OT: Daniel 4:1-27
Well, today's story was familiar, but I had forgotten about the strange presentation of it. In the plot of Daniel 4, Nebuchadnezzar has a dream about a tree that gets chopped down. He learns from Daniel that the tree represents Nebuchadnezzar himself and his eventual, temporary loss of sanity. God will take his sanity from him to show him that God is in control, and not him. In other words, Nebuchadnezzar's craziness is the result of his pride. All this happens, and as a result, the king finally acknowledges God's sovereignty and has his kingdom restored.
While the storyline is straightforward, the presentation is confusing. It starts with a letter from Nebuchadnezzar to all the people of the world (4:1). There is no introduction to this letter, and so when Neb started talking about a dream he had, I initially assumed he was talking about the statue dream from chapter 2. The dream in the letter, however, was totally different. As I read, I also got confused because of the shifts in person. Nebuchadnezzar alternates between first and third person, which made me wonder at first if the whole chapter was the letter, or if only parts were. But reading back over it, I see that the whole chapter was the letter.
One thing you do see in the letter is that Nebuchadnezzar still doesn't fully get the idea of God. The letter was written after the fact of this experience, and yet, he says of Daniel, "the spirit of the holy gods is in him" (8). So clearly, even after this experience with God-given insanity, he hasn't quite caught on to the picture of monotheism that Daniel is presenting to him.
NT: 1 Peter 1:1-21
I love verses 2-8, because it is loved by those close to me. My friend, Courtney, has latched on to verses 3-4, and has emphasized in particular the idea that God has already given us "everything we need for life and godliness" (3). Her point is that we so often get overwhelmed and stressed by life's demands, and we feel inadequate to our tasks. And yet, with God's power, we are never inadequate in the face of the tasks He gives us. As Christians, we are already equipped with all that we need for life and godliness.
I especially like the application of that concept that is found in verse 4. Through God's power that He gives us, we are able to "participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires." I especially love the phrase, "participate in the divine nature." That is exactly what I long to do in this life. I don't just want to worship God from a distance; I want to commune with Him by participating in His very nature. And I do that, I believe, through the love that I show to other people.
Greg loves verses 5-7 and has preached a couple of good lessons on them. One point that he made that I really liked is that love, that very quality through which we participate in God's divine nature, comes only after a process of spiritual growth and development. You start with just faith and with the desire to "be good." Because of your desire to be good, you then seek to grow in the knowledge of what is good. And what you learn teaches you the importance of controlling yourself and reining in your sinful impulses. And self-control over time is perseverance. Perseverance leads you to a form of love, which is brotherly kindness. Kindness is a fruit of the Spirit, after all. And then you get to real, deep, agape love. It really helped me to understand how much truly loving someone is part of a greater spiritual process.
And I also love how this process "keep[s] you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." I hate ineffectiveness about as much as I do unproductiveness, so the assurance that that "these qualities" listed in 5-7 will keep me from both is very comforting to me.
Psalm 119: 97-112
Two more stanzas of the psalmist's ode to God's word. I love the passion behind these ideas, as well as the ideas themselves. This psalm motivates me to dive into my Bible study, which I hope to do much more of this coming week.
Verse 17 is about the negative effects of murder on the murderer. Verse 18 contrasts the blameless with the perverse.