Daddy blog

I started this blog when I was following the Life Journal Bible reading plan on YouVersion. (I've since completed that plan.) At that time, YouVersion didn't provide any way for people to respond to my notes, other than to "like" them. So this blog is here to remedy that problem. You may comment on my notes here in the comment section.
I also have a general blog.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Be prepared!

30/9/11 Zechariah 7-9; Luke 13

S: Luke 12:42-48 And the Lord replied, “A faithful, sensible servant is one to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his other household servants and feeding them. If the master returns and finds that the servant has done a good job, there will be a reward. I tell you the truth, the master will put that servant in charge of all he owns. But what if the servant thinks, ‘My master won’t be back for a while,’ and he begins beating the other servants, partying, and getting drunk? The master will return unannounced and unexpected, and he will cut the servant in pieces and banish him with the unfaithful. And a servant who knows what the master wants, but isn’t prepared and doesn’t carry out those instructions, will be severely punished. But someone who does not know, and then does something wrong, will be punished only lightly. When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.”

Luke 13:6-9 Then Jesus told this story: “A man planted a fig tree in his garden and came again and again to see if there was any fruit on it, but he was always disappointed. Finally, he said to his gardener, ‘I’ve waited three years, and there hasn’t been a single fig! Cut it down. It’s just taking up space in the garden.’ The gardener answered, ‘Sir, give it one more chance. Leave it another year, and I’ll give it special attention and plenty of fertiliser. If we get figs next year, fine. If not, then you can cut it down.’”

O: The Scout's motto, "Be Prepared!" seems to be the theme of both these passages.

There is a clear message in scripture that salvation is not earned, but rather, a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9). But the other side of it is in passages like this -- that if we are truly saved, we will live in such a manner that our life shows it.

In Revelations, several times it says "He who overcomes shall" reap the rewards -- Revelation 2:11, 2:26, 3:5, 3:12, 21:7. Faith without works is dead. (James 2:14-26)

P: Father, we seem to be on the same theme yesterday and today, so I repeat my prayer yesterday: keep me steadfast in Christ till the very end. In Jesus' name, amen.


Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)

What's in a name?

29/9/11 Zechariah 4-6; Luke 12

Zechariah 4:6-10 Then he said to me, “This is what the LORD says to Zerubbabel: It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. Nothing, not even a mighty mountain, will stand in Zerubbabel’s way; it will become a level plain before him! And when Zerubbabel sets the final stone of the Temple in place, the people will shout: ‘May God bless it! May God bless it!’” Then another message came to me from the LORD: “Zerubbabel is the one who laid the foundation of this Temple, and he will complete it. Then you will know that the LORD of Heaven’s Armies has sent me. Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.” (The seven lamps represent the eyes of the LORD that search all around the world.)

O: The name "Zerubbabel" isn't very auspicious -- Wikipedia says

If the name Zerubbabel is Hebrew, it may be a contraction of Zərua‘ Bāvel (Hebrew: זְרוּעַ בָּבֶל‎), meaning "the one sown of Babylon", and referring to a child conceived and born in Babylon; or perhaps even, Zərûy Bāvel (Hebrew: זְרוּי בָּבֶל‎), meaning, "the winnowed of Babylon", in the sense of being exiled in Babylon. If the name is not Hebrew but Assyrian-Babylonian, it may contract, Zəru Bābel, meaning, "Seed of Babylon", the one conceived in Babylon. (Contrast the related Hebrew form for "Seed": Hebrew: זֶרַע‎, Zera‘.)
Yet, in spite of his name, here the LORD proclaims great things for Zerubbabel.

A: Even if one doesn't have an auspicious beginning, the LORD can use one for great things. As Zechariah 4:10 implies, do not despise the day of small beginnings.

Whether you started high or started low, the important thing is to finish strong!

P: Father, may I be steadfast in Christ to the end! In Jesus' name, amen.


Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Promised Messiah

28/9/11 Zechariah 1-3; Luke 11

S: Zechariah 3:8-9 “Listen to me, O Jeshua the high priest, and all you other priests. You are symbols of things to come. Soon I am going to bring my servant, the Branch. Now look at the jewel I have set before Jeshua, a single stone with seven facets.t I will engrave an inscription on it, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, and I will remove the sins of this land in a single day.

O: Indeed, God would send the Branch of Jesse, the Messiah, and He would indeed have the name Yeshua — Jesus. And He would indeed remove the sins of this land in a single day — indeed, not just the sins of the land of Israel, but of the whole world.

This is one of the many times that Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the World, was predicted in the Old Testament.

A: Jesus is the way of salvation. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Him. (John 14:6) It is therefore important for us as the hands and feet of Christ on earth to share the love of Christ with our friends and family.

I find it easy to talk about Jesus but I find it very hard to ask people to take that step to put their faith in Him. As a result, I have only done that very few times in my life. One of my greatest joys is when one of my old friends finds me online and contacts me saying that some time later, they became followers of Jesus, partly as a result of my influence.

P: Father, help me to be bolder to take the Gospel to my friends and family. In Jesus' name, amen.
Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Enemy Mine

27/9/11 Haggai 1-2; Psalm 129; Luke 10

S: Luke 10:27-29 The man answered, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’” “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!” The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?”

Jesus then went on to tell the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

O: To the Jews of Jesus' time, the Samaritans were like Islamic terrorists to the Jews of today's Israel, like the Liberal Democrats to the Tea Party Christians of today's USA, like corrupt Barisan Nasional crony politicians to pro-democracy Malaysians.

Yet, Jesus told the Parable of the Good Samaritan in response to the Expert of Jewish Religious Law's question "Who is my neighbour?" when Jesus reminded him that he wasn't following the Biblical injunction to "Love your neighbour as yourself."

In fact, in Matthew 5:44, Jesus puts it even more forcefully: "Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!"

A: All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) Yet, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

I have been frequently disgusted at the misdeeds of Barisan Nasional crony politicians, so it's actually quite hard for me to love them, but that's what Christ calls us to. And then there're the people one runs across in daily life who annoy us, or victimise us, etc. Sometimes they're even harder to love, and since we have personal contact with them, it's even more evident when we don't. But that's what Christ calls us to.

Easier said than done, yep. In fact, humanly speaking, it's impossible. But the fruit of the Spirit includes love, and as we walk with Christ, it grows.

P: Father, please keep growing Your love in me, so that I may be able to overflow with your love to my neighbours! In Jesus' name, amen.


Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)
By the way, the title of this post is taken from an excellent Science Fiction story by Barry Longyear.

The Best Way

26/9/11 Ezra 4; Psalm 113, 127; Luke 9

Psalm 127:1-2 Unless the LORD builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. Unless the LORD protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good. It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.

Luke 9:23-26 Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed? If anyone is ashamed of me and my message, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in his glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels.

O: The Psalms passage points out that if we strive against God's will then it'll be useless, but if you are on the LORD's side, you'll ultimately succeed. The Luke passage points out that if we strive to achieve our selfish ends, ultimately we'll lose it all. But if we lose our lives for Jesus, we'll actually save it.

God's way is really the best way. Often, it's the best way even here on earth, but even if things don't turn out that great from a worldly perspective, like for the martyrs, ultimately, it's the best. The myriad saints in heaven can testify to that.

I've never regretted any decision I have made in good faith following Christ. Some of my decisions resulted in events that turned out differently from what I expected, but even in those "bad" cases, God has blessed me with the privilege of seeing a glimpse of why He put me through it. So I have in my own personal life really seen this come true already.

A: When I am tempted to not do something God's way, I need to remind myself that both scripture and experience has shown that His way is the best way. Live with no regrets!

P: Thank You, Father, for blessing me with being able to see in this life the reasons behind why You have let me go through various trials. Help me to remember that whenever I'm tempted to do things the world's way when it seems that it would be to my advantage. Help me to remember that ultimately, Your way is the best way!


Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Pay attention!

26/9/11 Ezra 2-3; Luke 8

S: Luke 8:18 “So pay attention to how you hear. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what they think they understand will be taken away from them.”

O: Jesus had just told the Parable of the Sower and the Parable of the Lamp before he said this.

A: How many times has my mind wandered off when I am listening to a sermon or the Bible? I need to pay attention! Then only will I get the benefit of God's Word.

P: Father, help me to be attentive to Your Word, and to apply it to my life. In Jesus' name, amen.


Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The wise man built his house upon the rock

23/9/11 Daniel 11-12; Luke 6

S: Luke 6:46-47 “So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say? I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it.48 It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.”

O: It's a familiar children's Sunday school song:

However, how often do we consider what Jesus was actually saying? To build our house on the rock means to hear Jesus' teaching and follow!

A: We must study the Word of God and follow it if we want to build our house on the rock and remain standing when the floods come.

P: Father, keep me steadfast in Christ! In Jesus' name, amen.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

"Bad People"?

22/9/11 Daniel 9,10; Psalm 123; Luke 5

S: Luke 5:27-32 Later, as Jesus left the town, he saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Levi got up, left everything, and followed him. Later, Levi held a banquet in his home with Jesus as the guest of honour. Many of Levi’s fellow tax collectors and other guests also ate with them. But the Pharisees and their teachers of religious law complained bitterly to Jesus’ disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with such scum?” Jesus answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.”

O: The Pharisees were so much like us Christians who are serious about following the LORD. (In fact, after the resurrection, so many of them believed and followed Jesus that they exerted an undue judiazing influence on the church.)

They were greatly concerned about following what the Bible teaches. They stood for a higher moral standard, and tried not to be sucked into the pagan culture of their day. They believed in God, the resurrection of the dead, and final judgement. They tithed faithfully. But unfortunately, they often got so caught up in this that they forget mercy, and became legalistic and judgemental.

Elsewhere, Jesus told them that it was good to be faithful about tithing, but not to forget the more important things like justice, mercy, and faithfulness. (Matthew 23:23)

A: Jesus Christ came to seek and to save the lost. Our main job is to follow Him in that, to make disciples of all people groups. All of us were dead in our sins before He saved us. Jesus Christ demonstrated His love for us by dying for us while we were still sinners.

Let's not let our prejudices against "bad people" get in the way of showing the love of Christ to everyone!

P: I know that I'm imperfect in following Your example, Jesus. Please continue the process of moulding me into your image, in this, as well as in other ways. Amen.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

By the rivers of Babylon

21/9/11 Daniel 7-8; Psalm 137; Luke 4

I don't really have a SOAP (Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer) today as I can't think of a good application. Daniel 7-8 are prophecies about the upcoming empires after the Babylonian one, and Daniel 8 in particular is a relatively detailed account of the rise and fall of Alexander the Great, followed by the Greek Selucids ruling Palestine -- and culminating in the atrocities of Antiochus Epiphanes. This prophecy is so detailed and clear that liberal scholars who don't believe in prophecy made up the idea that this portion of Daniel must have been written later and added to the book, rather than to acknowledge that God was at work there revealing this to Daniel by the rivers of Babylon.

If you'd like to read about how the Jews rose up and threw out the Selucids and became independent until the rise of Rome, read 1 Maccabees, which can be found in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament which was frequently quoted by the New Testament writers.)

The Psalm passage includes these verses which the late '70s group Boney M popularised:
Beside the rivers of Babylon, we sat and wept as we thought of Jerusalem. We put away our harps, hanging them on the branches of poplar trees. For our captors demanded a song from us. Our tormentors insisted on a joyful hymn: “Sing us one of those songs of Jerusalem!” But how can we sing the songs of the LORD while in a pagan land? [YouTube of By The Rivers of Babylon sung by Boney M]

Merciful God

20/9/11 Daniel 5-6; Psalm 130; Luke 3

S: Psalm 130:3-4 Lord, if you kept a record of our sins, who, O Lord, could ever survive? But you offer forgiveness, that we might learn to fear you.

O: Many people say that the Old Testament God was full of judgement and harshness while the New Testament God is full of mercy and forgiveness. This is actually not true. Here we have yet another Old Testament passage showing God is merciful and forgiving.

A: Indeed, if God judged us by all our sins, none of us would survive as we are all sinners! Thank God for His mercy and forgiveness!

In response, let us love Him back and strive to follow His ways.

P: Father, thank You that you are indeed a merciful God. In Jesus' name, amen.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Son of the Most High

18/9/11 Ezekiel 45-46; Luke 1

S: Luke 1:30-32 “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favour with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”

O: Recently, we have been reading in Ezekiel in the Life Journal reading plan and we saw how the apocalyptic vision of Ezekiel saw the restoration of David's throne over Israel forever and then there is a vision of a new temple, which has never literally been built, and in fact, cannot ever be literal because in the New Testament, we no longer need animal sacrifices, since Christ has died once for all. Some Christians think that this temple will be literal, and built during the Millennium, but I personally don't think that is possible because that would mean disregarding Christ's sacrifice on the cross and going back to the Old Testament system. Apocalyptic writing -- whether Ezekiel or Revelations -- isn't intended to be interpreted literally -- it is so obviously full of metaphor and imagery.

The ultimate fulfilment of Ezekiel's temple is the Church -- we are the Israel of God. And the King in the Davidic line who will rule forever over this new Israel is Jesus Christ.

Gabriel hence announced this to Mary when he told her that she would bear Jesus, the Son of the Most High.

A:Oh, come, let us adore Him!
Oh, come, let us adore Him!
Oh, come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord!

P: Thank You, Jesus for coming as a humble baby, then dying for us to save us! Amen!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Invitation

17/9/11 Ezekiel 42-44; Revelation 22

S: Revelation 22:17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let anyone who hears this say, “Come.” Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life.

O: At the end of the Revelation to John, we are reminded that God offers us eternal life freely -- we just have to come to Jesus.

A: Come, let us follow Jesus! He is the way, the truth and the life -- no one comes to the Father except through Him.

P:Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

There is a beautiful German song on this verse. I found many instrumental versions of this song on Youtube, but unfortunately didn't manage to find any of someone singing the song except for this one.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

God's blessings for those who fear Him

16/9/11 Ezekiel 40-41; Psalm 128; Revelation 21

S: Psalm 128:1-4 How joyful are those who fear the Lord— all who follow his ways! You will enjoy the fruit of your labour. How joyful and prosperous you will be! Your wife will be like a fruitful grapevine, flourishing within your home. Your children will be like vigorous young olive trees as they sit around your table. That is the Lord’s blessing for those who fear him.

Revelation 21:3-7 I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.

O: The "prosperity Gospel" is clearly false, but there is a sense in which it is true -- God has temporal as well as eternal blessings for those who fear Him.

The passage from the Psalms above talks about some of the natural consequences of fearing the Lord and following His ways. When we do things God's way, these things tend to happen -- you tend to have a happier marriage, your children tend to be godly, you will tend to be financially sound -- because God's principles for marriage, childrearing, and fiscal responsibility has these natural consequences.

Yes, there are people who, out of no fault of their own, have spouses who don't live well with them, children who turn away from the Lord, or financial disaster. Yes, sometimes God calls His saints to go through the fire because He has a higher purpose. But in general, if you fear the Lord and follow His ways, you will do well in your marriage, children and finances as well.

And of course, you will also be part of that crowd described in the Revelations passage -- God will wipe away every tear from your eyes, no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor pain.

A: So, fear the Lord and follow His ways!

P: Thank You, Lord, for Your blessings! Help me to be steadfast in Christ! In Jesus' name, amen.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Count your blessings

15/9/11 Ezekiel 38-39; Psalm 145; Revelation 20

S: Psalm 145:3-5 Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise! No one can measure his greatness. Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts; let them proclaim your power. I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendour and your wonderful miracles.

O: It's easy to get discouraged in this world, as it's a fallen world and Satan is active in it. King David certainly had his fair share of depression, as we can read from some of his other psalms.

However, when, like in this psalm, he meditates on God's majestic glorious splendour and miracles, he finds himself exhilarated with exuberant praise.

I am reminded of Philippians 4:8: "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things."

A: I quote Johnson Oatman, Jr:

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Also, tucked into the middle of this passage is the reminder to teach subsequent generations this. God made it very clear that we need to teach our children what the wonderful things God has done in the past.

P: Father, when we feel discouraged, help us to remember your many blessings. Amen.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Messiah King and tolerance

14/9/11 Ezekiel 36-37, Psalm 110, Revelation 19

S: Ezekiel 37:24 My servant David will be their king, and they will have only one shepherd. They will obey my regulations and be careful to keep my decrees.

Psalm 110:1-2 The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit in the place of honour at my right hand until I humble your enemies, making them a footstool under your feet.” The Lord will extend your powerful kingdom from Jerusalem; you will rule over your enemies.

Revelation 19:11-16 Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war. His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him that no one understood except himself. He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God. The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses. From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will release the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty, like juice flowing from a winepress. On his robe at his thigh was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords.

O: Ezekiel prophesied that Israel will eventually be restored with David as their king. Since the Jews didn't believe in reincarnation, they interpreted this to mean the Messiah, son of David.

David wrote this psalm which Jesus points out in Matthew 22:41-45 means that the Messiah existed before David and is greater than David.

The Revelation to John points out that this Jesus will be the eternal judge and ruler.

We are the Israel of God -- Jesus is not ruling the country we call Israel today because they have rejected Christ. (Though not all the Jews have rejected Christ, and there is a growing Messianic Jewish movement today.) The Messiah, son of David, son of God, is indeed ruling the Israel of God forever. This is the only sense which Ezekiel's prophecy is fulfilled.

The Jews of Jesus' time expected Ezekiel's prophecy to be fulfilled literally in the sense of a king who ruled the physical Israel on earth and threw out the Romans. But that wasn't the way God intended it -- Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world."

Different Christians have different interpretations of Revelations. Sometimes people will be so strong in their interpretations that they will say that people who disagree are somehow inferior Christians, or even not "really" Christian.

Ezekiel is the Old Testament book most like Revelations -- written in the apocalyptic style. And as we see here, it was so easy for the Jews of Jesus' time to take an all-too-literal interpretation of Ezekiel and miss the real message of the Messiah -- His Kingdom is not of this world -- His Kingdom is the salvation of all people -- both Jews and Gentiles.

In the '70s there were books like The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey which taught a literalist, premillennial, dispensational eschatology - that Jesus was going to come again very soon (they expected it before 2000) and that things were going to get worse and worse and you should interpret much of Revelations literally and match it to various things like the Soviet Union, etc.

Many Christians today still believe that this is the only correct way to interpret Revelations even though munch of Lindsey's book has already been debunked by subsequent events, to the point that they'll say that anyone holding a different view is not quite Christian.

A: We need to be humble about our eschatologies (views of the end times). I personally lean towards postmillennialism, but acknowledge that people who disagree with my interpretation can be also committed faithful Christians. Let's not be too dogmatic about secondary issues.

P: Father, I echo Jesus' prayer that we may be one just as He and You are one. In Jesus' name, amen.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Watchman

13/9/11 Ezekiel 33-35; Revelation 18

S: Ezekiel 33:8-9 If I announce that some wicked people are sure to die and you fail to tell them to change their ways, then they will die in their sins, and I will hold you responsible for their deaths. But if you warn them to repent and they don’t repent, they will die in their sins, but you will have saved yourself.

O: God had called Ezekiel to be a watchman -- to warn the people of Israel. His responsibility is only to warn -- he was not responsible for his hearer's response.

A: We have a responsibility to share God's plan of salvation with others, but we don't convert them. If they respond, they will be saved; we don't force people to become Christians.

That said, we also have to use wisdom and tact. When I was a student at the University of Kansas, occasionally there would be this preacher and his followers who stood in the quad and shouted insults at people, saying that God hated homosexuals and other things that actually pushed people away from Christ. (Incidentally, it's not true that God hates homosexuals -- God Himself said He loves everyone in the world and doesn't want anyone to perish.) They shall know we are Christians by our love.

P: Father, please give me wisdom how to share the Gospel in a winsome way in each situation. I suspect that I tend to err too much on the side of sensitivity; help me to be bolder, but with wisdom so as not to push people away either. In Jesus' name, amen.

Pride comes before fall

12/9/11 Daniel 3-4; Psalm 81; Revelation 17

S: Daniel 4: 27-34 ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, please accept my advice. Stop sinning and do what is right. Break from your wicked past and be merciful to the poor. Perhaps then you will continue to prosper.’ But all these things did happen to King Nebuchadnezzar. Twelve months later he was taking a walk on the flat roof of the royal palace in Babylon. As he looked out across the city, he said, ‘Look at this great city of Babylon! By my own mighty power, I have built this beautiful city as my royal residence to display my majestic splendour.’ While these words were still in his mouth, a voice called down from heaven, ‘O King Nebuchadnezzar, this message is for you! You are no longer ruler of this kingdom. You will be driven from human society. You will live in the fields with the wild animals, and you will eat grass like a cow. Seven periods of time will pass while you live this way, until you learn that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone he chooses.’ That same hour the judgement was fulfilled, and Nebuchadnezzar was driven from human society. He ate grass like a cow, and he was drenched with the dew of heaven. He lived this way until his hair was as long as eagles’ feathers and his nails were like birds’ claws. After this time had passed, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up to heaven. My sanity returned, and I praised and worshipped the Most High and honoured the one who lives forever. His rule is everlasting, and his kingdom is eternal.

O: Again, we see that God views pride as a serious problem. Earlier this month, we saw the lesson taught with the Prince of Tyre, and today we see it taught with King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.

Fortunately for King Nebuchadnezzar, he did repent and acknowledge God, and so he was restored.

A: As noted earlier, when we achieve success, we must guard against pride. As Proverbs 16:18 says, "Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall."

P: Dear Lord, You clearly taught this lesson multiple times. May I remember it when I'm tempted by pride. In Jesus' name, amen.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

His Word is Sure; Stay Humble When God Uses You

11/9/11 Daniel 1-2; Revelation 16

Today is the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. That was a significant day for Juliane and I -- if you're curious, read about it on my other blog.

S: Daniel 2:29-35 “While Your Majesty was sleeping, you dreamed about coming events. He who reveals secrets has shown you what is going to happen. And it is not because I am wiser than anyone else that I know the secret of your dream, but because God wants you to understand what was in your heart. In your vision, Your Majesty, you saw standing before you a huge, shining statue of a man. It was a frightening sight. The head of the statue was made of fine gold. Its chest and arms were silver, its belly and thighs were bronze, its legs were iron, and its feet were a combination of iron and baked clay. As you watched, a rock was cut from a mountain, but not by human hands. It struck the feet of iron and clay, smashing them to bits. The whole statue was crushed into small pieces of iron, clay, bronze, silver, and gold. Then the wind blew them away without a trace, like chaff on a threshing floor. But the rock that knocked the statue down became a great mountain that covered the whole earth.”

O: Here we have a text written at the latest at the beginning of the Persian empire, i.e. the silver chest & arms, and yet it predicts the Greek empire, the Roman Empire, fall of the Roman Empire into small divided countries, and the rise of the Church of Jesus Christ which spreads throughout the whole world.

Daniel is also careful not to take any glory for himself, but rather, gave all the credit to God. If God uses you to do a great work, the temptation to take credit is strong, and we have seen believers time and time again throughout history succumb to that temptation. Sometimes they repent and get back on the right track with God, but sometimes God has to bring them down and humble them.

A: We can trust God's Word to be sure. Before the rise of the Greek and Roman empires, someone reading this prophecy might not know exactly what they're referring to, but it is clear after the fact.

We must also follow Daniel's example not to take credit and become proud just because God used us to do a mighty work for Him.

P: Thank You, Father, that Your Word is sure. I commit myself to Your purposes in this earth, but keep me humble and not to become proud if You do great and marvellous things through me. In Jesus' name, amen.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

We know who wins in the end

10/9/11 Lamentations 3-5; Revelation 15

S: Revelation 15:1-4 Then I saw in heaven another marvellous event of great significance. Seven angels were holding the seven last plagues, which would bring God’s wrath to completion. I saw before me what seemed to be a glass sea mixed with fire. And on it stood all the people who had been victorious over the beast and his statue and the number representing his name. They were all holding harps that God had given them.

And they were singing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb: “Great and marvellous are your works, O Lord God, the Almighty. Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations. Who will not fear you, Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous deeds have been revealed.”

O: Things are in chaos on earth at this point in Revelations. However, the saints in heaven see that God is still in control.

It's like when we are reading a gripping novel where the protagonist faces all sorts of trials and tribulations, but someone who has already read the novel mentions to us that the protagonist will survive and succeed in the end. So even while we are in the midst of the novel and the protagonist is in great peril, we still know that, in the end, he will win.

Well, we've read the end of the book! We know that God will prevail in the end, and we who are with God will prevail with Him! Those saints in heaven who "had been victorious over the beast and his statue and the number representing his name" died for their faith under Nero's persecution. But we now see them in heaven rejoicing and singing praises to God!

A: So, even while we go through trials and tribulations on earth, we can be assured that we just have to stay faithful to Jesus, and it'll all work out in the end. Even in persecution comes and we are killed physically for our faith, there is nothing they can do to us ultimately!

P: Great and marvellous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O Lord! For you are the King of Saints! Who shall not fear You? Who shall not glorify Your name O Lord? For only You are worthy! All the nations shall come and worship before You! For Your judgements are made manifest! Hallelujah! Amen!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Trust God Anyway (again)

9/9/11 Lamentations 1-2; Obadiah; Revelation 14

I didn't find anything to SOAP about in today's reading so I'm doing it on a passage from tomorrow's.

S: Lamentations 3:18-33 18 I cry out, “My splendor is gone! Everything I had hoped for from the Lord is lost!” The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord. And it is good for people to submit at an early age to the yoke of his discipline: Let them sit alone in silence beneath the Lord’s demands. Let them lie face down in the dust, for there may be hope at last. Let them turn the other cheek to those who strike them and accept the insults of their enemies. For no one is abandoned by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion because of the greatness of his unfailing love. For he does not enjoy hurting people or causing them sorrow.

O: Jeremiah had just been lamenting the fall of Jerusalem and all the horrors thereof. But at the end of the story, He still trusted God. This echoes what we learned back with Habakkuk earlier.

A: Even when things look bleak, we must still remember that God loves us and He's still in control. We might not understand why he allowed the current bad things to happen, but we can still trust Him.

Standing on the promises that cannot fail
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail.
By the living word of God i shall prevail.
I`m standing on the promises of God.

P: Father, teach me to trust and obey. In Jesus' name, amen.

Why listen to the Lord if you don't plan to do what He says?

8/9/11 Jeremiah 42-44; Psalm 48; Revelation 13

S: Jeremiah 42:1-16 Then all the guerrilla leaders, including Johanan son of Kareah and Jezaniah son of Hoshaiah, and all the people, from the least to the greatest, approached Jeremiah the prophet. They said, “Please pray to the Lord your God for us. As you can see, we are only a tiny remnant compared to what we were before. Pray that the Lord your God will show us what to do and where to go.”

“All right,” Jeremiah replied. “I will pray to the Lord your God, as you have asked, and I will tell you everything he says. I will hide nothing from you.”

Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the Lord your God be a faithful witness against us if we refuse to obey whatever he tells us to do! Whether we like it or not, we will obey the Lord our God to whom we are sending you with our plea. For if we obey him, everything will turn out well for us.”

Ten days later the Lord gave his reply to Jeremiah. So he called for Johanan son of Kareah and the other guerrilla leaders, and for all the people, from the least to the greatest. He said to them, “You sent me to the Lord, the God of Israel, with your request, and this is his reply: ‘Stay here in this land. If you do, I will build you up and not tear you down; I will plant you and not uproot you. For I am sorry about all the punishment I have had to bring upon you. Do not fear the king of Babylon anymore,’ says the Lord. ‘For I am with you and will save you and rescue you from his power. I will be merciful to you by making him kind, so he will let you stay here in your land.’

"But if you refuse to obey the Lord your God, and if you say, ‘We will not stay here; instead, we will go to Egypt where we will be free from war, the call to arms, and hunger,’ then hear the Lord’s message to the remnant of Judah. This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘If you are determined to go to Egypt and live there, the very war and famine you fear will catch up to you, and you will die there. That is the fate awaiting every one of you who insists on going to live in Egypt. Yes, you will die from war, famine, and disease. None of you will escape the disaster I will bring upon you there.’

Jeremiah 43:1-4 When Jeremiah had finished giving this message from the Lord their God to all the people, Azariah son of Hoshaiah and Johanan son of Kareah and all the other proud men said to Jeremiah, “You lie! The Lord our God hasn’t forbidden us to go to Egypt! Baruch son of Neriah has convinced you to say this, because he wants us to stay here and be killed by the Babylonians or be carried off into exile.” So Johanan and the other guerrilla leaders and all the people refused to obey the Lord’s command to stay in Judah.

Jeremiah 44:11-18 “Therefore, this is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: I am determined to destroy every one of you! I will take this remnant of Judah—those who were determined to come here and live in Egypt—and I will consume them. They will fall here in Egypt, killed by war and famine. All will die, from the least to the greatest. They will be an object of damnation, horror, cursing, and mockery. I will punish them in Egypt just as I punished them in Jerusalem, by war, famine, and disease. Of that remnant who fled to Egypt, hoping someday to return to Judah, there will be no survivors. Even though they long to return home, only a handful will do so.” Then all the women present and all the men who knew that their wives had burned incense to idols—a great crowd of all the Judeans living in northern Egypt and southern Egypt—answered Jeremiah, “We will not listen to your messages from the Lord! We will do whatever we want. We will burn incense and pour out liquid offerings to the Queen of Heaven just as much as we like—just as we, and our ancestors, and our kings and officials have always done in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. For in those days we had plenty to eat, and we were well off and had no troubles! But ever since we quit burning incense to the Queen of Heaven and stopped worshipping her with liquid offerings, we have been in great trouble and have been dying from war and famine.”

O: This reminds me of James 1:22-25 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

Johanan and the other guerrillas were right to ask the Lord whether they should stay in Judah or flee to Egypt, but then they were foolish to not listen to the Lord when He gave them an answer they didn't like, and so they all perished in Egypt.

Actually, Jeremiah 44 shows that they were not faithful to the Lord but tried to worship the Queen of Heaven alongside the Lord. This will never work. The First Commandment says "You are to have no other gods before me." (Exodus 20:3) It's YHWH alone or nothing. Worshipping any other gods alongside YHWH is as good as not worshipping YHWH at all.

A: We must not only read or listen to the Word of the Lord, but obey it, too. We must not have any other gods alongside YHWH. P: Father, thank You for saving us while we were still sinners. Help us to be faithful to You alone. In Jesus' name, amen.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Repent before it's too late!

7/9/11 2 Kings 25; 2 Chronicles 36; Jeremiah 40-41; Revelation 12

S: 2 Chronicles 36:15-17 The Lord, the God of their ancestors, repeatedly sent his prophets to warn them, for he had compassion on his people and his Temple. But the people mocked these messengers of God and despised their words. They scoffed at the prophets until the Lord’s anger could no longer be restrained and nothing could be done. So the Lord brought the king of Babylon against them. The Babylonians killed Judah’s young men, even chasing after them into the Temple. They had no pity on the people, killing both young men and young women, the old and the infirm. God handed all of them over to Nebuchadnezzar.

O: God gave the His Chosen People a lot of opportunity to repent, sending warning after warning, but they continually refused to repent. So finally God had to bring judgement.

A: Time and time again I give in to temptation. I must take heed of the warning and repent. Fortunately, I've been keeping short accounts with God -- when I sin, I quickly repent and get back up.

P: Father, thank You for your grace and your patience with us. Let us not presume on that grace and patience but always repent quickly! In Jesus' name, amen.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Satan wasn't the Prince of Tyre

9/6/11 Ezekiel 29-32; Revelation 11

S: Ezekiel 28:11-17 (New English Translation of the Septuagint)

And a word of the Lord came to me, saying: Son of man, take up a lament over the ruler of Tyre, and say to him, This is what the Lord says: You were a signet in likeness and a crown of beauty.

In the delight of the orchard of God you were born; you have bound on every fine stone, carnelian and topaz and emerald and carbuncle and lapis lazuli and jasper and silver and gold and ligyrion and agate and amethyst and chrysolitea and beryl and onyx. And you filled with gold your treasuries and your storerooms among you.

From the day you were created, I placed you with the cheroub in a holy, divine mountain; you were born in the midst of fiery stones.

You were born blameless in your days from the day you were created until acts of iniquity were found in you.

From the abundance of your commerce you filled your storehouses with lawlessness, and you sinned and were wounded from God’s mountain, and the cheroub drove you from the midst of the fiery stones.

Your heart was exalted because of your beauty, and your knowledge was corrupted by your beauty. Because of the multitude of your sins, I threw you on the ground; before kings I gave you to be made an example.

O: This passage immediately follows the one we focussed on yesterday, where God condemned the Prince of Tyre for his pride.

Many Christians have linked this passage with Satan, saying that it is a description of Satan, and how he was a guardian angel in heaven before his fall and people also often link it to Isaiah 14:12-14 and say that it was after this claim of greatness that Satan was cast down as described in the Ezekiel passage.

However, Isaiah 14:4 clearly says that the taunt in Isaiah 14 is directed at the King of Babylon, not at Satan. And, as we saw yesterday, as well as at the start of today's passage, Ezekiel 28 is directed at the Prince or Ruler of Tyre, not at Satan.

Some people say it cannot be directed against the Ruler of Tyre because it says that he was an “anointed guardian cherub”. However, as you can see from the Septuagint translation I quoted above, it might not even have said that in the original prophecy, but rather, this may be one of the many minor scribal mistakes in the Masoretic Text.

Even if this isn't a minor scribal mistake in the Masoretic Text, as Jim McGuiggan argues in his article Satan and the kings Of Tyre and Babylon,

It's so much simpler to allow the whole section (26-28) to stand together as a description of the grandeur of the Tyrian kingdom, its fall and the reasons for its fall. It's described as the foremost trading nation of the world, a renowned city and an about-to-be destroyed city (chapter 26). She sees herself as a rare beauty in chapter 27 and is described as a beautiful sailing ship with timbers, masts, decks and sails from around the world and sailed by mariners from all nations. Her pride is bursting out and though it is a human kingdom it deifies itself (28:1-2). “Will you then say, ‘I am a god,' in the presence of those who kill you? You will be but a man, not a god.” (28:9)

A: I quote again from Jim McGuiggan, "If despite the obvious difficulties, people still insist in finding Satan in this section I don't suppose it matters a whole lot. The trouble is that a whole theology of Satan is built around such flimsy textual work and before you know it all kinds of (often outrageous) assertions make their appearance “supported” by such misused texts. ... Now it's perfectly acceptable to say that a passage like Isaiah 13-14 has a message for arrogance and pride wherever and in whomever it shows itself. But it is foolishness to take a text and say it directly speaks to a specific someone when it clearly doesn't. This undermines our credibility as biblical students who let the scriptures speak to us rather than telling the Bible what to say."

P: Father, help us to stay away from taking our theology out of small passage of scripture taken out of context. Help us to be careful to base our theology on the whole counsel of scripture. In Jesus' name, amen.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The need for humility

5/9/11 Ezekiel 25-28; Revelation 10

S: Ezekiel 28:2,6-10 Son of man, give the prince of Tyre this message from the Sovereign Lord: “In your great pride you claim, ‘I am a god! I sit on a divine throne in the heart of the sea.’ But you are only a man and not a god, though you boast that you are a god. ... Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because you think you are as wise as a god, I will now bring against you a foreign army, the terror of the nations. They will draw their swords against your marvellous wisdom and defile your splendour! They will bring you down to the pit, and you will die in the heart of the sea, pierced with many wounds. Will you then boast, ‘I am a god!’ to those who kill you? To them you will be no god but merely a man! You will die like an outcast at the hands of foreigners. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!”

O: The Prince of Tyre had had great success. Tyre was a great trading empire and the Prince of Tyre was very powerful. Unfortunately, in his success, his pride grew until he thought he was a god.

The One True God showed him his error.

This passage brings to mind another ruler who was so proud that he thought he was a god -- King Herod (Acts 12:22-23). God struck him down, too.

A: When we achieve success, we must guard against pride. As Proverbs 16:18 says, "Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall."

For me, one of the things I've been feeling like I have had good success with is my marriage. Juliane & I have a good marriage -- not without problems, mind you, but a good one. I've had to be humbled lately with areas I still have to improve on, even as we have started taking on the task of helping others with their marriages -- we have started helping to run the Alpha Marriage Course.

It is fine to be happy with our successes, but let's not become big-headed.

P: Father, thank You for the blessings You have given me, like my marriage. Help me to keep the right perspective and be thankful, and not to be proud or boastful. In Jesus' name, amen.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Disgusting?

4/9/11 Ezekiel 22-24;Revelation 9

S: Ezekiel 23:5-8, 18-21 Then Oholah lusted after other lovers instead of me, and she gave her love to the Assyrian officers. They were all attractive young men, captains and commanders dressed in handsome blue, charioteers driving their horses. And so she prostituted herself with the most desirable men of Assyria, worshiping their idolst and defiling herself. For when she left Egypt, she did not leave her spirit of prostitution behind. She was still as lewd as in her youth, when the Egyptians slept with her, fondled her breasts, and used her as a prostitute. ... In the same way, I became disgusted with Oholibah and rejected her, just as I had rejected her sister, because she flaunted herself before them and gave herself to satisfy their lusts. Yet she turned to even greater prostitution, remembering her youth when she was a prostitute in Egypt. She lusted after lovers with genitals as large as a donkey’s and emissions like those of a horse. And so, Oholibah, you relived your former days as a young girl in Egypt, when you first allowed your breasts to be fondled.

O: A Muslim evangelist in his attempts to convert me to Islam once challenged me about passages like this in Ezekiel, saying that this proves the Bible is not from God, for how can God write pornography?

Do you find this passage pornographic? Is this disgusting?

God makes a very strong statement here about how He views idolatry. It's like pornography and is disgusting when His people commit idolatry. And recall that in the Life Journal from just a few days ago, we saw that idols are not just statues of wood, stone and precious metals, but also wrong motivations held in our hearts.

This is how God views it when we raise any other gods up in our hearts before before Him.

For us as practising Christians, explicit idolatry isn't such a danger. I am even willing to do things that might be associated with explicit idolatry in some people's eyes, for the furtherance of the Gospel. For example, a good Hindu friend of mine invited us to his housewarming yesterday, and it turned out to be a Hindu blessing ceremony complete with priests and incense and rituals. At one point, the guests were asked to bless them with a prayer of blessing and putting a pottu on their foreheads.

Some Christians would say that as Christians who worship the Living God, we should not participate in such a ceremony as it's idolatrous. But the principle we learn from passages like Romans 14:14-23, 1 Corinthians 8:9-13, and 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 that whether we do something or not is whether it will cause someone to stumble will draw them towards Christ.

So Juliane and I went ahead and did the blessing, with me praying over them for God to bless them and their marriage and Juliane praying for them to have children who will be a blessing to them, and putting the pottu on their foreheads. I believe they were touched -- we were the only non-Hindus they invited -- in fact, I believe we were the only non-relatives they invited. Had we refused, it could have possibly driven a wedge between them and us, and us being the ambassadors for Christ to them.

In another part of the ceremony, they asked if we would like to receive a pottu on our foreheads. Since they gave us the option, we preferred not to, since the pottu is a symbol of Hinduism and it appeared that they wouldn't be offended if we didn't take it as they gave us the option. (Note, however that there are Indian Christians who wear the pottu as merely a cultural decoration, so not everyone who wears a pottu is a Hindu.)

A: There are no black-and-white across-the-board rules regarding this -- we need to evaluate each situation according to the principle as noted above -- whether we do something or not is whether it will cause someone to stumble will draw them towards Christ.

Our motives must be right -- man looks at the outside appearance, while God looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7). And when God looks in our hearts, let's not let Him see anything disgusting, like He saw with Oholah and Oholibah.

And if we fail, we should quickly repent and get back up. (Proverbs 24:16, 1 John 1:9)

P: Father, I commit my life to You. I want You to be always on the throne of my life. I am sorry that I have not always done that, and have allowed my own sinful desires to dethrone you. Help me to see how disgusting that is, as You so vividly illustrated in Your revelation to Ezekiel. Thank You for your forgiveness and grace. In Jesus' name, amen.

Friday, September 2, 2011

God will take care of us

2/9/11 Ezekiel 17-19; Revelation 7

S: Revelation 7:10-17 And they were shouting with a great roar, “Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living beings. And they fell before the throne with their faces to the ground and worshipped God. They sang, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and strength belong to our God forever and ever! Amen.” Then one of the twenty-four elders asked me, “Who are these who are clothed in white? Where did they come from?” And I said to him, “Sir, you are the one who knows.” Then he said to me, “These are the ones who died in the great tribulation. They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and made them white. “That is why they stand in front of God’s throne and serve him day and night in his Temple. And he who sits on the throne will give them shelter. They will never again be hungry or thirsty; they will never be scorched by the heat of the sun. For the Lamb on the throne will be their Shepherd. He will lead them to springs of life-giving water. And God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”

O: In yesterday's meditation, we saw that God doesn't want us to take revenge on our persecutors, but rather, to trust Him.

Here we see God's vindication of those who perish in persecution. This passage speaks specifically about those who perished in Nero's great tribulation, but I think God's promise "They will never again be hungry or thirsty; they will never be scorched by the heat of the sun. For the Lamb on the throne will be their Shepherd. He will lead them to springs of life-giving water. And God will wipe every tear from their eyes” will apply to all who are steadfast in Christ.

A: So let us stay steadfast in following Christ! Even in the face of opposition! And let us not repay evil for evil, but rather, repay evil with good and perhaps lead to the salvation of our enemies.

What a glorious day it will be when we are in heaven together singing “Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!”

P: Father, give me your heart and your eyes to see the lost. In Jesus' name, amen.

Pour your heart out to God

1/9/11 Ezekiel 15-16; Psalm 70; Revelation 6

S: Psalm 70:1-2,5 Please, God, rescue me! Come quickly, Lord, and help me. May those who try to kill me be humiliated and put to shame. May those who take delight in my trouble be turned back in disgrace....But as for me, I am poor and needy; please hurry to my aid, O God. You are my helper and my saviour; O Lord, do not delay.

O: This is a psalm of David, David wasn't shy to pour out his heart to God and ask for God to destroy the people persecuting him (presumably Saul and his men.) Yet, when he had the chance, he did not take the law into his own hands and kill Saul.

A: We can be honest with God in our prayers. We don't have to hide our feelings. God calls us to a certain standard of conduct -- like in David's case, not to take the law into his own hands and kill Saul -- but in our prayers we can be honest with our desires -- in David's case, for Saul to be humiliated.

Jesus tells us "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" and Paul elaborates on this, "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head."

So, while we are not ourselves to take vengeance on those who persecute us, we can pour out our honest feelings to God.

P: Father, help me to restrain my hand from vengeance, knowing that I can our out my heart to you. In Jesus' name, amen.