Silversmiths for Artemis

Bible:

About that time there arose no little disturbance concerning the Way. For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the craftsmen. These he gathered together, with the workmen in similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth. And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods. And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship.” Acts 19:23-27 ESV

The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.
They have mouths, but do not speak;
they have eyes, but do not see;
they have ears, but do not hear,
nor is there any breath in their mouths.
Those who make them become like them,
so do all who trust in them. Psalm 135:15-18 ESV

Reflection:

Do you remember Daniel, a Jewish man who held a high position as a captive in Babylon? There’s a story that the Babylonians had a god named Bel, and every day the Babylonians fed it 12 bushels of fine flour, 40 sheep, and 50 gallons of wine. King Cyrus, the Persian, worshiped this god every day, and he couldn’t understand why Daniel wouldn’t worship a god that ate and drank so much all the time. Daniel just laughed and said that he would never worship a god made of clay and brass. So the king and Daniel agreed to test Bel. The king would set out the food and wine for the idol, and lock the doors of the temple. So they did that, but Daniel had dusted the floor around the idol with flour. The next day the king unlocked the door and showed Daniel that all the food and wine was gone, but Daniel pointed to many footprints in the flour on the floor. It turned out that the priests of Bel and their families had been coming in every night through a secret trapdoor and eating and drinking all the food and wine themselves! The priests of Bel served the idol because of the way it provided for them and their families.

This is only a story, but it’s a little like what happened in Ephesus after many people became Christians and burned their magic books. A silversmith named Demetrius called all the other silversmiths together and got them really angry with Paul. Demetrius said that if people stopped worshiping the goddess Artemis, then no one would buy their silver idols of Artemis anymore, and that would put them out of business. The temple of Artemis might also fall into disrepair and be abandoned. Did the silversmiths actually believe that Artemis was real? They might have, but what it seemed they were really worried about was losing money and losing their way of making a living. For them the goddess gave them a way of providing for their families even as their businesses led many people into the darkness of the false goddess.

Sometimes we’re also tempted to make a living in ways that bring dishonor to God. We might not make silver idols, but perhaps we do things that are dishonest or hurtful to others. We might try to justify ourselves by saying that we need the money to support ourselves and our families, but for God that’s not an excuse. It really shows that we don’t trust that he will take care of his people, but instead think it’s all up to us to provide for ourselves in any way we can. Jesus came to die on the cross to make us God’s children, and since our Heavenly Father provided Jesus for us, we can also trust him to provide him with everything else that we need. He forgives us for our greed and dishonesty, and gives us ways to work that serve the needs of ourselves and others and bring glory to him.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for providing us what we need, for giving us work to do, and for giving us Jesus, our Savior. In His Name, Amen.

Source:

Bel and the Dragon

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Blasphemy!

Bible:

And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” And the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further witnesses do we need? You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned him as deserving death. Mark 14:60-64 ESV

[Daniel said:] “I saw in the night visions,

and behold, with the clouds of heaven
there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
and was presented before him.
And to him was given dominion
and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
that shall not be destroyed. Daniel 7:13-14 ESV

Reflection:

Mr. Slate had accidentally locked himself out of his house. He didn’t want to call the locksmith, and he thought he could probably open the bedroom window if he climbed the tree and then balanced on the ledge to reach the window. But while he was balancing on the ledge and trying to get his bedroom window open, a police car drove by. The police officer thought that Mr. Slate was a burglar who was trying to break into the house to rob it. Now Mr. Slate was in trouble. The police officer didn’t believe that it was Mr. Slate’s own house and that he had a right to try to get inside. He arrested Mr. Slate and took him to the police station. It took awhile for the whole misunderstanding to get cleared up!

When Caiaphas, the high priest, asked Jesus if he was the Christ, or Messiah, and the Son of God, Jesus said, “I am.” Then he talked about the prophecy of Daniel, saying that everyone would see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven to be the judge. If what Jesus said had been a lie, it would have been a terrible blasphemy against God. Jesus was claiming to be God’s equal and the promised Savior, and no one should ever dare to claim such a thing as a lie. But if Jesus was telling the truth, then he had every right to say this about himself. Caiaphas would not see or understand that what Jesus said was the truth. All he could see or believe was that Jesus was telling a terrible lie that insulted God, and that he deserved death for it.

Because of Jesus, we have the incredible right to claim to be God’s children. We don’t deserve this right, because we are sinful people who have turned against God and insulted him with our lives. But Jesus came to take the penalty for our sins on the cross, and because of what he’s done for us, we now have the right to call ourselves the children of God. Jesus has turned what would have been an insult to God and made it into our wonderful right, to be God’s own people now and forever.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us the right to be called your children through Jesus, our Savior. In His Name, Amen.

The Judgment of the Son of Man

Bible:

Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.  Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains. John 9:35-41 ESV

[Daniel wrote:] “As I looked,

thrones were placed,
and the Ancient of Days took his seat;
his clothing was white as snow,
and the hair of his head like pure wool;
his throne was fiery flames;
its wheels were burning fire.
A stream of fire issued
and came out from before him;
a thousand thousands served him,
and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him;
the court sat in judgment,
and the books were opened.

“I saw in the night visions,

and behold, with the clouds of heaven
there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
and was presented before him.
And to him was given dominion
and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
that shall not be destroyed.” Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14 ESV

Reflection:

Robin Hood, according to the way some people tell the story, lived in Sherwood Forest at the time when King Richard was off fighting in the Crusades. Robin Hood was angry at the injustices the people of England lived under, and especially the poorest people, whose land and means of living were often stolen from them by Prince John and other wicked rulers. Robin Hood expected that some day King Richard would return and set right what was wrong. But when King Richard did return, he met Robin while he was in disguise, and Robin didn’t recognize him at first. It was only when King Richard revealed himself that Robin Hood knew who he was, and immediately pledged his loyalty to him, while the King gave Robin his royal pardon. King Richard judged and punished the evil rulers who had been disloyal to him and oppressed his people.

This is only a story, but it’s a little bit like the end of the story of the man born blind. This man believed that Jesus was a prophet sent from God, but he didn’t know any more about him. But Jesus found him and talked to him some more, and told him that he was the Son of Man. Jesus was saying that he was the promised Savior, who would be given glory and judgment by God, the Ancient of Days, that the prophet Daniel had talked about. The man born blind immediately believed in Jesus and worshiped him when he knew who he was. Jesus said he had come into the world for judgment, and that those who thought they saw the truth were really blind, but those who believed in him became able to see. The religious leaders couldn’t believe that they were blind to who Jesus was, but the Lord sternly told them that because they thought they saw the truth, but really didn’t, they were the ones who were blind.

Everyone who sees the mighty Son of Man disguised in the man Jesus receives pardon for all their sins, but people who don’t see who Jesus really is will be judged by him. Jesus came to give his life for the sins of all people, and he wants all people to come to him for forgiveness and life. But some people refuse to believe in Jesus, and in their blindness they will be judged for rejecting their Savior. God the Holy Spirit helps people to be healed of their blindness and to see what Jesus has done for them, and to become God’s people now and always.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for helping us to see and believe in you. Amen.

Source:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/nottingham/features/2004/03/did_robin_hood_ever_meet_king_richard.shtml

Daniel’s Visions

Bible:

I saw in the night visions,

and behold, with the clouds of heaven
there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
and was presented before him.
And to him was given dominion
and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
that shall not be destroyed. Daniel 7:13-14 ESV

[Jesus said;] “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. Luke 24:46b-51

Reflection:

Do you remember Belshazzar? He had been the king of the Babylonian empire when it was defeated by the Medes and the Persians. His father’s name was Nabonidus, and his mother, Nitocris, might have been Nebuchadnezzar’s daughter. Nabonidus had gone into exile, and when that happened he made his son the king by giving him the throne and most of the Babylonian army. Belshazzar and Nabonidus were kings at the same time, and this is called a co-regency. It often happened in the ancient world that a father and his son would be king at the same time. This helped make the son’s throne secure before his father died, and gave the son a chance to learn to be the king. Daniel would have understood a co-regency very well because of this.

Late in his life, God gave Daniel many visions of the future. Some of these visions are hard to understand, but the one we just read is a very important one. It talks about someone called the Ancient of Days, who sits on the throne and rules the whole universe. But then a son of man, a human person, is brought before the throne of the Ancient of Days, and he is given power and authority to rule everyone in the whole world–all nations and languages and people–in a kingdom that will never be destroyed. Belshazzar and his father lost their kingdom, but the son of man would rule forever and ever.

This vision isn’t hard to understand. The Ancient of Days is God the Father, and who is the man who was presented to God to share in his rule? This son of man is Jesus, the promised Savior. Daniel’s vision allowed him to see into the future, to see the promised Savior his people had been waiting for, and to see the him being given authority over the whole world. Jesus came to die on the cross and rise again to defeat sin and death and the devil, and then he went back to heaven and to the throne of his Father. God made Jesus his co-regent, and gave Jesus authority over all people and nations and languages. Before Jesus went back into heaven, he told his followers to tell the good news of the life and forgiveness he had won to people all over the world. When people come to faith in Jesus, they join his kingdom, a kingdom meant for everyone no matter where they come from or what color they are or what language they speak, a kingdom that will never end.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for winning the kingdom for us and for making us a part of it. Please help us share that kingdom with others. Amen.

Source:

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Belshazzar

The Decree of Darius

Bible:

Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: “Peace be multiplied to you. I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel,

for he is the living God,
enduring forever;
his kingdom shall never be destroyed,
and his dominion shall be to the end.
He delivers and rescues;
he works signs and wonders
in heaven and on earth,
he who has saved Daniel
from the power of the lions.”

So this Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian. Daniel 6:25-28 ESV

May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us, 
that your way may be known on earth,
your saving power among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide the nations upon earth. 
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you! Psalm 67:1-5 ESV

Reflection:

In Australia, February 28th is a special day. It’s called National Red Balloon Day, and it’s a day to thank firefighters (in Australia they call them “fireys”) for the heroic and dangerous work they do in saving lives and property. People in Australia fly red balloons from their fences, mailboxes, or in the windows of their business. When everyone sees the red balloons, they remember to be thankful to firefighters for all their good work, and firefighters see the red balloons and feel appreciated and know that their courage hasn’t been forgotten.

After Daniel had been rescued from the lion’s den, King Darius wanted to express his appreciation to the living God who had saved Daniel. He knew that there was no other god in all the world who could have done this amazing thing, and he wanted all the people in his empire, whatever their ethnic or national group or language, to know and tremble with fear before Daniel’s God. Darius said an amazing thing in the decree he sent out to his empire. He might have been a powerful king, but he knew that someday he would die, and that his rule would come to an end. But the rule of the God of Daniel would never come to an end. Darius said, “His kingdom shall never be destroyed.” He knew that there was a God above all gods and kingdoms, and he came to know a little about that God because of Daniel.

The Lord is great and good without our praise and thanks, but when we think of the way he helps us and saves us, we want to give him our thanks and appreciation. He came to us in Jesus and died on the cross for us so that our sins could be forgiven and we could be his people always. Our praise helps other people to see and know what a wonderful God we have. He wants people from all over the world, no matter what their language or what country they are from, to love and serve him the way we do. We are thankful for the work of missionaries around the world who are helping to make this happen, and we add our praise and thanks to God so that many more will hear the good news and come to know the Lord.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your help and your salvation. Help us to share that good news with others around the world. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

http://www.nationalredballoonday.org/about.html

An Angel Tames the Lions

Bible:

Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions. As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.” Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. 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. Daniel 6:19-24 ESV

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. John 11:25-26b ESV

Reflection:

Have you ever seen a lion tamer, perhaps at a circus? It can be fun to watch, although many people think that taming lions isn’t a kind or a fair thing to do. The methods of taming lions have changed over the years. Henri Martin was one of the first lion tamers. He introduced himself to the lions very slowly and gradually, gently earning their trust a little at a time until they would perform for him. Later a lion tamer named Isaac Van Amburgh used a very different method. He would use whips and chairs and and guns to control the lions by fear and violence. Today’s lion tamers are more gentle again, and they use a lot of rewards, and most importantly build trust with the lions so that they will perform. They usually work with the lions from the time they are cubs so that the lions know and trust them.

Daniel wasn’t a lion tamer, and the lions he was thrown to were hungry and dangerous and wild. When he was thrown into the pit with the lions and a stone was rolled in front of the opening and sealed with government seals, it should have been his death. There was no way he could have come out of that situation alive without a miracle from God, and that’s exactly what happened. God sent an angel to stay in the den all night with Daniel, and the angel kept the lions tamed and stopped them from hurting him in any way. There wasn’t a single scratch on his body when the happy king brought Daniel out of the den the next day! We don’t like to think of what happened next. Justice for the officials who started all the trouble and their families was swift and very cruel. But from this we can be sure that these were hungry and wild lions, and that what had happened to Daniel was definitely a miracle.

After Jesus died on the cross, his dead body was put into a grave, a huge stone was rolled over the opening of the grave, and it was sealed with a government seal. There was no way a person could come out of that grave without a miracle from God. But that’s exactly what happened. Jesus walked out of the grave, alive forever, the first Easter Sunday, and an angel rolled the stone away from his grave so that his followers could look in and see that it was empty. He had battled with death, and he had won. Jesus tamed death as if it were a wild, dangerous lion, and because of that, we don’t have to be afraid of death. When we are put into our graves someday, Jesus will be there with us, and he will bring us out alive again on the last day. We know that we will live with him forever in his heavenly kingdom.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for taming death for us, and for giving us the promise of life forever with you. Amen.

Source:

http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/arts/circus-arts/lion-taming2.htm

Helpless under the Law

Bible:

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. Then these men came by agreement to the king and said to the king, “Know, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no injunction or ordinance that the king establishes can be changed.”

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!” And a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel. Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no diversions were brought to him, and sleep fled from him. Daniel 6:14-18 ESV

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:1-4 ESV

Reflection:

In 1919, the United States passed some laws known of as Prohibition. These laws said that alcoholic drinks, such as wine, beer, and whisky, could not be made, transported, or sold in the United States. These laws seemed to be a good idea at the time. Alcohol caused a lot of problems with fights and accidents and men spending all their money on drinks and not bringing their paychecks home to their families. People who drank too much also didn’t work well in the factories. Prohibition seemed like a very good idea, but it wasn’t. People still sold and drank alcohol in places called “speakeasies,” and people made alcohol illegally, sometimes bad alcohol that was poisonous. It was very hard to enforce Prohibition laws, and they led to a big increase in crime and violent activities by gangs who fought over who would control illegal alcohol businesses. In 1933 the United States repealed the Prohibition laws. This meant that it was legal to make, sell, and buy alcohol again. Lawmakers came to see that the law really wasn’t a good idea, and that it had made more trouble than it had tried to fix.

The legal system in the Medo-Persian empire was different. Once a law was made, even if it was a bad law, it couldn’t be changed, not even by the king himself. When the government leaders told Darius that Daniel had broken his new law, the king was very upset. He understood that he had been trapped, and that there was nothing he could do. Even though he had made the law, he had no power to change it. He had no choice but to throw Daniel into a den of hungry lions, and to seal the opening to the den with a stone, as well as official government seals, so that no one would be able to rescue Daniel. King Darius was terribly upset by all this. He didn’t eat anything, and wouldn’t listen to court musicians or watch court dancers or have any other entertainment, and he couldn’t sleep that night. He was completely powerless to save Daniel, but he had one small hope that the God Daniel served might be able to protect him.

We were also completely helpless under God’s law, and we had no way to change that or to free ourselves. God’s law is holy and good, but we were under its power because of our sins. People who don’t obey God’s law perfectly are under the power of death, and nothing we could do would change that. But God was not powerless to save us. He didn’t change his good law, but instead he came to us in Jesus to keep the law perfectly for us. Jesus obeyed God’s laws, and he died on the cross and rose again to break the power of sin and death in our lives. Because of Jesus we are free from being condemned by the law, and he forgives our sins every day. He sends us his Holy Spirit to help us walk in his ways, and we are free to serve the God who loves us.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for keeping the law for us and for setting us free from sin and death. Amen.

Source:

http://www.history.com/topics/prohibition

No Compromise

Bible:

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. Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and plea before his God. Then they came near and said before the king, concerning the injunction, “O king! Did you not sign an injunction, that anyone who makes petition to any god or man within thirty days except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?” The king answered and said, “The thing stands fast, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be revoked.” Then they answered and said before the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or the injunction you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day.” Daniel 6:10-13 ESV

And the high priest questioned them, saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” Acts 5:27b-32 ESV

Reflection:

Cyprian was a bishop in the early Christian church, and in his time the Roman empire was persecuting Christians. One day Bishop Cyprian was brought before a proconsul to be put on trial for his own life. The proconsul asked him if his name was Cyprian, and if he was a leader of the Christians. Cyprian answered yes to both of these questions. Then the proconsul reminded him that Rome had commanded its people to offer sacrifices to the emperor. Cyprian answered, “I will not do it.” The proconsul said, “Think it over.” He said this to remind the bishop that if he didn’t obey this law, he would be put to death. Cyprian answered, “Do what you have been ordered to do. In such a just cause there is nothing to think over.” He would not compromise his faith even if it would save his life. Bishop Cyprian was put to death.

Daniel also was not willing to compromise his faith in God, even though it meant going against the law of the land. He knew that the penalty for continuing to pray to the God of Israel three times a day would be death. But that didn’t stop him. He didn’t even try to hide his prayers, but he continued to kneel and pray at his window where everyone could see him. He wanted to pray facing toward Jerusalem, because he believed God’s promise that if his people prayed from exile toward the temple, even though it was ruined at this time, God would hear their prayers and bring them home. While he was praying and thanking God, his enemies came and caught him breaking the law, and they went to King Darius. They told the king that Daniel had broken his law, and that in the Medo-Persian empire a law could not be changed, not even by the king himself. Daniel was doomed to die.

Throughout history people have been called on to give up their lives in faithfulness to God. This can be a very scary thought, and we might wonder if we would ever have the strength if it happened to us. But the Lord tells us not to worry. Jesus says that he will be with us always, and he will give us the strength to do whatever we need to do. If we fall short in courage, Jesus will forgive us and help us, and he will go on loving us. Whether we live or die, we are safe in his hands, because he gave us his life on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven and we could belong to him no matter what. We don’t need to try to trust ourselves, but only Jesus, who loves us and gave himself for us.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for your love and forgiveness. Please give me the strength to be your follower. Amen.

Source:

http://www.earlychristians.org/index.php/acts/item/316-the-act-of-martyrdom-of-st-cyprian/316-the-act-of-martyrdom-of-st-cyprian

Pride and a Foolish Law

Bible:

Then these high officials and satraps came by agreement to the king and said to him, “O King Darius, live forever! All the high officials 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. Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be revoked.” Therefore King Darius signed the document and injunction. Daniel 6:6-9 ESV

Blessed is the man who makes
the Lord his trust,
who does not turn to the proud,
to those who go astray after a lie!
You have multiplied, O Lord my God,
your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
none can compare with you!
I will proclaim and tell of them,
yet they are more than can be told. Psalm 40:4-5 ESV

Reflection:

Once a little frog saw a big ox in a field, and he went home and told his father about it. His father wasn’t impressed. “I can make myself just as big as an ox if I want to!” said the bullfrog, and he started to puff himself up. As he blew himself out, the little frog kept saying that the ox was much bigger than that. So the frog kept puffing himself full of air until he burst like a big balloon!

King Darius was as proud and foolish as this bullfrog. He thought he had enough power and wisdom to take care of everyone’s needs in his whole kingdom, and that the people didn’t need any other government official or any god to help them. The leaders of the government used the king’s pride to trick him into making a very foolish law. The law said that no one could ask anyone for any help except for the king–not any other person and not any god–for thirty days. King Darius probably thought that by signing this law he would show everyone in the empire how important and powerful he was, so he signed the law. He didn’t realize that it was all a trick to trap Daniel and to get rid of him.

We all sometimes get tricked by our pride to think that we can take care of ourselves and handle things on our own without God’s help. But we need God every day, and we really can’t do anything without him, even though we often don’t think about the way he takes care of us and provides for us. Most importantly, we couldn’t ever win our way back to God after our foolishness and pride separated us from him. We sometimes start to think that we can follow God’s ways and be good enough to be his children on our own, but we can’t. We are sinful, and the only way back to God is through Jesus, our Savior. Jesus came to die on the cross for us so that our sins could be forgiven and we could be God’s people. We can always trust Jesus for forgiveness and for everything we need to go God’s way, now and always.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, please help us to always trust you and know that you give us everything we need. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Jealous Plotting

Bible:

It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps, to be throughout the whole kingdom; and over them three high officials, of whom Daniel was one, to whom these satraps should give account, so that the king might suffer no loss. Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. Then the high officials 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.” Daniel 6:1-5 ESV

Who rises up for me against the wicked?
Who stands up for me against evildoers?
If the Lord had not been my help,
my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence.
When I thought, “My foot slips,”
your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up.
When the cares of my heart are many,
your consolations cheer my soul.
Can wicked rulers be allied with you,
those who frame injustice by statute?
They band together against the life of the righteous
and condemn the innocent to death.
But the Lord has become my stronghold,
and my God the rock of my refuge.
He will bring back on them their iniquity
and wipe them out for their wickedness;
the Lord our God will wipe them out. Psalm 94:16-23 ESV

Reflection:

George Bailey was a very good man. He was honest and he worked hard, and because of him Bedford Falls was a good place to live. He helped people live good lives and made sure that people who didn’t have much money were able to afford to buy houses. Everyone in town thought a lot of him, but George Bailey had an enemy. Mr. Potter wanted to control Bedford Falls himself and use its people to fill his own pockets with money, and George Bailey was in his way. George was so honest and good that Mr. Potter couldn’t find any way to get the better of him. But George had one weakness. He was a very kind man, and because of this he trusted his Uncle Billy with some money, even though Uncle Billy wasn’t always trustworthy. Mr. Potter was able to take advantage of this and steal this money, and this caused George a lot of trouble.

Daniel was like George Bailey. He worked hard and was honest, and he did his job so well that King Darius thought very highly of him. He made Daniel one of the three high officials in the land, and he was thinking about making Daniel the highest official of all. The other two officials and other rulers in the government were very jealous of Daniel. They wanted to get rid of him so that they would have more power for themselves, but they couldn’t find any problem or fault in Daniel. His work was perfect, and they couldn’t catch him making mistakes or being dishonest. They only way they could think of to get him in trouble was to use his worship of the true God of Israel. So the government officials started to hatch a plot to use this against him in some way.

When we do our work, we hope to be like Daniel, honest and hardworking and good at what we do. God can bless and help us in our vocation so that we can do well and serve others with our work. There is one person who was perfect all the time in every way, and that was Jesus. Jesus never sinned against his Heavenly Father or against other people, but he had enemies who were jealous of him and wanted to get rid of him. They made up lies about him and saw that he was put on a cross to die. Jesus let them to that to him because he knew that when he died on the cross he was paying for the sins of the whole world. We won’t always work perfectly with skill and love and kindness, but we can go to Jesus every day for forgiveness and help and strength to do our work for him, and let him love and help other people through us.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for your love and forgiveness. Help us to love and serve others well. Amen.

Source:

Capra, Frank, dir. It’s a Wonderful Life RKO Radio Pictures, 1946. Film.