Tuesday, November 29, 2011

November 29- Prayer And Other Problems

November 29, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Daniel 6:1-28; 2 Peter 3:1-18;
Psalm 119:129-152; Proverbs 28:21-22

There is a vast difference between saying prayers and praying.  

Daniel 6:1-28

If someone was looking for a way to accuse you of wrong doing in your life what evidence could they find?  Would they see lying, stealing, gossiping or unfaithfulness? Daniel is tested by political opponents and a plot is devised to take his life. But what do Daniel's enemies find in order to accuse this man? All they can find is that he prays a lot to his God.

Today, we are in a new administration in Babylon.  It is no longer the Babylonian Empire. The Medes and Persians have defeated the Babylonians and now Daniel is an administrator in this new empire. Darius is the ruler and he has appointed 100 princes to rule the various parts of the empire. We see that the vision of the statue that God gave to Nebuchadnezzar is coming true. The next part of the statue under the head of gold was a chest and arms of silver.  The metal was of a lesser value and the arms indicate division within the empire. There is a deterioration of power and quality of rule. With Darius sharing his power with 100 princes, it is confirmed that he does not have the autocratic authority that Nebuchadnezzar had. Darius does not trust these 100 princes, so Daniel is assigned to oversee them.  Needless to say, these men are not pleased. They look for a means of destroying Daniel. Truth be told, it is Satan behind these men who is looking to destroy this man of God. Daniel's influence and testimony for God has spanned decades. Satan is hoping for a clean break from God's hand in this new political situation.

The one hundred princes convince King Darius to enact a law that states that for the next thirty days anyone who prays to anyone, divine or human, besides the king will be thrown to the lions. It is known that Daniel is a righteous man who prays three times a day to the God of heaven. When Daniel learns of this new law, he does what Daniel always does...he prays to God for help. You may recall that as a teenager Daniel took a stand about dietary issues and sought God's help. He also sought God's help about the dreams that Nebuchadnezzar had. Daniel is used to turning to God and relying on Him through prayer. This will be no different. Prayer matures one's faith. Daniel communicates with God, and God responds to Daniel. Theirs is a personal relationship. Daniel has a rich prayer life and a mature faith.

When Darius learns that Daniel is guilty of praying to someone besides Darius, he is very upset with himself for enacting the law.  The reason is that under Medes/Persian law, any law that is enacted cannot be retracted. This seems extreme, but that was the way it was.  Even the ruler was bound by this law and unable to change it. As Darius has Daniel arrested, he calls to Daniel to say that he hopes the God that Daniel worships continually will save him. What a testimony Daniel's life has been!  The king is compelled to fast for Daniel all night. In the morning, he rushes to see if Daniel's God has come through for him.

Indeed, Daniel does not have a scratch on him because he has trusted in God and God has saved Daniel from the mouths of the lions. The king has Daniel's accusers arrested and thrown into the lions' den with their families. Then, the king of this new empire does something similar to what Nebuchadnezzar did in his empire. Darius sends out a public testimony to the whole empire about Daniel's God.  He decrees that this God is actually living, unlike the dead idols that are worshiped throughout the land. This God has a kingdom that will last forever and his rule will never end. This is an important statement coming from the most powerful man on earth. This God rescues people and this God rescued Daniel from the power of lions.

What Darius does not know is that Daniel was rescued from the power of Satan.  Did you know that as a believer you are in a lion's den?  1 Peter 5:8 says that your adversary the Devil is a roaring lion who walks about seeking whom he may devour.  As the prince of this world, Satan is the lion in the den where we live.  We, like Daniel, must pray to be rescued. We must have our lives be living testimonies to the power of the living God. 

Is your life marked by prayer?  How has God delivered you from the lion of Satan?  Your salvation is an act of being rescued by God from the lion.

2 Peter 3:1-18

In our reading today, Peter is helping us learn how to think as Christians.  Proper thinking prevents poor performance.  Peter says that in both of his letters, he has tried to promote wholesome thinking and remind the believers of what the holy prophets and the Lord have said. This is how we renew our minds.

He is warning that in the end there will be scoffers who try to claim that God is not coming back and has forgotten His promises. Peter says that these people have deliberately forgotten that it is God who created this world by the word of his command (See Genesis 1 and John 1). Peter clarifies that Scripture indicates that land (the earth) was brought up out of the water and surrounded by water (the atmosphere). God eventually used water to destroy everything in the Flood. But one day, the heavens and the earth will be consumed and destroyed in judgment by fire. This is also how ungodly people will perish.

Has God forgotten?  No.  Peter points out that God is not on our time scale. To God, one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like one day. What is God up to? He is being patient so that more people can be saved. He is giving time for people to repent of their sins.

Peter warns that the future holds a day when the Lord will return. It will be unexpected, like when a thief enters a home. The heavens will pass away in the future. Everything will be destroyed by fire.  There will be a new heaven and a new earth formed, where everyone is right with God.  This is our hope.

Believers are encouraged to live at peace with God while they wait for this to occur. The Lord is waiting and giving people time to be saved.  Peter notes that the Apostle Paul confirmed this in his writings.

Peter encourages believers to stay firm in their footing and not be carried away by false teaching, but grow in their knowledge of Jesus.

Are you growing in your knowledge of Jesus?  Do you realize what the future holds?  God has a purpose in unfolding this story in the Bible.  He warns of future days for a reason.  Do you help others to know this future?

Psalm 119:129-152

Verse 145 says, "I pray with all of my heart; answer me, Lord!"  I bet Daniel prayed this.

Proverbs 28:21-22

Greed and partiality are never good.

What are you learning?  Please share.


Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton