Posts Tagged “Daniel”

Resting at the River's Edge Logo 2013Resting at the River's Edge Logo 2013

November is the official start of the holiday season in our house – Thanksgiving is just around the corner and Christmas follows quickly behind it. I love reading the book of Luke in November because it tells the Christmas story so well. It’s the book that will be our New Testament focus this month. Near the end of the month we’ll begin to read the book of Revelation – God’s final words to us.

Our readings take us through the Old and New Testaments over a two year period. We’re winding up our two years this month and next, so here at Apprehending Grace we’re already thinking about our 2014 plan. If you have any thoughts about how you’d like us to organize the readings, let us know. Comment on the blog, send me an email or past a message on our Facebook page.

The following buttons will open PDFs of the November/December bookmark or all bookmarks. After the file has opened, you can print it or save it to your hard drive from your browser’s file menu.

Click here for the Sept/Oct 2013 recommended reading bookmark. Click here to download all bookmarks for 2013.

The November Reading Schedule also appears at the end of this blog.

Enjoy your reading! We’d love to hear what God speaks to your heart. Email me, leave a message on our Apprehending Grace Facebook page, or post a comment at the end of any blog.

Blessings, Friends!
Sandy

The recommended reading schedule for November is below.

2013-11Nov RecRdg

Here’s how the Resting at the River’s Edge reading schedules are organized:

  • The first two columns of the schedule allow you to read through the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice over a two-year period. You will typically read about three chapters a day if you follow this reading plan.
  • The “Additional Readings” column put you on a plan to read through the entire Bible in one year. You will read between four and five chapters a day if you follow this plan.

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If you’ve been reading along with us using the Resting at the River’s Edge reading plans, for the past week or so you’ve read about Daniel and his friends Shadrach, Meschach and Abnego facing death a number of times. Have you noticed the results of those situations? I knew that in each case they were unharmed, but there’s more to the story. Let’s look closer.

Daniel Faces Execution (Daniel 2)
King Nebuchadnezzar had a terrifying dream. “He called in his magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, and astrologers, and he demanded that they tell him what he had dreamed.” (verse 2, NLT) Notice that the king didn’t tell them his dream and ask for an interpretation. He expected the one who would interpret the dream to first reveal that they new the dream without being told it. That would be his confirmation that their interpretation was from God.

Then he went a step further: Any of these “wise men” (as he defined the term “wise” – as believers in the One True God, we would not apply the word “wise” to magicians, enchanters, sourcers and astrologers) any of these “wise men” who could not tell him the dream and its interpretation would be “torn limb from limb, and your houses will be turned into heaps of rubble!” (verse 5, NLT) That’s not good.

Of course none of them could tell King Nebuchadnezzar what his dream was. That made the king “furious” and he “ordered that all the wise men of Babylon be executed.” (verse 12, NLT)

That would include Daniel and his friends, even though they hadn’t been asked to interpret the king’s dream. When Daniel learned why he was going to be executed, he went to the king, requested more time to interpret the dream, and then gathered his friends to pray and seek the Lord. The Lord gave Daniel the dream and its interpretation. Daniel then told the king what he had dreamed and its interpretation.

The result? The Lord saved not only Daniel’s life, but also the lives of the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, and astrologers. But that’s not all.

46Then King Nebuchadnezzar threw himself down before Daniel and worshiped him, and he commanded his people to offer sacrifices and burn sweet incense before him. 47The king said to Daniel, “Truly, your God is the greatest of gods, the LORD over kings, a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this secret.” 48Then the king appointed Daniel to a high position and gave him many valuable gifts. He made Daniel ruler over the whole province of Babylon, as well as chief over all his wise men. 49At Daniel’s request, the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to be in charge of all the affairs of the province of Babylon, while Daniel remained in the king’s court.
Daniel 2:46-49 (NLT)

Daniel was instantly snatched from the threat of execution to being appointed ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief over all his wise men (that would be the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, and astrologers who served false gods). In addition, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were given positions of authority.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego Face the Fire (Daniel 3)
King Nebuchadnezzar became taken with his own importance. He made a gold statue ninety feet tall and nine feet wide and required all people to bow to the ground and worship his statue. Anyone who refused would be thrown into a blazing furnace.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, whom I’ll call the three amigos, defied the king’s command. When brought before the king, they confirmed their defiance saying “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” (verses 17 and 18, NLT)

Kings generally don’t respond well to being defied. King Nebuchadnezzar had the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual and then had the three amigos thrown into it. Moments later, however, when Nebuchadnezzar looked into the fire, he “jumped up in amazement and exclaimed to his advisers, ‘Didn’t we tie up three men and throw them into the furnace?… I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like a god!” (verses 24 and 25, NLT)

(Woohoo! This is shouting material!)

The Lord not only saved the lives of the three amigos, He danced with them in the fire! And when the were taken from the fire, they weren’t singed and they didn’t smell of smoke! But that’s not all.

28Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel to rescue his servants who trusted in him. They defied the king’s command and were willing to die rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. 29Therefore, I make this decree: If any people, whatever their race or nation or language, speak a word against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, they will be torn limb from limb, and their houses will be turned into heaps of rubble. There is no other god who can rescue like this!” 30Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to even higher positions in the province of Babylon.
Daniel 3:28-30 (NLT)

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were instantly snatched from certain death to being given even higher positions of authority in Babylon.

We see the following progression of events in both of these situations:

  • God’s servants faced certain death
  • God’s servants gave testimony – in advance – that God was their source
  • God visited His servants – Daniel through a dream and the three amigos through a physical manifestation of His presence
  • God rescued His servants
  • King Nebuchadnezzar privately and publicly proclaimed God as above all other gods
  • God’s servants were promoted

Did you notice that were it not for the dire circumstances – that is facing certain death – God would not have been glorified and the servants would not have been promoted.

Let me put it another way: the dire circumstances were the vehicle God used to bring glory to Himself and promotion to His servants.

That sure raises some questions worth our attention:

How do you view your dire (and not so dire) circumstances?

  • Are they opportunities to give testimony to others that God is your source?
  • Do you recognize them as opportunities for God to receive glory?
  • Do you have the positive expectation that they are opportunities for God to promote you?

My confession is that my faith is not as great as I would like it to be. I get stuck in my circumstances sometimes and forget that they are the vehicle God wants to use to promote me. I want to change my thinking – I want to expect God to be God! That’s what Daniel and his three amigos did! They expected God to be God in each circumstance, and the result was that He received glory and they were promoted. I want to face and experience the challenges in life as an opportunities for God to receive glory and for me to receive benefit. Living with that perspective isn’t living for personal or selfish gain, it’s expecting God to be God. Let’s do it!

What challenge are you facing right now in which you need to expect God to be God? He wants to be God in your life. Trust Him. Give testimony to His faithfulness. And wait for Him to rescue. Then rejoice in the glory He receives and enjoy your promotion!

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But Daniel was determined not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king. He asked the chief of staff for permission not to eat these unacceptable foods.
Daniel 1:8 (NLT)

In 605 BC King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon conquered Judah. Most citizens of Judah were forcibly taken to Babylon. Soon thereafter, Nebuchadnezzar decided to bring some of the Israelites into his service:

3Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, his chief of staff, to bring to the palace some of the young men of Judah’s royal family and other noble families, who had been brought to Babylon as captives.

4“Select only strong, healthy, and good-looking young men,” he said. “Make sure they are well versed in every branch of learning, are gifted with knowledge and good judgment, and are suited to serve in the royal palace. Train these young men in the language and literature of Babylon.”

5  The king assigned them a daily ration of food and wine from his own kitchens. They were to be trained for three years, and then they would enter the royal service.
Daniel 1:3-5 (NLT)

Daniel and three others from the family of Judah were taken. (You’ve probably heard of the three others. They were renamed by King Nebuchadnezzar and you mostly likely know them as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. But that’s another story.)

Put yourself in Daniel’s place. You are part of Judah’s royal family. You are conquered. Your enemy captures you and takes you to his country. Things are looking pretty bad for you. Then the king selects you to be part of his elite counsel of advisors. You’re to be fed the same menu cooked by the same chef as the king and you’re to receive the best training. It’s a lot better than living out your life in a dungeon. But it means serving the king who conquered your land and brought you to his.

Would you be angry or thankful? Would you oppose the king who conquered you or serve him? Would you pretend to be a friend of the king while secretly working against him?

Let’s look at how Daniel responded:

But Daniel was determined not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king. He asked the chief of staff for permission not to eat these unacceptable foods.
Daniel 1:8 (NLT)

Daniel made a firm decision. Various translations make this clear:

“Daniel was determined…” (NLT)
“Daniel made up his mind…” (NASB)
“Daniel purposed in his heart…” (NKJV)
“Daniel resolved…” (NRSV)

Daniel made a firm decision, not a wishy-washy, wishful-thinking decision. He didn’t think “well, maybe it would be best if…” He didn’t think “I’m going to try …” His approach wasn’t “if I can, I’m going to…” He made a take-a-stand, Joshua-like decision – “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).

Often the first step we need to take is simply to make a firm decision. I have been working toward a healthy weight for more than a year now. I am only successful when I make a firm decision to work toward my goals. When I approach them half-heartedly I fail. Consistently. When I approach them with resolve, with purpose in my heart, with a made-up mind, I am successful.

Daniel decided to honor God by remaining as pure as possible in a pagan culture. Daniel’s first recorded challenge to his decision came when he began receiving meals prepared by the King’s chef. There is little detail here about why Daniel might consider it inappropriate to eat the food, but it’s not unreasonable to conclude from the use of the word “defile” that Daniel had concerns about the type of meat he would be served, how it was prepared, and/or whether it may have been offered to Babylonian idols. Without knowing the details, however, we can identify with Daniel because we live in a culture that is increasingly unfriendly toward Christians. We live in a culture that encourages and celebrates lifestyle choices that are not consistent with serving God.

Every decision we make throughout the day involves a choice between honoring God or living life according to our own rules and wants and wishes. Every decision? Yes, every decision – every piece of food we eat, every television program we watch, every word we say to our coworkers, every assignment we complete for our boss, every look we give our spouses, every traffic law we obey or disobey, and every thought we nurture or kill. Regardless of the situation we face, we can choose to honor God or not honor God. But it’s not just the decisions we make, it’s also how we implement those decisions.

Daniel honored God by living respectfully in a pagan culture. When I read the words of verse 8 – that Daniel was determined and resolved, that he had made up his mind – an image begins to take shape in my mind of a man who is going to stand up boldly to authority and resist it if necessary to accomplish his goals. That image is inconsistent with the second half of the verse: “He [Daniel] asked the chief of staff for permission not to eat these unacceptable foods.”

Daniel didn’t approach the chief of staff with a demand or refusal – he asked for permission. This caught me by surprise. Having made a firm decision to remain pure, Daniel then seemingly puts his ability to keep that commitment in the hands of his captors. There is an expression that I truly hate: “It’s easier to ask forgiveness than to get permission.” That statement doesn’t honor God in any way. Daniel didn’t subscribe to that statement. Daniel’s approach showed respect for those in authority. It actually went much further than that.

Daniel trusted God to make a way for him to fulfill his commitment. Choosing to ask permission instead of taking matters into his own hands, defying authority and then asking forgiveness, Daniel demonstrated trust in God. Daniel may have made the commitment to honor God, but he also recognized that it would only be by God’s grace that he could keep the commitment.

I realize that Daniel’s humility takes me by surprise in light of his determination because I view determination as strength and deep down inside I view humility as weakness. That would be because I have a flawed view of humility. In God’s economy humility is king:

God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.
Matthew 5:5 (NLT)

But he gives all the more grace; therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
James 4:6 (NRSV)

And all of you must clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
1 Peter 5:5b (NRSV)

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.
James 4:10 (NKJV)

It certainly proved true in Daniel’s case. What was the result of Daniel’s actions? Read it for yourself:

18When the training period ordered by the king was completed, the chief of staff brought all the young men to King Nebuchadnezzar. 19The king talked with them, and no one impressed him as much as Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. So they entered the royal service. 20Whenever the king consulted them in any matter requiring wisdom and balanced judgment, he found them ten times more capable than any of the magicians and enchanters in his entire kingdom.
Daniel 1:18-20 (NLT)

Determination and humility – two great qualities that work great together. Who knew?

Do you need to make a firm decision to honor God in a greater way in some area of your life? How’s your humility quotient?

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Resting at the River’s Edge provides an opportunity to participate in reading through the Bible in a systematic way. Here’s more details about the plan and our schedules.

The holiday season will quickly be upon us, friends. Let me encourage you to make a new commitment to continuing your time reading through the Bible. Track your reading along with us using the table below, the half-page PDF you can download here or the November/December Bookmark you can download here.

Share with us what God is speaking you as you read this month! E-mail me, leave a message on the Apprehending Grace Facebook page, or post a comment at the end of any blog.

Word of God, speak to us again this month!
Sandy

Download all 2012 bookmarks here Download only the November/December 2012 bookmark here

Download a half-page PDF of the November Reading Plan here

Here’s the November reading plan:

RARE November 2012 Reading Plan JPG

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1In the first year of Darius son of Xerxes (a Mede by descent), who was made ruler over the Babylonian kingdom—2in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. 3So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.
Daniel 9:1-3

Daniel understood the times and knew that it was time for God to move – but he didn’t just sit back and wait for it – he prayed into it. In doing so, he provides an interesting and insightful example for us.

He understood from studying Scripture that the seventy years prophecied by Jeremiah as the length of “the desolation of Jerusalem” was nearly ended. How exciting it must have been when Daniel realized this! From his own description, it’s clear that he hadn’t been counting down the years since his abduction from his homeland and entrance into Nebuchadnezzar’s service. It wasn’t until many, many years later, during the reign of King Darius, that God opened Daniel’s eyes to the Scriptures that pointed to the end of the Jerusalem’s captivity.

Have you ever studied Scripture and suddenly a passage makes sense in a way it never has before? I love it when that happens! In this case, Daniel’s eyes were opened to a message that impacted not just him and his relationship with God, but an entire nation. I would think he’d be tempted to shout it from the rooftops! At the very least I would expect Daniel to be dancing in celebration!

We saw in chapter 1, however, that Daniel was quite humble. He didn’t rush out to boast to everyone what he had learned in Bible study that morning and he didn’t begin to celebrate his impending freedom. Instead, he turned to prayer. Daniel knew that God’s promises are meant to lead us into prayer, not make our prayers unnecessary. We’re not to sit back and wait for blessings to roll in, but rather to contend for them in the spiritual world through prayer. It is prayer that moves the hand of God.

So Daniel turned to prayer, and not only to prayer, but also to confession. Let’s take a look:

4I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed:
     “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with all who love him and obey his commands, 5we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. 6We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.
     7“Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the men of Judah and people of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you. 8O LORD, we and our kings, our princes and our fathers are covered with shame because we have sinned against you. 9The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; 10we have not obeyed the LORD our God or kept the laws he gave us through his servants the prophets. 11All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you.
Daniel 9: 4-11

You know, I’m guessing that Daniel didn’t personally sin to the extent that it would appear from reading his prayer. Today we would call what Daniel was doing “identificational repentance.” Identificational repentance describes what happens when someone chooses to identify with the sins of their family, city, nation, people group or other organization, and confesses that sin. It often involves not only making confession to God but to offended parties as a way of bringing healing between people groups. For example, a white Christian might identify with the sin of slavery in our country’s history even though they or their ancestors personally had no connection with slavery. Under the conviction of the Holy Spirit we recognize that the sins of some people group we’re associated with have the same roots as sin we see in ourselves – a desire for power, greed, selfishness, or rebellion, for example – and we confess the sin and ask forgiveness. Identificational repentance is powerful because it brings into the open sins that may have been denied and were never dealt with. Those sins are confessed before God and where possible people who were offended by the sin. Such confession brings reconciliation with God and moves toward reconciliation between people groups. Often times it is the first time the offended party has ever been apologized to for wrongs they have experienced. Again, that can be a powerful thing.

Identificational Repentance is what every priest in the Old Testament did – confess the sins of the people before God. Under the New Covenant, Christ has made every believer a part of the “royal priesthood” described in 1 Peter 2:9. When we participate in identificational repentance we take on a priestly role. What an honor! Remember, an important element is that we identify with the sin – we’re not confessing sins “they” did, but identifying with “their” actions and confessing the sin as our own. It’s what Daniel was doing when he prayed “O Lord…we have sinned against you.”

Daniel continued in his prayer, confessing the sins of his people, rehearsing God’s history with the Israelites, and ending in intercession asking God to step in and change history not because they deserve it but because God is merciful:

17“Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, O Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. 18Give ear, O God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. 19O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hear and act! For your sake, O my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.”
Daniel 9:17-19

Daniel’s prayer is an outstanding example of humility and intercession. As you pray for your community and state, confess the sins you see, not as sins others have committed, but as a priest representing those who have sinned.

 

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1In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put in the treasure house of his god. 

3Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring in some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility—4young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. 5The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.

6Among these were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 7The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.

8But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. 9Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel, 10but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.”

11Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 12“Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” 14So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.

15At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. 16So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.

17To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.

18At the end of the time set by the king to bring them in, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. 19The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s service. 20In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.

21And Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus.
Daniel 1

Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the conquering king’s rich food. That seems like a good thing…but notice how he went about it. I was quite taken with it when I read this chapter. Put yourself in Daniel’s place. His nation has been conquered. The priceless things in the temple of the Lord have been taken and placed in temples before other gods. Daniel, his friends and other Israelites were taken to serve the conquering king, King Nebuchadnezzar. They are given new names and are being taught a new language so that they can serve a new king.

Somehow I don’t think I’d be feeling very charitable. I would probably be  struggling not to feel resentful and angry…unless I’d given up the struggle and just settled into the anger and resentment. That’s certainly not God’s way of handling the situation, I’m just saying…

I was so impressed with Daniel’s response.

  • His heart remained pure – he made a commitment to not becoming unclean by eating the choice food the king offered.
  • He remained humble. This is what captured my attention as I read the passage. I was amazed at Daniel’s attitude. Instead of standing up for his religious practices or God’s way of living – “I refuse to defile myself with this pagan’s food” – he humbly asked the guard if he may not eat the food. He didn’t arrogantly stand up to the guard, declaring that his ways were better than the guard’s ways. He didn’t resentfully refuse to eat the food. He didn’t quietly eat the other food leaving the “choice” food on his plate. He “asked the chief official for permission.” That, my friend, is humility – displayed in a place and at a time when humility would not be a natural response.
  • He remained confident in his God and his God’s ways. After not demanding his own way (or the way he believed God wanted), Daniel asked the chief official for a trial – “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.”  Daniel was so confident in God’s ability to sustain them that he gave the official an opportunity to prove it to himself. Again, the suggestion was delivered with humility, not arrogance. In offering to let the official decide what is the best approach at the end of the trial, Daniel wasn’t saying “You’ll see – our ways are better than your ways.” Rather, he was saying “You can decide which is best.” His attitude was humble, but his heart was confident that God will honor and bless Daniel’s actions.

Notice that it was Daniel’s humility that peacefully opened the door to negotiations that allowed Daniel to eat the foods that he believed honored God, which then led to God’s blessing Daniel and his friends with supernatural favor and wisdom.

I’d like my life to be characterized by an attitude of humility and a heart of confidence. What an excellent picture of living our faith.

The Christmas season is upon us and you and I are likely to find ourselves in gatherings of people with whom we sometimes have difficulty – perhaps a parent or an in-law, a sibling or a competitive cousin. I wonder if practicing Daniel’s humility might help us gain favor with these people and open doors for the Gospel. As you think about upcoming gatherings, think about the conversations that often develop that end in conflict or frustration. Are there ways your behavior might mirror David’s? Are there ways you can practice humility while maintaining a heart that is confident in God’s power to change the situation? I’m praying there are because practicing Daniel’s humility just might be the way to bring those challenging people in your life closer to the Lord. Let’s give it a try!

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Resting at the River's Edge Logo 2010-2011

“In the beginning was the word…”

This month during our Resting at the River’s Edge readings we’ll read the Gospel of John – starting with the beginning of time, it will take us through the life of Christ and then lead us into the book of Revelation for December’s readings. I thought it would be interesting to read these two books back-to-back. (Although you’ll find 2nd Thessalonians sandwiched in between because I realized I had forgotten to include it in the schedule when we read 1st Thessalonians this month. Oops!)

The Gospel of John is many people’s favorites. It’s a bit too contemplative to be my favorite, but I appreciate it’s uniqueness among the Gospels.

Our Old Testament readings will have us finishing the Old Testament except for the book of Psalms which we’ll read in December. That means we’ll finish the book of Ezekiel, cover six of the minor prophets and read the book of Daniel. Remember, the minor phrophets aren’t called that because their message is minor, but simply because they wrote shorter books. For example, you’ll find these two prayers in the book of Habakkuk:

LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.
Habakkuk 3:2 – I often include this prayer of Habakkuk in my times of intercession for revival

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
Habakkuk 3:17-18 – this prayer challenges me to rejoice regardless of my circumstances

One of the minor prophets we’ll read is Zechariah. According to the NIV Worship Bible (Zondervan Publishing), “Zechariah is not an easy book to understand, partly because it is an example of apocalyptic literature. This genre includes fantastic visions, grand schemes and mysterious interpretations. Often history is ‘telescoped,’ with past, present and future described as happening at the same time. Above all, Jewish and Christian apocalyptic writings demonstrate God’s ultimate sovereignty over everything. God is the cosmic playwright and authoritative director of the drama of history. We worship this God with awe, humble obedience and confidence in His rule over all that is and is to come.” (page 1271)

Hold on to your hats, folks, there’s some fantastic reading ahead!

Sandy

The recommended reading schedule for November is below.

To download a PDF of the November 2011 recommended reading plan, click here.

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