Sin Is Serious

In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the articles of the house of God, which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the articles into the treasure house of his god.”—Daniel 1:1-2 (NKJV)

God used prophets, faithful men to be His spokespeople to deliver important messages. Daniel was one. Since a teenager, Daniel (an Israelite) lived in Babylonian captivity, a foreign nation hostile to God for 70 years.

How did God’s people become captives? Israel committed terrible sins and rebellion toward a holy God. For many years, Israel continually dishonored the Lord in idolatry and failure to observe required Sabbaths. God had to deal with the sinfulness and prideful arrogance of His people.

Jehoiakim was Judah’s king for 11 years. He was known for attempting to “destroy” the Word of God. Ironically, his name means “Jehovah sets up”; yet “the Lord gave him into his hand.”

The Psalmist wrote, “But God is the Judge: He puts down one, and exalts another” (Psalm 75:7 NKJV). In His mercy, God took down the arrogant king of Israel. Jeremiah wrote of this arrogant, presumptuous ruler who abused his own people (Jeremiah 22:13-14) and persecuted and murdered God’s servants (Jeremiah 26:20-23). God instructed Jeremiah to prophesy against Jehoiakim and the city of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 36:1-32). God wanted them to repent so they could avoid their prophesied downfall (Jeremiah 36:4-7).

When the princes heard Jeremiah’s prophetic words, they quickly told Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 36:19). The king commanded an officer to read the scroll, and after reading portions, the king cut away part of the scroll and then tossed it into the fire. In his arrogance, Jehoiakim apparently thought he was accountable to no one. But God would have the last word.

Jeremiah prepared another scroll (Jeremiah 36:27-32). God spoke strong words for Jehoiakim: “He shall have no one to sit on the throne of David, and his dead body shall be cast out to the heat of the day and the frost of the night. I will punish him, his family, and his servants for their iniquity; and I will bring on them, on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and on the men of Judah all the doom that I have pronounced against them; but they did not heed” (Jeremiah 36:30-31 NKJV).

Sadly, Jehoiakim persisted in his defiance and suffered greatly from his sinful consequences. Ultimately, he was overcome by another evil king and died under his hand.

The lessons of King Jehoiakim apply to all leaders and all peoples: Man cannot arrogantly challenge God and expect impunity. David Guzik put it this way, “God always settles accounts with those who refuse to respond to His warnings.” Galatians 6:7 (NKJV) says, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” And Numbers 32:23 (NKJV) says, “But if you will not do so, then take note, you have sinned against the Lord; and be sure your sin will find you out.”

DIG: Looking into your heart, is there a tendency to be in rebellion to the Lord? If that is the case, what are you holding onto?

DISCOVER: Read 1 John 5:3. God daily reveals His tender mercies and wills for us to walk in harmony with Him by following Him in obedience. Obedience is better than sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22). Make it your desire to honor Him.

DO: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 NKJV).

https://calvaryftl.org/article/1635/

Dwelling upon God

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To bring the mind to dwell intelligently upon God as he is presented in his Word will have the effect of causing us to love God passionately, and this love will in turn bring us to think of God steadily. Thus he will always be before our minds. As Thomas Watson beautifully wrote long ago,

The first fruit of love is the musing of the mind upon God.

He who is in love, his thoughts are ever upon the object. . . . By

this we may test our love to God. What are our thoughts most

upon? Can we say we are ravished with delight when we think

on God? . . . Oh, how far are they from being lovers of God, who

scarcely ever think of God!

As disciples engage in the practice of placing Jesus Christ at center stage in every branch of human knowledge, they are simultaneously being encouraged to train their thoughts ever upon God. In this way they enter not only a life of study, but also a life of worship.

To think of God rightly, as God is, one cannot help but lapse into worship; and worship is the single most powerful force in completing and sustaining the spiritual formation of the whole person. Worship naturally arises from thinking rightly of God on the basis of revealed truth confirmed in experience. We say flatly: worship is at once the overall character of the renovated thought life and the only safe place for any human being to stand.

From Renewing the Christian Mind: Essays, Interviews, and Talks. Copyright © 2016 by Willard Family Trust. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

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Persistence of Daniel

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Throughout the Bible we see that God has His own ways of watching over His own when they remain faithful to His Word and obedient to His will. It was of course God who brought Daniel into “favor and goodwill” with his captors (Daniel 1:9). It is a comfort to know in the midst of a crumbling culture that the Lord has the remote control in His hand. God also imparted to Daniel “knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom” (v. 17). At the end of this initial three years, the time came for Daniel to take his oral exams. He flew through them at the head of the class. Preparing intellectually to address ideas and behaviors contrary to our faith is a requirement for living in our own Babylonian culture. Like Daniel, we no longer live in Jerusalem ourselves. In our Babylonian world, we are to tolerate heretical ideas and unbiblical behavior. Our culture seems to have an increasing disdain for anything related to the religious liberties we have cherished for 250 years. It is crucial for us, like Daniel, to live uncompromising lives; not to quit, not to give out… to be persistent in a culture where our cherished values stand in stark contrast to what it proclaims.

Daniel was indeed persistent. We read that “Daniel continued until the first year of King Cyrus” (Daniel 1:21), and that covered a time span of seventy years. Throughout all those decades, Daniel never gave in… never gave up… and never gave out. When Cyrus decreed that the Jews could return to their holy city of Jerusalem, Daniel had a part in that. When Nehemiah went back to lead the rebuilding of the broken walls of Jerusalem, Daniel had a part in that. When Ezra went back and reestablished respect for the Word of God, Daniel had a part in that. And five hundred years later, when the wise men followed the star making their way to Bethlehem from the East, if you examine it closely, Daniel’s witness to their forefathers had a part in that. Those Magi knew about a coming Messiah because their ancestors had heard through the uncompromising life of a young Hebrew captive by the name of Daniel.

Yes, “Daniel continued.” And God gave him favor and enlarged his sphere of influence. The apostle Paul noted that each of us has been assigned a specific sphere of influence. He said we should “boast only with regard to the area of influence God [has] assigned to us,” and he prayed that “our area of influence among you may be greatly enlarged” (2 Corinthians 10:13, 15 ESV). Etymologically, our English word influence comes from a compound of two Latin words that are translated in and flow. The word picture describes a crystal clear and mighty river that runs deep and wide. Its rapid current powerfully flows and circumvents any and all obstacles in its way. It is fed by numerous smaller creeks, streams, and tributaries that arrive at this river, virtually empty themselves into it, and are caught up in its flow. Having influence means that you live your life in such a deep and vibrant manner that those who come into contact with you become caught up in your flow that reflects and leads them to God’s flow. This should serve as a tremendous encouragement to any and all of us seeking to address a twenty-first-century Babylonian culture in our own Western world. Yes, “Daniel continued,” and an entire culture eventually got caught up in his flow. May we follow in Daniel’s footsteps and impact our culture for the Lord.

Content drawn from The Daniel Code: Living Out Truth in a Culture That Is Losing Its Way.