning?

As Christians, our lives are full of meaning and purpose and we should do all that we can to live both of those to their fullest potential.

If is for the glory of God, when those who profess religion, conduct themselves so that their most watchful enemies may find no occasion for blaming them, save only in the matters of their God, in which they walk according to their consciences.

Matthew Henry

Paul tells us to find joy in trials of every kind because they make us stronger and build our faith. Daniel, after enduring a night with the lions was given even greater power than he had before. While I cannot guarantee that you’ll end up the third most powerful person in the country, I can guarantee that, when you stand before the Lord having held firm in your faith, you will hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Daily Bible reading: Daniel 5-6, 1 John 4

Surrounded

I live in a valley. Well, I guess I live halfway up a valley. My house overlooks the valley, but I can still look up at the mountains above me. Today’s reading made me think of my valley.

Just as the mountains surround and protect Jerusalem,
So the Lord surrounds and protects
his people, both now and forever.

Psalm 125:2 (NLT)

There aren’t many ways in and out of my valley. Really only one main highway. The city below is surrounded on all sides by mountains. Rock. Immovable. Firm. Unrelenting. Since the founding of the city, the mountains have not moved. They have not changed. They will not move. They will not change.

So it is with God. Like a city in the mountain valley is surrounded and protected, so we are surrounded and protected by God who is even more immovable and firm than the rock.

Should you ever feel as though you are surrounded by something other than God and His protection, like Elisha prayed for his servant, pray that your eyes would be opened.

Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!” The Lord opened his servant’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.

2 Kings 6:17 (NLT)

We may be surrounded by those who would wish us harm, but they are surrounded by an unshakable, immovable, relentless God who surrounds His own and protects us forever.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 124-127, 1 Corinthians 7:1-24

Your God

Judah is getting ready for battle. Several other nations armies have joined forces and come up against them. King Jehoshaphat is giving the big rally speech.

Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be able to stand firm.

2 Chronicles 20:20b (NLT)

The Lord your God. Not the Lord my God.

This was a time when Judah enjoyed a renewed covenant with God. Jehoshaphat did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight. The Levites spent time going throughout the land teaching people about the covenant they had with God. Call them the early itinerant ministers.

The people of Judah had personal relationship with the Lord. They weren’t dependent on the relationship that the priests or the king had. They knew God for themselves. Their God was going to save them. They put their trust in Him, not their leaders.

After consulting the leaders of the people, the king appointed singers to walk ahead of the army, singing to the Lord and praising him for his holy splendor. This is what they sang:

“Give thanks to the Lord;
his faithful love endures forever.”

2 Chronicles 20:21 (NLT)

Their trust in their king and their faith in their God allowed them to go ahead of the battle signing praise to the Lord. Judah could stand and sing as though they’d won because they had enough of a relationship with God to know that His character was victorious. When God led His people into battle, they won. Judah didn’t have to hope for a good outcome. They knew that if they put their faith in God, He would fight the battle for them.

And that’s exactly what He did.

The song went forth and the opposing armies obliterated each other leaving the plunder for Judah to gather.

What kind of victory will you see when you believe in the Lord your God and go ahead with praise as though the battle has already been won?

Daily Bible reading: 2 Chronicles 20-22, John 16:1-15

Steadfast

Yesterday we looked at the word uttermost. We learned that, if something is done to the uttermost, nothing can be beyond it.

Today, let’s look at the word steadfast. This is another word that we come across often in scripture but not so often in our daily lives. If we don’t understand it completely, we may have a tendency to skip over it and never quite grasp the meaning of its context.

STEAD-FAST, adjective. Fixed in direction; steadily directed: firm in purpose, resolution, faith, attachment: unwavering: firmly established: firmly fixed in place or position.

Are you steadfast in anything. Do you know someone who is?

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end.

Lamentations 3:22 (ESV)

Let’s expand that verse.

The [fixed, firm, steadily directed, resolute, unwavering, established] love of the Lord never ceases.

Not only is Jesus able to save us to the uttermost, but His love is right up there with His ability to make us righteous. Just as salvation from God is unwavering, so are His love and mercy.

lamentations-3-22

Daily Bible reading: Lamentations 3-5, Hebrews 8