Saturday, December 4, 2010

December 4

OT: Daniel 11:36-12:13

We wrap up Daniel today. It is a bit daunting to think that we still have twelve more OT books to read this year, but I know they are significantly shorter than much of what we have been reading.

Yesterday, my handbook claimed that 11:36-45 did not describe actual events in the reign of Antiochus IV, and it theorized that they might refer to events at the end of time. I don't know if that is true, but I do know that the rest of the book definitely has the whiff of the end times. There is mention of the "abomination that causes desolation," whatever that is (12:11, see also 9:27 and 11:31). As always, I kind of mentally checked out when I realized we were talking about end times, b/c not only can I not make heads or tails of such prophecies, I don't know how important it is to decode them. What matters is that we are living for God every day and spreading His kingdom, regardless of when the world is going to end. And whenever people try to nail down these predictions specifically, they inevitably get it wrong and make fools of themselves. There's always things that can be interpreted as "signs of the apocalypse" around us, so there's not a lot of use in speculating, at least in my opinion.

NT: I John 4:1-21

According to this passage, being a Christian consists of two non-negotiables:

1. Believing in Jesus Christ
2. Loving others

Verses 1-6 emphasize the importance of acknowledging Christ. Simply speaking, the author tells his church audience that those who acknowledge Christ are from God, and those who deny him are not.

Verses 7-21 elaborate on the importance of love. Love comes from God, and thus, anyone born of God will love others. I especially like verse 12: "No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us." I want to be close to God. I want Him to be alive in me and to work through my life. The book of 1 John makes it quite clear that the way that God is present in my life is through my love for others. A related verse says: "God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him" (16b). The starkness and simplicity of these verses are both reassuring and challenging to me. They reassure me that completeness in God is not far away; it is found in something as simple as our loving actions toward others. It is challenging b/c so often, I am tempted to be unloving, and I often succumb. I continually battle impatience, selfishness, and pride, and all those things cause me to be unloving.

Psalm 123:1-4

A short prayer to God, which claims that man's relationship to God is like a slave's relationship to his master, and which asks God for relief from the mockery of others.

Prov. 29:2-4

The first compares public reaction toward the righteous v. the wicked. They second contrasts a "man who loves wisdom" with a "companion of prostitutes." The third contrasts a just king to a greedy one.

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