Friday, February 24, 2012

I have nothing to fear

Daniel 7:15-28

5 “I, Daniel, was troubled in spirit, and the visions that passed through my mind disturbed me. 16 I approached one of those standing there and asked him the meaning of all this.
   “So he told me and gave me the interpretation of these things: 17 ‘The four great beasts are four kings that will rise from the earth. 18 But the holy people of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever—yes, for ever and ever.’
 19 “Then I wanted to know the meaning of the fourth beast, which was different from all the others and most terrifying, with its iron teeth and bronze claws—the beast that crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. 20 I also wanted to know about the ten horns on its head and about the other horn that came up, before which three of them fell—the horn that looked more imposing than the others and that had eyes and a mouth that spoke boastfully. 21 As I watched, this horn was waging war against the holy people and defeating them, 22 until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the holy people of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom.
 23 “He gave me this explanation: ‘The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it. 24 The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings. 25 He will speak against the Most High and oppress his holy people and try to change the set times and the laws. The holy people will be delivered into his hands for a time, times and half a time.[b]
 26 “‘But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever. 27 Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.’
 28 “This is the end of the matter. I, Daniel, was deeply troubled by my thoughts, and my face turned pale, but I kept the matter to myself.”

I agree with Daniel, this is deeply troubling and I think I would have been sick to my stomach at this interpretation.  The whole dream was so scary and odd that even Daniel could not handle this on his own.  He asked someone to tell him about it.  I am not going to even try to give an opinion on this.  I just know that God has already saved me and I have nothing to fear.  I do hope I am already gone before all of this takes place.  

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Only One for the Job

Daniel 7:13-14
13 “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man,[a] coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

In my very limited studies, (mostly listening to songs, preaching, and reading the Bible), these verses are about Jesus.  Daniel had a vision and in this part of it, the "son of man" approached "the Ancient of Days" and interestingly was led to where God was.  I love that God is called Ancient of Days.  First, it makes him seem sold.  I like that God is the oldest living thing.  I have an appreciation for older, wiser people.  I think this is because I do not feel wise or older (even though I am turning a year older soon).  Those that have come before me have given their legacy to us.  They usually know what is best.  I don't always feel that way.  Just getting my kids through this time in their lives makes me feel inadequate at times.  
God, in his infinite wisdom knew that Jesus was the right person for the job. God gave him power, authority and glory.  Everyone that knows Christ and his kingdom comes to realize that it will not pass away.  He will not ever be overtaken.  Praise God for his choice.  For Jesus was the only one for the job.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Keeping My Mouth Shut

Daniel 7:8-12

 8 “While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. This horn had eyes like the eyes of a human being and a mouth that spoke boastfully.
 9 “As I looked,
   “thrones were set in place,
   and the Ancient of Days took his seat.
His clothing was as white as snow;
   the hair of his head was white like wool.
His throne was flaming with fire,
   and its wheels were all ablaze.
10 A river of fire was flowing,
   coming out from before him.
Thousands upon thousands attended him;
   ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.
The court was seated,
   and the books were opened.
 11 “Then I continued to watch because of the boastful words the horn was speaking. I kept looking until the beast was slain and its body destroyed and thrown into the blazing fire. 12 (The other beasts had been stripped of their authority, but were allowed to live for a period of time.)

This strange vision that Daniel had is odd.  Verse eight describes a horn that had eyes and a mouth and was saying boastful things.  The visionary was fixed on the horn because of it's words.  Sometimes we all say boastful things.  We all let our pride get the best of us.  But we have to try and reject this sin.  We have to learn to be humble and not let our pride get the best of us. I am guilty of being boastful.  I am sure we all are.   I try and not give my opinions often, unless it's something I am in charge of.  I try to not speak my mind and keep my thoughts to myself.  It's not easy, but with God all things are possible.  I keep by the old adage, if you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything.  It applies here.  

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

John 3:16-17
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
As does most people, this is one of my favorite verses of the Bible, John 3:16. But the seventeenth verse is just as important. When I was a young choir member at church, we sang a song that was based on John 3:17. I remembering disliking the song. I think it was because of the tune, but I was a young Christian and did not want to sing it. But, being the faithful and good choir member I was, performed it. Today, if I could find the music, I might consider singing it again. What a valuable message. God sent his son into the world, not to condemn the world, but to save it. How I long to get that message out to the world. I see people every day that want to be accepted, loved and forgiven, but are scared that someone will see their faults if they walk into a church. I like that a my brothers and sisters see my faults and still love me. It still makes me want to do better, and grow, but at least I know I am forgiven. We need to start doing the same for strangers. See them for themselves, and love, accept and forgive them. That love and acceptance is what we all want and need to thrive. Start today by doing something nice for someone. It could be just saying a nice word, sending a note or phone call to a someone you haven't seen in a while. No matter what, love the unloved. Do not condemn them, they get enough of that from the world. Love them the best way you know how. Then your Valentine's Day may get brighter.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Snow and Fire

Daniel 7:9-10

9 “As I looked,
   “thrones were set in place,
   and the Ancient of Days took his seat.
His clothing was as white as snow;
   the hair of his head was white like wool.
His throne was flaming with fire,
   and its wheels were all ablaze.
10 A river of fire was flowing,
   coming out from before him.
Thousands upon thousands attended him;
   ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.
The court was seated,
   and the books were opened.

What a marvelous description of God.  First, Daniel calls him Ancient of Days.  What a title of years.  Most of us do not want our kids to call us ancient, yet for God, because he has been forever, it fits.  
Next, He always is associated with snow and the color white.  I think white is purity and yet, it seems to have a softness about it.  God is also described with fire many times.  Snow and fire?  I think this makes his presence fierce.  His throne was blazing, as was his wheels...wait, what wheels?  Maybe his throne was more like a chariot.  Also the river that he has coming out before him is on fire.  Strange description.  But, as always, it is fitting for him.  
Daniel has not scared us with this description, he has given us a clear glimpse of what may be expected when we do get our turn to see God.  I can not wait for that!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Foggy Vision

Daniel 7:4-8

 4 “The first was like a lion, and it had the wings of an eagle. I watched until its wings were torn off and it was lifted from the ground so that it stood on two feet like a human being, and the mind of a human was given to it.  5 “And there before me was a second beast, which looked like a bear. It was raised up on one of its sides, and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told, ‘Get up and eat your fill of flesh!’
 6 “After that, I looked, and there before me was another beast, one that looked like a leopard. And on its back it had four wings like those of a bird. This beast had four heads, and it was given authority to rule.
 7 “After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast—terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns.
 8 “While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. This horn had eyes like the eyes of a human being and a mouth that spoke boastfully.  

What a terrifying vision.  Four beasts all powerful and smart.  A lion with eagle wings, a bear that needed to eat, a leopard with wings and four heads.  Then the vision turned dark and a scary monster with iron teeth and horns and one of the horns had eyes of a human and a mouth.  That would be enough to scare me.  These qualities make for uneasiness in the pit of one's stomach.  I' sure Daniel was not sure what to make of it at first.  But as always, God had a purpose in this vision.  Sometimes we just have to go along until it's revealed, no matter how scary.  I think it's like being in fog.  Sometimes your visibility is through the distance.  Sometimes it's clouded and you can only see what's right in front of you.  I love fog, especially in San Francisco.  It is always dense, cool, yet pretty and gives a sense of uncertainty.  When the fog comes in thin and high, the sun burns it off quickly.  When the fog comes in thick and dense, it may take all day to clear.  Either way, you have to wait for it to lift before you can see clearly.  Daniel gives that uncertainty words, as he speaks of this vision.  But he trusts God and so should we.  He will lift the fog from our eyes when he feels the time is right.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Dreams Scare Me

Daniel 7:1-3
1 In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream, and visions passed through his mind as he was lying in bed. He wrote down the substance of his dream.
 2 Daniel said: “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me were the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea. 3 Four great beasts, each different from the others, came up out of the sea.

I think dreams that I have in my sleep are the worst.  I think it is because I don't understand why I have them most of them time.  Am I worried about something?  Did I eat something I should not have?  Did God want to show me something?  I can't answer any of these, and I think that unknown is what drives me crazy.  Also, do all dreams mean something?  Boy, I hope not.  I have heard of some weird stuff.  If they mean anything, I don't want to know.  I think in these cases ignorance is really bliss.
In the Bible, when someone had a dream, there was usually someone around that was an known interpreter.  Nowadays, I am not sure I'd trust anyone to tell me what a dream means.  It is creepy that someone else would know what I am dreaming.  It doesn't seem normal.  
But Daniel interpreted dreams for many people.  It was a gift that was given to him by God.  He even interpreted his own dream. As we will see, Daniel's dream was strange, but as usual, God was trying to send a message. I'm glad my messages usually come from the Bible or people around me.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Let God Take Over

Daniel 6:25 - 28

25 Then King Darius wrote to all the nations and peoples of every language in all the earth:
   “May you prosper greatly!
 26 “I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel.
   “For he is the living God
   and he endures forever;
his kingdom will not be destroyed,
   his dominion will never end.
27 He rescues and he saves;
   he performs signs and wonders
   in the heavens and on the earth.
He has rescued Daniel
   from the power of the lions.”
 28 So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus[b] the Persian.

This decree bothers me. King Darius seems to be sincere, wanting everyone to pay homage to God, but Darius still referred to God as ..."the God of Daniel".  With everything that has happened, why doesn't he realized and accept that God can be his God too?  It baffles me that we can be so hard-headed at times about things like this.  Things like, admitting we need each other.  Admitting that we need help.  Admitting that God is awesome and in control, whether you like it or not.  We harden our hearts and minds toward him, toward everyone.  We don't like to be told what to do or how to do it, so we turn away.  Each of need to wake up and figure out what God wants from us, not what we want from God.  Let go and let God do his thing for your life.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Kevin Bacon Game

Daniel 6:24
 24 At the king’s command, the men who had falsely accused Daniel were brought in and thrown into the lions’ den, along with their wives and children. And before they reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.

Harsh!  What you do, no matter what, affects others.  It doesn't matter if it is good or bad.  The trickle-down affect may be in place, or the "Kevin Bacon degrees game".  It all started with the actor Kevin Bacon.  He has worked with so many others that they were measuring how close people are to him.  You know, how many people are between you and someone else?  Like, I sing in choir with one person, they were in a trio with another, who is married to so-and-so.  That is three degrees between me and so-and-so.  Same with your actions.  What you do today can cause riffs for quite a long time.

The men who tried to accuse Daniel ended up in that lions' den, as well as their wives and children.  Was it really that important?  I guess to them it was, but to make their families suffer this terrible death too?  So be careful. Think hard about your actions.  Be coming a Christian was a positive affect on your family.  But do you really act like one around them?  Do you keep your language clean?  Do you talk about others negatively, do you blow up at everything?  Look at your life and see what changes you can make that can affect your family in a positive way.  Then for this weekend, act on it.  Pray and talk to someone outside your family to keep you accountable.  I will do the same and if you see some changes, let me know.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Miracles Do Happen

Daniel 6:19-23

 19 At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. 20 When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?”
 21 Daniel answered, “May the king live forever! 22 My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.”
 23 The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.

How nervous King Darius was as he ran out to the lions den.  He was hoping for the best, fearing the worst, and his stomach was in his mouth.  As he called out Daniel's name, he could feel his emotions rising.  What had he done?  His friend, his advisor, was the recipient of a terrible plot scheme and the king had no control.  The king just had to have a little faith that this God that Daniel quietly, yet faithfully served was real and would save him from the starving lions.

As the king came closer, he heard nothing.  Not a sound was coming from the pit.  He yelled out for Daniel.  Daniel yelled back that he was safe!  His God sent an angel to close the lions' mouths and keep him from harm all night.  His God was truly a God of rescue.  

Have you felt rescued lately?  Are you in need of a miracle?  God gives them out every day.  We take so many things for granted that we don't even see it.  The trees budding, a baby being born, safety in the eye of a storm.  Look around today and listen to God.  He will show you a miracle.  

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Worries For Us All

Daniel 6:17-18

17 A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed. 18 Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep.

I hate nights where I'm up all night, especially if I can't control what's going on. That was the kind of night King Darius had.  He knew that what was going on was wrong, but he didn't try and change it.  He followed through with the plan that the others had devised.  When we do not have the power to change things, we need to get on our knees and just pray.  Turn it all to God and pray hard.  God wants us to depend on him for everything.  From an injury, to our family, from our money to our addictions.  We just need to trust in him.  Daniel was doing just that in the lions den.  He was probably scared (and it's alright to be scared) but he knew that no matter the outcome, God loved him and would take care of him.  Have you given everything over to God?  I haven't.  I am trying, but it hasn't happened yet.  I worry, think of what to do next, but I do pray and just wait.  God will be there when his time is right.