Day 333

How to Be Inspired

Wisdom Proverbs 29:1-9
New Testament 2 Peter 2:1-22
Old Testament Daniel 3:13-4:18


In successive weeks at HTB, I interviewed two people of courage and faith. One, Ben Freeth, inspired by his faith in Jesus Christ, had taken a courageous stance against the unjust regime in Zimbabwe. As a result, he was beaten, tortured and forced to watch his elderly mother-in-law and father-in-law undergo torture, from which the latter eventually died. Yet in the midst of his suffering, he chose to love and bless the torturers.

The second was a pastor from one of the sixty countries around the world where physical persecution of Christians still takes place. He had been imprisoned and, at one stage, sentenced to death for no other reason than his faith in Jesus Christ. Yet in the face of extreme suffering he refused to deny his faith.

The lives of men and women like this are hugely inspiring, challenging and motivational.


Proverbs 29:1-9

  29 Whoever remains stiff-necked after many rebukes
   will suddenly be destroyed —without remedy.

  2 When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice;
   when the wicked rule, the people groan.

  3 A man who loves wisdom brings joy to his father,
   but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth.

  4 By justice a king gives a country stability,
   but those who are greedy for bribes tear it down.

  5 Those who flatter their neighbours
   are spreading nets for their feet.

  6 Evildoers are snared by their own sin,
   but the righteous shout for joy and are glad.

  7 The righteous care about justice for the poor,
   but the wicked have no such concern.

  8 Mockers stir up a city,
   but the wise turn away anger.

  9 If a wise person goes to court with a fool,
   the fool rages and scoffs, and there is no peace.


Inspirational champions of justice

I am inspired by the examples of churches, individuals and organisations that care deeply about justice for the poor. There is so much in the Bible about issues of poverty and justice. The Poverty and Justice Bible highlights over two thousand verses that wake us up to these issues.

Justice really matters. ‘By justice a king gives a country stability, but one who is greedy for bribes tears it down’ (v.4). It is terrible to live in a place where bribery of judges and politicians is normal. ‘A leader of good judgment gives stability; an exploiting leader leaves a trail of waste’ (v.4, MSG).

No justice system is perfect. However, it is a privilege to live in a country that has a good justice system.

‘When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan’ (v.2). In other words: ‘When good people run things, everyone is glad, but when the ruler is bad, everyone groans’ (v.2, MSG).

The righteous person has a clear conscience and can sing and be glad, whereas an evil person is snared by their own sin (v.6).

Caring about ‘justice for the poor’ (v.7) is the mark of a righteous life: ‘The good-hearted understand what it’s like to be poor; the hardhearted haven’t the faintest idea’ (v.7, MSG).


Lord, help us to make a real difference to this world in seeking to bring justice to the poor, the homeless, the prisoners and the hungry.

New Testament

2 Peter 2:1-22

False Teachers and Their Destruction

2 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them —bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3 In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.

4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment; 5 if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; 6 if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7 and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless 8 (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— 9 if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment. 10 This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh and despise authority.

Bold and arrogant, they are not afraid to heap abuse on celestial beings; 11 yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not heap abuse on such beings when bringing judgment on them from the Lord. 12 But these people blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like unreasoning animals, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like animals they too will perish.

13 They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you. 14 With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed —an accursed brood! 15 They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer, who loved the wages of wickedness. 16 But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey—an animal without speech—who spoke with a human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness.

17 These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 18 For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.” 20 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21 It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. 22 Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.”


Inspirational godly lives

I am so thankful for the examples of those around us today like Bishop Sandy Millar, Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa and many lesser known others who inspire us by their example and godliness.

The New Testament warns about deceptive and potentially dangerous cult leaders who ‘secretly introduce destructive heresies’ (v.1). In very recent times, one such cult, called Shincheonji, tried to infiltrate churches in London and around the world, posing as a ‘Bible study’ for new believers. The leaders of this ‘Bible study’ teach their followers to lie and deceive.

This chapter is a strongly worded attack on lying prophets and immoral teachers. Peter contrasts the lives of Noah and Lot with the ‘false teachers’ (v.1).

Noah, ‘the sole voice of righteousness’ (v.5, MSG), lived among ‘ungodly people’ but was ‘a preacher of righteousness’ (v.5). Lot also was a ‘good man’ (v.8, MSG). He was ‘a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of the lawless’ (v.7).

Peter holds out Noah and Lot as examples to those to whom he is writing, as they contend with false teachers who ‘introduce destructive heresies’ and follow ‘shameful ways’ that ‘bring the way of truth into disrepute’ (vv.1–2).

These false teachers are not simply other Christian leaders with whom Peter disagrees. Their lives and teachings are at complete odds with the Christian faith: ‘With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning… They have left the straight way’ (vv.14–15). They appeal ‘to the lustful desires of sinful human nature’ (v.18). ‘They promise… freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity – for people are slaves to whatever has mastered them’ (v.19).

The things that Peter describes here can seem very tempting – which is why he is so concerned about these leaders. His descriptions of pleasure seeking (v.13), sexual freedom (vv.14,18–19) and the pursuit of money (v.15), all strike a chord today.

The false teachers are slaves to these things, yet they entice others (especially new believers) into the same way of life, leading them astray by promising freedom (vv.18–19). However, true freedom is only found in God’s ways, not in any of these enticements that promise so much but actually result in emptiness. Those who pursue and recommend them are ‘springs without water and mists driven by a storm’ (v.17).

This is a terrible warning: ‘If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs’ (vv.20–21).


Lord, the pull of the world is strong. Help me never to turn my back on you, my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Old Testament

Daniel 3:13-4:18

13 Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king, 14 and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? 15 Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”

16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up. ”

19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual 20 and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. 21 So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. 22 The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, 23 and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.

24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”

They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.”

25 He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”

26 Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!”

So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, 27 and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.

28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.”

30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon.

Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream of a Tree

4 King Nebuchadnezzar,

To the nations and peoples of every language, who live in all the earth:

May you prosper greatly!

2 It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me.

  3 How great are his signs,
   how mighty his wonders!
  His kingdom is an eternal kingdom;
   his dominion endures from generation to generation.

4 I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at home in my palace, contented and prosperous. 5 I had a dream that made me afraid. As I was lying in bed, the images and visions that passed through my mind terrified me. 6 So I commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be brought before me to interpret the dream for me. 7 When the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners came, I told them the dream, but they could not interpret it for me. 8 Finally, Daniel came into my presence and I told him the dream. (He is called Belteshazzar, after the name of my god, and the spirit of the holy gods is in him.)

9 I said, “Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you, and no mystery is too difficult for you. Here is my dream; interpret it for me. 10 These are the visions I saw while lying in bed: I looked, and there before me stood a tree in the middle of the land. Its height was enormous. 11 The tree grew large and strong and its top touched the sky; it was visible to the ends of the earth. 12 Its leaves were beautiful, its fruit abundant, and on it was food for all. Under it the wild animals found shelter, and the birds lived in its branches; from it every creature was fed.

13 “In the visions I saw while lying in bed, I looked, and there before me was a holy one, a messenger, coming down from heaven. 14 He called in a loud voice: ‘Cut down the tree and trim off its branches; strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the animals flee from under it and the birds from its branches. 15 But let the stump and its roots, bound with iron and bronze, remain in the ground, in the grass of the field.

“‘Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him live with the animals among the plants of the earth. 16 Let his mind be changed from that of a man and let him be given the mind of an animal, till seven times pass by for him.

17 “‘The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of people.’

18 “This is the dream that I, King Nebuchadnezzar, had. Now, Belteshazzar, tell me what it means, for none of the wise men in my kingdom can interpret it for me. But you can, because the spirit of the holy gods is in you.”


Inspirational faith and courage

I am always inspired by people of courage and faith who refuse to be frightened or intimidated.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are inspiring examples of absolute trust in God. They refused to bow down and worship the image of gold, in spite of the threat of being thrown into a fiery furnace. They were determined to do the right thing, however great the cost might be, because they believed in God and his power to vindicate them if he so desired.

They said to the king, ‘Your threat means nothing to us. If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up, O king. But even if he doesn’t, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference, O king. We still wouldn’t serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up’ (3:16b–18, MSG).

It would have been easy for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to have tried to find a way out. They could have sought to negotiate a settlement with Nebuchadnezzar that involved some compromise but not too much. But they had complete confidence in the power of God to deliver them if he wanted to, and if he did not, they were still going to trust in him and obey him.

This is an inspiring example. When faced with difficult decisions ask, as they did, ‘What is the right thing to do?’ Then do it regardless of the consequences.

Their absolute trust in God was a tremendous witness to Nebuchadnezzar. As he looks into the fiery furnace he sees four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks ‘like a Son of God’ (v.25, KJV). Reading this through the lens of the New Testament, it is possible to see the fourth man as a vision of Jesus himself, with them in their time of trial.

They came out ‘not a hair singed, not a scorch mark on their clothes, not even the smell of fire on them!’ (v.27, MSG). If you are facing trials in your life that might seem like the fiery furnace, you can be assured that Jesus is right there with you in whatever situation you are facing.

Even Nebuchadnezzar himself is inspired by their example (v.28). A change of heart began in him as a result. However, it took a long time for God to get the message through to him. In spite of Daniel’s example in chapter 2, Nebuchadnezzar was not converted. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego’s absolute trust in God had a big impact on him. However, his conversion was not complete.

In chapter 4 we read his remarkable testimony of how he did eventually come to acknowledge God. Giving a testimony brings great pleasure: ‘It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me’ (4:2). By this stage, his attitude had completely changed and the glory was all given to God (v.3).

He begins by saying that, in one sense, he had all he wanted. ‘I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at home in my palace, contented and prosperous’ (v.4). But underneath the prosperity and contentment there was a deep fear (v.5).

One of the main points of the book of Daniel is that God uses inspiring examples like Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and their absolute trust in God to change a king’s life – and as a result, to change a nation.


Lord, help me to do the right thing, however great the cost appears to be. Thank you for inspiring examples of men and women who raise my sights and show me what is possible.

Pippa adds

Proverbs 29:7 says, ‘The righteous care about justice for the poor.’

When we visited Zimbabwe, I was inspired by the church there. It shines. We met many people who have taken up the plight of the poor and are trying to make a difference. Are there any injustices under my nose that God may want to draw to my attention?



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The Poverty and Justice Bible (American Bible Society, 2008).

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

Scripture quotations from The Authorized (King James) Version. Rights in the Authorized Version in the United Kingdom are vested in the Crown. Reproduced by permission of the Crown’s patentee, Cambridge University Press.

Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

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