Daily Scripture Series – June 12th

“Daniel…still prayed three times a day.” (Daniel 6:13)

Over the years, many believers in Jesus, under peril of death, have offered a firm refusal when commanded to disobey God. The story of Daniel is one such story. When a royal edict threatened that anyone “who prayed to any god or human being except the king” would be thrown into the lions’ den, Daniel discarded safety and remained faithful. “Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.” The prophet would bend his knee to God, and only God, no matter the cost.

Sometimes, our choice, is clear. Though everyone around us implores us to go along with prevailing opinion, though our own reputation or well-being may be at risk, may we never turn from our obedience to God. Sometimes, even at great cost, all we can offer is a firm refusal.

Daily Questions

  1. Where are you sensing that obedience to God will require your firm refusal?
  2. What might this refusal cost you? What will you gain?

Daily Thoughts

God, we know our loyalty to You will at times mean saying no to others’ expectations or demands. It may cost us dearly. Give us courage.

Daniel 6: 10-23

Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. Then the administrators and satraps went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help. So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree.

then they said to the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, Your Majesty, or to the decree you put in writing. He still prays three times a day.”

So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den.

At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?”

Daniel answered, “May the king live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.”

The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted to his God.

Bonus Information

The integrity and loyalty of Daniel echo similarities in the life and story of Joseph. About eight hundred years before Daniel was chosen to be second in command to a Babylonian king, Joseph was made second in command of all Egypt. In their younger years, both ad been taken from their homes and families and forced into captivity in foreign lands. Both eventually interpreted the dreams of emperors who served other gods. Through abandonment and imprisonment both are remembered for showing God’s care not only for those who knew him, but for those who didn’t.

Important Biblical Words – #5

Our 5th Word is Bless

The basic definition of bless – To give what is good to another.

“Then the man said, ‘Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!’ But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.'” (genesis 32:26)

This Bible story is somewhat strange since Jacob was the sketchy, shady grandson of Abraham. he encounters a mysterious stranger, later said to be God Himself. The two engage in a fierce, all night wrestling match, during which a tenacious Jacob grunts, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” Then just before sunrise, it’s done. Jacob does walk away with God’s blessing, a new name, and a lifelong limp as a souvenir of this strange encounter.

The Hebrew word for bless is barak. It literally means to give good things to another. Most often in the Bible, God is seen as the one doing the blessing. It also indicates that we can and should petition God to pour out His favor on a loved one, a friend, a marriage, a venture, even on a stranger. When Jesus blessed the loaves and fish, it wasn’t just a prayer of thanks; it was also a request that His Father in heaven might take that meager amount of food, make much of it, and then nourish the massive crowd before Him. And, of course God did this for His Son.

There are times when the Bible shows people approaching God not to ask for a blessing from Him but instead to give blessings to Him. For instance, David urged himself repeatedly in Psalm 103 to “Bless the Lord, O my soul.” This type of blessing, from creature to Creator, conveys the ideas of kneeling, adoring, or praising God. We all can bless our Maker by giving Him the glory and honor He deserves and we can do it through prayer, adoration, singing, and more.

If the blessings we might request from God are physical and material only like health and wealth, there ate two things that are true: First, our view of “divine blessings” is way too small. Second, we need to be asking for so much more, immaterial riches like joy, love, peace, and patience.

We also need to make sure that we guard against self-centeredness. From beginning to end, the Bible tells us that God blesses His people so that they’ll turn around and bless others. We are a people who are meant to be conduits of the rich favor of our God.

Questions to Ponder

  1. Are we grateful for His grace to us?
  2. Do we bless Him as He deserves, or is all the blessing in our lives flowing on way only?
  3. Do we freely pass on God’s blessings?
  4. Who besides God can you bless today?
  5. What are some of the ways God has blessed you?
  6. What are some of the ways you can bless God?


Daily Scripture Series – June 11th

“People will dwell again in his shade; they will flourish like the grain, they will blossom like the vine.” (Hosea 14:7)

The book of Hosea concludes with a similar tone, one of breathless joy and gratitude at the restoration God makes possible for those who return to Him. Much of the book, which compares the relationship between God and His people to a relationship with an unfaithful spouse, grieves Israel’s failures to love Him and live for Him.

But in chapter 14, Hosea lifts up the promise of God’s boundless love, grace, and restoration, freely available to those who return to Him heartbroken over the ways they’ve abandoned Him. “I will heal their waywardness,” God promises, “and love them freely.” And what had seemed broken beyond repair will once more find wholeness and abundance, as God’s grace, like dew, causes His people to “blossom like a lily” and “flourish like the grain.”

When we’ve hurt others or taken for granted God’s goodness in our life, it’s easy to assume we’ve forever marred the good gifts we’ve been given. But when we humbly turn to Him, we find His love is always reaching to embrace and restore us.

Daily Questions

  1. When have you experienced or witnessed restoration beyond what seemed possible?
  2. In what areas of your life do you need reassurance of God’s promise to heal and restore?

Daily Thoughts

Loving God and Creator of Life, teach us to trust in Your goodness, not just when we’re good, but all the time.

Hosea 14

Return, Israel, to the Lord your God. Your sins have been your downfall. Take words with you and return to the Lord. Say to him: “Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips. Assyria cannot save us; we will not mount warhourses. We will never again say ‘Our gods’ to what our own hands have made, for in you the fatherless find compassion.'”

“I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them. I will be like the dw to Israel; he will blossom like a lily. Like a cedar of Lebanon he will send down his roots; his young shoots will grow. His splendor will be like an olive tree, his fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon. People will dwell again in his shade; they will flourish like the grain, they will blossom like the vine, Israel’s fame will be like the wine of Lebanon. Ephraim, what more have I to do with idols? I will answer him and care for him. I am like a flourishing juniper; your fruitfulness comes from me.”

Who is wise? Let them realize these things. Who is discerning? Let them understand. The ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.

Bonus Informtion

the story of Hosea is remarkable. God tells His prophet to marry a promiscuous woman, one who would be repeatedly unfaithful. Why would God command this? Hosea’s sordid marriage to Gomer is a picture of the relationship between God and His unfaithful people. Israel and Judah were characterized by idolatry, a sin that included literal prostitution practiced by the cult of Baal. Gomer lives out this sin, and Hosea feels anguish similar to God’s. The disloyalty of His people resembles Gomer’s infidelity. Yet God instructs Hosea to rescue his wayward wife. Hosea buys her back from her life of prostitution. This is the stark and startling picture of how much God loves His people.

Important Biblical Words – #4

Our 4th Word is Abraham

Abraham – The patriarch of the Jewish people and the father of all who believe.

“Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness, and he was called God’s friend.” (James 2:23)

If there was an Old Testament Mount Rushmore, Abraham’s face would jut out prominently on the far left just like George Washington’s does because he is considered the father of our country. Abraham literally was the father of his and the story of Abraham is undeniable proof of God’s grace.

When we first meet Abraham in Genesis 11, he is already 75 and is living in Ur, which is near the Persian Gulf, which is modern day Iraq. At this time he is probably a worshiper of various different Mesopotamian idols. He hasn’t met the God of the Bible yet. During this time he’s known as Abram and it means “exalted father.” During this time he’s married to a woman known as Sarai then later called Sara, who can’t have children.

Then suddenly there is a shocking display of goodness, when the one true God comes crashing into Abram’s life with a bunch of outlandish promises. In his old age, he will become the father of a great nation. He also will be blessed, his name will become great and his descendants will be a blessing to all people on earth. (12: 1-3)

It doesn’t stop there. God promises a homeland to Abram. He also promises to be his shield and then He changes his name to Abraham which means “father of a multitude.”

No only does Abraham become the father of a multitude, but he’s also the father of the Jewish people and becomes the patriarch of the Arab peoples through his son Ishmael, whom he has with Hagar, Sarah’s maid.

When it comes to spiritually, he also becomes “the father of all who believe.” (Romans 4:11) This happens because when God said, “Go from your country,” Abraham “obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land.” (Hebrews 11: 8-9). God assured the old man his descendants would outnumber the stars, he truly “believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith.” (Genesis 15:6)

And who was Abraham’s greatest descendant? That is an easy one to answer: Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 1;1). This is declared in the New Testament through Him, through Christ’s perfect life, sacrificial death, and His glorious resurrection, that we are able to enjoy “a right relationship with God.” (Romans 4:13) So how do we get it? “It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it…if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe.” (Romans 4:16)

Questions to Ponder

  1. Do you have faith like Abraham?
  2. Where in your life do you need to trust God today?
  3. Why is Abraham such a towering figure in the Bible?