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Category: Sermon Extras

Devotions Like Daniel

“When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.” Daniel 6:10

Daniellion

“Dare to be a Daniel!” I repeated this phrase often in our most recent sermon series. Does this refrain apply to how we pray? We understand that it’s important that we pray, but we aren’t given a command of exactly how to pray in terms of how we carry it out. Daniel prayed three times a day, but should you? What does the rest of the Bible teach? The Lord’s Prayer offers a great blueprint of what to pray, but does not include other instructions like what time of day one should pray or what position to move your body while praying.

It would be easy to claim, “Well, Daniel prayed three times day so that means everyone should pray three times a day. If you don’t, you are either not a Christian or not a ‘good’ Christian.” Though perhaps well-intended, a statement like this stifles true spiritual growth that is brought by the Holy Spirit in our lives. Imagine setting out to get on a routine of praying three times a day. First, times are chosen that fit with the schedule. Next, you eagerly pray during that first prayer slot. Then, for some reason, it slips your mind to pray during that second prayer time of the day. What happens? You immediately feel guilty. What is that guilt founded upon? Answer: man-made regulations and not God’s command.

I have been very hesitant to ask people to pray, read the Bible or live out their life of piety (good works) exactly the way I have done it. Sure, I’ll tell people how I do one thing or another, and have even done that on my blog. But, I don’t expect others to try to copy my every action. When I was a kid I used to imitate the batting stance of my favorite active baseball player, Frank Thomas, by flicking my wrists as I awaited the imaginary pitcher’s toss my way. But when it came time for me to play the game in real life on my little league team, I developed my own unique style of batting. The same scenario applies in our Christian life. Being set free by the Gospel of Jesus, our relationship is not fettered by specific laws of how to pray or how to study the Bible or how exactly to “engage in good deeds” as Scripture says (Titus 3:8). We simply do them. God forgives us, sets us free, and fills us with new desires. One of these new desires is the desire to come to Him in prayer.

That’s not to say that the example of Daniel is instructive or inspirational. Should you read the Bible the same way as Daniel? Should you pray in the same way and kneel as Daniel practiced while praying? It may be helpful to use others as an example as you begin to develop what works best for you. I will say this: it is vital as a disciple of Jesus Christ to develop habits to take in God’s Word and express prayers to God. When God saves us, He gives us a hunger and thirst for His Word and for communication to Him in prayer.

Perhaps there is a bit of wisdom in how many times a day Daniel stopped what he was doing to pray. You may have time in the morning to read the Bible and pray. Some people do better at night. Why not three times a day? There is no command in Scripture declaring how many times a day we should pray other than 1 Thess. 5:17 which calls us to “pray continuously.” In Psalm 55:17 David mentions praying at morning, noon, and evening. Is this descriptive (showing us how others have done it) or prescriptive (telling us how to do it)? The descriptive stories in the Bible (Daniel, David) help us brainstorm how to carry out the prescriptive commands (God invites us to pray) in our own way many times throughout the day as we live continuously in a spirit of prayer.

So, should you pray three times a day? Should you use a certain prayer app? Should you write down your prayer list in a notebook? Should you simply pray for whatever comes to mind? Should you pray in the morning? Should you pray at evening? I’ll leave those specific decisions to you in your freedom in Christ and offer suggestions. But, as you feel compelled to pray, realize that God is putting that spark in your heart to come to Him through prayer. As Steven Curtis Chapman sings, “Let us pray, let us pray, everywhere in every way.”

Sermon Extra: The Peaks of the Prophet’s Perspective

After the sermon last week (click here to listen to the sermon on January 24, 2016 entitled “The First Vision” on Daniel 7:1–12) I received a lot of good feedback. Many were blessed to see the connection of Daniel 7 to the time leading up to the first coming of Christ. Others were blessed by that but also questioned why I did not point more to the second coming of Christ. “Couldn’t the bear represent Russia?” was the most common question. So what are we to conclude?

We all have a tendency to jump right to thinking about the end times. I can’t blame us. It is exciting to think about the end times and all that Christ will do to finally bring to an end the “capital A” Antichrist and the “lower-case a” antichrists. We can get caught up in the charts, the intrigue, the disputes, the different viewpoints, etc. While I don’t want to ignore that completely (the New Testament clearly connects Daniel to events surrounding the second coming of Christ), I do want to emphasize something that often gets overlooked: the message of the coming Messiah to “receive the Kingdom” was hugely comforting to Daniel and those in captivity. I think it was valuable to see how Daniel’s vision in chapter 7 took us right up to the time of Christ. As a preacher I am setting out to “preach Christ and Him crucified.” Certainly Christ won the ultimately victory through His death and resurrection. Let us not lose sight of that in our excitement about the end times.

A helpful illustration can guide us in sorting this out: Imagine that you are in the middle of the Rocky Mountains. You look in the distance and see a few mountain peaks. From your perspective on the ground you can’t tell how far away these mountains are from each other. From your vantage point they appear to be part of each other or connected in some way. What you can’t see is that there are a few miles of valley between them.

This is the same phenomenon that happened when the prophets received their visions from the Lord. From their perspective in history, all of the details of their visions appeared to be part of one unified story. They didn’t have the advantage of seeing those mountain peaks from an aerial perspective. This happens often in the Old Testament. The same few verses can mix in details about the first coming of Christ and also the second coming of Christ. Think of it as the prophets looking at future events that God is showing them and seeing one mountain. This is what is happening in Daniel 7 as well. In addition, certain prophecies can have multiple fulfillments. The details of Daniel 7, and other passages of Scripture for that matter, can be fulfilled by different nations and kings.

prophet's perspective

We also have to keep in mind that we are reading these prophecies from our perspective in history. We are in that “valley” so to speak, between the first and second comings of Christ. I am excited to see exactly how God will work out those details in the end. But, in the meantime, I am thrilled to know the main point of passages like this: Christ is victor. He is the King of the Kingdom and He gives me His kingdom. See you Sunday for the sermon on the second half of Daniel 7!

“Who is This King of Glory” Sermon Series Recap

“Who is This King of Glory?” Sermon Series Recap

King of Glory

Summer is over and so is the sermon series at King of Glory Lutheran. I certainly enjoyed preaching this series that dealt with the topics that we care about most here at King of Glory. I encourage you to listen to the sermons, reflect on the truths that we examined, and pray that God continue to work in your life in light of these truths. Click here to find the audio for each sermon.

Starting with the June 7th sermon, we launched with the sermon “We Preach Christ” from 1 Corinthians 2:1–9. What a way to start! From beginning to end, the preaching at King of Glory is Christ-centered. Our natural tendency is to look inward and not look outward at Christ. This temptation continues after coming to faith in Christ.

From that starting point, the series moved into the first of two sections. For a number of weeks, we looked at being a disciple, or follower, of Jesus. On June 14th, the sermon was entitled “What is a Disciple?” and reviewed John 15:1–11 to discover that a disciple of Jesus is one who is connected to Jesus as a branch is connected to the vine. His life flows through ours. We then took a few weeks to look at the Great Commission in Matthew 28. If we are seeking to be and make disciples, we must know how they are made. An important sermon about baptism was included at this time.

The second section of this sermon series involved an in-depth look at Acts 2 and the four activities of those disciples of Jesus. The Christians “devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching, the breaking of bread, to fellowship, and to prayer.” We were blessed with sermons on each of these themes. The sermons on being a person devoted to God’s Word especially blessed me.

Which of these sermons spoke to you the most? I pray that the Word of God will bring about good fruit in our lives. What’s next? Starting this Sunday, we will begin a sermon series through the book of James.

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