Condemned Sinner or Convicted Saint

The moment you began praying, a command was given. And now I am here to tell you what it was, for you are very precious to God.” Daniel 9:23, NLT

What we think, what we feel and what we do are determined by our beliefs about our identity, our purpose in life and our image of God. Psychologists have found that how we think about our talents and abilities can dramatically influenced success in almost every area of human endeavor. People with a growth mindset – those who believe that abilities can be developed are more likely to succeed in life than those who have a fixed mindset that abilities are fixed.1 Spiritually, a fixed mindset is a “sin” mindset that leads us to struggle through life as a condemned sinner. We need a “grace” mindset to grow spiritually and live the abundant life that Jesus came to give us.2 To become transformed from being flawed sinners into what Nicholas Matthews described as “flawesome” saints.

Jesus Christ came to change our mindset so that we will no longer live as a condemned sinner trying to appease an angry God but to live as a beloved child of God, shining the bright light of God’s agape love in a world full of crooked and perverse people.3 God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world.4 We are created in the image of God5 but we are born into a sinful world where we are programmed to be condemned sinners. We need to be convicted of our need for deliverance from slavery to sin before we will seek God’s gift of salvation:

“And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.” 6

We need a reprogramming of our minds so that God can transform us into a new person by changing the way we think.7 The greatest gem of truth in Daniel Chapter 9 is that we are precious in God’s sight. The vision of Daniel also predicted the coming of Jesus Christ.8  Christ’s Kingdom has come and God’s Will is being done. We have a choice to live in fear of God’s wrath as a condemned sinner or with His love in joy and peace as a convicted saint. As a convicted saint, we are on a journey of transformation from perfectly imperfect sinners to imperfectly perfect saints in our life here on earth.

St Augustine wrote that “the very perfection of a man is to find out his own imperfections.” Nicholas Matthews perceptively described perfection as the attitude and knowledge of being perfected through the completed work of Jesus in our lives. Perfection is not an ideal to aim for, not an achievement to pursue nor is it a destination:

“Perfection is the confidence in knowing our identities are based on God’s perfection and not on human behavior. It’s the position of our hearts and the motivation of our minds aligned to the character of God.9” 

The journey of perfection begins with stepping out in faith into the unknown future with a growing confidence in God’s faithful love  – to discover God’s promises of peace and power in the midst of the storms of life. It is to have faith in God’s faithfulness – in what God can do and not what I can do. God is the Potter. I am only the clay which the Teacher of Righteousness in the Essene community described as the sorry state of our human nature:

“I am a vessel of clay and kneaded with water, a foundation of shame and a spring of filth, a melting pot of iniquity and a structure of sin, a spirit of error, perverted without understanding and terrified by righteous judgments ((1QH 9:23-25).10

The visions of Daniel remind us of the omnipresence, omniscience and omnipotence of God – that God is with us, God knows everything, and God is in control. Faith is not wishful thinking or blind optimism but having the confidence and assurance in the character, nature and faithfulness of God’s agape love. Faith is not blind but seeing the invisible hand of God. The future may look bleak and uncertain but we have hope because God is our Heavenly Father, Jesus is our Shepherd of Love and the Holy Spirit is our Helper. It is the Holy Spirit who opens our eyes to see the bible as the story of God’s amazing love. To quote Larry Crabb:

“The bible is a love story that begins with a divorce. Everything from the third chapter of Genesis through the end of Revelation is the story of a betrayed lover wooing us back into His arms so we can enjoy the love of family forever.11

As I draw near to God in prayer, I will be tempted by lust, greed and gluttony to seek glory for myself instead of glorifying God – to seek the love of power instead of the power of love. I will be discouraged and drawn into spiritual depression through spiritual dryness, disappointments and distractions. I need to persevere in prayer to declare my total dependence on God, bring my doubts to Christ and ask the Holy Spirit to fill me with holy desires.

To be a disciple of Jesus is not striving to be a successful Christian but to grow up as a faithful child of God.  Jesus Christ is our spiritual I.D. – our Identity and Destiny. The cross of Christ secures my identity as a child of God. Our destiny is to have a vision of the kingdom of God, to seek God’s will as my mission in life, and to be empowered to advance God’s kingdom by the Providence, Presence and Power of the Holy Spirit. In Christ, we are convicted saints and not condemned sinners, we are victors and not victims for we are on the journey of transformation from flawed sinners into flawesome saints:

“In Christ alone, I place my trust
And find my glory in the power of the Cross
In every victory, let it be said of me
My source of strength, my source of hope is Christ alone12



  1. Mindset – Carol D
  2.  John 10:10, NKJV
  3. Philippians 2:15, NLT
  4. John 3:17, NKJV 
  5. Genesis 1:26, MSG
  6. Romans 7:18-20, NLT
  7. Romans 12:2, NLT
  8. Daniel 9:23-27, NLT
  9.  Nicholas Matthews, Being Flawesome, pg 17
  10. John Bersma, Jesus and the Dead Sea Scrolls, pg 217) ( Jesus and the Dead Sea Scrolls, 217)
  11. Quote in Nicholas Matthews, Being Flawesome, pg 55
  12.  In Christ Alone I Put My Trust, Brian Littrell

Hope For The Perplexed

Then I, Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for several days. Afterward I got up and performed my duties for the king, but I was greatly troubled by the vision and could not understand it.” Daniel 8:27, NLT

Challenging times are part of God’s bigger and divine plan. The history of humankind is full of twists and turns and makes sense only when we look at it from God’s perspective. With the Covid 19 pandemic, the Ukraine war and the collapse of major banks, we are living in the end times that is reminiscent of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. We need to wait on God to understand what is God revealing to us in His Word. We have hope in our perplexing times because there is a God who reveals secrets and has shown us the meaning of what is happening in our world. Daniel gave King Nebuchadnezzar a panoramic view of the future of the kingdoms in the Middle East and predicted how God’s Kingdom on earth will come through Jesus Christ.1

Although Daniel was deeply troubled by the visions he received during the first and third year of King Belshazzar’s reign, he continued to perform his duties until the time came for him to interpret King Belshazzar’s dream that proclaimed the downfall of the Babylonian empire.2 There are many mysteries about God’s ways that we cannot or will not be able to  understand – God cannot be locked up in a book! Like Daniel, we will be greatly troubled by what is happening in the world but we can trust that in God’s own time He will grant us understanding of His thoughts and His ways. Like Daniel, we are to do God’s will without regard for the rewards of this world.3

The Good News is that Jesus Christ came to give us the Spirit of Truth to guide us into all truth and to tell us about the future.4 As we grow old, we will face a future filled with loss, suffering and death. Like Daniel, we will be deeply troubled. But we need not fear bad news or be paralyzed by fear when we confidently trust that the Lord cares for us.5 We can choose to see the winter of life as a time to grow in faith. God has given us everything we need to live a godly life. We have been given great and precious promises to enable us to escape from the world’s corruption caused by human desires and to share in the divine nature of Jesus Christ.6

At Pentecost, Peter quoted the prophet Joel who prophesied that in the last days, God will pour out His Spirit upon all people – sons and daughters will prophesy, young men will see visions and old men will dream dreams. There will be wonders in the heavens above and signs of the earth below before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. And whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.7 

For the early Christians, to call on God’s name was to face death and persecution. However, the early Christians held fast to the truth of Joel 2:32 that whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved from the terrifying day of God’s judgment. The early disciples were not afraid of the judgment of men but respected God’s judgment against sin and evil. They lived out their belief in Jesus Christ by following Him to the cross. In Christ, we have every spiritual gift we need as we eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by grace that we will be kept strong and free from all blame on the day when Christ returns.8  

God’s kingdom is always an upside down kingdom. In the modern world, the young are obsessed with virtual realities while the old are grappling with spiritual realities. Visions from God are to empower us to do God’s will. Dreams can be expressions of our fears and desires that are buried deep within our unconscious minds. We are to encourage one another to live in a way God would consider worthy for we are called to share in Christ’s kingdom and glory.9 

God’s ways are not our ways. To follow Jesus is to be God’s 20% who are shining as lights in a dark world of sin – to live with love, joy and peace in the kingdom of heaven. Without Jesus, we will be the 80% living in hell on earth. To follow Christ is to stay alert to spiritual realities and to persevere with difficult people and situations. The challenge is to cultivate the habit to pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion.10

To do so, we need to spend time each morning doing nothing but to wait on God. This is not to daydream about our fantasies but the simple act to surrendering our will as a living sacrifice so that we can see God’s vision and dream God’s dreams. It is a time of preparation to open our minds to the Holy Spirit so that we can see the spiritual truths in the bible that we need to apply in our lives.

We are living in perplexing times. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, the old can dream dreams. Life’s journey through old age will be exciting and not daunting when we look for God’s surprises. For we have a hope that burns within our hearts and gives us strength for each passing day:

“There is a hope that lifts my weary head,
A consolation strong against despair,
That when the world has plunged me in its deepest pit,
I find the Saviour there!
Through present sufferings, future’s fear,
He whispers ‘courage’ in my ear.
For I am safe in everlasting arms,
And they will lead me home.”11



  1. Daniel 2:28-45, NLT
  2. Daniel 8:15-27, NLT
  3. Daniel 5:17-29, NLT
  4. John 16:13, NLT
  5. Psalms 112:7, NLT
  6. 2 Peter 1:3-4, NLT
  7. Acts 2:17, NLT
  8. 1 Corinthians 1:9, NLT
  9. 1 Thess 2:12, NLT
  10.  Ephesians 6:18, NLT
  11.  There is a hope, Stuart Townend

From Now To Eternity

“But in the end, the holy people of the Most High will be given the kingdom, and they will rule forever and ever.” Daniel 7:18, NLT

With the advances in artificial intelligence, human beings have the knowledge and understanding to create a virtual heaven on earth in the near future. It will be possible to experience the heaven of human imagination in the Metaverse. We are living at the end of an age and at the dawn of a new technological era where we can experience “reading an e-book floating in space with stars dying and being born again all around instead of sitting on the shore of a lake at sunset surrounded by nature.” The programmers of the digital world are seeking not just to recreate what we already have but to break the barriers of physics and to build new digital environments that people want to spend time in.1

But the real heaven is a spiritual reality and not a virtual reality. It is not only our destination but our destiny as the children of God. Heaven is where God is present and the bible is the astounding and awesome Story of Salvation of our Heavenly Father who is waiting patiently for us to come home to Him. We are not just saved from hell or sin – we are saved for heaven and eternal life. The bible is not an instructional manual of how to get to heaven or how not to be sent to hell. The sacred stories in the bible are to illuminate our minds and set our hearts on fire for God.

Heaven and angels are very real to the people living in the times of the Old Testament. Daniel was a beacon of the truth that blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.2 As a teenager forced into exile, Daniel chose to be faithful to God and rejected the food that was offered to him by the Babylonians. After his dream about the four beasts, he found himself in the presence of God and was given the prophecy that the holy people of the Most High will be given the kingdom, and they will rule forever and ever.3 The story of Daniel is to inspire and encourage us to hunger and thirst after righteousness – for blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled.4

Daniel, like Isaiah and John, were awestruck when they were in the presence of God. Holiness is not an option – without holiness, we will be terrified by the consuming fire of God’s purifying love. The good news is that Jesus Christ died to clothe us with His righteousness so that we can come before the throne of God and to rest in our Heavenly Father’s loving embrace.

Jesus fulfilled Daniel’s prophecy and brought heaven to earth. Heaven is an awesome destination that is beyond our thoughts, feelings and imagination. The manger and the cross are the two defining landmarks of the kingdom of heaven. Jesus was born in the lowly manger to incarnate the truth that blessed are the poor for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  He was condemned to die on the cross by the religious and political leaders of the day to epitomize the truth that blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.5

The bad news of our human condition is that Adam failed to reign over sin. We are living in hell for we are living in slavery to sin. Without the grace of God, our hearts are uncircumcised and our minds are covered with a veil –  we are unable to understand Old Testament.6 But in and through Christ, we have the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness to reign in life.7 Life in eternity begins now in our hearts as we work out our salvation with the grace of God.8 To reign over sin instead of being enslaved by sin it is necessary to cultivate a mindfulness to be aware of our thoughts, feelings and attitudes:

“For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”9

Heaven is a boring alternative to hell when we have not tasted the joys of eternity in the here and now. Our minds are blind to the joys of heaven when we are spiritual caterpillars. To see the wonders of heaven we need to go through the spiritual chrysalis of suffering, old age and death. In the autumn of my life, I have a vested interest to see old age as a challenge and not a burden. The dying have taught me how important it is to embrace death – not to escape hell but as the adventure to be transformed to live eternal life as spiritual butterflies. No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.10 

We are called to live from now to eternity. We can only do so by God’s grace. And to receive God’s grace, we need to enter the special rest of God through faith in Jesus Christ:

So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall.”11

Resting in Christ is the simple discipline to prepare one’s heart and mind to receive God’s grace to reign over sin – to be still and know that Jesus is Lord.12  As we wait on God, the Holy Spirit convicts us with godly sorrow and lead us to a lifestyle of repentance as we sing:

“Purify my heart
Let me be as gold and precious silver
Purify my heart
Let me be as gold, pure gold

Refiner’s fire,
My heart’s one desire
Is to be holy
Set apart for You, Lord
I choose to be holy
Set apart for You, my Master
Ready to do Your will”13



  2. Matthew 5:8, NKJV
  3. Daniel 7:15-18, NLT
  4. Matthew 5:6, NKJV
  5. Matthew 5:3,10, NKJV
  6. 2 Corinthians 3:14-15, NKJV
  7. Romans 5:17, NKJV
  8. Philippians 2:12-13, NLT
  9. Romans14:17, NLT
  10. 1 Corinthians 2:9
  11. Hebrews 4:9-11, NLT
  12. Psalms 46:10
  13. Refiner’s Fire, Brian Doerksen

Heaven On Earth

His rule is eternal – it will never end. His kingdom will never be destroyed.” Daniel 7:14, NLT

All the chaos and suffering in the world are to open our eyes to the stark truth that we are living in hell on earth. We are all infected by the virus of sin and live in guilt and in fear of death. We do not have love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, humility and self control because we are driven by lust, guilt, fear, anger, greed, envy, apathy, pride and gluttony. We are living under the judgment of God:

So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen.” 1

The good news is that Jesus Christ came to inaugurate the kingdom of heaven here on earth. The birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a huge, shining and frightening statue of a man and Daniel’s own dream of the four beasts. Daniel told King Nebuchadnezzar that the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed or conquered – this was the meaning of the rock cut from the mountain, not by human hands, that crushed to pieces the statue of iron, bronze, clay, silver, and gold. God was showing the king what would be happening in the future.2

In his dream during the first year of King Belshazzar, Daniel had visions of the Ancient of Days sitting on a throne of fiery flames and someone like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. He was given authority, honor and sovereignty over all the nations of the world. People of every race and nation and language would obey him and his rule is eternal. His kingdom will never end and will never be destroyed.3 

The stories in the Old Testament are the testimonies of people of faith who died without receiving what God had promised them but they saw heaven from a distance and lived as strangers with no permanent home on earth. And God has prepared a city for them.4  We are not homesick for heaven when we are so comfortable in hell on earth and have misconceptions about the truths of heaven. There is a war in our mind that must first be won before the fire of love in our heart can be kindled. We are in heaven when we walk in the Lord’s presence as we live here on earth.5 

In prayer we seek  the Presence of God to open our eyes to the awe (a wonderful experience) of God. It is the fearless listening and total obedience to the perfect will of our Heavenly Father that leads us into the kingdom of heaven. It is not trying to see inner spiritual things with our mind but to see the truth that the things of this world are only temporary. Ideas about God blinds us to the mysteries and wonders of heaven.

As a human being seeking spiritual experiences, we are like a caterpillar trying to find heaven. We need to be reborn again to be a child of God living in the kingdom of heaven – to become like a butterfly carrying the pollen of God’s love in a dark and loveless world. There are two ways to see and live our life here on earth – to be tempted by Satan to see things from a human point of view or to follow Christ and to see life from the cross. To follow Christ to the cross is to enter the chrysalis to be transformed from a caterpillar to a butterfly.

Jesus taught that following Him is to let Him be in the driver’s seat. We are to embrace suffering and not to run away from it. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way to finding  our true self. We are to live out the truth that Jesus will return with all his splendor in company with the Father and the holy angels. This is not a pie in the sky by and by. Jesus’ promise is that some who have taken their stand right here are going to see it happen and see with their own eyes the kingdom of God.6 

Poverty and persecution are the two pillars of the kingdom of heaven. The spirit of poverty is the antidote to the lust of power. We need to confess our powerlessness to be filled with the power of love. We will face persecution and we need the spirit of humility to see our trials from God’s perspective instead of reacting from our egoistic instincts. Jesus taught us to pray for God’s Kingdom to come on earth and painted for us a picture of what life is like in the Kingdom of Heaven. The first and last beatitudes enclose the other six beatitudes which describe the be-attitudes of the citizens in the Kingdom of Heaven.7

Heaven is not a pipe dream, a figment of our imagination – it is a reality that is found deep within our hearts. Instead of speculating on the second coming of Christ, we would be living fuller and fruitful lives by remembering that we are called to be the ambassadors of God’s kingdom here on earth. The hallmark of  God’s kingdom is love. We are to follow Christ with radical humility – to turn to Him so that we can live with radical simplicity to demonstrate true love here on earth. To keep turning our eyes upon the cross of Christ and to share the wonder of God’s perfect salvation to weary and troubled souls in a world that is dying:

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in his wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace.”8



  1. Romans 1:24-25, NLT
  2. Daniel 2:27-45, NLT
  3. Daniel 7:9-14, NLT
  4. Hebrews 11:13 – 16, GW
  5. Psalms 116:9, NLT
  6. Luke 9:23-27, MSG
  7. Morton T. Kelsey, What Is Heaven Like? page 19
  8. Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, Helen H. Lemmel

The Heart Of Worship

But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God.” Daniel 6:10, NLT

A sermon by Rev Zach Meerkreebs in an ordinary chapel service at Asbury College on 8th February 2023 ignited a revival that lasted 16 days and drew thousands to the town of Wilmore in Kentucky. It was a sermon based on Romans Chapter 12 in which the issues of guilt, shame, anxiety, abuse and the struggle to sincerely love others were addressed. It was a message that touched the hearts of the young people, many of whom were struggling with feelings of sadness or hopelessness and even suicide. 

There was an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the students who were hungry for a God who can change their lives. Asbury Seminary Professor Kenneth J. Collins observed that the students were sick of trying to live without a true hunger for God which they could not find in the culture around them.1 There was a need for a true revival to change the habits of the heart and shape how believers live each day.

It was challenging to see the movement of the Holy Spirit in our day and age. We are living in the end times – this was clear from our small group discussion on the book of Daniel. This was the lesson from the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar that God revealed to Daniel.2 

The story of Daniel being thrown into the den of lions inspires me to cultivate a heart of true worship. Daniel chose to disobey Darius’ decree to worship only the king and no one else, divine or human for 30 days. He did not count the cost of losing his life to put God first in his life. Daniel could have easily refrain from worshiping God for thirty days but he knew how easily his faith would be eroded in 30 days without the habit of worship.3 

Some 40 years ago, I had heard a message by Danny Morris in Barker Road Methodist Church on the Ten Brave Christians: The John Wesley Great Experiment. One of his Sunday School teacher, Sam Teague, was inspired to draw up a 30 day spiritual programme to live a life that matters. The Ten Brave Christians movement gave birth to the revival in Asbury in 1970. Unfortunately, Danny Morris’ sermon fell on thorny soil in my heart and it dawned on me that I had been living in a spiritual wilderness for the past 40 years trying to serve God in my own strength without the Holy Spirit.

I was led to reread the book, The True Wilderness, by H.A. Williams, which convicted me of the truth that sharing second hand convictions, irrespective of whether they are orthodox, modernist or non-Christian, has no transformative power. It is only the truths of God’s love that have been proven true in my own experience, living them and knowing them at first hand, that can lead others to the loving embrace of God.

Williams found that our intellect craves for complete systems of logical explanations and that there are areas of human life, such as personal relationships, where such explanatory systems can falsify as well as illuminate. The wine of life cannot be contained in the bottles of old mindsets – we will find ourselves with no wine when the bottles have been burst by the wine.4

Lent is a time to cultivate spiritual disciplines that will open our hearts and minds to the Holy Spirit. The most important lesson from the Asbury revival is the need to live a surrendered life so that the Spirit can rewire our minds, renovate our hearts and so transform our lives. It is not trying to live a purpose driven life but a Spirit driven life. It is learning to live life fully in the face of death and suffering.

We need bottles of new mindsets for the new wine of life that God wants to pour into our hearts. It is impossible to live like the followers of Christ in the book of Acts without the Holy Spirit.  We need radical humility to confess that we do not know what to do and our need to turn our eyes upon Jesus.5 Then the things of this earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.6

The discipline of prayer prepares us to be a living sacrifice through silence and solitude to abide in Christ. Through the discipline of fasting we  remember that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.7 Instead of trying to turn stones into bread, we are to be living stones.8 The discipline of charity is to learn to be a sheep – to see heaven everyday in every person.9 Through these spiritual disciplines of Lent, we are led to live as a child of God in the family of God and to become the hands and feet of the Risen Christ to heal our broken world.

After the revival, when the music fades and all is stripped away, we need to long for the Spirit to search deep within our hearts. To remind us how weak and poor we are as every single breath comes from our King of endless worth. To come back to the heart of worship:

I’m coming back to the heart of worship
And it’s all about You
It’s all about You, Jesus
I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it
When it’s all about You
It’s all about You, Jesus.10



  1. The Ashbury Revival –
  2. Daniel Chapter 2:1-45
  3. Daniel Chapter 6:1-17
  4. The True Wilderness, H.A. Williams
  5. 2 Chronicles 20:12
  6. Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
  7. Matthew 4:4, GW
  8. 1 Peter 2:5, NLT
  9.  Patrick Kee, Living With Our Shepherd Of Love
  10. When The Music Fades, Matt Redman

Leaving Home or Going Home

This is what these words mean: Mene means ‘numbered’ – God has numbered the days of your reign and has brought it to an end.” Daniel 5:26, NLT

Some years ago, when we were on holiday in Nepal and window shopping in the grounds of a temple, we heard a chant that sounded like “no money take me home.” Indeed, we are homesick for heaven only when we run out of money or health! The reality of heaven is eclipsed by our concerns and worries as well as by the attractions of this world. Heaven is only a virtual reality for we are afraid to talk about death and dying and forget that our days are numbered:

“You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”1 

When we do not number our days, we cannot grow in wisdom.2 We will be like King Belshazzar who forgot the life transforming lesson that God had revealed to his predecessor, King Nebuchadnezzar – that the Most High God rules over the kingdoms of the world and appoints anyone he desires to rule over them. Success led to pride and arrogance. He became complacent and overconfident. He was partying with 1000 of his nobles even though Babylon was under siege by the Persians. He worshiped his idols made of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone with the sacred gold cups taken from the Temple in Jerusalem. He was oblivious to the fear of God –  that it is God who gives the breath of life and controls his destiny. God sent him a dream to predict his death and downfall:

“This is the message that was written: Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin. This is what these words mean: Mene means “numbered’ – God has numbered the days of your reign and has bought it to an end. Tekel means ‘weighed’ – you have been weighed on the balances and have not measured up. Parsin means ‘divided’ – your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”3

That very night, King Belshazzar was killed and his kingdom was taken over by Darius the Mede. We need God’s grace to see the hidden treasures of God’s wisdom in the bible. King Belshazzar’s story is a revelation of the hard truth that God knows the length of our lives, how many months we will live and we are not given a minute longer.4  But the good news is that we have hope in all our years of struggle and would eagerly await the release of death if we believe that the dead can live again.5 

The most important question is whether we believe that heaven is real. Jesus came to give us the keys to the kingdom of heaven in the Beatitudes6. Jesus came to show us the Way to heaven and taught us to pray for God’s kingdom to come on earth.7 Heaven is more than a destination after death. We begin the journey to the kingdom of heaven here on earth – a journey that continues after death. Then death is not leaving home but going home to our Heavenly Father.

When I woke up to the truth that my days are numbered, the mustard seed of the kingdom of heaven was sown in the Egypt of my heart. By faith in Jesus Christ I seek to walk by the Spirit through the wilderness of my life. By grace, I am to work out my salvation in the Promised Land by being the hand and feet of Christ. And in Babylon at the end of my life, the challenge is to be a witness of the unfailing love of God. 

My task on earth is to live out my numbered days in the will of God so that my death will bear fruit in the lives of those I leave behind. I cannot be too comfortable living in this world – I need to be homesick and be prepared to go back home to our Heavenly Father. Only then will I not be fearful of death – to leave my earthly home. 

The story of King Belshazzer encourages us to remember the Creator when we are young before the days of trouble come and the years catch up with us.8 Caring for the elderly sick has been a blessing for they have taught me the importance of living out the truth that our days are numbered. It is heartbreaking to see the dying suffering from futile treatments when their families refuse to see the “writing on the wall” that the end is near. To live fully in the face of death, the dying and their families need to face the truth that the days of their loved ones are numbered. At the end of life, we can live with hope when we seek God’s way for dreams of love and healing to become a reality.

When Christ is our everything in this life, we will have even more when we die.9 It is not a sacrifice to leave our earthly home. It is a sacrifice to postpone our going home if we are needed to help others grow and be joyful in their faith. On Valentine’s Day last week, the following thought came to mind:

God knows our hearts and will give us what we need to draw closer to Him at the right time and in the best way. All we need to do is to offer ourselves as living sacrifices through the discipline of silence. How we practice silence is not as important as a passionate desire for God. We need to fall madly in love with God. We need a restless desire for God to have a restful waiting on God. When redeeming love is the theme of our lives, we can sing of God’s power to save even in the grave:

When this poor lisping, stammering tongue
  Lies silent in the grave,
Then in a nobler, sweeter song,
  I’ll sing Thy power to save:
  I’ll sing Thy power to save,
  I’ll sing Thy power to save;
Then in a nobler, sweeter song,
  I’ll sing Thy power to save.10



  1.  Psalms 139:16, NLT
  2.  Psalms 90:12, GW
  3. Daniel Chapter 5, NLT
  4. Job 14:5, NLT
  5. Job 14:14, NLT
  6. Matthew 5:3-10, NLT
  7. Matthew 6:10
  8. Ecclesiastes 12:1, GW
  9. Philippians 1:21-25, GW
  10. There is a fountain filled with blood, William Cowper

The Insanity of Pride

After this time had passed, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up to heaven. My sanity returned, and I praise and worshiped the Most High and honored the one who lives forever.” Daniel 4:34 NLT

Our “monkey mind” leads our heart to wander from God’s amazing grace1. We stray from the green pastures of God’s love. We are lost in the world instead of being lost in wonder, love and praise2  in the kingdom of heaven. Our human tendency is to follow our own desires and defiling ourselves.3 We are prone to wander away from God. The Covid 19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine opened my eyes to the reality that we are living in a mad, mad world – the consequence of having hardened hearts and wandering far from the beautiful life that God had created us for. We are hopelessly confused with our minds full of darkness:

“With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.”4

The story of King Nebuchadnezzar draws attention to the insanity of pride as well as God’s awesome grace. King Nebuchadnezzar was God’s instrument to punish the Jews as well as to demonstrate the awesome glory of God. But King Nebuchadnezzar did not have a personal relationship with God to understand God’s message through the dream that God had sent to him. It was only after Daniel revealed and interpreted the dream that deeply troubled him that King Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged God as the greatest of gods, the Lord over kings, a revealer of mysteries”5.

However, his ego led him to build a massive gold statue for the people to worship. God had to use the faith of Shadrach, Meshrach and Abednego to reveal to him the power of God to save. Unfortunately, these experiences did not keep King Nebuchadnezzar from the insanity of pride even though God had given him another dream to warn him.

Instead of following Daniel’s advice to break from his wicked past and to be merciful to the poor, King Nebuchadnezzar boasted of building the great city of Babylon with his own mighty power. He was immediately stricken by madness, driven from human society, and lived with the wild animals until one day, he looked up to heaven:

My sanity returned, and I praised and worshiped the Most High and honored the one who lives forever.6

The story of King Nebuchadnezzar is a stark warning of the danger of success. In our success, we will be be tempted to feel proud of our work, even our work for God. Pride leads our hearts to wander from the wonder of God’s grace. Pride leads to greed. And greed leads to idolatry and God’s judgment.7.

The tragic, scary and disheartening news of the world is not the real story. The true story is that God’s love will always trump evil. Our stories are just a tiny part of God’s infinite story of love. The good news is that God is always waiting to change our life stories. We see the amazing grace of God leading King Nebuchadnezzar step by step to live a life of praise and worship.

There is a King Nebuchadnezzar in each one of us reminding us of our need for humility. Humility is God’s antidote for pride. Humility is not thinking less of one self but being in awe of God’s amazing love and grace. Humility is rooted in the awareness that we are living in darkness when we have a deceitful heart and a wandering mind. There is a battle in our minds to please people or to please God – to live up to the expectations of others instead of living for what is pleasing to God.

It is by the grace of God that we have been chosen to live as citizens of heaven8 –  a life that is “lost in wonder, love and praise.” Our responsibility is understand what the Lord wants us to do so that we will not act thoughtlessly9. To do so, we need to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice – to look up to God and rest in the wonder of His love as our act of worship each day.

Our Heavenly Father patiently pursues us to guide, correct and direct us even when we run from His calling on our life. God is waiting to invite us to His banquet of love but we are blinded by pride, greed and lust. We need to come to our senses, to turn back to God, and to desire Him with all our heart. As we do so, the Holy Spirit will fill us with a hunger and thirst for God’s Word and lead us to walk in the light of Christ.10 Let us pray each day for God’s goodness to bind our wandering hearts to Christ:

“Oh, to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be
Let Thy goodness like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee”11



  1. Come, Thou Fount Of Every Blessing
  2. Love Divine, All Love Excelling
  3. Numbers 15:39, NLT
  4. Ephesians 3:17-29, NLT
  5. Daniel 2:1-47, NLT
  6. Daniel 3:1-37, NLT
  7. Colossians 3:5, NLT
  8. Philippians 1:27
  9. Ephesians 5:17
  10. John 12:35, NLT
  11. Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing, Chris Rice

From S.O.A.P. to H.O.P.E.

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty.” Daniel 3:17, NLT

We live in a fallen world that is infected by sin and evil. We are all living comfortably in hell on earth like frogs being cooked in a pot of water that is slowing heating up. Suffering is part and parcel of life and our best years are filled with pain and trouble when we live under the wrath of God, trying to hide our secret sins which are seen by God.1 There is no “life-changing magic” for the chaos of life. We live messy lives in a messy world because we are out of the will of God and living under the wrath of God with an awful, sinful fear of God:

God’s anger is revealed from heaven against every ungodly and immoral thing people do as they try to suppress the truth by their immoral living……. They exchanged the glory of the immortal God for statues that looked like mortal humans, birds, animals and snakes. For this reason God allowed their lusts to control them.”2 

Suffering is not the will of God – we have the wrong S.O.A.P. – Sin Oriented Attitudes and Practices. Lust, pride, and greed leads to sinful desires, ulterior motivations and hidden agendas. We are separated from the love of God by the love of self which leads to lust that is the root of much suffering. We will face temptations in good times and we are tested in bad times.  A false sense of security lead us to fall into temptations in good times as we lean more and more on our own resources and trust God less and less. Bad times reveal our deep seated fears and test our faith.

The story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego draws our attention to the problem of idolatry and the  importance of fearing God to face tests and temptations. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego did not forget that they were Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, the children of God. They were not inspired of Aku (Shadrach), belonging to Aku (Meshrach) or servant of Nego (Abednego). They refused to bow down and worship the gold statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. When King Nebuchadnezzar threatened to throw them into the blazing furnace and asked them what god will be able to rescue them from his power they replied:

O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”3

Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah together with Daniel, were first tempted with the food and wine of the royal palace of King Nebuchadnezzar when they were chosen for royal service. They were steadfast in their faith and refused the king’s food. It was their holy fear of the Lord that empowered them to face the tribulations and temptations in life. They did not fear King Nebuchadnezzar and firmly stood their ground not to worship the gold statue in obedience to the commandment, “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.4   They chose the fear of God over the fear of the king. They were rewarded with the presence of Christ in the fiery furnace.  

We will fear nothing – not suffering nor death – when we have the awesome and joyful fear of God through faith in the redeeming work of Christ on the cross. Jesus came to save us from the love of self, with the love of God, so that we can love others by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is God’s grace that empowers us to walk the path of love and holiness.5 We are empowered to obey God because we have been chosen by God and made holy by the Holy Spirit.6 It is only by grace that we can confront our Sin Oriented Attitudes and Practices (S.O.A.P.) by embracing Holiness Oriented Practices and Examination (H.O.P.E.).

The most important and simplest holiness oriented practice is waiting on God. Through the discipline of silence, we offer ourselves as a living and holy sacrifice.7 Being still in God’s presence and doing nothing is not a waste of time or effort – it is being the clay and letting God be our Potter to mold and remold our lives.8 It is recognizing that we are a mere human being and God has the right to show his anger and power to some and to be patient with others.9

It is impossible to be a living sacrifice without the grace of God – we will keep crawling off the altar! Like Abraham, we simply need to trust that God will provide.10 Like Isaac, we need the spirit of obedience to just simply lie still as the expression of our earnest intention to seek God with all our minds, our hearts, and our souls. Let us therefore offer ourselves as living sacrifices, that we may become living stones who are bonded together by the Holy Spirit into the family of God and to change the world by being the hands and feet of the Body of Christ.

“Come build an altar unto the Lord
Return to worship and hear His Word
And then the fires of revival will come sweeping through your soul
And we’ll touch the Holy Presence of our God”11



  1. Psalms 90:8-10, NLT
  2. Romans 1:18, 23-24, GW
  3. Daniel 3:16-18, NLT
  4. Exodus 20:4, ESV
  5. Jerry Miller, Grace Beyond Reason, xxi
  6. 1 Peter 1:2, NLT
  7.  Romans 12:1, NLT
  8.  Jeremiah 18:1-4, NLT
  9. Romans 9:20-24, NLT
  10. Genesis 22:1-14, NLT
  11.  Fires of Revival, Wendell Smith

Heaven – Reality or Fantasy


Revelation 1:9-20, NLT


“When I saw him, I fell at his feet as if I were dead. But he laid his right hand on me and said, ‘Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last.’” Revelations 1:17, NLT

Is heaven real or a figment of human imagination? The stories of the bible are to open our eyes to see that heaven is not a human fantasy but God’s dream for us. Jesus came to give us the abundant life1 – not a life of material prosperity but the life in the kingdom of heaven that is filled with unconditional love, unspeakable joy and the peace that is beyond human understanding.

The apostle John was worshiping in the Spirit on the island of Patmos when he saw the risen Christ and received the instructions to write the letters to the seven churches in Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyratira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. John fell at His feet as if he were dead when he saw the Risen Christ but he was encouraged with the wonderful truth:

’Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one. I died, but look – I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave.”2

The Good News is that Jesus is the Rock that will bring an end to all the kingdoms of this world. King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that deeply troubled him which only Daniel was able to interpret after a revelation from God in a vision:

There are no wise men, enchanters, magicians, or fortune-tellers who can reveal the king’s secret. But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and he has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in the future.3

King Nebuchadnezzar had dreamt of a huge shining stature of a man that was subsequently crushed into small pieces of iron, clay, bronze, silver, and gold by a rock which became a great mountain covering the whole earth. God was showing King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in the future:

“During the reigns of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed or conquered. It will crush all these kingdoms into nothingness, and it will stand forever.4

The future that was revealed to King Nebuchadnezzar is our present time. Jesus came to fulfill Daniel’s prophecy of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. Jesus has given us the Beatitudes – the keys to the kingdom of heaven5 and taught us to pray for God’s kingdom to come on earth6. Jesus died to give us the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth7:

“The Spirit alone can turn a cold, stony, apathetic heart into a heart of flesh. Only the Spirit can make us lovers of God. And the Spirit does this as we concretely apply the truths of God’s word to our everyday lives.”8 

Heaven is found when we are living in God’s loving embrace through faith in Jesus Christ. Heaven is not a myth but a mystery and the adventure of being transformed from a goat to a sheep who is led by the Shepherd of love. Heaven is not just a destination we go to after we die. It is folly to search the Scriptures to look for eternal life:

Your search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life.9

Eternal life is life with Christ – a life that begins now and extends beyond death. The Scriptures are to draw us to the Risen Christ. We are to use the Scriptures to unlock the wonderful truths of the Kingdom of the Rock.

To experience the reality of heaven in the here and now, to have the abundant spiritual life, I need to embark on the journey of faith and to receive the kingdom of God as a little child.10 When I seek God’s dream for my life, I will not be living my dreams and nightmares. When I tune my heart and mind in silence to hear God’s word of unfailing love in the moments of today, I will have God’s dream of heaven which gives me a song to sing and I can cope with anything.

“Perfect submission, perfect delight
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight
Angels descending bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love

This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long
This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long
Praising my Savior all the day long”11


Lord, hold me close in Your loving embrace so that I may have a foretaste of heaven in the here and now.


  1. What are my motivations for reading the bible?
  2. What do I believe about heaven?
  3. How can I discover the truths about the kingdom of heaven?

Song of Praise:

Blessed Assurance



1. John 10:10, NKJV
2.Revelation 1:9-18, NLT
3.Daniel 2:27-28, NLT
4. Daniel 2:29-45, NLT
5. Matthew 5:3-10, 16:19, NLT
6. Matthew 6:10, NKJV
7. John 16:13, NLT
8. Uche Anizor, Overcoming Apathy, 135
9. John 5:39-40, NLT
10. Luke 18:17, NLT
11. Blessed Assurance, Fanny Cosby

The Hero’s Journey


Daniel 10:1-21


Then he said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer.” Daniel 10:12, NLT

To live in the kingdom of heaven here on earth is not a sightseeing tour nor a pilgrimage in the Holy Land. It is to follow the hero’s journey of Jesus Christ. The Good News is that Jesus is our spiritual hero who lived, died and rose from the dead to show us the divinity that lies within us. The stories in the bible are powerful images to open our minds to the reality of the kingdom of heaven. They are to encourage us to seek the kingdom of heaven in a dark and broken world. 

But there are evil forces that are keeping us out of the kingdom of heaven. It is a spiritual battle to lift our hearts to God to seek Him with a humble and total love. We need to let go of anything that distracts us from God and to give ourselves over entirely to God’s pleasure:

“Saints and angels rejoice when you do this and hasten to help you forward. The evil ones are furious, however, and will try in every way to deflect you. But the whole of mankind, in a most mysterious and wonderful way, will be helped by your action.”1

We need to persevere by learning to wait on God in prayer. During the reign of King Cyrus of Persia, Daniel fasted for 3 weeks in mourning after he received a vision of times of war and great hardship in the future. He then received a terrifying vision of “a man dressed in linen with a belt of pure gold around his waist. His body looked like a precious gem. His face flashed like lightning, and his eyes flamed like torches. His arms and feet shone like polished bronze, and his voice roared like a vast multitude of people.”2 The man assured Daniel that he had come  in answer to Daniel’s prayer:

Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer.”3

The man told him that he had been fighting the spirit prince of the Kingdom of Persia and had received help from Michael, one of the archangels. But he had to return to fight against the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia who will be followed by the spirit prince of the kingdom of Greece.4 

The story of Daniel inspires us to grow in our character through our problems and trials. We develop endurance and endurance develops strength of character. Daniel was looking forward to the hope of salvation but we have the confident hope of salvation when the Holy Spirit fills our hearts with the love of God.5 We will have trials and sorrows in this life but Jesus has overcome the world.6 To help us find meaning in life it is crucial to see our life in the context of our new life in Jesus Christ. Jesus conquered death so that we can live out the truth: 

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me”7

This is the destination of the hero’s journey. The journey involves becoming aware and taking captive of the enslaving thoughts, beliefs and attitudes that keep us from becoming the children of God. Uche Anizor found that our mindset is very critical to the vibrancy of our spiritual lives. If our minds are set on the things of the Spirit, we will experience abundant life and peace. However, if our minds are set on the things of the flesh, we will experience an inner hostility toward God.8

We need purpose and passion to embark on the hero’s journey – to pursue righteousness and unfailing love.9 To find meaning in suffering. To turn adversities into opportunities to develop endurance. To live in the rhythm of God’s loving embrace in the humdrum of life. To see dying as the greatest adventure of our lives – a journey from death to eternal life. 

God is waiting for us to worship Him in spirit and in truth – we need the spirit of love to see others as God’s children in order to live out our true identity as a child of God. We need the wisdom of spiritual truths to balance our scientific knowledge. We become less human with more scientific knowledge when we do not see them as truths that God is revealing to us.10 Let us be like Daniel who outlived kings and outlast kingdoms by seeking the kingdom of God. 

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God
And His righteousness,
And all these things shall be added unto you.
Hallelu, Hallelujah!”11


Lord, help me to live the hero’s journey with the power of Your Holy Spirit.


1.   What does it mean to live the hero’s journey?

2.   What is keeping me from living the hero’s journey?

3.   How is God leading me to a hero’s journey?

Song of Praise

Seek Ye First



1.  The Cloud of Unknowing, edited by Halcyon Backhouse, page 23
2.  Daniel 10:5-6, NLT
3.  Daniel 10:12, NLT
4.  Daniel 10:13-21, NLT
5.  Romans 5:3-5,NLT
6.  John 16:33, NLT
7. Galatians 2:20, ESV
8.  Uche Anizor, Overcoming Apathy
9.  Proverbs 21:21, NLT
10. Isaiah 48:6-7, NLT
11. Seek Ye First