Living in the Midst of Chaos in a Secular Culture – Daniel 11:36

Vol. 2, No. 31 – 7-30-2017

The king will do as he pleases, and he will exalt and magnify himself above every god, and will speak monstrous things against the God of gods; and he will prosper until the indignation is finished, for that which is decreed will be done. Daniel 11:36

In the history in which we have lived there have been many pompous leaders who strut across the world stage, attempting to say, “Look at me, I am made of great stuff; I have the bully pulpit and I will use it to my advantage—the nation be d_____.”

This self-centered king came with a message of hope and change; a message that promised what the people wanted—world peace. Has it been different in our nation’s leaders in recent years? Many get into office, make their own laws, and do what they want to do, regardless of any sense of accountability.

In Daniel’s day, a king comes on the scene; one who portrayed himself to be a superhero. The times were chaotic, tempestuous, hopeless, and people lived in despair. The people of the nation were pushed into thinking that things would never recover; that only the very wealthy people, people of stature, and people with connections would survive. In reality, the superhero, God’s man, was yet to come.

In our world, people are exhausted of world conflict. There does not seem to be answers that satisfy the people of the earth. Our world nations are looking—desperately looking—for a leader or two that will draw them out from their sufferings and chaos.

In Daniel’s day a dictator arises—a king—a man who very quickly takes office. He assumes great power; he is threatening. This dictator comes to power after a gap of 2000 years. It is a severe time. Daniel begins to contemplate as the Holy Spirit leads his heart. He begins to pre-write the coming history. He writes about the Antichrist who will come—both literally and in character. Scripture reveals him to be a man of sin, a son of perdition, a beast, and a prince that will come. The Scripture pictures him as high-minded, self-centered, and full of pride, arrogant, a man that covets, a man with an evil heart, a blasphemer of Almighty God. This Antichrist will control business, trade, government, and man’s religion. The people of the earth will bow their knees at the sight of him; to ignore their duty is to allow for their own deaths. Indeed, the people of the earth will be marked on their forehead—666—to identify their allegiance to the Antichrist.

Interestingly, as the believers of Almighty God dwell in Israel, the deceiver makes a peace covenant with them. The deceiver’s headquarters are in Jerusalem. He brings a false unity, brings prosperity, and brings a measure of peace on the earth; all for a very limited time. Such is the imaginations of people of the earth who will devote their lives to a corrupt and deceiving leader.

The Antichrist Daniel writes about is future. He will descend upon the people of the earth in the Last Days; the church will be absent as the Rapture will have already taken place. Armageddon takes place—all hell breaks loose. The final conflict takes place and God’s man is already the victor. The Antichrist fails.

And he will pitch the tents of his royal pavilion between the seas and the beautiful Holy Mountain; yet he will come to his end, and no one will help him. Daniel 11:45

Many “leaders” ignore God’s time clock. God’s truths are contained in the Scriptures; He reveals what we need to know. God commands us to keep an eye on His truth as we live upon the earth. For there is a day when time will run out. It will arrive sooner than we imagine.

Leaders and other people of the earth need to live under absolute truth; not situational ethics. That is important; it impacts each person and it impacts the people gathered around them. What a person places in their heart makes a difference in how they think, in what they speak, and in the actions of their lives. Where do you go for the things you need to place in your heart?

God expects those He has created to be ready at all times to express the reason for the hope that lies within—in their hearts (1 Peter 3:15). One needs to express the reason to others with gentleness and respect. Daniel observed that the people of the earth did not receive gentleness and respect from their king. We can observe that we live in a world where gentleness and respect is not prevalent. But then, the greater number of people of the earth live through their pride, arrogance, materialism, and self-centeredness.

If you lead others, how is it with you? What kind of impact are you having with those around you?

1 Peter 3:15; 2 Corinthians 5: 17-21

 

Called to Temerity in a Secular Culture – Daniel 10:12

Vol. 2, No. 30 – 7-23-2017

Then he said to me, “Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words. Daniel 10:12

Temerity = nerve, boldness, hutzpah, and the like.

Louie L’Amour (Guns of the Timberlands), writes about the quality and character of men who conquered the West. “They were tall men, short men; but all of them were strong men with skin like saddle-leather and clear eyes that saw beyond today. These men who stayed were not necessarily wealthy men, but they were steadfast men, confident men, strong with an inner-strength that knew no defeat.”

Daniel was like that. We live in a society, a culture that increasingly is secular. The foundations of a secular culture skew the mind to think not of character or strength, but in playing the victim and being so weakened that their dependence is upon other earth dwellers and its governments. Our culture has lost the daring that composed our nation in our early days. We also live in an instant society. We want instant communication, instant results, instant money and things, instant pudding, and even instant mashed potatoes. This is the dominant mindset of the secular.

Daniel was over 80-years-of-age. How are 80-year-olds today? Are they strong, full of character, undivided with Almighty God at the center of their hearts, purpose-driven? Or, do they stop their “output” in their latter days of life on the earth?

Temerity speaks of our set in heart.

It includes the plan and purpose that God has for us. When God expects you to follow His purpose, He expects fearlessness, courage, character, and steadfastness. God does not expect us to lose our temerity, for it is He who strengthens us and walks by our side; even when we live in an ever-increasing secular society. Why would God leave us here without expectations?

Who might we look at for a life of temerity?

  • David set his heart when he went after Goliath with a slingshot
  • Joseph stood fast in his faith when an Egyptian woman attempted to violate his character
  • Elijah stood strong in his faith on a mountain top with 450 priests of Baal
  • Job stood firm even in the midst of his wife calling for him to die
  • Moses stood before Pharaoh with plague after plague
  • Daniel did not resist the lion’s den for his faith had temerity
  • Stephen stood in the face of earthly death to suffer for the Lord
  • My dad, also named Daniel, worked three jobs to take care of two families

In reality, these are men of character and temerity desiring to end their life well. Regardless of the issues brought to them in life, they stood strong toward the One they believed. They faced the secular society with fixed purposes, sometimes with such an approach when feeling weak. Always in the end they staunchly gave evidence of their temerity.

Three practical suggestions:

  • Get to know the God who is our mighty fortress rather than relying upon people of the earth
  • Contemplate how you are becoming a person of God, realizing that this is more important than what you accumulate
  • Live the life of God on the earth, rather than living your life by the moment

‘Tis the set of the sail and not the gale that determines the way we go!” —Laurel Holman

Called to be Led and Live in a Secular Culture – Galatians 5:16

Vol. 2, No. 29 – 7-16-2017

I say, walk by the Spirit. Galatians 5:16

In Matthew 7:6 we come across this strange passage: Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

It seems strange because we do not live in a time of wild pigs and wild dogs roaming the streets of our towns. The days in which Matthew wrote did indeed have these creatures in the streets. It was a dangerous environment. The habits of wild dogs and wild pigs is descriptive of those opposed to the truth of the gospel; opposed to the intentions of the Holy Spirit.

Ravenous dogs were bothered by your presence, and would react with violent tearing of the flesh if you so much as made an effort to befriend them or to give them what they really needed. People with this kind of reaction are dangerous; the believer needs to exercise discernment.

Violent pigs were always looking for something to devour; always hungry. If one would cast something in their direction they would examine it to see if it could be devoured. If they could not devour it they would trample it under their feet demolishing what they find unsatisfying.

Wow! Paul invites those who follow Christ to depend on the dependable Holy Spirit.

Dogs and pigs are not the only animals that appear in the Bible. Most often we read about sheep (or lambs). In comparison to dogs and pigs, sheep are at least clean—because of their habits of life. So we have choices in life. We can live like a dog, a hog, or perhaps a sheep (lamb sounds better). We make choices.

Paul notes that the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, but the Spirit has His desire already set against the flesh (5:17). The two are in opposition; the flesh and Spirit. Paul remarks that the war is so that your choices get altered. In the words of the old Cherokee story, the winner is based on who you feed.

We build relationships in our work, our ministry, and in our families. We always have an impact, good or not so good. How do we escape the compulsions of life?

  • Cheap love—allowing the emotional garbage to stink up our lives
  • Superstitions and opinions—the trinkets that alter our thinking, speaking and actions of life
  • Competing relationships—pitting “to be friends” against the absolute truths of God
  • Competing wants—the never satisfied draw of our toys of life becoming our first priority
  • Divisions—the lopsided pursuits that push others away in favor of only those who will agree with you
  • Living with a focus on “me” — thinking everyone has an obligation to cater to “me” (including the government)

Of course, there are more compulsions; but you knew that. The sampling only causes us to contemplate. Be reminded that the struggles go on, it is not just one-time occurrences. There are menaces of the flesh around every corner of our lives.

In verses 21-23, Paul says there is a solution. The light turns on! There is a source for our victory, in the person of Jesus Christ, in the presence of the Holy Spirit. The source for our living does not come because of works in our lives, but are a result or outcome of Who is in control. If we walk by the Spirit, our lives will portray the “fruit.”

How does that work out for us as we relate to others? It is seen in the reaction of the animals. Sheep will run to their Shepherd; hogs and wild dogs run to devour. What do these look like in our culture.

Leaders and participants in our culture who are linked to the absolute truths of Scripture take a different fork in the road–by choice. They also develop followers from that which they model (and by whom they model).

As Christ was preparing to ascend to the Father following His resurrection, He announced that the Father would send another just like Him, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is needed should we desire to be the all to others God expects. Paul encourages us with these words:

Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that you toil is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:57-58

How is it going for you in our present-day culture?

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