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

Be happy

Be happy if you are insulted for being a Christian, for then the glorious Spirit of God will come upon you.

1 Peter 4:14 (NLT)

Happy probably isn’t the first, or even second, or third, word I’d use to describe how I feel when I’m insulted.

HAPPY: Lucky; fortunate; successful.

It may seem more than a little counterintuitive, but in order to be counted as a successful Christian, you will have to be insulted for it.

It’s not that we should go looking for persecution, but if you are living the life God has called all of His children to, it will find you. If you’ve never been insulted or persecuted because of your faith you either live in a very small bubble, or you’re not really living your faith to the extent you should be.

There is something about Christianity that rubs the rest of the world the wrong way—and they usually aren’t afraid to let you know about it. And when those those insults come flying your way, they are nothing to shy away from. We should be boldly facing them head on.

But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by his wonderful name!

1 Peter 4:16 (NLT)

It is to our benefit to be called out for our faith. If we endure, we become stronger for it. And though the world would try to bring us shame, they only bring us further glory through our association with God the Father.

So even in the trials and the insults, be happy. Put the world behind you and focus on God before you.

Daily Bible reading: Ezekiel 38-39, 1 Peter 4

Dead yet alive

But before all this occurs, there will be time a of great persecution. You will be dragged into synagogues and prisons, and you will be accused before kings and governors of being my followers. This will be your opportunity to tell them about me. So don’t worry about how to answer the charges against you, for I will give you the right words and such wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to reply! Even those closest to you—your parents, brothers, relatives, and friends—will betray you. And some will be killed.

And everyone will hate you because of you allegiance to me. But no a hair of your head will perish! By standing firm, you will win your souls.

Luke 21:12-19 (NLT)

We would be foolish to believe that the times we live in are unique. Sure, there are things happening now that have never happened before, but the persecution, the turning away from God, the hatred for the Word of God isn’t new. Jesus spoke of it millennia ago.

In many places it is now considered hateful to speak the truth of the Word of God and it is punishable by law. If you live in one of these nations, you must decide where your allegiance lies—with the law of the land, or the love of the Lord.

While Jesus’ words here in Luke seem dire, they are also filled with hope. When the time for persecution comes—and it will come—He has promised to give us the words we need to stand for Truth. Though some may be killed, but none will perish. So long as we know where we stand with God, the very worst that can happen is that we lose our life on earth and gain eternity in Heaven with Jesus.

Daily Bible reading: 2 Samuel 17-18, Luke 21:1-19

Shout out

For my fourteenth birthday, my dad took me to a professional hockey game. I was stoked. I’d never been to an NHL game. We had great seats which made up for the fact that the game was awful. But what made the game was the fact that, somehow, my mom had managed to get a call in to the arena beforehand and, in between periods, there on the big screen was a big giant happy birthday to me! No one knew who I was, but I saw it. My dad saw it. And I told everyone about it. It’s pretty awesome to get a shout out like that.

But a happy birthday on the jumbotron is nothing compare to what Jesus has promised us.

And I assure you of this: If anyone acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I, the Son of Man, will openly acknowledge that person in the presence of God’s angels.

Luke 12:8 (NLT)

Jesus has promised us the ultimate shout out. At what cost to us? Only that we publicly acknowledge his lordship in our lives. Sounds pretty easy to me.

This day and age, though, public acknowledgement of Jesus Christ as Lord can make the atmosphere a little (or a lot) tense. But then you have to ask yourself this: is quietly going about your life never letting anyone know you’re a Christian for fear of persecution worth losing out on Jesus declaring you his brother or sister openly in the presence of the angels? Probably not.

I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to having a personal shout out from Jesus on the jumbotron of Heaven.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Samuel 1-3, Luke 12:1-34

Increase

Many may believe that, in times of persecution, those who are being persecuted should be quiet and hide until it is safe once again to come out in the open. If that’s you, that’s fine. If you want to take your faith and hide, go ahead.

But who will stand? Who will stay and fight? How will the Church grow if we’re all in hiding?

In the Book of Acts, the Church was under persecution. In the first verse of chapter 12, it says that the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. James was killed by the sword and Peter was put in chains.

You don’t have to search very long in the news to see that similar things are happening today – even in the West. We are not at all immune to persecution and, perhaps, it’s even worse here because the changes are subtle and churches are believing the little lies until they no longer believe the Truth.

So what did the church of Acts do? Did they hide? No! They prayed. They went out and brought the Gospel to those who could not or would not come to them.

But the word of God increased and multiplied.

Acts 12:24 (ESV)

It is easy to speak the Word when no one is against you, but the words have more weight when you speak them even though the world may be against you.

Daily Bible reading: Job 29-30, Acts 12