Category Archives: Bible in a year reading plan

Daniel 2:31-4:27

Daniel 3:16-18,  16Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (ESV)

So here we have three young men who are more committed to God than their own lives.  They understand the gravity of their situation and they know God is able to deliver them from the fiery furnace.  Yet, He may not. He may use this experience as the time to take them home to heaven.  But for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego they know what they must do. Their duty is to follow and obey God no matter what the cost even if it means their lives. In the west we live in a little sliver of time where we can practice our Christian faith without the fear of physical harm.  Just last year 41 of our brothers and sisters (fathers, mothers, husbands and wives) in a South East Asian country were imprisoned with sentences of five years each for sharing their faith with others. In another country four years ago a Bible translator in another Asian country was shot 31 times. The government authorities ruled it an accident. Not only did these three men follow God no matter what, but people around the world today are giving their lives for the sake of the gospel.  As one person has stated, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”

This is not something I like to think about. I have enough of a challenge following God with the pressures of relationships in every day life. What would I do if my life were at stake. I would hope to be as faithful as these three young men were.  That even if my life was given to advance the kingdom of God I would say, “Let it be known that if I am not delivered from this immediate situation, I am still following the God of the universe.” In fact, the pressures I face in standing for God now, may be the testing ground used for when my life is at stake. If I am willing to compromise now, how could I stand when my is life at stake?

Father God, strengthen my resolve to stand for you daily. I pray for my brothers and sisters around the world who are imprisoned right now for you, or are being tortured for you or are dying for you. The least I can do is stand where you have placed me and give an account for the relationship I have with you. May I follow the examples of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and Paul Carlson, Jim Elliott, Nate Saint, and Maximilian Kolbe! I pray these things in the strong name of Jesus, Amen.

Dave (dmbaldwin)

From the archives. Originally published September 15, 2009.

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Ezekiel 48; Daniel 1:1-2:30

This is what I know when I meet Daniel–he was physically fit, attractive, teachable and capable, educated, and qualified. He was going to be treated (somewhat) like a king–at least with a measure of respect and dignity–eating food and drinking wine from the king’s table. And he was going to be taught the language and literature of the Babylonians.

Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility— young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.

Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.

But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.

Daniel 1:3-8, NIV

And though he was enlisted to be part of the king’s service and immersed in the culture of the Babylonians, he drew a line he wouldn’t cross: he would not defile himself with the royal food and wine. I take special note of this.

I learn a lot about Daniel and his friends in these opening scriptures. And I see how God works in their lives.

17 To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.

Daniel 1:17, NIV, emphasis mine

I also take special notice of what happens when Daniel is under extreme pressure. He’s on the cusp of execution because all the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers are unable to tell the king the content of his dream or its meaning.

14 When Arioch, the commander of the king’s guard, had gone out to put to death the wise men of Babylon, Daniel spoke to him with wisdom and tact.

Daniel 2:14, NIV

Daniel speaks with wisdom and tact.

He also takes the issue to the Lord in prayer and expectation.

17 Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 18 He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. 19 During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven 20 and said:

“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
    wisdom and power are his.
21 He changes times and seasons;
    he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
    and knowledge to the discerning.
22 He reveals deep and hidden things;
    he knows what lies in darkness,
    and light dwells with him.
23 I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors:
    You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you,
    you have made known to us the dream of the king.”

Daniel 2:17-23, NIV

I think again on the quote, “Under pressure, you don’t rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training.” Finding himself a captive of sorts, enlisted, and facing great stresses, I see the level of Daniel’s training–a foundation of solid boundaries, discipline, faith, and humility.

Lord, these days I find myself leaning more and more into you. I’m thankful for a reading today that highlights your presence and provision. And I’m also grateful for a reminder of my own personal responsibility to stick to boundaries and maintain a focus.

Courtney (66books365)

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Ezekiel 44-47

‘When the people of the land come before the LORD at the appointed feasts, whoever enters by the north gate to worship is to go out the south gate; and whoever enters by the south gate is to go out the north gate. No one is to return through the gate by which he entered, but each is to go out the opposite gate. 10 The prince is to be among them, going in when they go in and going out when they go out.

13 ” ‘Every day you are to provide a year-old lamb without defect for a burnt offering to the LORD; morning by morning you shall provide it. 14 You are also to provide with it morning by morning a grain offering, consisting of a sixth of an ephah with a third of a hin of oil to moisten the flour. The presenting of this grain offering to the LORD is a lasting ordinance. 15 So the lamb and the grain offering and the oil shall be provided morning by morning for a regular burnt offering. Ezekiel 46:9-10, 13-15 (NIV)

Most of these 3 chapters are about Ezekiel being instructed on how to divide up the land for the 12 tribes of Israel, but I couldn’t help but be struck by these two simple verses and their symbolism. They have so much application if we look beyond their literal meaning.

The first set of verses just struck me in that this is something we should use today. No matter how we enter the house of the Lord (church) today, we should never come out the same as we went in. The Lord’s word and praising Him at church should change us, and we we should never leave the same way we came in. We should be changed. I really take the leaving by a different gate this way.

The second set of verses strike me in that every single day, we need to give God our very best, not our leftovers. Do we give God the unblemished lamb and our best grain? Or, do we give God just what we have left?  He gave us His best – Jesus Christ. How can we not give him our very best, whatever it is that he needs, every single day?

It is amazing to me how something can just jump off the page like this – even in an Old Testament verse like this one that has different original intentions. God can speak to us in so many different ways and have us apply a verse intended for another audience and purpose to our daily lives in the 21st century. He truly is amazing.

Lord God, please let me give you my best each and every day. Let every time that I approach you change me forever. Let me give you my very best, and not my leftovers. It is so easy to be distracted by this world and forget the sacrifice that your Son, Jesus, made for us. He atoned for all of our sins and shortcomings, and because of that, we need to give you our very best every single day. Let us never enter your house and not be changed either.

In the mighty name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

Jim (jtgavigan)

From the archives. Originally published September 14, 2009.

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Ezekiel 32:1-34:24 

My dad would not really share the good news of the gospel with others in order for them to repent and begin to follow Jesus. No, he told them about hell and scared them into making that decision. I cannot say it was effective, and am reminded of him when I read the results of shame and the demise of entire people groups going to hell for not acknowledging God.

God, the Master, says:

I’m going to throw my net over you
    —many nations will get in on this operation—
    and haul you out with my dragnet. – Ezekiel 32:3 MSG

I notice that this net is not going to miss anyone. There will be a lot of people in this net. Those who thought they were somebody are going to be ashamed and filled with shame.

Pharaoh will see them all and, pompous old goat that he is, take comfort in the company he’ll keep—Pharaoh and his slaughtered army. Decree of God, the Master. – Ezekiel 32:31 MSG

This really gets me thinking. Pharaoh is now with the Persians, people of the north, Sidonians and Egyptians in hell, and he does not seem to have the same shame as the others. In fact, he will see everyone and – take comfort in the company he’ll keep. Seriously, there is comfort knowing that you are not the only one to suffer such shame and disgrace in judgment – I never would have figured it to be so. I have to assume Satan feels the same way.

What a picture of the destruction of nations describing what happens when I do not acknowledge God and do not repent when I do. Shame is the ultimate outcome.

I cannot end here. I have to bring Israel back into the picture – where do they land in all of this? Before they find themselves in hell as well, God commands them to be ashamed, while they are living. Here in Ezekiel 36:16-32 is the dialogue they hear from God. Their humility comes from knowing and from learning the outcomes from the punishment they have received and now the way is open for reconciliation with God. God has a definite view of honour and shame and I grasp that and I am sure the people of Israel grasped that as well. If I want a relationship with God, transparency in acknowledging shame is a good thing. It is in the offering of my shame to God that I am set free – truth sets me free. God then completes the reconciliation and the restoration and my status goes from shame to honourable shame as it becomes a part of my testimony to my relationship and journey with Him.

Father, I have to admit my shame to You and submit my pride to You. I do not want You to be only an addition to my life, I want to be a submission to You. Challenge me today, everyday, to be the man You have called and visioned me to be. Let not Your Holy Spirit leave me alone.

Erwin (evanlaar)

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Ezekiel 28:11-31:18

“Egypt will no longer be a source of confidence for the people of Israel but will be a reminder of their sin in turning to her for help. Then they will know that I am the Sovereign LORD.” (Ezekiel 29:16, NIV)

These four chapters are filled with words of judgment against the enemies of Israel. Passage after passage unveils God’s wrath upon the kings who fought against Israel. But instead of anger, a picture of God’s sovereignty shone through. He was reminding them that HE IS GOD. Then right amongst the prophesies He stated it loud and clear in the verse listed above. I love the analogy. Egypt was a “source of confidence” but has now become “a reminder of their sin.” Why? So that they “will know that I am the Sovereign LORD.” Isn’t that what we experience repeatedly in our lives?

What is my “Egypt”…my source of confidence? Materialism? Relationships? Self? I tend to find my confidence in anything BUT God! And what does it end up becoming instead? “A reminder of my sin”!! I depend on wealth, others and myself to sustain me but all of that only ends in self-centeredness. So what happens if God chooses to strip those away? I am left with a Sovereign LORD. Complete. Provider. Loving. Sustainer. Trustworthy. I need no other source.

Sovereign God, I habitually look to everything but You for my every need. You are ALL I need yet I forget that so easily. I want to live this day hearing from Your Spirit at every turn. I want to depend on You like I need air and water. My desire for this day is to make YOU my source of confidence. Amen.

Jody (simplyspoken)

From the archives. Originally published September 9, 2009.

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