John the Baptist questioned Jesus’ request to be baptized, for Jesus did not need to repent or to be forgiven. Jesus replied to John, “Thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” In this statement we see Jesus’ vision, his mission, what was on his mind, and his ultimate goal for which he set his face to do; to fulfill righteousness.
Augustine said, “God has so fashioned the human heart that it never can find rest until it rests in Him.” Augustine saw in his statement that it is possible for men and women to become adjusted to God, for men and women are made in God’s image and thus are made for such an adjustment. Jesus, God/Man, by fulfilling all righteousness was and is able to make the righteous adjustment in all men and women possible.
We are not made for houses, cars, credit cards, and bank accounts, but for God and God alone. God has it in His mind for those who bear God’s own image, which is every one of us, to be adjusted to God’s righteousness. Jesus came to make such an adjustment. The question is: Will you allow him to make it?
My son has relocated to a new city, so he is church shopping. Last Sunday he visited a church near his apartment. After the service he called to tell me about the church. He said, “Dad, I had to leave, for they spent the entire service criticizing others about their sins.” I recalled this truism, “The chief insult we have about others is actually our chief compliment to ourselves.”
After the phone call I read this, “The Church itself has not yet grasped the fullness of the love of God in Jesus as seen in His attitude toward sinning men. Never were his lips disfigured by the curve of contempt. Never did His face convey to sinning men the assumption of superiority. Never did he say a hard thing to a sinning soul.”
Jesus loved sinners, made friends with them, did not patronize them, or denounce them. Oh that the Church might begin to share the love of God as revealed by Jesus. That love is not a pity that excuses wrong, it is love that dies for wrong. The measure in which we have seen God as Jesus revealed Him is the measure in which we are prepared to be the friend to sinners.
I’m One Too,
Daniel was a man of purpose. His purpose was simple, yet it was sublime; simple in expression, and sublime in its principle. What was his purpose in the midst of heathen rulers? He would not touch the king’s food, nor drink the king’s wine! That was the simplicity of his purpose, but not what made it sublime. What made it sublime was that he purposed that nothing in this world would rob him of his spiritual life.
Daniel’s deepest purpose was loyalty to God. This was expressed in separation from the corrupting influences of his high position. Because he took a stand at the beginning, he was victorious till the end.
You and I live in a much easier age than Daniel lived in, but with temptations at our disposal more dangerous than Daniel had. Today therefore, everyone needs to be a Daniel with a definite purpose and it should be announced; this is especially true in the matters of the spirit, and the things of the Christian life. Today, surrounded by the allurement and enticement of a godless age, let every man and woman purpose in their heart that he will be loyal to Jesus Christ first, and declare that purpose at the start of each day.
Purposed to God,
Today, after the Easter break, we return to our study in Daniel. As you recall we left off in chapter 9 with Daniel in prayer, and in that prayer, for the first time, he called upon God using his covenant name Jehovah (Cf. 4b). Daniel was appealing to God as the one who keeps his covenant with all who obey the laws associated with that covenant. Daniel called it, “His covenant of love” (4). The word used for love here is, “hesed” a love that leads to covenant faithfulness on God’s part.
What does the word hesed mean? It means a quality of love that moves someone to act for the benefit of someone else without considering what is in it for them. The Hebrew sees the Torah, the first five books of Hebrew Scripture, as beginning and ending with God’s hesed love. They view the Torah as setting forth a vision of the ideal life whose goals are a behavior characterized by mercy and compassion.
The Christian sees God’s hesed love expressed in the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. The quality of God’s love is so great that it moved Him to act on our behalf without considering what would happen to Him.
Today people are seeking absolute answers to their questions. The word absolute means, “Excellent in quality or nature.” The Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias points out four questions we seek absolute answers to: Evil, justice, love, and forgiveness. Evil, how do we define and explain it? Justice, what is just and unjust? Love, what is love; is it brotherly, godly, or erotica? What is forgiveness? We hurt someone, and ask them to forgive us.
Our search for life’s answers is complicated by a world of changing truths. Against this world, we open the Bible and read the unchanging Word of God. From the Bible we learn there is only one place in the world where the answers to these four absolutes converged at one moment, and that is at Calvary. The evil of the world was thrown upon Jesus Christ. The justice of God was executed. The love of God displayed through his Son. The forgiveness of God was heard in the Sons words, “Father forgive them for they no not what they have done.”
Embodied in the crucifixion and displayed on the cross are God’s answers to the absolutes questions of evil, justice, love, and forgiveness that man searches for.
We live in a confusing world, and many are lost. How does one find their way in such a world? The simple answer is read the Bible, for it will give you direction in life. Many do read the Bible, but instead of being found remain lost. This is because, instead of being led by what they read, they attempt to lead the Bible, and coincidently they try to lead it to where they already are!
Years ago I gave up arguing with God. I gave up telling Him what is right and what is wrong. Instead of arguing I began listening, and found myself praying, “Your will be done.” By shedding my arguments with God, I began to read the Bible with His eyes. By that I mean, I began to understand what the Bible meant when it was first written, glean the truths from the passage, and apply those truths to my life today. Amazingly I found myself no longer in disagreement with God, but found myself changing my mind, and being found by Him.
Today, I no longer expect God to change, but let Him change me. Through my surrender I no longer am lost.
The first six chapters of Daniel are about Daniel and his three friends, and their faith and courage before pagan kings. At chapter 7 the book shifts from narrated stories to mysterious visions of prophesy.
Daniel, “Was deeply troubled and his face turned pale,” (7:28) at the enigmatic images he received. And we will learn in future chapters that Daniel often became ill and was unable to work after receiving a vision from the Lord. This is quite a contrast to those who proclaim prophetic understanding today. When someone today discovers what they think is some new biblical understanding they put the word prophet before their name, and write a book to tell everyone what they think they have discovered.
It’s a dangerous thing to study prophecy to inflate one’s ego, or to give people the impression that we are a great Bible scholar. I think there is a lesson to be gleaned from Daniel’s response. When studying Daniel, or any part of the Bible, what we learn from our study should so touch our hearts that it troubles us and affects our conduct. Bible study should not be an intellectual exercise to inflate our ego, but a desire to change our relationship with God.