Living in the meantime…

Daniel was told to “go your way until the end.” How do we go our way to the end?

These hopes we’ve been pondering — the realities we can be certain of — change our lives. They shape our attitudes, our actions, and our goals.

Here are some Scriptures our Father has given to guide us as we live in the meantime — between the time Christ has brought God’s grace and mercy to earth and the time when He will return as judge and King.

First of all, we remember that we are citizens of another kingdom.

But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior (Philippians 3:20).

For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come (Hebrews 13:14).

Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name (Hebrews 13:15).

We live as citizens of that kingdom:

For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed (Titus 2:11-14).

Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live, looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along…and while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight (2 Peter 3:11, 12, 14).

The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another (1 Peter 4:7-10).

And, as long as God gives people time to repent and come back to Him, we carry on with the mission given to us by our King.

“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.” (Matthew 28:19-20).

 

*

Psalm Prayer:

I am trusting you, O LORD,
saying, “You are my God!”
My future is in your hands.
Rescue me from those who hunt me down relentlessly.
Let your favor shine on your servant.
In your unfailing love, rescue me.
(Psalm 31:14-16)

*

© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, Lana Turner, and Mary Jane Smith for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

(8) Daniel: Hope for birth-pain times

Daniel has become a book of great hope for me. Yes, it includes dire warnings and grim prophecies that both confuse and alarm us. Jesus told us the same things.

But as we read the book in its entirety, we cannot miss the hope:

We are very precious to God.
Heaven rules! Forever!
Our prayers do make a difference.
God rescues and saves His people.
Even through the hardest times, God is working His plan for His people.
And He can be trusted to keep His covenant with us.

This is how we face the birth-pain times. We do have to face them. God does not pluck His children out of the world’s turmoil and place them in a bubble where they are not troubled by the agony of the world. It will touch all of our lives in various degrees and intensities. But no matter what is ahead, these hopes are things we can depend on.

As I read Daniel, the “icing on the cake” comes with the very last verse.

Remember, Daniel was quite distressed by the visions he was given of the future. They made him physically ill. We can also become fretful and fearful as we read prophecy of the times before Christ’s return to earth. Even without reading prophecy, all we need to do is look around us at the scary, worrisome condition of the world today.

But the angel messenger’s words to Daniel speak peace to my soul too.

“As for you, go your way until the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days, you will rise again to receive the inheritance set aside for you” (Daniel 12:13).

We know our ultimate destination, brothers and sisters. We know the One who is in control of it all. We know His plan. Our times are in His hands.

Let us continue to go forward, over the bridges of hope He’s laid out for us.

Finish the race.

Rest.

Rise.

And inherit!

 

*

Psalm Prayer:

I am trusting you, O LORD,
saying, “You are my God!”
My future is in your hands.
Rescue me from those who hunt me down relentlessly.
Let your favor shine on your servant.
In your unfailing love, rescue me.
(Psalm 31:14-16)

*

© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, Lana Turner, and Mary Jane Smith for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

(7) Daniel: Hope for birth-pain times

“You always fulfill your covenant and keep your promises of unfailing love to those who love you and obey your command” (Daniel 8:9).

This lines are from Daniel’s prayer. This is the foundation of all our hope—that God keeps His promises and holds fast to His covenant with us. If this were not true, then every hope we have would be futile. We would have nothing to move forward on… Then, truly, the future would be depressing at best, terrifying at worst.

Remember that hope in Scripture is not simply wishing that something might happen or be true. Hope is the certainty that what is promised will come to pass.

Daniel’s prayer is for his nation. It’s a confession of Israel’s failure to keep their part of the covenant with God and a plea for mercy and forgiveness.

And for us, this is also a part of God’s covenant and promises. When we fail, confession and repentance will be met with God’s mercy and forgiveness.

His unfailing love has made us so many promises — and He is a God who keeps His promises.

Our hope lives on that.

 

*

Psalm Prayer:

I am trusting you, O LORD,
saying, “You are my God!”
My future is in your hands.
Rescue me from those who hunt me down relentlessly.
Let your favor shine on your servant.
In your unfailing love, rescue me.
(Psalm 31:14-16)

*

© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, Lana Turner, and Mary Jane Smith for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

(5) Daniel: Hope for birth-pain times

Two of the best-known Old Testament stories are in the first half of the book of Daniel. Dramatic and unforgettable, they’re often included in children’s books of Bible stories. But as I read the book in its entirety as an adult, I see details of these stories that I never knew as a child, details that fortify my hope in the God I trust.

God rescues and save His people. 

That hope is illustrated by the stories of Daniel in the lions’ den and of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who were his three friends thrown into the blazing furnace. These are stories of incredible, miraculous rescue of God’s faithful people. Great and unforgettable stories.

As I read these stories yet one more time, I’m struck by several things —

First, the acknowledgement of God’s mighty power to save comes from pagan kings!

In both stories, the pagan kings are the ones who voice praise to Daniel’s God when they see the miraculous rescue. After Daniel walked out of the lions’ den without a scratch, King Darius sent out a proclamation announcing his belief in Daniel’s saving God. When the three friends were brought out of the furnace without one hair sizzled and with not a whiff of smoke on their clothes, Nebuchadnezzar bursts out with, “There is no other god who can rescue like this!”

No, King Neb, there is no other god like ours.

Sisters and brothers, children of the Most High God—other gods today might look powerful and might appear to offer us salvation. But none will be able to rescue us like our God can.

God rescues us on a daily basis. I think we often miss it. We are very precious to Him. He is here, right here with us, walking through every fire with us, just like He did with the men in the furnace. Big and little rescues and saves — He excels at them all. Watch for His rescue. Praise Him for it. Don’t miss it. And don’t, don’t, do not look to the wrong saviors, because nobody can rescue like our God can!

The three friends, who refused to bow down to anyone but God, stood firm with a strength I want. “Our God is able to save us from anything,” they say to the king, “but even if he chooses not to save us from this fire, we will never serve anyone but Him.”

May our faith in our God and in what He does for His people be this unwavering! Even when we have to walk into the fire…or we’re thrown into it.

And then, we look forward to God’s final, complete rescue of His people.

In the last half of the book, Daniel records his visions of the future. I can’t untangle exactly what future all of these visions refer to. Some of it seems to have already happened in Israel’s history. Yet the angel messenger tells Daniel at one point, “What you are seeing pertains to the very end time.” (See 8:19). There’s a numbering of days—but remember, we are also told that “days” means a very different thing to God than the literal meaning we give it. I don’t even try to sort it all out.

But here’s a promise: Michael, the angel, speaks of a terrible time of great anguish. “But at that time, every one of your people whose name is written in the book will be rescued.” (see 12:1)

This is the detail that matters most to me: God’s final, full rescue of His people.

Let me amend that statement, because that’s not a “detail.” That is the entire story!

Remember: You are very precious to God. We can depend on Him to rescue and save His people. Today, tomorrow, and at the very end of time.

 

*

Psalm Prayer:

I am trusting you, O LORD,
saying, “You are my God!”
My future is in your hands.
Rescue me from those who hunt me down relentlessly.
Let your favor shine on your servant.
In your unfailing love, rescue me.
(Psalm 31:14-16)

*

© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, Lana Turner, and Mary Jane Smith for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

(3) Daniel: Hope for birth-pain times

The next reality laid out for us in the Book of Daniel is voiced by the once-ungodly-and-arrogant King Nebuchadnezzar. He encountered God. His testimony after that encounter is evidence of an amazing transformation. (Read Daniel 4:1-3 and 34-35). Our hope today comes from his words about the amazing things God had done for him and the unending sovereignty of the Most High:

“His rule is everlasting, and his kingdom is eternal.”

It’s difficult to grasp eternal. We know only beginnings and endings in our earthly lives. Yet Scripture says the eternal is already planted in us.

Trying to gain a firmer grasp of eternal, I went to my concordance and looked up the word. And it did indeed give me a bigger picture. Here’s what my concordance reminds me of:

(Don’t just skim over this list. Savor the eternity in it all.)

God’s eternal covenant with His people
Eternal life…and an eternal fire of punishment
His eternal rule and kingdom
Sin with eternal consequences
God, worthy of eternal praise
God’s eternal power
God’s eternal plan
Eternal salvation=eternal rescue
An eternal inheritance
Eternal glory

Without even reading the Scriptures listed in the concordance, we have a glimpse—just a tiny taste—of a kingdom eternal. Under a sovereign God with an eternal plan.

And as the children of God, we are part of a kingdom and plan that go far beyond the years between our birth day and our physical death. What we do has results that go into eternal dimensions.

Amazing.

***

When will it come?

That’s the question the Pharisees put to Jesus. The Jews had lived for generations with their hope looking forward to the coming Kingdom of God.

Even though the Pharisees often engaged Jesus in conversation to try to get the best of Him and trip Him up, I hear in this question an authentic desire to know: When will the Kingdom of God come? 

Jesus answered: “It is now here, among you, (or, within you, within your grasp)” (see Luke 17:21).

As we read Jesus’ teachings, we cannot fail to hear Him talking about the Kingdom and what life in God’s Kingdom is to be like.

It is here. It is planted within us. And we are part of this eternal Kingdom!

How does that affect my life today?

As children of the sovereign King and His heirs, should we not be conducting our lives in accordance with the purposes of the Kingdom?

This has a bearing on how we live in every area, from our attitude and behavior toward the overbearing boss that everyone else hates to what we choose to do in response to the Syrian refugee crises. It affects the decisions we make and the way we spend our money. It shapes our motivations and our goals. It changes how we work together with others in the Kingdom.

We are partners with Jesus in His mission of redemption here on earth. The eternal Kingdom is here, now. We are working for and in the Kingdom.

When Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” I don’t think He was looking forward to a someday. I think He was teaching us to pray, “Bring Your Kingdom alive through our lives, Father, and may we do Your will just as heaven does…”

Ask the Spirit to give you a glimpse of the eternal dimensions of the Kingdom, in which you are a part.

Ask the Father what this means for your life, right now, today.

 

*

Psalm Prayer:

I am trusting you, O LORD,
saying, “You are my God!”
My future is in your hands.
Rescue me from those who hunt me down relentlessly.
Let your favor shine on your servant.
In your unfailing love, rescue me.
(Psalm 31:14-16)

*

© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, Lana Turner, and Mary Jane Smith for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)