Love Demonstrated by Obedience

August 30, 2011 at 10:57 am | Posted in Romans | 8 Comments
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As Christians we need to “get into” the Word of God – and make sure the Word of God is “getting into us.” We are to surrender our bodies and be transformed by the renewing of our minds. We are not to be conformed to the world. When we are applying these principles, we will exercise our spiritual gifts in our everyday lives, in our relationships with our brothers and sisters, and even with our enemies. That’s the pattern for “proving” the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God.

Chapters 1-12 in Romans give us great doctrine about the truths of salvation. This doctrine benefits us in very practical ways in day to day living. Romans Chapter 13 continues to deal with our relationships – not just with our brothers and sisters in Christ, and not just with our specific enemies – but our relationship to “higher powers.”

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

Romans 13:1

Our government is one of these “higher powers.” We may not like the way our government is being run, and we may not care for the particular leaders who are in charge of it, but, ultimately, Father God is responsible for “Uncle Sam,” and our Father wants us to be subservient to our uncle.

For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

Romans 13:3-4

Nebuchadnezzar is a Biblical example of someone who learned this lesson the hard way. Although he was a powerful and feared ruler, he was only allowed to rule his nation and conquer other nations by God’s consent. In Daniel Chapter 4 we find it repeated three times (vv. 17, 25, 32) that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men.

Most, if not all, governments today are influenced by Satan or the world, but God’s command to submit to our rulers is clear, as long as we’re not required to break a clear command from God’s Word.

Some people obey because of conscience:

Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.

Romans 13:5

But some people only obey out of fear of being locked up:

For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

Romans 13:4

These are both good reasons to obey the laws of earthly governments, but the best reason of all is to show our love for God. God’s commandments can be summarized in New Testament language by two commandments: Love God with all your heart, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. Can you say you love your neighbor if you commit adultery with his spouse? If you steal from him? If you covet and want better for yourself than what he has, or plot to get what he has for yourself?

For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Romans 13:9

As Christians, one of our favorite pastimes is complaining about how ungodly our government has become, and how one day soon there will be laws that try to force us into sin. But we have an obligation to demonstrate love.

Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.

Romans 13:13

Notice how the sins listed in that verse are paired up: Rioting (wild partying) is often brought on by drunkenness. Chambering (adultery) is often brought on by wantonness (acting like you are available for fornication). Strife (fussing and fighting) is often brought about by envying. The gifts that God has given us are for building – not for fighting with or fighting over.

But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

Romans 13:14

When we “make provision” – when we make plans to get into the path of temptation – it will lead to sin. I see this often in marriage counseling. When one spouse considers the marriage to be over, the other spouse will pay lip service to the idea of wanting to save the marriage, but put himself or herself in places where he or she is likely to run into a sympathetic partner. That person then proves to be a temptation to move on to a new relationship. This type of behavior is an example of “making provision for the flesh,” not “putting on the Lord Jesus Christ.”

The Handwriting on the Wall

June 11, 2010 at 9:59 am | Posted in Common Expressions, Daniel | 11 Comments
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Belshazzar was Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson. He was the son of Nabonidus. He decided to have a feast and to use the cups and vessels from the Temple in Jerusalem. Even wicked King Nebuchadnezzar had not dared to use these sacred objects. Those who are completely corrupted by sin, and who have been given over to a reprobate mind, and who have run out of ways to create a new sensation, take pleasure in desecrating the holy.

The king and his court and guests not only defiled these objects by partying with them, but they compounded their sin and their insults by worshipping idols with them.

Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them. They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone.

Daniel 5:3-4

In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.

Daniel 5:5

Belshazzar’s knees were knocking together and he looked pale and shocked.

Then the king’s countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.

Daniel 5:6

The queen heard what was happening.

Now the queen, by reason of the words of the king and his lords, came into the banquet house: and the queen spake and said, O king, live for ever: let not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor let thy countenance be changed:

Daniel 5:10

She had a wrong motive: she wanted the party to continue. But at least she knew the right person to call for the interpretation.

Daniel was probably between 81 and 85 years old when this happened, so we can see him – the impervious elderly prophet and man of God, shaking his finger at Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson.

Belshzzar offered Daniel gifts, but Daniel wasn’t interested in rewards on earth.

Then Daniel answered and said before the king, Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation.

Daniel 5:17

Daniel preached to him:

O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour: And for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down.

Daniel 5:18-19

These verses remind me of the famous quote that Lloyd Bentsen used on Dan Quayle years ago in a Vice-Presidential debate, concerning JFK. It’s almost as if Daniel is telling Belshazzar, “I knew Nebuchadnezzar. I worked with Nebuchadnezzar. I watched Nebuchadnezzar eat grass, son, and you, sir, are no Nebuchadnezzar.”

And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this; But hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified:

Daniel 5:22-23

The written message on the wall – Mene, Mene, Tekel, Peres – meant “Numbered, Numbered, Weighed, Divided.” Belshazzar had been “numbered” by God – God knew all about him. He “had his number.” Also, Belshazzar’s “days were numbered.” He had been “weighed in in the balance,” and found wanting. The mightiest nations are to God as a drop in the bucket (Isaiah 40:15). Peres or Upharsin meant “divided.” That very night the Medes and the Persians were waiting outside the city gate – they conquered the kingdom and divided it.

I like to look out for instances in the Bible which remind me of everyday sayings that we use today. Daniel Chapter 5 is a veritable cornucopia of common expressions:
Knees knocking together
The handwriting was on the wall
Weighed in the balance
Your days are numbered
I’ve got your number

After the Fire

May 20, 2010 at 10:22 am | Posted in Daniel | 4 Comments
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Lord, we know that You are in the midst of Your people in their times of trial, testing, and trouble, just like You were with Daniel’s friends in the fiery furnace. You were in the midst of their troubles because You had been in the midst of their prayer time, their Bible study time, their time of assembling together with their brothers to learn about You. Please remind us to call upon You to enter into our midst when we do these things also. In Jesus Christ’s Name, Amen.

The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me: if ye will not make known unto me the dream, with the interpretation thereof, ye shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made a dunghill.

Daniel 2:5

The threat to make their houses a dunghill was a threat not only to them, but to those they represented. For the Chaldeans it would only be their own families, but to Daniel and his friends, it would be all the Jews they represented. Daniel did not take sole credit for what the Lord allowed him to do. His friends had been faithful to pray with him for the interpretation of the dream (Daniel 2:36), so he was faithful to give them part of the credit.

By Daniel Chapter 3 Nebuchadnezzar had already forgotten how he had been forced to acknowledge the greatness of Daniel’s God. He builds a statue (Daniel 3:1) 60 cubits by 6 cubits. If we think of the number of the beast, 666, we see two of the sixes in these dimensions, but where is the third six?

That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet [1], flute [2], harp [3], sackbut [4], psaltery [5], dulcimer [6], and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up:

Daniel 3:5 (bracketed numerals added)

There are six instruments mentioned, which, combined with the measurements of the false idol, may be a clue to us that this music was being inspired and used by Satan.

And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth, that he should be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

Daniel 3:11-12

Three stood up when when everyone else fell down.

Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.

Daniel 3:21

He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.

Daniel 3:25

Daniel’s friends were saved from the fire and their bonds were loosed. They were set free and their bonds were loosed, but their clothes were not burned off.

And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.

Daniel 3:27

Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.

Daniel 3:29

Daniel’s friends yielded their bodies. How did they know to yield their bodies to righteousness when they didn’t have the New Testament? They knew the principle of Romans 6:13 before it was written.

Daniel Chapter 4 is Nebudchadnezzar’s official autobiographical document. This is unique in the Bible, that God made a pagan king’s official writing a part of inspired Scripture.

Nebuchadnezzar had a vision of a tree, and he was overcome again with pride. When Daniel interpreted the dream for Nebuchadnezzar, it was revealed as a vision of Nebuchadnezzar himself, being cut down, and banded or sealed in the wilderness for a period of seven years. Daniel followed the pattern of calling an unbeliever to repentance, which I have analyzed with the acrostic O.A.R.S. from Acts 17. He O.pened. (Daniel 4:24). He A.lleged (Daniel 4:22), as he cited the Word of God as prophesied by the prophet Jeremiah. He R.easoned (Daniel 4:18-19), as he dialogued with the king and used tact and love. He S.poke and S.hared the truth (Daniel 4:27), as he preached.


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