Friday, November 06, 2020

God still speaks today!

Image courtesy of Unsplash

Image courtesy of Unsplash

Image courtesy of Unsplash

The fact that you are reading this indicates to me that you have some interest or at least fascination with what the bible teaches.

I like reading biographies or watching films about history or people’s experiences. But I’m particularly interested reading about people who studied the Bible. There is a fascinating passage in the Bible about a man who trusted God from his teenage years. He was always learning and seeking to trust God, and living his life in a way that is pleasing to God.

This man was called Daniel. There is only one book in the Bible which tells us Daniel’s life story. In chapter 9, in my reckoning, he’s in his 80’s and amazingly he is was still studying the ancient Scriptures of his people, Israel. 

It is a wonderful thing to be so satisfied with what God has done in your life (despite all of its ups and downs) that you are still trusting Him in old age. Another man in the Bible, this time a younger man, Timothy, had known  (2 Timothy 3:15) from childhood, ‘the holy Scriptures’, which he had been taught ‘were able to make you wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus’

Despite being separated by millennia of time and living in completely different circumstances both Daniel and Timothy believed:

  1. The Bible is God’s message to humans.
  2. Scripture is unique, sacred and special 
  3. They are given to tell us of a need we all have - we have broken God’s law, we are guilty and are in need 
  4. You can be saved, the scripture are able to make you intelligent about salvation but you can’t get saved unless you repent and believe the gospel.
  5. Forgiveness is available because of what Christ has done:

Acts 4:12 - “There is salvation in no one else, for              

                there is no other name under heaven given to      

                people by which we must be saved.”

  1. It’s a wise thing to listen and consider the gospel 
  2. The message gives you all you need to know. 

But back to Daniel:

This chapter of Daniel’s life, fascinates me for many reasons much of most of which I am not going to talk about just now. 

One reason is that this is a key chapter in the Bible as it explains God’s plans for the nation of Israel and for the world. 

This is what Christian’s call prophecy and it is one of the reasons why we believe the Bible to be God’s book i.e. the word of God. 

A very high percentage of the Bible is made up of this genre or type of content and God has built into the the Bible evidence that it cannot be merely the writings of men but must be supernatural in its origin. 

Let me talk to you about Daniel chapter 9.

In this chapter Daniel is studying part of the Bible written by a man called Jeremiah. 

Jeremiah was one of the Prophets in the Bible. A prophet was a man who received a message directly from God. Daniel was also a prophet.

This was most unusual. Firstly, to be a prophet, you needed to be very convinced that God was speaking to you. Secondly, you had to be able to provide evidence to support this claim. In Bible times claiming to speak for God and not providing this evidence would have resulted in you being executed for deception and misleading people. That was how serious it was to make this claim. 

A prophet was a man to whom God gave his message so that he would communicate it to the people of his society and, usually but not always, he recorded it in writing so that people in following generations could benefit from it as well. 

So in Daniel chapter 9, we are thinking about God speaking to Daniel while Daniel was reading a document which Jeremiah had received from God. This could happen to you. Not that God will speak to you audibly, He could, but it’s unlikely - He normally speaks in our conscience giving us an inner conviction that we cannot shake off. So when you read the Bible do not be surprised if God convinces you that what you are reading is true. 

My point is this that it is always worthwhile reading the Bible. The Bible is the Word of God and God speaks through His word today. 

The Bible says about itself that ‘faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God’.

I also noticed as I read through the chapter Daniel determination to discover the truth about God’s plans for his nation (which would have a direct effect on him) and to seek for God personally. I hope that you have a strong determination to discover what the truth is. That is a good thing.

In the Bible you find details about God’s plans and purposes for the world. This will have a direct effect upon you but it is even more important to discover God personally in your life. Daniel had come to trust in God many years before this. He had personally experienced God’s protection, presence and direction in his life. He had learned that God could be trusted but he had also come to understand that that did not mean that life would necessarily be straightforward or easy.

If I could introduce you to some Christians today I would ask them to tell you about their experience with God. As you listened you would discover that they learned many years ago that they needed forgiveness. They would tell you that we all sin, that none of us can come up to the standard of God (or our own standards if we are honest), and that we all need forgiveness and salvation. We all crave to be at peace, to have a clear conscience and to live life with the joy and contentment that God designed us for.

Daniel had experienced this in his life. He knew that God was a holy God. He knew that God had standards of perfection that no human being could ever live up to. He had learned that these high standards were not because God was awkward and severe but because God knew that everything else damaged and hurt us. He also knew that God created human beings with the right to choose. But, that we by choice are often wilful and do things that hurt ourselves and others. The most amazing thing that Daniel had discovered was that God was kind, forgiving, patient and very full of mercy.

It is quite amazing that Daniel came to this conclusion. He lived an age before God sent His Son, Jesus Christ into the world. He had never seen God or what God would be like if He lived on earth. But the second man I’m taking to you about, Timothy, had the benefit of hindsight - so do we! We know Jesus lived. History records his remarkable life. The Lord Jesus in His life, demonstrated the character and nature of God. He came to show the love of God in how he behaved and handled people. The most extreme demonstration of the love of God was seen in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  

Today we can look back and see that God intervened in human history by sending His Son, Jesus Christ into the world. We can look at the life of Jesus Christ and see the miraculous things that he did. This should convince us that he couldn’t be just a man but that He had to be someone different, from another world. 

You may disagree with my message. You may not accept that you are a sinner and fall short of God’s high standards for living but I do not think you can disagree with this assessment of the life of Jesus Christ. 

There are no reputable historians today who do not believe that Jesus Christ lived. 

There is no one who has studied the life and principles of Jesus Christ who would not feel that His teaching was outstanding and brought to mankind a level of morality and ethics that had never been seen before. 

Most would also agree that it is impossible to live to these standards. 

Let me give you some examples. He taught that we should love our enemies and do good to those who treat us badly. He taught that we should love our neighbours as ourselves. These are incredibly high standards and impossible to reach purely by self-effort and determination. 

The reason why we cannot live as Jesus taught is because of sin. Sin is part and parcel of the character of every human being and the reason why we need a change, forgiveness for the past and a new life for the future. 

Let me take you back to Daniel chapter 9. Here, we discover his determination to get to know God’s will as well as to know God personally. We see in this chapter that he is very serious about it, he goes without food and he spends time praying and asking God for forgiveness.

That’s what the Bible calls confession. Confession is an honest admission that we have sinned, that we have got it wrong and that we need God to intervene to pardon us. We are effectively pleading with him for forgiveness.

Part of the problem is also the fact that we have ignored God’s word. 

Daniel emphasised this when he said that God had spoken often but that he and his people had ignored God’s voice. 

I wonder if you have ignored God speaking to you. God speaks through the Bible. Maybe you have read the Bible in the past and you knew God was speaking but you ignored God’s voice in your heart and conscience. 

On other occasions God speaks in our circumstances. Maybe God has spoken to you in this way at times, you knew that God was speaking to you, but you made a choice to ignore him. 

The Bible says God speaks once, yes twice and we don’t perceive it. That is, sometimes God speaks, and we don’t even realise that God is speaking to us. 

It is recorded in John’s Gospel chapter 5 verse 24 that the Lord Jesus said one day - “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life”.

If God is speaking to you today, please do not ignore it.

The rest of this chapter has details that I am not able to go into at the moment. Let me summarise these points for you to consider.

1. God is holy but we have shame because of what we are and what we’ve done (verse seven)

2. There are consequences to our sin and unbelief (verses seven and eight)

3. God is ready and willing to forgive and wants to show us mercy, that is he does not want to give us the punishment that we deserve (verse nine)

4. We have an obligation as created beings to obey our creator (verses 10, 11)

5. God continues to speak, and we would be wise to listen (verse 11)

6. God’s word will always be fulfilled (verses 11, 12, 13)

7. We would be well advised to plead to God for his blessing (verses 16, 17, 18)

8. God replies, he always hears, and the future will happen as he plans (verses 20–27)

I appreciate you reading this. Please get in touch if you have questions and need anything clarified.


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