When the calendar turns and we face a new year, many of us ask ourselves common questions. What changes will take place in my life this year? What difference will I make in the next 12 months? Since Jesus offered His people abundant life, it makes sense for His people to reflect on such significant thoughts. What better time for reflection on the big questions than at the start of a new year?
When was the last time you gave a gift to a loved one expecting a payment in return? Probably never because if you receive payment for a gift, it ceases to be a gift! Likewise, God’s gift of salvation has been freely given. We can’t earn it and He doesn’t expect payment for it. God wrapped His indescribable gift in eternity, equality, deity, and humility. Open it today!
Christ didn’t arrive with the flare of trumpets or with flags flying. He didn’t demand an announcement for whole the world to hear, though He deserved it. Jesus just walked in. Take some time to reflect on the nature of Jesus Christ’s Incarnation—born to peasant a girl in a smelly barn in an obscure town and worshipped by a few people. This humble story reveals the character of our Messiah, who humbled Himself to save the people He loved.
Zacharias, Mary, Joseph, and Herod all heard God’s message. So what accounted for their different reactions? Zacharias doubted, Mary and Joseph believed, and Herod rejected the message. And each of their responses had significant results.
God doesn’t rush. Carefully and sovereignly He works to reveal His glory. From the morning sunrise, which slowly spreads its rays across the face of the earth, to the unfolding of His plan in each of our lives, God takes His time to achieve His will. How unlike us! We are impatient, anxious, and impulsive, wondering why things haven’t happened as quickly as we wish.
The last four verses in Daniel 9 are not difficult to read but pose a challenge to understand. Daniel had Gabriel to help him. We’ll rely on the Holy Spirit and the rest of God’s Word, not only to help us understand this prophecy of the 70 weeks but also to help us apply some principles to our lives.
The gradual eroding of the Judeo-Christian ethic to reveal a more secular society does not bode well for any nation, not just Canada. Daniel understood that national sins—forgetting God—lead to discipline, so at the dawn of a new administration he prayed for his nation, Israel. And he left us an example to follow.
Two years elapsed between Daniel’s first vision in chapter 7 and his second vision in chapter 8. Like the first, this vision involved animals. Unlike the first, this vision provides great detail about one of the most famous men in history, about one of the least known men in history, and about one who will appear in the future and will be the most nefarious man in history. To Daniel, it was all future. To us, most of it is history—a history worth studying to prepare us for the future.
Dictators through the ages have always known this truth: many people will give up their freedom for security. At no time in human history will this be more evident than during the terrible time that will come when the Antichrist rules the world. The Bible speaks of this world dictator in great detail and challenges people to make a choice—accept freedom in Christ and the security of everlasting life, or seek temporary security in the Antichrist and suffer enslavement to damnation.
Christians since the first century have been tempted to trade grace for a life directed by strict law and high-minded requirement. The Apostle Paul addressed the Galatian church on this very issue, warning them against trading God’s Gospel for a different, human-made gospel. As we hear the word to the Galatians, keeping our message grounded in grace will help our lives exude grace.