The Daniel Diet – Daniel

Daniel and Friends

Kooks and religious con-men have been busy making money off of gullible and Biblically ignorant people once again. This time it’s something called “The Daniel Diet” or “Daniel Fast.”

Here’s the background. The Book of Daniel contains a story about Daniel and three other Jewish men taken captive to Babylon. The plan is to add them to the king’s council of wisemen. To pass the entrance exams, the men had to be smart, good looking, and healthy.

Daniel and his friends refused the wine and rich foods offered by the Babylonians, and instead drank only water and ate vegetables. At the end of ten days, the four Jewish men appeared better and fatter in flesh than all the young men who ate the portion of the king’s delicacies (Daniel 1:15). The king looked them over, asked them some questions, and found Daniel and his friends to be ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm (Daniel 1:20).

So there you have it! Drink only water and eat vegetables and you too can be a wizkid and the sky is your limit to health, wealth, and power!

Except that’s not what made the four men healthy, wise, or gifted. The salesmen of The Daniel Diet and Daniel Fast forgot to tell you one little fact … and you neglected to read the Bible for yourself.  As for these four young men, God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams (Daniel 1:17).

The Jews refused the king’s wine and foods, not because these were unhealthy, but because they violated the Law of Moses, the heart of the men’s religion. They were devoted to obedience to their God, not to their diet. Their gifts and wisdom and advancement were not because of what they ate, but the sovereignty of God.

Water and veggies wont kill you, neither will a hefty helping of self-discipline, but they also wont solve the issues of your life. Only Jesus can do that.

I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me (John 14:6). In Him was life, and the life was the light of men (John 1:4).

The Ring of Freedom

statue of liberty

Standing on a small island in a bay separating the states of New York and New Jersey, is a gift we call the Statue of Liberty. Envisioned by a law professor in 1865 and designed and built by Frederic Bartholdi, Lady Liberty was was given by France to the people of the United States of America in 1886.

In her left arm is a tablet of the law, inscribed with the date of July 4, 1776, the date when the Declaration of Independence was accepted.  Her right arm is raised with a lit torch, shining freedom and progress to all those around her.  Around her head is a diadem (crown) with seven rays, representing the sun, the seven seas, and the seven continents. Mostly hidden by her long, flowing gown, is a broken chain. The Statute of Liberty stands today as a beloved symbol of freedom for generations of Americans. She still calls out to millions of people from across the globe to the freedom that the world sees in the American Republic.

If you were to do a quick survey, it would be interesting to know how people answer the following question: “What is the source of freedom for the American people?”

If the government is our source of freedom, it is subject to the whims of frail and flawed individuals.  Any government which grants freedom can take it at any time.

As grateful as we are for the daily sacrifices of soldiers, sailors, and airmen, they are not the source of American freedom either.  They may defend our freedoms, but even their life-blood at the end of a gun or bomb cannot be the source of liberty.

The Declaration of Independence which sets out the reason for the creation of the United States says that Americans are: endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.  The Founding Fathers – some Christians, some deists, some barely religious in any sense – agreed that life, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness come from the Judeo-Christian Creator.

As marvelous as our God-given rights and freedoms are as Americans, the liberty God gives to the human soul from the chains of sin is far surpassing.  Through the sacrificial offering of His life upon a crude cross, Jesus bought freedom for all who accept His death on their behalf. In Him alone we find lives of glorious freedom. Freedom from condemnation. Freedom from eternal death.  Freedom from God’s judgment. Freedom to live as the Creator intended humanity to live.

If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed (John 8:36).

Everyone Believes in Something

Believe

Everyone believes in something: the difference in the “who” or the “what” in which we place our absolute trust.

The atheist believes in himself.

The moralist believes in the virtue of his personal merit, goodness or ideals.

The religionist believes in rituals and rites.

The Hindu believes in millions of gods.

The legalist believes in the power of rules and obedience to those rules.

Each of these exercises faith, but only the Christian trusts in Jesus Christ without any faith in self.

The world is full of those who say they believe in God; but believing something in the head is not enough. James 2:19 says that even the demons believe that God exists and tremble at the thought; however, they do not trust in Jesus alone to make them right with God the Father.

We are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh (Philippians 3:3). You are sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26).

So You Like Smoking

smoking boys

Two brothers were out playing one day when they found a package of cigarettes. Thinking it to be a fun and fashionable activity, the boys decided to try smoking one of the cigarettes. They lit up and each took a puff as their father came around the corner and found them.

“So, you like smoking do you?” he asked.

He made his sons smoke every last cigarette in the package. It made both boys sick to their stomachs. Neither boy ever touched a cigarette again for their rest of their lives.

Sometimes God gives people over to their desire for sin so that they get the full measure of the consequences. What we plant is what we’ll harvest.

For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due (Romans 1:26-27).

Gifts at Work

Deck and Fence

I have a cousin who owns and operates a premier deck and fence company in the Portland, Oregon area. I’ve used his services twice in recent years and been amazed at what he can do with a piece of wood, a saw, and a few screws. I couldn’t be more pleased with Jerry’s talents and skills at designing and building quality fences and decks.

Imagine having such a marvelous ability but never putting it to use.  Consider not only the waste of talent, but the loss of what Jerry’s work brings to every home and business owner who hires him.

Just like Jerry’s fence and deck building skills, your fingerprints are unique among the billions of people on earth.  Nature abounds in uniqueness.  No two snowflakes are alike, every flower has a slightly different shape and shade of color, and no kitten is an exact replica of any other kitten.  Even identical twins are not 100% identical

In the same way, your talents are unique so that if they could be measured, they would be as distinctive as your fingerprints or a snowflake.

Your unique gifts are a blessing from God marking you as an individual. We look at our talents and think they need to be greater than the guy next to us if we’re going to use them. But this isn’t what God intends.

Many of us can sing, but few of us will ever have a concert or cut a CD.  Some of us can cook, but few of us will ever win Master Chef. We can write, though few will ever make the New York Times best selling list. Even so, our gifts are meant to be used – not compared.

As people of God, He designed us to use the gifts He gives us. We don’t have to be the best as long as we use our gifts in His service and to His glory. They are your means of worshiping Him. Return His blessing in full measure by sharing yourself and your gifts with God and your neighbors in gracious thanksgiving.

As each one of you has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God (1 Peter 4:10).

Alien Visions – Ezekiel

ezekiel vision

Ezekiel was a Biblical prophet who saw some out-of-this-world stuff! He began his writings with a vision of a tornado from which flew four creatures unlike anything on earth. Each creature sported four faces: one of a man, one of a lion, one of an ox, and one of an eagle (Ezekiel 1:10).

If that wasn’t enough, then he saw flying wheels covered with eyes next to each of the four creatures. These contraptions moved across the earth without rotating or turning.

Crazy weird!

Some people have read the first chapter of Ezekiel and concluded he saw alien spacecraft. Little green men from mars coming to study mankind. Ezekiel had a different explanation. As I was among the captives by the River Chebar, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God (Ezekiel 1:1).

Jesus said that God the Father is spirit and no one has ever seen Him (John 4:24 and 1:18). Now ask yourself – if a God who cannot be seen wanted to reveal Himself, what would He look like? Maybe like four living creatures with four heads and wheels of eyes turning within more wheels with eyes? Whatever it would be, it would be too strange to ever report … unless your name is Ezekiel.

Do you see the problem? How could the invisible God reveal Himself in a way that we could comprehend without overwhelming us? He is more than we could ever explain, so He came as a Man. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him (John 1:18). If you want to understand God the Father, you must look in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6).

Jesus came to do more than be an Example of goodness. He came to give more than His life to save sinners. Jesus came to reveal to character and nature of God the Father. Don’t miss Him through all the other stuff!

Those Hands

fathers-hands1

Those hands which held small children and blessed them (Mark 10:16) …

Those hands which drove away thieves and robbers (John 2:15-16) …

Those hands which healed a blind man (John 9:6) and raised a dead girl back to life (Mark 5:41) …

Those hands which broke a few pieces of bread and fish to feed a multitude (Matthew 15:36-38) …

Those hands which reached out and rescued Peter as he sank below the waves of the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 14:31) …

Those hands which broke the bread and passed the cup in remembrance of Me (Luke 22:19-20) …

Those hands which were outstretched to take nails upon a crude wooden cross (John 20:25) …

Those same hands shall never let me go (Romans 8:38-39).

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand (John 10:27-28).

 

It’s Still a Pig

pig in a suit

A person can look very moral and good on the outside, but sin is much more than an action, it’s what’s going on inside your thoughts and motives. A man is pleased by the morality he portrays, but God looks deeper than appearance; He looks into the depths of the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).

A pig can shower, trim every unsightly hair, spritz itself with cologne, put on a suit and tie and carry a black leather King James Bible to church on Sunday morning, but it’s still a pig! It’s a pig because of what it is on the inside. It’s DNA exposes it for what it really is. The same is true of every person.

Jesus said, “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

Time to Rest

pause and rest

By the time you read this, I will have finished one of the largest projects of my life. For the past 5 years I’ve been preaching through the Book of Romans, verse-by-verse. Sometimes even word-by-word. The preaching series has been completed and after hundreds of hours of editing, these sermons have been put together in book form – all 532 pages. Now I can rest.

The Bible tells of God’s act of creating all things that exist: from flowers to planets to angels and puppies. After six days of work, God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested (Gen 1:31, 2:1-2).

That God rested didn’t mean that He was tired. Being tired reveals a limit to one’s strength. God has no such limit.

That God rested didn’t mean that He stopped being involved in the affairs of His creation. The Bible details His active participation and sovereignty over every aspect of the universe.

That God rested means that He was finished with His creation project. Everything that He created was completed. He looked over His work and was pleased with all He had done.

God then ordained a day of rest for man. We all need a point at which we can step back from the wall painted, the stack of papers filed, the child grown, the life lived … and rest. For most of us, such rest only comes at death, but milestones and viewpoints along the way are possible if we stop and look.

That God rested reveals that God did everything necessary to save sinners. God’s Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8) established the way of eternal life. All that is needed now for you to enter His rest is to believe in Jesus, the One who did it all for you (Matthew 11:28). No need to worry, work, or wait. Today is the day of salvation.

Since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preaching to us … for we who have believed do enter that rest (Hebrews 4:1, 2, 3).

One More Time

exploding blender

This morning I put all the ingredients in the kitchen blender and pushed the big grey button. In a micro second I realized that I’d forgotten to put the lid on the machine. Milk, eggs, banana and peanut butter flew onto the counter, the wall, the cabinets, the floor, my clothes, my arms, and my face.

It took me a while to get it cleaned up. It probably took me longer than it should have because I had to make time to shake my head at myself and then recover from making myself so dizzy.

I refilled the blender with the items for my lunch. As I again pushed the big grey button, I saw the blender lid sitting on the counter to my right.

In the same way, life is often a series of events we are brought to experience again and again. It’s not because we’re uneducated or lazy; we’ve just failed to learn the lesson being taught. When the lesson is learned, a new lesson is given, one that tests us a little more.

God gives His people the gift of faith that they might believe in Him and be saved (Ephesians 2:8-9). Faith, however, must be tested and tried. The testing of our faith produces patience and reveals that it is genuine (James 1:3; 1 Peter 1:7). God doesn’t need know if our faith is genuine; He gave it. He tests us so that we can know that our faith is true.

Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:12-13).