TODAY’S READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT- DANIEL 6:1-28.
DANIEL’S CHARACTER- A model of excellence; A man with an excellent spirit; an excellent attitude.
Daniel so distinguished himself by his exceptional qualities that Darius the Mede wanted to give him authority over the whole kingdom. This made the governors, administrators, and officials of the provinces jealous. They did not want to have their jobs inspected by this man. Perhaps they had gotten away with pilfering and corruption prior to this. Daniel was a man of integrity and would require that officials be honest in all their dealings. They did not want to have Daniel rule over them. They conspired to put Daniel out of office by finding some fault in him. Yet his professional conduct was beyond reproach. They could not find any character-flaw in him that they might bring to the knowledge of the King.
Daniel 6:3 3 Then this Daniel began distinguishing himself among the commissioners and satraps because he possessed an extraordinary spirit, and the king planned to appoint him over the entire kingdom.
What a great reputation Daniel had! The King recognized that “Daniel continually served his God”. His attitude and His work bore the mark of excellence and was a testimony to his living faith.
The only way the jealous administrators and satraps could bring a charge against Daniel was to create a Persian law that would violate Daniel’s disciplined adherence to the law of his God.
Daniel was known to be a man of prayer. He had a habit of praying three times a day; in the morning, at noon, and at night (Dan 6:10,13). It was his custom to pray in his palace at a window that faced Jerusalem in accordance with God’s Word. Solomon urged his people at the dedication of the temple to pray towards Jerusalem, no matter where they were, but especially if they were to be taken away captive.
1 Kings 8:46-49 46 “When they sin against You (for there is no man who does not sin) and You are angry with them and deliver them to an enemy, so that they take them away captive to the land of the enemy, far off or near; 47 if they take thought in the land where they have been taken captive, and repent and make supplication to You in the land of those who have taken them captive, saying, ‘We have sinned and have committed iniquity, we have acted wickedly’; 48 if they return to You with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their enemies who have taken them captive, and pray to You toward their land which You have given to their fathers, the city which You have chosen, and the house which I have built for Your name; 49 then hear their prayer and their supplication in heaven Your dwelling place, and maintain their cause”
Daniel was in his eighties, and yet for almost 7 decades, he has been away from Jerusalem; he most likely had kept this habit of praying three times a day at a window in his house that faced towards Jerusalem as Solomon requested.
So, the administrators proposed that the king make a law forbidding anyone to make a petition or pray to any god or man but the King. Any who violate this law should be thrown into the lion’s den and killed. This was a premeditated trap that assuredly would put Daniel to death for his prayer life and his refusal to worship the King.
These wicked men misrepresent the case to Darius. They falsely claim that all the commissioners of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the high officials, and governors have consulted together and recommended that the king outlaw any petition or prayer that is made to any man or god besides the King. The truth is that there was a very important man in the king’s government who had not been complicit to this request- the one he had proposed to rule over all the kingdom- Daniel.
King Darius foolishly put the law into writing. The king’s word according to the law of the Persians and Medes was final and irreversible. This put the King in an awkward spot when the administrators barged in on Daniel and found him praying to his God.
Daniel knew about the law. But like Peter and John, he could not obey a law that was in opposition to the law of God. Men ought always to pray (to the one true God!)
Acts 4:18-20 18 And when they (the religious rulers in Jerusalem) had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; 20 for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
The administrators bring their report of Daniel’s disobedience to the King and speak of Daniel in condescending terms. Instead of speaking of Daniel with respect, as the highly esteemed appointee of the King, they refer to Daniel as “one of the exiles,” and they lie about his motive, saying to the King, “he pays no attention to you”.
The king tries in vain to find a loophole that would prevent Daniel from being thrown into the lion’s den. Unable to find an alternative solution and to ensure that the law be upheld, the King throws Daniel into the lion’s den, saying, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you.”
A stone was put over the mouth of the lion’s den with an official seal upon it from the King, prohibiting anyone from the outside from rescuing Daniel from the hungry lions.
The King was so distressed that he could not sleep and refused every offer of entertainment. The next morning, at the first light of dawn, he returns to the mouth of the den and calls out to Daniel to see if he is alive.
Daniel 6:20 20 When he had come near the den to Daniel, he cried out with a troubled voice. The king spoke and said to Daniel, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you constantly serve, been able to deliver you from the lions?”
Notice how the King repeatedly references the upright character of Daniel and the fact that he “serves his God continually”. What a powerful testimony!
The king rejoices to hear Daniel reply that he is safe. He assures the King that his safety was not because of anything that he did to stop the lion’s mouths, but it was God who saved him and vindicated his innocence. God sent an angel, and it was he who shut the mouths of the lions. The Lord is the hero of the story.
The king is overjoyed, and Daniel is lifted out of the lion’s den, whereas the men who falsely accused Daniel are thrown into the lion’s den with their families and quickly killed by the lions.
King Darius then issues a command to all the people in every part of the kingdom to reverence the God of Daniel.
Daniel 6:28 28 So this Daniel enjoyed success in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT – 2 PETER 3:1-18
Once again, Peter reminds his readers that all that God has promised certainly will come to pass.
People may mock the fact that Christ has not yet returned as He promised and say, “Where is his coming?”. But Peter reminds them that when Noah was preaching of God’s imminent judgment of a coming flood, and that He has provided a way of salvation, people were saying, “Where is the rain?” But the rain came, and by that time the door was shut.
As the world of Noah’s day was reserved for a judgment by flood, this present world is reserved for a judgment by fire. This coming judgment is a certainty. God is not slow concerning His promise. A day with the Lord is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as a day.
2 Peter 3:9 9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
The rhetorical question is asked: Since this is going to happen to the earth, how should we then live? Peter answers that we ought to live holy and godly lives. We should be looking forward to the new heavens and new earth, the home of righteousness. Therefore, live in anticipation of that kind of home life. Make every effort to be found spotless, blameless, and at peace with Him.
God’s patience is for our good. He is not willing that any should perish.
Peter affirms the inspiration of the writings of Paul and credits them as holy Scripture. He admits that Paul’s letters contain truths that may be hard for some to understand and that some distort his teaching to their own destruction. Paul focused on the message of salvation. Salvation is a free gift made available to repentant sinners by grace through faith. Peter preached this same message to a predominantly Jewish audience emphasizing how the Christian faith is expressed in Christian service. The false teachers distorted Paul’s teaching turning it into a message of mere affirmation rather than transformation. They taught that it did not matter how you behaved if you are saved by grace. Yet Paul taught that grace teaches us to deny ungodliness (Titus 2:12). The false teachers twisted Paul’s teaching to condone lawlessness and moral laxity. People like to have their favorite sins justified- such as covetousness, greed, living for self and sensual pleasure, and idolatry.
Paul contradicts these distortions in his letter to the Romans:
Romans 6:15 15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!
Peter says, “Be on your guard against these false teachers, and grow in the grace and the true knowledge of Jesus Christ our Lord.”
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS- PSALMS 119:129-152
Psalm 119:130 130 The unfolding (or ‘the entrance’ KJV) of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.
The Psalmist experiences both awe and anguish as he reads the Word. The Word of God illuminates his understanding. This light brings transformation (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Understanding leads to a deeper desire.
Psalm 119:131 131 I opened my mouth wide and panted, For I longed for Your commandments.
Understanding leads to a love for God and a deepening of our love relationship with Him.
Psalm 119:132 132 Turn to me and be gracious to me, after Your manner with those who love Your name.
The Revelation of God’s love in the Word leads to liberty.
Psalm 119:133-134 133 Establish my footsteps in Your word, and do not let any iniquity have dominion over me. 134 Redeem me from the oppression of man, that I may keep Your precepts.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS – PROVERBS 28:21-22
Proverbs 28:21-22 21 To show partiality is not good, because for a piece of bread a man will transgress. 22 A man with an evil eye hastens after wealth and does not know that want will come upon him.
Verse 21 teaches that partiality sabotages justice. Yet human beings are easily tempted to violate their consciences to do wrong in order to meet basic needs such as hunger. We are warned that to show partiality for any reason is not good and is punishable.
A man with an evil eye is a description of a stingy person (verse 22), and stinginess inevitably leads to poverty. It is implied that a man’s stinginess leads him to sin, and sin will be punished.
PRAY FOR THE NATIONS – UGANDA
Republic of Uganda
Much of the land is fertile and well-watered. The climate is temperate in the highlands. Long known as the “Pearl of Africa”.
Population: 33,796,461 Annual Growth: 3.32%
HDI Rank: 157 of 182 (UN Human Development Reports 2009)
Peoples: 66 (9% unreached) All peoples
Unreached Peoples Prayer Card
Official language: English, Swahili Languages: 45 All languages
Largest Religion: Christian
Challenges for Prayer
Uganda has worked hard to recover from the devastation of the Amin and Obote years and has made great strides to this effect. Pray for peace both regionally (Congo-DRC, Kenya, Sudan, Horn of Africa) and internally (Lord’s Resistance Army). Pray that the government might exercise its authority with even-handed honesty and a true concern for its own people.
Christian support ministries:
a) The Bible Society has done much to promote new Bible translations and to publish Bibles, but sales are less than what they were in the 1980s. All Christian literature ministries are similarly crippled, but The Bible Society, Gideons, and others distribute several hundred thousand Bibles and NTs every year. Thirteen languages remain without God’s Word and a further 18 have only part of the Bible. SIL is assisting in this ministry task. Pray for the provision of Scriptures to all, in their own language.
b) Audio Scriptures and teaching are vital due to poverty, illiteracy, the widespread oral culture, and unstable conditions.
c) MAF‘s flying program has blessed many – their planes enable ministries to serve churches, refugees, health and vaccination programs, development work, and many others. MAF‘s work focuses on the least developed, most vulnerable, and insecure regions such as the northeast.
d) The JESUS film is available online in at least 40 languages. Pray for Life Ministry, COTN, and other teams showing the film around the country.
e) Christian radio and TV programs air on the national network and are growing in impact and influence. Evangelical presence is felt through seven FM radio stations and two TV stations, although such influence is more significant in Kampala than in the countryside. Pray for effective programming and lasting fruit.
PRAYER: Lord, our confidence is in You. You have made a way for us where there was no way. You have provided a full and free salvation through Your Son’s finished work of redemption. By the blood of Christ, You have closed the mouths of lions. You have silenced the accuser of the brethren. No one can lay charge to Your elect. We are grateful for every opportunity to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ. Send forth Your truth and Your light. Give us fresh understanding, liberating us from the Satanic hold of this world system and its deceitful lies. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.