Daniel came to God in great weakness- ‘I am helpless... My strength is gone...’(16-17). From the Lord, Daniel received great strength - ‘The One who looked like a man touched me and gave me strength... When He spoke to me, I was strengthened...’. Daniel’s strength came from the love of God and the peace of God. God assured Daniel of His love for him. He called Daniel a ‘man greatly beloved’. God spoke His Word of peace to Daniel: ‘Peace be with you.’ As God revealed His love and peace to him, Daniel came to realize that there was no need to be afraid. He could ‘be strong’ in the Lord (18-19). When we are weak, let us come to God and receive His strength - ‘His grace is sufficient for us. His strength is made perfect in weakness’(2 Corinthians 12:9).
Help us, Lord, to be honest with You - Do we want to get our own way or to do Your will? Set us free from the self-centred illusion that You will always support us in everything that we decide to do. Help us to see that there's a great difference between 'what I want' and 'what You want.' Teach us to choose Your will rather than our own will.
We tend to think of Jesus’ birth as supernatural, and the birth of John the Baptist as natural. It should be noted that it’s in connection with John’s birth that the angel of the Lord says that “nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). John wasn’t born of a virgin - but his birth did have a supernatural dimension. In both births - Jesus and John, God was at work. He was carrying forward His plan of salvation.We tend to think of Jesus’ birth as supernatural, and the birth of John the Baptist as natural. It should be noted that it’s in connection with John’s birth that the angel of the Lord says that “nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). John wasn’t born of a virgin - but his birth did have a supernatural dimension. In both births - Jesus and John, God was at work. He was carrying forward His plan of salvation.
The wise men did want to worship Jesus (Matthew 2:2). Herod said that he wanted to worship Jesus (Matthew 2:8). What a difference there is between saying that we want to worship Jesus and really wanting to worship Him. This highlights the conflict between false religion and true worship. Religion may say the right things, but, if we don’t really mean what we say, our words will not make any difference to the way we live. This kind of religion is worthless. What does God say to us about this kind of religion? - “God warned them in a dream not to go back to Herod” (Matthew 2:12). God is still warning His people to steer clear of empty religion. When we come to the Lord, we must not come with empty words - words that we don’t really mean. Our worship is to shape our life. How is our worship to change our way of living? Real worship arises out of salvation. This is very different from religion. Religion says more about ourselves than it says than it says about our Saviour. Salvation is not about us. It’s about Jesus, our Saviour. When He is the focus of our attention, we will learn to worship Him and live for Him.
Jesus was also called Emmanuel (Matthew 1:23). Emmanuel means ‘God with us.’ This is the great message that comes to us from the first chapter of the New Testament. God has not remained in heaven. He has come to earth. Along with the Name, Emmanuel, there is the better - known Name - Jesus. The Name of Jesus means “He saves” (Matthew 1:21,25). In the two Names - Emmanuel and Jesus, we have the Good News of our salvation. God has come to earth - that’s the meaning of the Name, Emmanuel. He has come to save us - that’s the meaning of the Name, Jesus.
"Salvation is from the Lord" (Jonah 2:9). Salvation comes first, then there is service. Before his prayer "from inside the fish" (Jonah 2:1), Jonah was running away from God. He wasn't serving God. Before we can do something for God - serving Him, He must do something for us: He must save us. Jonah's prayer comes from "out of the depths" (Psalm 130:1). In the depths, he finds that "there is forgiveness with God" (Psalm 130:4). With God's forgiveness comes hope for the future (Psalm 130:5,7). This hope comes from God's "faithful love" and His "abundant redemption" (Psalm 130:7).
Jonah's experience was a physical deliverance. He should have been dead. He remained alive. There was more than that. The man who came out of the fish was different from the man who was swallowed by the fish. He had been disobedient. Now, he was obedient - and blessed.
"O my strength, I watch for You! God is my stronghold, my merciful God! ... O my strength, I will make music to praise You! God is my stronghold, my merciful God!" (Psalm 59:9,17).
Watching for the Lord means looking away from ourselves, in our weakness, to Him, in His strength. When we look away from our weakness to His strength, He gives us something to sing about. He gives us a song of praise. In our praise, let us exalt the Lord and give glory to Him. He alone is worthy of all praise. As we learn to praise the Lord, we will grow in strength. This strength is not our own strength. It's the strength of the Lord.
"Righteous people will find joy in the Lord and take refuge in Him" (Psalm 64:10).
There is only One who is truly righteous - Jesus Christ, God's Son. He has died for us. Now, we are righteous in Him.Our righteousness is based on His righteousness. Our forgiveness comes from this - Jesus died on the Cross for us. As well as the righteousness that comes us, as God's gift - "the vilest offender, who truly believes, that moment, from Jesus, a pardon receives", there is the call to live as righteous people - people whose lives show that we have been changed by the Lord as well as forgiven by Him. Real joy comes from Jesus. It's the joy of knowing that He has forgiven our sins. This joy grows stronger as we learn to walk with the Lord Jesus, seeking, by our lives, to bring praise and glory to His great Name, the Name of our salvation.
How, Lord, are we to receive Your blessing? Are we to “do some great thing”? Are we to prove ourselves worthy of Your blessing? No! Your Word says this: “Wash and be clean” (2 Kings 5:130. Our salvation isn’t something that we’ve paid for. It isn’t something that we’ve earned. We don’t come to You, saying, “Look at me. Look at my religion. Look at my morality.” We look away from ourselves to Jesus – and we hear Your Word of salvation: “The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).