Romans 8:28 – A Magnificent and Misused Verse

Romans 8.28

As a verse, is a comfort and a classic. It says,

 

 

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose”

 

It is known and memorized by many. It is found as a text on numerous sympathy cards, plaques and pictures. When it comes to suffering and the sovereignty of God, this would be one of the most commonly quoted texts. Without question this is a magnificent verse. However, before I consider its meaning and magnificence, I think it is also important to point out how it is also misunderstood and misused. Continue reading Romans 8:28 – A Magnificent and Misused Verse

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Daniel in the Lions’ Den – Daniel 6

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“Daniel in the Lions’ Den” is a story of devotion, deception, despair and deliverance. This specific event in the life of Daniel reveals the character of a man who lived the life of faith (cf. ). From the time he was a teenager through to his later years, Daniel proved to be faithful. This story is the faithfulness of Daniel on public display.

Devotion 6:1-4, 10-11

So as to have order in his kingdom, Darius sets over his kingdom 120 satraps. Over these 120 satraps, he appoints three high officials (of whom Daniel was one). God caused in Daniel an “excellent spirit“, which resulted in excellent conduct (“distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps“). This internal possession was the source of how Daniel would respond to the events that would transpire in this chapter. As a result of Daniel’s character, Darius planned on promoting Daniel by setting “him over the whole kingdom” ().

When his fellow ruling officials found out about this promotion, they “sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom” (a). These men did not like Daniel and they certainly did not like the idea of him being promoted above them. The consistency of Daniel’s life stood in their way and in their minds an old Jew who is faithful to his God was a threat, so they wanted to eliminate him. They evidently placed a close eye on him in the way he carried out his kingdom duties. After careful investigation of what he is like at work “they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him” (Dan. 6:4). Daniel displayed faithfulness in all situations. He was a man devoted to the Lord.

Deception 6:5-9

After this failed investigation, these men formed a conspiracy against Daniel. The focus moves from devotion to deception. These conspirators concluded, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God” (). The only way they can bring accusation against Daniel is by making his loyalty to God a crime. Being aware of Daniel’s faithfulness, the officials (by means of deception) approached the king claiming that “All the high officials of the kingdom” agreed to their proposed plan (). This plan was the prevention of making petitions to any god or man for thirty days (a cleverly devised plan making Darius god for a month). The penalty of those who do not conform was death by lions. An injunction was made and sealed by the king. It was now illegal to pray to anyone apart from Darius.

How does Daniel respond? He didn’t panic or compromise, but instead he displayed faithfulness. When he arrived home “he got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously” (). Daniel didn’t overreact to this difficult situation – instead he was simply faithful, doing what he normally did. As expected, the conspirators caught Daniel in the act! These men assumed that they had Daniel right where they wanted him (Dan. 6:11).

Despair 6:12-17

Because Daniel was loyal to his Lord, the conspirators had ground for his punishment, and that was to be cast into the lions’ den. They brought this situation to the king by first reminding him of the newly appointed law, of which the king had affirmed and signed off on (cf. Dan. 6:12). Then they revealed to the king who the one was who broke the law – it was Daniel. As soon as Darius heard this, it would have become clear that this was a set up, and he was distressed and did all he could to reverse this law (). Despite his great respect and admiration for Daniel, there was no loophole in the law (Dan. 6:15). Darius then gave the orders for the punishment to be enforced. He said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!” (), and the den was sealed.

Deliverance 6:18-28

In this portion of the narrative the reader sees the kings distress and Daniel’s deliverance. In the night of Daniel’s trial, the king ate nothing, received no entertainment and was unable to sleep (Dan. 6:18). In the morning, Darius rushed to the lion’s den and called out for Daniel. Daniel responded by giving God the glory for shutting the mouths of the lions and preserving his life. Darius gave orders for him to be released and issued a command that brought the demise of the conspirators and their families (). King Darius writes a decree revealing his understanding of what truly took place in this situation. These words testify of the sovereignty of God. Daniel was faithful and therefore showed integrity by simply living in response to the fact God was sovereign. Wherever Daniel found himself, he knew it was God who placed him there, so he would respond faithfully. By God’s sovereign plan “Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian” (Dan. 6:28).

This is a story of triumph in the midst of lies and deceit. The temptation to compromise was before Daniel but he remained faithful. Daniel may have experienced a miraculous deliverance, but all God’s people can expect an eternal deliverance. Regardless of the earthly outcome, by God’s grace we are to devote ourselves to Him and His glory.

 

33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,

Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other presidents and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.

Then the presidents and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him.

Then these men said, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.”

All the presidents of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an injunction, that whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions.

10 When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.

14 Then the king, when he heard these words, was much distressed and set his mind to deliver Daniel. And he labored till the sun went down to rescue him.

16 Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!”

24 And the king commanded, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel were brought and cast into the den of lions—they, their children, and their wives. And before they reached the bottom of the den, the lions overpowered them and broke all their bones in pieces.

God is in Heaven

Father in Heaven

Our Father in heaven” ()? In this post I want to dwell on the two words “in heaven” because they are filled with glorious truth that ought to greatly encourages us when we pray. The Scriptures teach that God is everywhere (omnipresent). Yet in a special way, His abode is located in Heaven. It is the place in which He rules and governs the universe. In the book of Isaiah we read these words, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool...'” (Is. 66:1a).

Continue reading God is in Heaven

Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

When Sorrows like Sea Billows Roll

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When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
 When sorrows like sea billows roll;
 Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, 
It is well, it is well, with my soul.”

 

Sorrow is that dark feeling of distress that comes after experiencing loss or tragedy. Such an experience can be consuming and cumbersome. As the people of God, our hearts ought to be filled with a genuine sense of compassion and care for our troubled brother or sister. We ought to love them (), cry with them () and pray for them (). In this post, it is my desire to provide encouragement to the troubled person by pointing them to the provisions found exclusively in the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

It is important to note that trouble does come in the lives of God’s people (). However, when trouble overwhelms the heart of the child of God, what are they to do? In we will note the cure to trouble. J. C. Ryle calls this passage “a precious remedy against an old disease”. The disease is trouble and the remedy is faith. Our Lord spoke these words,

 

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”

Continue reading When Sorrows like Sea Billows Roll

10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.

14:1 “Man who is born of a woman
is few of days and full of trouble.

14:1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”

Finding Hope in the Midst of Grief

Grief-To-Be-Classified-as-Depression

Trials, testings, and suffering can be very painful. Such difficulties can come in various forms – one of which is loss. Losing a loved one is a horrible tragedy. The excruciating experience of loss will result in grief. Grief is that normal process in which an individual displays sorrow and anguish as a result of loss. It is a painful experience that tears someone apart emotionally.

Grief is not something the Christian ought to seek to escape, deny or hide. Rather, the believer must strive to get through it by means of embracing a biblical mindset that will grant understanding, comfort and hope. Of course, this does not suggest that getting through the grieving process eliminates all sadness and loss. It is wrong to ask someone who has experienced loss to simply get over it. Grief and sorrow create darkness around us. The only means that will shine light on our situation is the Word of God.

Is grief OK? Sure it is. As noted earlier, grief is a natural response to loss. The Lord Jesus Christ experienced this form of natural grief (). The important question I ask is, how can a grieving individual get through the grieving process? The individual needs hope. The psalmist asked himself a question and found the answer: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?
 Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God” (). Continue reading Finding Hope in the Midst of Grief

35 Jesus wept.

11 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.

The Prosperity Gospel?

Here is a wonderful excerpt from J. C. Ryle, written 130 years ago, about the story of Jesus calming the storm ().[1]

“Following Christ will not prevent our having earthly sorrows and troubles.

“Here are the chosen disciples of the Lord Jesus in great anxiety… The fear of death breaks in upon them like an armed man. The deep water seems likely to go over their souls.

“Perhaps they had not reckoned on all this.  Perhaps they had expected that Christ’s service would at any rate lift them above the reach of earthly trials.  Perhaps they thought that He , Continue reading The Prosperity Gospel?

37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”

Peace Through Our Trust in God

You (God) will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, whose thoughts are fixed on You!”

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

I have lost count of the number of times I have read or have been advised to trust God. When tough times come along and the phrase ‘trust God’ comes out, how should that make us feel? How should we respond? To trust in God I know I need to surrender all to Him. However saying it is completely different to doing it. How do we trust God?

Our trust in God relates directly to our faith in Him. To trust in Him is to exercise faith, and that is a daily challenge. I don’t know about you , but I find myself often attempting to manipulate and control situations to suit my own gain. I think God needs a helping hand. I might try and justify it by saying that this is what God wants for me, or it’s God’s will.

However, I believe trying to obtain a godly goal independently of God is not what God would have for us. It’s in our nature to do things our way – to have things when we want them; to try and control our lives. But I’ve learnt the hard way that to have what we desire independent of God’s guidance and timing brings much pain and anguish to ourselves and others. Continue reading Peace Through Our Trust in God

You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.

Our Faithful Shepherd

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all”

When you became a Christian, what did you expect would happen to your life?

That you would:

– have a clear purpose and direction to follow,

– have peace in your heart, being filled with joy every waking moment,

– develop more sincere and pure relationships?

These are definitely aspects in our lives that will develop as we walk with Jesus, following His lead each day. However, when you became a Christian, did you ever once think life would be tougher; seemingly filled with more challenges and troubles?

It doesn’t take long for Christians to realise that they are not exempt from the troubles and pains of life. In fact, we are faced with challenges that Continue reading Our Faithful Shepherd

17 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.

19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the Lord delivers him out of them all.

Little Big Decisions – sweat the small stuff

Sometimes little decisions are much bigger than they may appear at first glance.  Let’s say that my boss at work wants me to stay back late, but it’s Bible study night.  Should I go to Bible study?  Or should I stay at work?

It seems to be rare that someone would fall away from the faith by making a one time decision that Christianity is not true.  Usually people drift away from the faith, slowly.

A friend of mine works in ministry to the medical profession.  He told me once that a survey showed that 70% of medical students who were Christian fell away from the faith.  That’s an enormous percentage.  The reason why this is the case is probably due to the fact that medicine is a career that is all consuming.  Enormous hours at all sorts of times are required.  Medicos can start to miss church and Bible study.  They can find it difficult to find the time to keep reading the Bible.  After several months they may find that they haven’t read the Bible or been to church, and it no longer seems to matter.  Slowly they drift off.

Of course this is not true of all medicos (there’s the 30%!).  And it’s not just doctors who are in such spiritual danger.  There are some law and accounting firms that seem to demand similar hours from their workers.  No doubt there Continue reading Little Big Decisions – sweat the small stuff