One Praying Prophet

As Daniel eight ended we saw one sick prophet. He had seen the future, and it was not pleasant for his people. There was the little horn, the Old Testament antichrist Antiochus Epiphanes. Followed by the Antichrist of the end times. These men would seek to utterly stamp out the Jews. They would not be successful, but witnessing the havoc they would wreak caused Daniel to faint and become ill.
 
This sick prophet looks to his Lord in prayer. That’s how chapter nine begins. When this chapter is preached or referenced, the focus is typically limited to the prophecy of verses 24-27. But Daniel’s prayer precedes the prophecy that he records, and that prayer occupies verses 4-19 of the chapter! Verses 20-23 are snippets of a conversation between Daniel and Gabriel concerning the prayer.

Prophecy is no Substitute for Prayer

The prayer covers more than twice the amount of inspired ink as the prophecy. That’s a big deal, and that will be our focus this evening, as well as next Wednesday for certain. Daniel was a praying man. We have already learned that, and not just from chapter six and the lion’s den. Prayer has been his consistent pattern from the beginning of the book. He is an example for us to follow, and his prayer in chapter nine is a model of intercessory prayer. 
 
This one praying prophet demonstrates seven principles of intercessory prayer for us to imitate. We will not work through all seven in one sermon, but here they all are in one sentence:
Intercessory prayer seeks to know God’s plan, desiring its fulfillment no matter the personal cost, and is for the sake of others, strengthened by confession of sin, dependent on God’s character and all for God’s glory!

Together Again!

Please join us tonight in person at 7pm. Our SHinE Kids (K-5) and G.O.E Teens (6th-12th) will also meet at 7pm in the Family Life Center. The adult prayer time and Bible study may also be viewed at Facebook.com/BBCMountVernon.

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The Stewardship of Opportunity

1 Corinthians 16:7, “For I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit.”

Personal plans get altered, many times for reasons beyond your control. (Even the apostle Paul had to adjust his schedule. c.f. 1 Thessalonians 2:17-20) When plans go haywire does it mean you are out of God’s will? Not necessarily. In the matter of seeking God’s will two extremes must be avoided. One is to be so frightened at making a mistake that no decision is made at all. The ditch on the other side of the road is to make impulsive decisions, rushing ahead of the Lord. The stewardship of opportunity is important. Don’t complain about or fear the obstacles. Instead, take advantage of the opportunities, and trust God with the results.


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Count on Him!

2 Peter 1:4a, “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises…”
 
Promises are only as good as the one who makes them. That is either good news or bad news, depending on who is making the promises on which you are dependent. Here is some good news, some really good news. God has made many promises to us in His Word. Nothing could be more certain and more comforting than the promises God has made to His people. They are always true, because God is truth. They are always good, because God is good. Therefore, we can be certainly comforted in them because they are from God. We can, and should, trust God’s promises, no matter what. Does that describe you today?

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Another Appeal

Our text this morning is Mark 11:27 – 12:12. The parable in this text, and the reaction to it, teaches us that to hear the gospel routinely preached is simultaneously a blessed and a dangerous thing. Dangerous because there is no neutrality with the gospel, and regular exposure to it will either soften or harden your heart. Blessed because only the gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God unto salvation!

The original hearers of this parable had hearts as hard as stone. These hard-hearted religious rulers rejected their Messiah and would have arrested Him but for their fear of the fickle crowd’s reaction (Mark 11:18). Instead, they left Him and went their way.

By now, their hatred for the Lord Jesus was palpable. Their contempt was no longer concealed. While some men were drawn to Jesus, these men were repulsed at Him. They heard the same marvelous words. They witnessed the same miraculous works, but there was no broken-hearted, joyful acceptance of the Lord for them. Instead there was only anger fueled by arrogance. He had not sought their approval. He did not toe their line. He did not behave according to their code. He ignored their traditions. He disrupted their domination of all things cultural and religious. He had interrupted their lucrative business enterprises in the Temple. Follow this Man? Not hardly. They wanted Him destroyed. They would not honestly compare His words and actions with the scriptures. Instead, they would present an accusation that masqueraded as a question.
 
Be tuned in on facebook.com/BBCMountVernon at 11am this morning to follow along.

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Saturday with Spurgeon

Doing Good

“Who went about doing good.” Acts 10:38

Few words, but yet an exquisite miniature of the Lord Jesus Christ. There are not many touches, but they are the strokes of a master’s pencil. Of the Saviour and only of the Saviour is it true in the fullest, broadest, and most unqualified sense. “He went about doing good.” From this description it is evident that he did good personally. The evangelists constantly tell us that he touched the leper with his own finger, that he anointed the eyes of the blind, and that in cases where he was asked to speak the word only at a distance, he did not usually comply, but went himself to the sick bed, and there personally wrought the cure. A lesson to us, if we would do good, to do it ourselves. Give alms with your own hand; a kind look, or word, will enhance the value of the gift. Speak to a friend about his soul; your loving appeal will have more influence than a whole library of tracts.
 
Our Lord’s mode of doing good sets forth his incessant activity! He did not only the good which came close to hand, but he “went about” on his errands of mercy. Throughout the whole land of Judea there was scarcely a village or a hamlet which was not gladdened by the sight of him. How this reproves the creeping, loitering manner, in which many professors serve the Lord. Let us gird up the loins of our mind, and be not weary in well doing. Does not the text imply that Jesus Christ went out of his way to do good? “He went about doing good.” He was never deterred by danger or difficulty. He sought out the objects of his gracious intentions. So must we. If old plans will not answer, we must try new ones, for fresh experiments sometimes achieve more than regular methods. Christ’s perseverance, and the unity of his purpose, are also hinted at, and the practical application of the subject may be summed up in the words, “He hath left us an example that we should follow in his steps.”

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Faith Is Not Blind

Psalm 56:11, “In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.”

 

Sir Francis Bacon wrote, “There is a limit to pain, but no limit to fear.” Fear is impatient and does not trust. Fear demands relief now and it wants to be in charge. Scripture assumes that we will be afraid. Therefore, the command God most often repeats is “fear not.” To obey that command one must replace the fear of man with faith in God. Faith is about knowing the Lord Jesus in an intimate, personal way and trusting Him because He is trustworthy. Faith isn’t blind. God has proven, and will continue to prove that you can trust Him. Fear not. Have faith.

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Brace Yourself!

1 Peter 1:13, “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;”

This verse issues a command to hope fully in God’s grace. The command is augmented by two stir sticks of hope. The first is to “gird up the loins of your mind.” That is a metaphor which sounds odd now, but would not have been in Peter’s day. In that culture, before quick, decisive movements could be made, one must gather up and secure long, flowing garments to reduce the risk of tripping and falling. The second stir stick of hope is mental and spiritual sobriety. Do not allow stuff into your mind (and heart) that will numb you to the value of God’s grace. Brace yourself in the truth of scripture. Guard your hope by the grace of God


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One Sick Prophet

Except for Jesus Himself, there are no better examples of commitment despite difficult circumstances that Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Their story of  faithfulness in a faithless age is told in Daniel one through six. That is where we find those famous passages of the fiery furnace, the writing on the wall, and the lion’s den.

Daniel 7-12 is mostly prophecy, and nearly all of it was future prophecy when Daniel first received his visions. While much of what he saw has been fulfilled, some is still on front of us. God gave Daniel a glimpse of where history is headed. All things are headed to an appointed end, and everything is on schedule. The history that unfolded before Daniel’s eyes while in the spirit, on the banks of the Ulai River in the city of Shushan, made him physically ill. By the end of chapter eight, Daniel is one sick prophet.

That’s because he saw three men, represented by three horns: a large horn, followed by a little horn, and then the last horn. The first two dictators were historical previews of the final false messiah, a man whose evil behavior is greater even than any before him. Now this is a good spot to be reminded that many prophecies in Scripture have dual characteristics to them. That is an immediate and an ultimate fulfillment. That is the case in Daniel eight. While all three of these men were in the future when Daniel received his vision. As far as we are concerned, the first two have come and gone long ago. The last one is yet to be revealed.

One Sick Prophet

Why would God give Daniel a vision so terrible that it made him physically sick? I think there are at least three reasons:

  1. Prepare them for persecution. Things will get worse before they get better.
  2. Warning not to panic. Don’t be confused by historical trends. History is happening according to God’s design.
  3. The Kingdom is coming! The Ancient of Days will deliver the Kingdom to the real Messiah, and all false messiahs will be finally and utterly put down and out forever.

Tonight we finish our study of Daniel 8. There is much to learn from the vision that made Daniel sick. Be tuned in tonight at 7pm on Facebook Live to follow along. Remember, a Facebook account is not required to view a live-streamed video on the church’s Facebook page. Click this link to be directed there.


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At the Tipping Point

Romans 12:1, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”

One critical decision often determines whether a company thrives or flounders. That was Malcolm Gladwell’s observation in The Tipping Point. That book was not targeted to believers, but the principle applies to them. Are you at a tipping point? Faced with a difficult decision or a serious situation? There is only way to thrive rather than flounder. Trust God. This means obey His Word. That requires sacrificing your agenda for His greater purposes. This will always work out for your good and His glory. Surrendering to God is resisting the devil. That is the tipping point to victory, both now and for eternity.


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Trust in That

Matthew 27:43, “He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.”

Here are true words ignorantly and cruelly spoken. Jesus did trust God the Father, and He was beloved of the Father. Jesus claimed to be, and indeed is, God the Son. These scorners unwittingly fulfilled Psalm 22:8, and their behavior reinforces the hard truth that, on this side of glory, following God’s will does not always lead to ease and comfort. But we do not exist just for this world. God the Father has, does, and will deliver those who trust Him. Three days after He was mocked on the cross and buried in a borrowed tomb, Jesus was raised from the dead! Follow in His steps and be likewise victorious. Just remember that victory does not mean ease and comfort right now. Not all of the time. But deliverance is coming. It will be eternal. Trust in that.


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