Receiving Strength from the Lord (Daniel 10:1-11:13)
Daniel came to God in great weakness- ‘I am helpless… My strength is gone…’(16-17). From the Lord, Daniel received great strength- ‘The One who looked like a man touched me and gave me strength… When He spoke to me, I was strengthened…’. Daniel’s strength came from the love of God and the peace of God. God assured Daniel of His love for him. He called Daniel a ‘man greatly beloved’. God spoke His Word of peace to Daniel: ‘Peace be with you’. As God revealed His love and peace to him, Daniel came to realize that there was no need to be afraid. He could ‘be strong’ in the Lord (18-19). When we are weak, let us come to God and receive His strength – ‘His grace is sufficient for us. His strength is made perfect in weakness’(2 Corinthians 12:9).
Discipline and forgiveness (Matthew 18:15-19:2).
Discipline and forgiveness are not opposites. They belong together. Discipline is to be part of our caring. If it is not carried out in a caring way, it is not the discipline of the Lord. It is the expression of human arrogance. Where there is a genuine desire to honour God and do His will, we have more than some human beings imposing their own will upon others. We have God at work, purifying His Church. The link between discipline (15-17) and forgiveness (21-35) is prayer (18-20). Without prayer, we will never achieve a true balance between discipline and forgiveness. We must avoid a harsh legalism which knows nothing of God’s love. We dare not soft-pedal the moral demands of discipleship. God is holy. God is love. We need both holiness and love – for the sake of the ‘large crowds’ who need the Saviour (2).
Let Lamentations 3:1-24 help you to trust in the God of loving faithfulness.
There are times when it seems nothing is going right for us: ‘I am the man who has seen affliction…’(1-3). In such times, we must remember this: ‘The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end’. When we find ourselves in circumstances of great distress, we must learn to look beyond the things that are happening to us. We must learn to look to the Lord and say, ‘Great is Your faithfulness’. It will not be easy to see God at work in our lives when everything seems to be going wrong. We must be patient as we wait for the blessing of the Lord to return to our lives. We must put all our hope in the Lord, trusting in His precious promise: ‘The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul that seeks Him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord’(22-26).
Let Jeremiah 33 lead you into God’s blessing.
‘I will bring Judah and Israel back from captivity and will rebuild them as they were before. I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against Me… Then this city will bring Me renown, joy, praise, and honour before all nations on earth…’(7-9). What great blessing lay ahead of God’s people! God was pointing His people to the place of blessing: Jesus Christ – ‘the righteous Branch from David’s line’(15-16). ‘In Christ’, we have ‘every spiritual blessing’: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him’(Ephesians 1:3; 1 Corinthians 2:9). God has so much blessing to give to us. Come to Him and receive His blessing: ‘Call to Me, and I will answer you; I will show you wonderful and marvellous things that you know nothing about’(3).
Let Psalm 103 help you to praise the Lord.
‘Praise the Lord’(1-2,20-22). Let’s praise Him for His ‘steadfast love’. He is ‘abounding in steadfast love’(8). How are we to respond to His ‘steadfast love’? Are we to say, ‘God loves me. I can do what I like’? No! We must not think like this. We’re not to say, ‘I’ll keep on sinning. God will keep on forgiving’(Romans 6:1-2). God’s Word tells us something very different. Loved by God, we learn to love Him. When God’s ‘steadfast love’ has really touched our hearts, it changes our lives. This is the great change which the Psalmist has in mind when he writes, ‘As the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him… The steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon those who fear Him’(11,17). Let’s thank God for His love – and live to please Him!
‘Those who trust in the Lord… cannot be moved…’ (Psalm 125:1).
When we put our trust in the Lord, we are like the ‘wise man who built his house on the rock’. His house ‘did not fall because it had its foundation on the rock’. When we do not put our trust in the Lord, we are like the ‘foolish man who built his house on sand’. His house ‘fell with a great crash’. ‘Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labour in vain’(Psalms 125:1; 127:1; Matthew 7:24-27). ‘Jesus Christ’ is the ‘sure Foundation’ upon which our faith is built. He is ‘the solid Rock’, our ‘mighty Rock of spiritual refreshment’(1 Corinthians 3:11; 10:3-4; Church Hymnary, 10,411). ‘Christ died for our sins… He was raised on the third day’. Let us rejoice in Him: ‘The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy’(Psalm 126:3; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
“Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved” (Joel 3:14).
Each of us is ‘in the valley of decision’. We must make sure that we are prepared for ‘the coming of the great and dreadful Day of the Lord’. God has given us His promise: ‘Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved’(Joel 2:31-32; 3:14). The Lord promises great blessing to those who call upon Him. He ‘will pour out His Spirit’ upon us. He will do ‘great things’ for us. He will be our ‘Refuge’and ‘Stronghold’. He will fill us with ‘joy and gladness’. He will fill our hearts with ‘praise’(Joel 2:20-21, 23, 26, 28-29; 3:16). Make sure that you ‘call on the Name of the Lord’. Make sure that you do not miss out on the great blessings the Lord gives to those who call on His Name. Make your decision now – ‘I will call on the Name of the Lord’(1 Kings 18:24).
‘Let us go to the Lord’s House; let us worship before His throne’(Psalm 132:7).
God is calling us to worship Him. We are to gather together as His worshipping people. As we gather for worship, we remember that ‘the Lord is King’. We do not only give Him the praise of our lips. We give Him the praise of our lives. We do not only sing to Him. We live for Him. We come ‘before His throne’ with this prayer, ‘Take my heart – it is Thine own; It shall be Thy royal throne’. God hears and answers our prayer. He gives us His strength. We rise to His challenge: ‘Rise up, O Church of God! Have done with lesser things; Give heart and soul and mind and strength to serve the King of kings’(Church Hymnary, 36, 462, 477). The service of worship comes to an end. Let our service of living begin – and never end!