Oh, To Be Greatly Beloved

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“At the beginning of your supplications a word went forth, and I am come to declare it; for you are greatly beloved; therefore look into the word, and understand the vision.” (Daniel 9:23)

 
Can you imagine God sending Gabriel, an angel who stands before Him waiting for His command, coming to you and telling you that God has heard your prayers and made a declaration according to them and, to top it all off, that you are greatly beloved? Now I’m going to leave arguments over the prophesy to others today. But I want to examine Daniel’s heart. I want to see what it is that causes God to delight in someone like that.

 

Why? Because I want to be that kind of a person. I want God to experience shear delight in me. Isn’t that what we were created for? Isn’t that part and parcel with glorifying God?
The Westminster Shorter Catechism starts off by asking this question, “What is the chief end of man?” And then it answers, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.” Where did they get this from? Well, you can read Psalm 86, Isaiah 60:21, Romans 11:36, and 1 Corinthians 6:20 and 10:31 to see. But don’t forget to look at the clincher in Revelation 4:11, “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for You have created all things, and for your pleasure they are and were created.” Am I bringing God pleasure with my life? Am I fulfilling my God-given purpose on this earth? Or have I given myself some other foreign purpose? And if I have adopted some foreign purpose for my life, is that really even living at all?

 
I can’t help but think how fully alive Daniel was. He’s lived through at least two kingdoms being overthrown, probably the death of his parents or at least total separation from them and another nation trying to wipe away his identity. But how does he respond? He holds on to his identity, but not with bitterness, and clings to You God and Your ways in a nation where it was anything but easy. But it’s as though he were living for You and living to please You in all he was. He wouldn’t eat what would be unpleasing to You. He wasn’t rude to those around him or why would they find favor in him? Was that a typical Jewish response to Gentiles and overthrowers? That was a God response in a young man or boy who cherished You.

 
He didn’t stop there. As a man, he not only wanted to save his life and that of his Jewish brothers, but cared for the lives of the other “wise” men and trusted You for the interpretation of the king’s dream. But he was not self-confident. He asked his brothers to pray and fast and did likewise because His confidence was in You, the One he delighted in. Even fear of the king’s anger at the outcome of a dream did not hold him back from sharing Your truth.

 
How boldly he stood before Belshazzar when summoned, probably in his 70’s and yet he had not forgotten all that You had done before. He held Belshazzar accountable before You and the people for not remembering and being moved to action by what he knew about You. He was so delighted in You that he cared nothing for the rewards offered by the king.

 
On the other hand, You were so delighted in Daniel that when the kingdom was overthrown, You gave those rewards and more to Daniel anyway. Because of You and his love and honor of You in everything, Daniel’s character stood out in every reign and he was continually chosen as a leader and advisor even to the kings. Which brings me back to this saying, “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honor of kings is to search out a matter.” (Proverbs 25:2)

 
I can’t help bringing up this verse again and again. What does it mean, especially in context today? I mean, God, You are continually concealing things and giving us, like Daniel and the kings, things we need to search out but that You know the answer to. And maybe that’s the point. It is the glory of God to conceal a thing. You carry the weight of knowing everything and when is the right time to reveal it and who are the right people to reveal it to lest it be like pearls trampled by the swine. But is it really only for kings to search it out? Or do we receive the honor of a king, are we acting like a king ought to act, when we, whoever we are, like Daniel search out every matter according to You and in You? Daniel was not a king and yet he received the glory of a king by kings and from You. Why?

 
Could it be because Daniel delighted in the King of kings? It’s so hard for us to grasp this since we live in a democracy because Your kingdom God is not a democracy. You are King. If Your thumb is up we live, if down, we die. What You say goes, despite what we say. Skip Moen shares, “It is the King’s right and prerogative to involve himself in any aspect of any life under His authority. Furthermore, since God is the King of all the earth, everything belongs to Him. He doesn’t have to prove ownership in a court of law. He cannot be stripped of His property. What He decides to do with His possessions (including you and me) is entirely up to Him. And He holds everyone under His domain accountable for their treatment and stewardship of His resources. There are consequences for refusing to live according to the will of the King. In the days when we are awash in political rhetoric and the promises of leadership, it is well to remember who the King really is. No matter who we choose to lead us, they must answer to Him. So must we for our choosing. If we choose leadership that does not honor Him, we will pay the price. There is only one King, and He is not on the ballot.” And Daniel shows us how to live according to the True King who is not on the world’s ballot.

 
Kings would be wise to search out matters God’s way who conceals and reveals. But it’s not just for kings. We can reap the honor of kings, and especially our King, to live as the kings aren’t living, to love the One the kings aren’t loving, to honor the One the kings ought to honor. Earthly kings and kingdoms are temporary. Come on, look at history. But the True King and His Kingdom are forever. Like Daniel, I better learn how to live under and for Him now. Like Daniel, I want to love and enjoy service under my King all the days of my life.

 
Daniel’s heart was so sensitive to You Lord. He not only thought of himself but of those around him. He lifted up the whole nation and advocated for them, identifying in their sin against You. He set his face unto You. You alone were His source of help and sustenance and answer to the things he didn’t understand. He was serious about hearing from You, so serious he fasted and prayed. He knew You and knew Your word. He sought You out everywhere, looking for Your evidences all around him. There was confusion and shame where You were not, but righteousness with You, and that, or rather You were what he sought. From You and in You were the mercy and forgiveness he sought. He understood that they belonged to You and weren’t just things You gave out. To find them, one must be in relationship with the One who emits mercy and forgiveness because they are part of His essence.

 

Daniel had been doing the job the kings should have done, seeking answers from God. But they weren’t. But since he was, God delighted in his delighting and gave him the answer of kings from Himself, the King of all.  And You send Gabriel to bring the answer to this man who has been spending his life delighting in You, to this man who You hold as beloved. You send this angel named Gabriel from Your presence into his, to share a prophecy. Now, whether that was concerning “Messiah the Prince,” search it out like a true king, I won’t tell you. But the next two times that Gabriel shows up, he’s telling Zacharias that his son will be a forerunner before the Lord, and he tells Mary that her son will be called “the Son of the Most High.”

 
There are a lot of things in our lives that aren’t clear to us, a lot that is concealed before us. If I want to know the truth about it, I need to seek it out from one Source, God alone. I need to stop living like the world and start living like You and loving like You and delighting in You above everything else around me. I need to be willing to sacrifice my comfort in this world, to be comforted by and in You. If You aren’t my most beloved then how can I expect to be Your beloved? We reap what we sow, right? How much of myself am I truly sowing in You? When I think of all that You have sown into people who continually fail You and disregard You, I am amazed and shocked. Because I have been one of those. And yet You love me, and gave Your Christ to return me into Your glory that I might love and serve You again and be loved by You. I guess we’ve always been loved. But it’s maybe greater to be beloved because it’s a reciprocal relationship experienced and treasured by both parties. That’s the kind of relationship Daniel had. And that’s the kind of relationship I want, no matter the cost.

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Finding God

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“He has done this so that they would look for God, somehow reach for Him, and find Him.  In fact, He is never far from any one of us.  Certainly, we live, move, and exist because of Him.  As some of your poets have said, ‘We are God’s children.'”  Acts 17:27-28 God’s Word translation.

Who has done what?  You, God, did something so that people would look for You, reach You, and find You.  That’s amazing!  I want to look at what You did.

Well, it started with You making the universe and everything in it.  Paul rehashed that in verse 24 briefly.  But I can go back to Genesis and read all about it.  So that makes You the Lord, the Ruler, the Authority, over heaven and earth.  And as it’s Creator, You are bigger than what You created, so it’s not like we can contain You in any created thing.  It’s also not like any created thing can meet Your needs or that You need any created thing to meet any of Your needs.  Obviously You could have existed without us, because You were existing without all these things You created before You created them.

So You created us, people, and gave us life, the very breath we breathe and everything that we have is given to us by You.  It started with one man and somehow You brought forth from him every nation on the earth.  Hmm.  That makes us all related by blood.  That’s something to think about.  You even established seasons and where individual men would live.  So now that I know that You did this, why would You do this?

Why would You place the Jews or the Greeks or the Romans or the Medes, or the Persians where You did and when You did?  Why would you place the Americans, or Philippinos, or Africans, or Malaysians where You have and when You have?  Why would You place El Shabaab, or ISIS, or Christians where You have and when You have?  Why would You allow 147  students to attend a college in Kenya where they would lose their lives because of their affiliation with You?  Why would You place former Muslims in strategic places to educate the world in the Truth?  Paul gives us the answer.

“He has done this so that they would look for God, somehow reach for Him, and find Him.”  Dark doesn’t know what light is until it’s exposed to it.  When light steps in, darkness must run.  Every person of every tribe and nation, is being exposed to the Truth.  It’s Your desire that every one of us look for You.  That’s where it must start.  But sometimes we are so busy following traditions that we never stop to think about whether they are true or not.  That effects those of us who call ourselves believers just as much as those who believe in something else.  It’s all about searching.

But what are we searching for?  Are we really searching for the truth or are we searching for something that just satisfies our whims?  Because God is designing our lives around looking for Him, the real Him.  He wants us to look for Him so personally and intently that  we somehow stumble upon actually reaching for Him.  This is when the searching for other things to satisfy us ends and only He will do.  And when we get that close to Him, that’s when He allows Himself to be found by us.  And the truth is that He was never far away.  He’s always been waiting for us to turn to Him in truth and wholehearted need.

Because the truth of the matter is that no matter what nation I come from and no matter what religion I adhere to, I live, move, and exist solely because of You, Lord.  The sad thing is to give credit to another or to not even be concerned about giving credit at all.  Yet everything You have ordered around us shouts out the truth of You.  The question is, “What will I do with that truth?”

Paul didn’t treat the Athenians like they were unintelligent babes.  Neither does God treat us as such.  He said there was a time when God overlooked man’s ignorance, his not knowing any better.  But no more.  Now “He commands everyone everywhere to turn to Him and change the way they think and act.  He has set a day when He is going to judge the world with justice, and He will use a man He has appointed (Jesus) to do this.  God has given proof to everyone that He will do this by bringing that man back to life.”  (Acts 17:30-31)

  

The day that Paul shared that in Athens, some mocked him.  They thought it was crazy for him to be talking about someone resurrecting from the dead.  Some put him off and said they’d listen to more later.  So Paul honored their attitudes and went out.  But some men joined him and believed.  But they didn’t just join him.  It wasn’t like they thought Paul was cool and they liked his message and they became a groupy.  The word for join, is “kollao,” and it means to glue, to stick, to cleave, to join yourself, to keep company that closely.  See, these men and women, they were the ones really, I mean really searching.  They were wanting to know the truth.  And because they were searching for it, they heard it.  And because they were really searching, then they wanted to reach out and handle it.  And they weren’t going to leave until they could hold it for themselves.  And that’s the attitude and actions that You bless and reward with finding You.

How glued to Jesus am I?  How glued to those who know Him am I?  Am I so glued that other people see the truth that they are looking for?  Does it make them want to “stick” around for more?  I wrote a story, an allegory, and shared it with my kids when they were little.  I thought it was a salvation allegory but after joining with God on mission, it took on a whole new aspect.  Because those people that led me to draw near to You, well, they became what I call Fire People.  And the thing is, that Paul was one of those Fire People.  And I bet that Dionysius and Damaris became Fire People and other people came to stick to You because of Your influence in them.  But that’s just it.  No matter who You use, it’s always You that reaches out and finds us and accepts our outstretched hands and hearts and draws us into Yourself and binds us with You and Yours.

Yes, this is why things are the way they are.  This is why things happen.  It’s always to draw us near to You.  To get us to look for You and search for You with all our hearts and all our beings.  Because once we have You, we have everything we need no matter what is going on around us.