Day 18 – Daniel 6

lion

It pleased Darius to appoint 120 satraps to rule throughout the kingdom, with three administrators over them, one of whom was Daniel. The satraps were made accountable to them so that the king might not suffer loss. Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. Finally these men said, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.”

So these administrators and satraps went as a group to the king and said: “May King Darius live forever! The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or human being during the next thirty days, except to you, Your Majesty, shall be thrown into the lions’ den. Now, Your Majesty, issue the decree and put it in writing so that it cannot be altered—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.” So King Darius put the decree in writing.

10 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. 11 Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help. 12 So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree: “Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or human being except to you, Your Majesty, would be thrown into the lions’ den?”

The king answered, “The decree stands—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.”

13 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.” 14 When the king heard this, he was greatly distressed; he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him.

15 Then the men went as a group to King Darius and said to him, “Remember, Your Majesty, that according to the law of the Medes and Persians no decree or edict that the king issues can be changed.”

16 So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!”

17 A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed. 18 Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep.

19 At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. 20 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?”

21 Daniel answered, “May the king live forever! 22 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.”

23 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 in his God.

24 At the king’s command, the men who had falsely accused Daniel were brought in and thrown into the lions’ den, along with their wives and children. And before they reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.

25 Then King Darius wrote to all the nations and peoples of every language in all the earth:

“May you prosper greatly!

26 “I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel.

“For he is the living God
    and he endures forever;
his kingdom will not be destroyed,
    his dominion will never end.
27 He rescues and he saves;
    he performs signs and wonders
    in the heavens and on the earth.
He has rescued Daniel
    from the power of the lions.”

28 So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

The administrators were jealous of Daniel so they came up with a plan to harm him. They had the King sign an order saying that no one could pray to anything or anyone except the king for the next thirty days or else they would be put into the lions’ den. They knew that this would get Daniel in trouble. Verse 10 says that Daniel went and prayed aloud just like he had always done. The king was upset because he had to throw Daniel into the lions’ den because of his order. But God provided for Daniel by keeping him alive while he spent the night in the lions’ den. After this had happened, the king said that everyone in the kingdom must fear and respect the God of Daniel. Daniel took a stand for God when it would have been easy to do otherwise. Daniel worshiped God when he knew it would cause him to be thrown into the lions’ den. He was devoted to God because God was devoted to him. Daniel knew that God was faithful to him and God showed His faithfulness to Daniel by keeping him alive n the lions’ den.

God wants us to have the same trust in Him that Daniel had. God wants us to worship Him regardless of what the world around us is saying or doing. God is faithful to us. When we determine that we will worship and serve God regardless of the consequences, He is always faithful to us. God will never leave us or forsake us. When we desire to live for Him and worship Him He is always faithful to us. We may not understand why He allows certain things to happen when we are obedient to Him but we have to trust Him. Daniel wondered why he was thrown into that lions’ den, but he saw that God is faithful and that God would protect Him and provide for him, even in the den. God was glorified through Daniel’s obedience. The king had those other men killed and the king issued an order that everyone had to fear and respect Daniel’s God. Sometimes the world around us wants us to not worship and not honor God. We have to be faithful to Him though. When we are faithful to Him we will see that He truly is faithful to us. God often allows us to go through tough times when we serve Him, but He does it to show us His faithfulness, to show us His love for us.

  1. Do you trust God in your life no matter what the world says?
  1. Do you believe that God will be faithful to you and take care of you when you are obedient to Him?
  1. Would you respond the same way that Daniel did if you were in his place?

Today, honor, respect, and worship God regardless of what the world says. Look at the ways that God is faithful to you when you are faithful to Him.

Day 17 – Matthew 10:37-39

Pick_up_your_Cross

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.  And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.  Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Jesus is speaking to His disciples here.  He is talking about the cost of being His follower. It is a high cost to be a follower of Jesus. It is an even higher cost to be a follower who is passionately seeking to live for Him. But the benefits and the blessings are very much worth it. We do not earn our way to Heaven by what we do for God, but as a Christian our life is much more satisfying when we live passionately following Jesus. Here Jesus tells His disciples that anyone who loves their mother or father more than they love Him is not worthy to be His follower. This shows us that Jesus wants us to love Him more than anything else in this world. Jesus wants us to put Him first, to put His desires first in our life. There will be times when you may know that God wants you to do something. Maybe God wants you to go somewhere and you will be discouraged by your parents, your children, and your close friends. Jesus wants you to love and obey Him more than your parents or anyone else in your life. There are times that we have to make the choice to do what God wants us to do or to do what others want us to do. Jesus says that if we desire to be His followers, we must put His desires first above all else. Jesus gave up all that He had to purchase us. Sometimes we have to give up all we have to serve Him.

Not only are we to love Jesus more than we love our parents and families, but we are to love Him more than we love our children. Being a follower of Jesus means that He has to be the number one thing in our life. Jesus says that we cannot serve two masters. There comes a time when we have to make a choice. Being a disciple of Jesus, He wants us to always choose to put Him first in our lives. Jesus says that we are to take up our cross and follow Him. That means that we are to die to ourselves and live for Him, follow Him with our lives. It is what He wants for us. He encourages us by saying that anyone who loses his or her life for His sake will find it. That means that when we forsake everything in our life to follow Him, He will not leave us, He will make sure that we find what we were created to be. Jesus created us; we will never know why He made us until we lay down our life for Him and follow Him. That is the life of love, to lay down our life and put Jesus first. He says that if we desire to keep our life and not follow Him, we will lose all that we are living for. Fame, popularity, money, happiness, all of these things are one breath from being gone. When we live for Jesus, the things that we live for last for all eternity.

  1. Have you laid down your life to follow Jesus?
  1. If it came down to it, would you make the choice to follow Jesus regardless of what others say?
  1. Do you believe that you will truly find your life when you lay it all down for Jesus?

Today, keep your eyes and ears open and notice the times that Jesus would have you put Him before other things in your life. See how you respond to Him in those times.


Day 16 – Ecclesiastes 5:1-7

eccl

Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil.  Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.  For a dream comes with much business, and a fool’s voice with many words.  When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow.  It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay.  Let not your mouth lead you into sin, and do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice and destroy the work of your hands?  For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity; but God is the one you must fear.

Many times when the people of God would come to the Temple to worship God, they would make a vow to Him, a promise of some type. Often in our times of worship we do the same thing. Solomon is warning the people here that they should not be so quick to make these promises to God. He says that we should go to God to listen more and speak less. This sometimes makes us uncomfortable. We are not people who like to be quiet and listen, but when we come to worship God, it is better many times to simply listen to Him. We often come to God with our list of things we want from Him and our promises to Him, but sometimes we need to come to Him and just listen to His voice. In verse 2 he tells us that God is Heaven and we are on earth. Because of this, our words should be few. We are coming into God’s presence to meet with Him. And since He is God in Heaven and we are people on earth, we should be quiet and let Him do the talking.

Solomon then tells us that when we do make a vow to God, that we should not hesitate in fulfilling it. When we make promises to God, we should be quick to keep those promises. In verse 4 he says that God has no pleasure in fools. He describes a fool as a person who makes promises without keeping them and who comes to God and never listens. If we desire to please God, we should listen more and talk less. When we do make a vow or a promise to God, we should be quick to fulfill it. We should do all that we can to keep that promise. He finishes this passage by saying that we should stand in awe of God. He says that using many words with God can be meaningless. It is okay to come to worship God and not say much, just listen and stand in awe of Him. He is the One who is in Heaven. He is the God of all creation. We can sit there silently, reverently, and in awe of the Lord God Almighty. The maker of Heaven, the sustainer of the earth, and the giver of life eternal. He is our God, our King, and our salvation. We can simply worship Him by silently standing in awe of our Lord.

  1. When you come to God’s house do you come to talk to God or to listen to Him?
  1. When you make a promise to God are you quick to fulfill it?
  1. When you think about God do you stand in awe of Him?

Today, spend some time with God in prayer, but don’t say a word. Sit there quietly, listening to Him, standing in awe of who He is.

Day 15 – Matthew 6:33

seek

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Jesus tells us that we are to seek His kingdom and righteousness first. When we do this, God Himself will give us everything we need for life. As we desire to live a life of worship we must stay focused on Jesus. We must seek Him above everything else. In this context in Matthew 6, He is speaking about our daily needs we have for survival; food, clothing, shelter, etc. Jesus says that we are to spend our time and our energy seeking Him and not those other things. The amazing thing is when we seek Him first, He gives us the other things we need to survive. This means we can spend our energy living for God and doing what He wants us to do.  We no longer have to  worry about making enough money or getting more things. We just focus on being who God wants us to be and doing what He wants us to do, and He will freely give us all that we need to survive. He takes such good care of His children. Better care than we can take of ourselves!

Jesus is to be the focus of our hearts. We should seek to live for Him and for His kingdom before we seek to live for ourselves. It is a total shift in thinking from how the world lives. The world says to look out for yourself since no one else will. Jesus tells us to live for Him and not worry about the things we need for life. When we are living for God, He will freely give us what we need for life on this earth. God always takes care of His children. He asks us to put Him first, to put Him before ourselves. We should not be worried about our reputation, but be worried about God’s reputation. This is the life that He would have us to live. When we live in this way, He will make sure that we have everything that we need. Our lives are to be lived for God and God alone. He takes care of the details.

  1. Do you seek God first in your life?
  1. What things do you sometimes put before God in your life?
  1. Do you believe that God can and will give you what you need to live?

Today, don’t worry about getting the things that you need to live. Spend your energy living for God’s purposes and trust Him that He will give you what you need to live.

Day 14 – Matthew 21:12-13

prayer

And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”

In this passage, Jesus enters into the Temple area and He is angered by what He sees. There were men in the Temple area that had come there to make money from the people who were trying to worship God. They were cheating the people and making a large profit. They had made it difficult for people to worship because they were essentially charging admission to the Temple. Jesus was not pleased at all. He says to them that His house is to be a house of prayer. This was one of the purposes of God’s house, to be a place of prayer. A place that is different from the world. People should be able to come in and worship God without being hindered by those who are there for the wrong reasons. These men had corrupted God’s house because of what they were doing in His house. God’s house is open to all. There is no admission charge.

We have to remember that God’s house is to be a house of prayer, a house of worship. Too often we don’t treat it that way. Too often, we forget the meaning and purpose of God’s house. God wants us to use His house for prayer and for worship. Jesus was angered because these men were taking advantage of those who were coming to worship God. When we come to God’s house, we must remember the reason that it is there. It is there for people to gather together and worship the Lord. We must be careful not to be a hindrance to those who are trying to worship. We do this without even realizing it. We come to God’s house for other reasons. We come to be seen. We come to catch up on gossip. We come to criticize others. We come to make ourselves look better. We come for many reasons other than to worship God. God is not pleased when we act in this manner. We must treat His house with respect and never forget what its purpose is. When we come for the wrong reasons, we can hinder others form having a time of worship. God is not pleased by this behavior.

  1. What are your reasons for coming to the house of God?
  1. Do you always come with an attitude of worship when you come to God’s house?
  1. What would Jesus say about your heart’s attitude when you come to God’s house?
  1. Is there anything in your actions or attitudes that makes someone feel unwelcome in God’s house?

Today, think about why you come to church. See if there is anything you need to change about your reasons for coming to God’s house.

Day 13 – John 1:1

word

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John tells us here that in the beginning the Word was with God and the Word was God. Later in the chapter he says that the Word was Jesus Christ. He is starting this book by letting us know up front that Jesus Christ is God. Jesus was with God from the very beginning. We see in the Bible that Jesus is a man. Jesus is fully man and He is fully God. If we aren’t careful, we can treat Jesus like He is just another person. We act like there isn’t much that is special about Him. We must remember that He is God.

As we worship God because of who He is and what He has done, we have to remember that Jesus is God and that He created the world. Jesus is more than just our savior, more than just our friend; He is the eternal Creator of the Universe. Jesus made it all. Jesus made each one of us. When we feel like we need someone to talk to who understands us, Jesus is the one. He made you, He understands you. What an amazing thing that we can know the Creator of the Universe, we can talk with Him, He loves us enough to die for us, and He allows us to worship Him. It is all about Jesus. John tells us here that Jesus was around before the beginning. He was around before anything else. He will always be around. This is the God that we serve. This is the God who loves us. This is the God who died for us.

  1. What do you think about the thought that the Creator of the Universe died for you?
  1. Do you sometimes treat Jesus like He is just another man?
  1. How does it make you feel to know that the God of the Universe knows you better than you know yourself since He created you?

Today, when you look around, remind yourself that the God who created everything that you see is the same one who died on the cross for you because He loves you.

Day 12 – Joel 2:12-14

repent

“Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.”  Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;  and he relents over disaster.  Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the Lord your God?

The prophet Joel had a broken heart for the people of his day. They had gone so long with their hearts turned away from God. God had sent judgment on them and continued to do so until they turned back to Him. The word that is used to describe their turning back to Him is repentance. It is a “turning away from something, a changing of directions.” Many times in our walk with God we ask for forgiveness but we don’t repent. We do not turn away from the sin. We ask God to forgive us but we do not turn from our sin. God wants our hearts to be turned from sin and to be turned to Him. The people had gotten away from God and God is asking them to return to Him with fasting and weeping and mourning. They should be broken because of their sin.

Verse 13 is such an encouragement. We are to have a broken heart on the inside. God doesn’t want us to appear broken and put on some sort of show, but He wants us to have a broken heart. The encouraging thing is that we can turn back to Him and that He is gracious and compassionate. He is not sitting there waiting for us to return to Him so that He can make our lives miserable. He is gracious and compassionate. When we turn back to Him and turn away from our sin, His love for us is so incredible. As Joel says in verse 14, “who knows…He may leave behind a blessing.” What a great thought. We can turn from our sin and turn back to our loving God, and He might even bless our lives for that! God wants to bless us. God wants to do amazing things in our lives. Sometimes, we have to turn from our sin and turn our hearts back to Him and allow Him to be God in our lives.

  1. Spend some time in prayer and ask God if there are there things in your life that you need to repent from.
  1. Have you started chasing after sin and stopped chasing after God?
  1. Do you need to return back to God with all of your heart?

Today, keep your eyes open to things in your life that have caused you to turn away from God and look for ways to turn your heart back to Him. Repent. He is gracious!!

Day 11 – Psalm 111:2-3

works

Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them.  Full of splendor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever.

God has done so much for us. Too often we don’t notice it and we simply take it for granted. The psalmist talks about the great works of the Lord and how we can praise God when we reflect on those works.  It is far too easy to take for granted all that God has done for us. We can get to the place where we expect it from Him. However, when we come to the place we delight in His works and think about all that He has done, we can praise Him with such joy. The writer says that His deeds are glorious and majestic. It is simply amazing what God has done.

Many times we forget that He has worked in our lives. We have to remind ourselves that He is a God who loves us and hears our prayers and answers our prayers. If we can get into the habit of thinking about all the things that He has done, it will help us to trust Him in the times that we need Him most. It is good for our hearts for us to stop and to think about all that He has done in our lives. It is encouraging, comforting, and a blessing to think about those things. Not only has He provided salvation for us through His Son Jesus, but also He has given us all that we need to live a life for Him. He provides for us in our time of need. He protects us. He comforts us. God allows us the privilege to see Him work miracles on a regular basis. It does our hearts good to reflect on those things that He has done. It is a great way to praise God, by thinking about and delighting in all His works. When we worship God and respond to who He is and what He has done, it deepens our level of worship when we think on all His works. They are truly amazing.

1. When was the last time you stopped and thought about what He has done in your life?

2. Do you get to the place where you get discouraged because you feel like God never does anything in your life anymore?

3. What are some of the things that He has done in your life lately?

Today, think about the things that He has done in your life lately and praise Him for them.

Day 10 – Psalm 46:10

4610

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

In our fast-paced world with our fast-paced lives, how often are we still and quiet so that we can listen to the voice of God? We have gotten used to having a dozen things happening at once around us. The TV is on, we’re on Facebook, we’re in 3 different text conversations, and we’re trying to eat dinner at the same time. Many times we can miss what God has for us because we are never still and quiet long enough to hear Him. We live in a world that is always going and always doing. We can never sit still for any length of time. Often, God speaks in a quiet voice. He wants us to be still and hear Him and know that it is Him. Sometimes we have to be still and be quiet in a situation to know that God is there with us. It is okay to slow down sometimes and listen to God and wait on God and just know that He is there.

It is possible to miss God in the small things in our life. We see Him in the big things, but He is there in the small things too. He is always there. Whether or not we notice Him is up to us. The psalmist is telling us here to be still, to know that God is there. When that happens, He will be exalted among the earth. When people slow down for a minute and realize that God is there, they can focus on Him. When people focus on Him, He is exalted in people’s lives. When we as God’s people learn to slow down and listen to Him, we will begin to realize that He is there in every part of our lives. When we do that, we will speak about Him more often; we will focus on Him more. His name and His fame will spread to the ends of the earth. What we must do is be quiet, be still, focus on Him, hear His voice, and spread His fame.

  1. How often do you stop and listen to the voice of God?
  1. Is your life too cluttered with stuff to take a few minutes each day to slow down and sit quietly and wait on God?

Today, find some time to stop everything and simply be quiet before God. Be still and hear His voice even in the middle of a crowded and busy day.

Day 9 – Isaiah 1:10-17

boat

Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom! Give ear to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah!
“What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the Lord; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
    and the fat of well-fed beasts; do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats.  When you come to appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts? Bring no more vain offerings;
    incense is an abomination to me.  New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations— I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. Your new moons and your appointed feasts, my soul hates;  they have become a burden to me;
    I am weary of bearing them.  When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen;  your hands are full of blood.

Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.

In this opening section of Isaiah, God is speaking through the prophet and He is not happy with the worship that His people are offering to Him. They had gotten to the place where worshiping God was simply a routine. They came to God’s house at the times they were supposed to and they brought the offerings and things that they were supposed to bring, but God was not pleased. The problem isn’t in what they were bringing to Him or that they were doing something wrong. It looked like everything was fine. The problem is that their hearts had gotten away from God. They were no longer serving God and living for Him. They continued to come to the house of God to worship, but they did it only out of habit, and not because they wanted to. God said that He didn’t need any of their offerings. He did not take pleasure in what they were doing. Their hearts were focused on sin and not on God.

When we worship God it is not about the outward things. It is not enough to just come to church and bring our offerings to God. God wants our hearts. God does not need our offerings. God is not pleased because we simply showed up at church. God wants us to have a heart to live for Him. That is what pleases God. Nothing less. God is concerned about our hearts. He wants our hearts to be focused on Him and on Him alone. We cannot pull one over on God and try to put on a show to impress Him. He can see into our hearts and if it is not pleasing to Him, it doesn’t matter what we do on the outside. The cure for these people and the cure for us when our worship gets to be routine is to wash ourselves. Verse 16 is the key. God says that they are to wash themselves, take their evil deeds out of His sight, and stop doing wrong. In order to have a heart that worships God the way that He wants, we must stop doing wrong. God wants us to live pure lives. When we do that, He is pleased with our worship.

Today, think about your heart when you worship. Think about the reasons that you worship God on your own and the reasons you worship Him when you come to church.