Tag Archives: Faith

Zechariah 1:12-7:14

Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes.”

Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you.”

Then I said, “Put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the Lord stood by.

The angel of the Lord gave this charge to Joshua: “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘If you will walk in obedience to me and keep my requirements, then you will govern my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you a place among these standing here.

“‘Listen, High Priest Joshua, you and your associates seated before you, who are men symbolic of things to come: I am going to bring my servant, the Branch. See, the stone I have set in front of Joshua! There are seven eyes on that one stone, and I will engrave an inscription on it,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day.

Zechariah 3:3-9, NIV

Lord, the more I read your word, the more I learn about you, see your work in all its pages, grasp your great love. As I read this passage about the removal of the dirty clothes and the replacement with fine garments, I feel a relief and a gratitude. You don’t leave us as we are, but change us.

Courtney (66books365)

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Joel 2:18-3:21; Amos 1-4

Then the Lord was jealous for his land and took pity on his people.

Joel 2:18, NIV

I read of God’s jealousy and mercy. Other verses that follow in this reading hold special meaning to me, but this start grabs my attention. It ignites an old memory of when we were in our first small group, and began to read a part of the Bible. The group leader asked me what I had learned about God in the reading, and I said, “He is jealous.”

I read today of all the ways he tries to get Israel’s attention:

“I gave you empty stomachs in every city
    and lack of bread in every town,
    yet you have not returned to me,”
declares the Lord.

“I also withheld rain from you
    when the harvest was still three months away.
I sent rain on one town,
    but withheld it from another.
One field had rain;
    another had none and dried up.
People staggered from town to town for water
    but did not get enough to drink,
    yet you have not returned to me,”
declares the Lord.

“Many times I struck your gardens and vineyards,
    destroying them with blight and mildew.
Locusts devoured your fig and olive trees,
    yet you have not returned to me,”
declares the Lord.

10 “I sent plagues among you
    as I did to Egypt.
I killed your young men with the sword,
    along with your captured horses.
I filled your nostrils with the stench of your camps,
    yet you have not returned to me,”
declares the Lord.

Amos 4:6-10, NIV

Lord, you call me close to you again and again. You feed me encouragement from others and underscore your love in your word. Like a teacher getting through to a student, you get my attention to tell me: this is important. I listen. I refocus. I remember the verses you’ve given me, and highlight the words you’ve given me in this season. You formed the mountains, created the wind, revealed your thoughts to mankind. You turn dawn to darkness, and tread on the heights of the earth—the Lord God Almighty is your name.

Courtney (66books365)

He who forms the mountains,
    who creates the wind,
    and who reveals his thoughts to mankind,
who turns dawn to darkness,
    and treads on the heights of the earth—
    the Lord God Almighty is his name.

Amos 4:13, NIV

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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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Lamentations 3:52-5:22; Ezekiel 1-2

Lord, when you speak, I pray that I would listen.

55 I called on your name, Lord,
    from the depths of the pit.
56 You heard my plea: “Do not close your ears
    to my cry for relief.”
57 You came near when I called you,
    and you said, “Do not fear.” (Lamentations 3:55-57, NIV, emphasis added)

The passages that mention fear stand out to me, and not because I’m facing an acute, frightening situation, but mostly because the Lord speaks here. And he says, “Do not fear.” When I immerse myself in the words of today’s scriptures and read of the details in each chapter, the details speak of big, scary things (that were happening or could happen).

He said to me, “Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you.” As he spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me.

He said: “Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have been in revolt against me to this very day. The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says.’ And whether they listen or fail to listen—for they are a rebellious people—they will know that a prophet has been among them. And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or be terrified by them, though they are a rebellious people. You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious. But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious people; open your mouth and eat what I give you.” (Ezekiel 2:1-8, NIV, emphasis added)

Lord, sometimes you save (us) from out of the pit, and sometimes you send (us) into the battle (or big, scary situations). May I always listen for your voice. When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? (Psalm 56:3-4, NIV)

Courtney (66books365)

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