Living and Giving, Heeding and Proceeding

August 22, 2017 at 2:25 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces, And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts: Which devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation.

Mark 12:38-40

Just warned His disciples of the scribes, not because the scribes would try to physically harm them, but because of the temptation of behaving the way that the scribes behaved. They were proud of their way of living, but there is also a danger of pride in giving:

And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

Mark 12:41-44

God is less interested in our portion than He is in our PROportion when it comes to our giving.

Mark 13 contains the Olivet Discourse, which deals with end-times events. Jesus gave four signs or “birth-pangs” that would mean that the “time of Jacob’s trouble” – the Tribulation – was at hand:

1. The success of false Christs

And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you: For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.

Mark 13:5-6

2. Nations in conflict
and
3. Natural disasters

And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows.

Mark 13:7-8

4. Religious persecution

But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them. And the gospel must first be published among all nations. But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.

Mark 13:9-11

This promise of Christ, that He will provide the words to speak for those persecuted for His sake, is not an excuse for those of us today to be unprepared when we know we are going to have opportunities to speak for Him.

Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

Mark 13:12-13

This makes it sound as if some will be saved during the Tribulation, but we need to be watching, and we need to be prepared, not for the signs themselves, but for Jesus Himself, and we must take heed not to be deceived.

And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you:

Mark 13:5

But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.

Mark 13:23

Be careful NOT to listen to men more closely than you listen to Jesus.

Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.

Mark 13:33

Be careful of earthly “wisdom.” Remember God’s Word and do it. Always be alert and praying. The word “straightway” is used 19 times in the Book of Mark. It means to go forward, to keep moving, to keep looking for the next opportunity to serve Jesus. Movement in the Kingdom of God is His prescription for combating spiritual depression and despair.

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Blesschatology

July 14, 2010 at 10:31 am | Posted in Daniel | 2 Comments
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The events in Chapters 7 and 8 of Daniel actually take place before the events in Chapters 5 and 6 (the handwriting on the wall and the fiery furnace incidents). Nabonidus was Nebuchadnezzar’s son and Belshazzar’s father. Chapters 7 and 8 are arranged so that we see Daniel’s ability to interpret the dreams of others before we see him get the interpretation of his own dreams.

Chapter 7 has the vision of the first four of the same kingdoms represented in the image in Chapter 2: four beasts. The lion with the wings of an eagle represents Babylon. The bear represents the Persians and the Medes, and the three ribs in its mouth probably represent Lydia, Egypt, and Babylon. The leopard with four wings represents Alexander the Great. (When he died in 323 B.C. his kingdom was divided into four parts.) The “terrible beast” from Daniel 7:7 represents the Roman Empire. The ten horns = the ten toes in Chapter 2, which many students of prophecy see as a picture of the European Union.

The last human kingdom was revealed to Daniel, but not to Nebuchadnezzar. The little horn represents the last world ruler, Antichrist. (See Daniel 7:25.) His dictatorship will last 3 ½ years. The Antichrist will lead the ten nations, he will overcome three other nations, and, with the help of Satan, he will become a world dictator. He will make a covenant with the Jews to protect them. This will start the Tribulation. After 3 ½ years he will break the covenant and set up his own image in the temple in Jerusalem, trying to force the world to worship him and Satan. This is called “the abomination of desolation” by the Lord in Mark 13:14.

The seven years will end when Christ returns to Earth to defeat the Antichrist and his army, and when He establishes His Kingdom on Earth.

I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

Daniel 7:13-14

I am not an expert by any means on end-times prophecy. After studying the matter, I believe that the Bible teaches what is usually called the “pre-millenialist” viewpoint. I know there are others who disagree, and some of them are classified as “post-millenialists.” To the best of my understanding, they believe that the Kingdom of Christ will be established on Earth before Christ returns. Others are “amillenialists,” which, as I understand it, do not take the prophecies in Daniel Chapter 7 literally. I am not a big fan of disputing these different viewpoints or making them a test of fellowship, and I have friends who believe differently. Those who are truly in Christ Jesus will find out the truth soon enough, one way or the other.

How did Daniel respond to the interpretation he was given of the vision? He was troubled and his expression changed (Daniel 7:28). He became pale. He kept the matter to himself, but he also kept it in his heart. He behaved like a true prophet. He did not start ranting and raving. The prophecies of the end times should comfort and convict us – not make us want to dispute or show off our knowledge. We should be getting ready and looking forward to Christ’s return, and end time prophecies should cause us to stay busy and to strive to be holy. Knowing what people who reject God are going to have to go through should remind us to repent of anything that’s hindering our relationship with God.

Stand Up for Jesus

May 17, 2010 at 10:23 am | Posted in Daniel | 15 Comments
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The events in the beginning of the Book of Daniel took place in 605 B.C. – after Jerusalem was taken by Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel would have been approximately 15 years old at that time.

Daniel was a real historical person. He actually existed. He is referred to in Ezekiel Chapter 14, along with Noah and Job for their righteousness. The context there is that the righteousness of these men could only save themselves, not others.

Daniel is also mentioned as a real person by the Lord Jesus.

But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains:

Mark 13:14

He is also mentioned in Matthew 24:15.

Daniel and his friends were the “best and brightest” of the young men of Jerusalem. They were also royalty.

And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king’s seed, and of the princes; Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.

Daniel 1:3-4

The Babylonians changed their names:
– Daniel meant “God is my judge;” Belteshazzar meant “Bel protect his life.”
– Hananiah meant “the Lord shows grace;” Shadrach meant “command of Aku” (the moon-god).
– Mishael meant “who is like God?” Meshach meant “who like Aku?”
– Azariah meant “the Lord is my help;” Abednego meant “servant of Nego.”

As Jews, Daniel and his friends were not supposed to eat defiled food, according to the Old Testament covenant. Compare the New Covenant application:

As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.

Acts 21:25

Daniel and his friends chose the Word of God over the king’s food, even while being gracious toward authority. They were trained for three years in Babylonian beliefs and science and languages. They were examined and scored higher than anyone else.

Now at the end of the days that the king had said he should bring them in, then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king enquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.

Daniel 1:18-20

Between Chapters 1 and 2, Daniel was given some authority in the kingdom, reminding us of Joseph’s favor in Egypt, found in the Book of Genesis. Daniel was in a position of relative security, but Nebuchadnezzar was crazy and temperamental. He was having bad dreams.

[Caution: Be careful about your own dreams. Before Christians take their dreams as some sort of a vision from God, and decide to act in accordance, we must make sure our actions line up with Scripture. If you have a dream that makes you feel rebellious, it may be from your own subconscious, rather than from God.]

Nebuchadnezzar tested his counselors by pretending to forget his dream. This was somewhat of a double test: Could they tell him what the dream had been, and could they then tell him a believable interpretation of it? If we suppose that Satan was behind this scheme, then it is important to note that he was willing to kill all his false prophets just to get rid of four righteous servants of God.

Daniel was in trouble and needed to comfort himself.

Then Daniel went to his house, and made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions: That they would desire mercies of the God of heaven concerning this secret; that Daniel and his fellows should not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven. Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his:

Daniel 2:17-20

He sought the Word of God first; then he began to praise and worship Him. That’s our order when Satan comes against us – when we’re in trouble.

The dream depicted the time of the Gentiles described by the Lord Jesus in Luke 21:24. The head of gold symbolized Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon. The chest and arms of silver symbolized the Medes and the Persians. The legs of iron with feet of iron and clay symbolized the Roman empire. Christ the Solid Rock is the only firm foundation this world has ever known. All other ground is sinking sand.

Note all the references to “standing” and “stood:” Daniel 1:4; 1:5 1:19; 2:2; 2:31. “Stand” carries the connotation of “standing” for something. If we don’t stand for something, we’re going to fall for anything.

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Ephesians 6:10-14, emphasis added

When you feel like your can’t serve the Lord – when you’re like Daniel and you have to serve someone else – remember: You can still “stand” before them, and “stand” for the Lord.

Character and Integrity Part 4

September 15, 2009 at 10:49 am | Posted in character and integrity, Daniel | 11 Comments
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Let’s review some of the physical, material things we have examined to learn something about character and integrity. We said that an official NFL football has more integrity than a Nerf football, because water will easily seep into a Nerf, but a real football has a quality of soundness and impenetrability. We said that, for storing sandwiches, zip-lock bags have more integrity than birdcages, because they make an airtight seal. In addition, they are known for having a better character for this purpose, even though birdcages may look more ornate or beautiful.

Today, we look at another facet of integrity and character in the comparison between a steel ball and a ball of Play-Doh. Neither of these is especially permeable. Therefore, we might conclude that they both have integrity. However, the steel ball actually has the greater integrity and character, because, in addition to being impervious to water, it resists being molded into a different shape by outside forces.

One of your three main enemies – “the world” – wants to attack your character and integrity primarily because of greed – the love of money.

Think about the people in films and magazines and on the internet who pose naked. They are appealing to the sin of lust. There is a market for it. People are lustful – they want to see that kind of thing. But people aren’t naturally inclined to go around naked. The world entices them into doing it to make money. Then a cult develops – you are “told” that attractive people get famous by doing it, so, if you are attractive, people will really like you if you do it, too, or, if that’s too much for you, then the world tells you that it is alright to at least act promiscuously for the same purpose.

The world is in the business of getting you to buy things. Most of the things the world wants you to buy are not practical or even comfortable. If you don’t believe me, go to a high school football game this Friday night, and watch the boys and girls spending inordinate amounts of energy hitching up their pants or brushing their hair out of their eyes.

The antidote to the greed promoted by the world is found in the Bible. Let’s look at the example of Daniel in the Bible. The events in the Book of Daniel take place in 605 B.C., after Jerusalem is taken by Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel would have been approximately 15 years old when this occurred.

Daniel was a real historical person. He actually existed. He is referred to in Ezekiel Chapter 14, along with Noah and Job for their righteousness. He is also mentioned as a real person by the Lord Jesus in Mark 13:14 and in Matthew 24:15.

Daniel and his friends were the “best and brightest” of the young men of Jerusalem. And they were royalty (Daniel 1:3-4). The Babylonians changed their names. “Daniel” meant “God is my judge.” “Belteshazzar” meant “Bel protect his life.” “Hananiah” meant “the Lord shows grace.” “Shadrach meant “command of Aku (the moon-god).” “Mishael” meant “who is like God?” “Meshach” meant “who like Aku?” “Azariah” meant “the Lord is my help.” “Abednego” meant “servant of Nego.”

As Jews, living under the Old Testament Covenant, they were not supposed to eat defiled food. When pressured, they chose the Word of God over the king’s food. When disobeying ungodly authority, they were gracious toward that authority.

They were trained for three years in Babylonian beliefs and science and languages. They were examined and scored higher than anyone else (Daniel 1:18-20).

These Jewish young men were taken captive to Babylon, and they were treated well in many ways, but, in Scripture, Babylon represents our enemy, the world.

Geographically, today’s Iraq is the old Babylon. Saddam Hussein wanted to be the new Nebuchadnezzar.

The original Nebuchadnezzar wanted Daniel and his friends to serve in the royal palace, and he wanted young men with his idea of integrity. The problem was that he wanted them to conform. So, as a representative of the world, he began to put pressure on them – the same kind of pressure that the world puts on Christians today.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Romans 12:1-2

“Conforming” is caused by pressure from without. “Transforming” is caused by change and growth from within. Remember our illustration? Play-Doh can be conformed by pressure from outside, but the pressure won’t make it grow.

Concerning Daniel and his friends, the Babylonians changed their home, their ideas, their language, their diet – even their names. This is what we would call a form of brainwashing. Most people today were brainwashed as children to believe in a type of evolution which contradicts the Bible. They have been brainwashed to believe that the Earth is “billions and billions” of years old, when, according to the Bible, it’s only around 6000 years old.

Daniel resisted being conformed to the world of Babylon by purposing in his heart to obey God. He remembered that he was in a foreign country. Christians today are in a foreign land. If you are a Christian, the place of your physical address is not your real home.

For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:

Philippians 3:20

Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

Colossians 3:2

And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.

John 8:23

When the world puts pressure on you to conform, follow the example of Daniel. Strengthen your integrity and your character. Do what it says in Romans 12:1-2. Start off each day by surrendering your body to the Lord (present your bodies a living sacrifice). Renew your mind in the Word of God every day. Pray. Daniel was automatic. He prayed three times every day, no matter what. Then “prove” God’s will – put it in action. Prove God’s will, not your own will.

Daniel and his friends proved they could be faithful in little things, so God gave them the chance to be faithful in great things (Luke 16:10), like the fiery furnace and the lion’s den.

Daniel made a “stand” (Daniel 1:4; 1:5; 1:19; 2:2; 2:31). “Standing” carries the connotation of “standing for something.” You know the old expression, but it’s still true: If we don’t stand for something, we’re going to fall for anything. Daniel and his friends were thrown into the fiery furnace for standing up when everyone else fell down and bowed down.

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Ephesians 6:13

Christians are not called to be undercover agents – going along to get along with the world. God is looking for someone who won’t CONFORM. He is looking for someone who is TRANSFORMED.

God has some great plans for you. Don’t settle for just being popular or having a great career or falling in lust. Those things are going to pass away. Things done for God’s glory will last forever.


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