Daniel 4

Sometimes we can get so caught up in our own accomplishments, that we forget to recognize who gave us the abilities or who set up the circumstances for us to complete those accomplishments.

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Daniel 4

Pride.  A simple five letter word, but a word that is very dangerous to people, even Christians.  Sometimes we can get so caught up in our own accomplishments, that we forget to recognize who gave us the abilities or who set up the circumstances for us to complete those accomplishments.  And that is a great folly.

Just look at what happened to Nebuchadnezzar in this chapter.  In his second dream, he received a message from God with regard to his accomplishments.  Now, to take a small step back, we have to remember Nebuchadnezzar, in chapter two of Daniel, recognized God’s power.  He even states it when he calls Daniel to him in this chapter.  But he did not yield to what God wanted and remained prideful.  So God did what God always does in those situations; He gave Nebuchadnezzar grace to turn from his ways and when the king didn’t, He humbled him.

Daniel 4:28-33

28 All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar. 29 At the end of the twelve months he was walking about the royal palace of Babylon. 30 The king spoke, saying, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?”  31 While the word was still in the king’s mouth, a voice fell from heaven: “King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you! 32 And they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. They shall make you eat grass like oxen; and seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.”
33 That very hour the word was fulfilled concerning Nebuchadnezzar; he was driven from men and ate grass like oxen; his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws.
Now, let’s get some things clear here.  Before this, our friend Daniel faced certain execution.  How so?  Well the king asked Daniel to interpret the dream he’d had and if the king didn’t like what Daniel said…well he was the king.  However, Daniel’s faith was in God, not the king, so he told the king the truth regardless of the fact that it could have cost him his life.
Getting back to the main point of being prideful, Nebuchadnezzar had recognized God’s power in chapter two.  He saw what God could do.  Now I don’t know if Nebuchadnezzar simply chose to ignore the warning or thought he had plenty of time to right his wrongs, but he did receive fair warning from Daniel.
Daniel 4:27
27 Therefore, O king, let my advice be acceptable to you; break off your sins by being righteous, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor.  Perhaps there may be a lengthening of your prosperity.”
You see, brothers and sisters, when we sin and screw up, God always gives us a set length of time to get us to turn away from the wrong we are doing.  He’ll give us warnings through His word, through fellow believers who care for us and, if all else fails, non-believers who even recognize that what we are doing does not jive with what we say we believe.
So let’s take the time to examine our lives.  Is there an area in our lives that we are saying we know better than God?  Are we not heeding the warnings from our brothers and sisters or even non-believers He has but in our path?  If there is, you still have time to drop to your knees, pray to Him, ask His forgiveness and ask for His help to give you humility.  As it says in Isaiah 57:15, 15 For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, With him who has a contrite and humble spirit, To revive the spirit of the humble, And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
Until tomorrow, be blessed

Daniel 3

We need to look at God and recognize He’s got everything well in Hand…

Daniel 3

The modern world is filled with compromise.  Give a little and you’ll get a little if you will.  Where it comes to our faith and being children and worshipers of the Lord, however, believers need to be uncompromising in all environments.  Today’s reading shows an example of what it sometimes means to be uncompromising.

Daniel 3:16-18

16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to 10 deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. 18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”

So, here we have an extremely difficult situation for our buddies Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego.  Nebuchadnezzar had set up a pretty, gold statue of himself, just being a tad self-absorbed, for people to worship at appointed times and anyone who didn’t…well they got executed.  Furthermore, you had a bunch of kiss up snitches whom had already been shown up by Daniel and his companions once, so they were eager to get rid of the ones who worshipped God.  Does this sound like a familiar situation to you?  Has something similar happened in your own personal life?  If the answer is yes, I can tell you that I am not surprised by this.

This world is filled with people who fall into certain categories.  The first category is those who are so full of themselves, they want to be worshipped like gods.  They believe they are untouchable.  The second category is those who are toadies or “yes” people to the ones who want to be worshipped.  These folks will say and do whatever they have to in order to tear people down or improve their own position.  The final category, which is where we as believers should fall, is those who believe in Someone greater than themselves guiding their actions and daily lives.

Now, what happens if you fall into a position where you are on the bad side of one of the two other categories and are facing a metaphorical “fiery furnace” in your own life.  Well that’s simple enough, you put your faith in Him.  Let’s look at what happens to Daniel’s three friends when they do not yield and do not compromise their principles or beliefs.

Daniel 3:19-30

19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the expression on his face changed toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. He spoke and commanded that they heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated. 20 And he commanded certain mighty men of valor who were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, and cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 21 Then these men were bound in their coats, their trousers, their turbans, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. 22 Therefore, because the king’s command was urgent, and the furnace exceedingly hot, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. 23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?”  They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.”  25 “Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”  26 Then Nebuchadnezzar went near the mouth of the burning fiery furnace and spoke, saying, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here.” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego came from the midst of the fire. 27 And the satraps, administrators, governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together, and they saw these men on whose bodies the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them.  28 Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God! 29 Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation, or language which speaks anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made an ash heap; because there is no other God who can deliver like this.”
30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego in the province of Babylon.
A couple of points we should recognize here.  The first point being the Christophany.  A Christophany is a manifestation of Christ after His death.  In this case, it’s before His birth.  I personally, and feel free to disagree, and several scholars that I’ve read, feel this is a definitive appearance of Christ before the time of His birth.  But what’s important is the second point, the fact that Nebuchadnezzar recognized God was with our three friends.  He not only recognized it, but declared publicly his people were not to say anything amiss about God.  Well, isn’t that an interesting turn of events?
Brothers and sisters, we live in a world where compromise, yielding your principles to save your own skin is looked upon favorably.  But what we, as Christians should be doing is being as uncompromising as our three friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego.  We need to look at God and recognize He’s got everything well in Hand and whether we are facing arrogant people who want worship or those who are seeking their own gain by tearing you down, He’s the One who will protect you from the fire they will seek to put you in.  When we stand by Him, He stands by us.

Daniel 2

We need to stop counting on our own abilitites to do impossible tasks and we need to start putting those impossible or insurmountable tasks in His hands.

Daniel 2

Ever get a seemingly impossible or insurmountable task at work?  Has your boss ever given you a project that just seems so big you think, “It’s never going to get done?”  We all have at some point or another.  Brothers and sisters, we have to stop looking at the problem or situation and start looking at the cross and what He is capable of doing.

In today’s reading, we see Daniel and his friends on the verge of being executed because other people couldn’t do their job.  Furthermore, continuing to use the analogy of a workplace environment, the boss knew his people were incompetent, so he went on a firing spree.  In Biblical times getting fired, usually meant execution, so remember that when you feel your boss is being harsh.  I digress, how do we deal with incompetent co-workers or an overbearing boss?  Well let’s look at our Scriptural examples and find out how Daniel, Shadrach, Meschach and Abed-Nego handled the situation.

Daniel 2:16-19

16 So Daniel went in and asked the king to give him time, that he might tell the king the interpretation. 17 Then Daniel went to his house, and made the decision known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions, 18 that they might seek mercies from the God of heaven concerning this secret, so that Daniel and his companions might not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. 19 Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. So Daniel blessed the God of heaven .

Now, what everyone needs to remember here is that Nebuchadnezzar had also added a bit more to the task than just the interpretation of the dream.  He wanted the “wise men” of his kingdom to tell him what the dream was as well.  So yes, an impossible task…for ordinary men.  But not for God.  Not only does He give Daniel and his friends the dream, the interpretation, but He, in my opinion, also does a foreshadowing of His kingdom.  Now remember, my opinion doesn’t count for much, but when I read about that final kingdom that shows up destroying the previous four and the description of it, I can see nothing else but us as believers and being part of God’s kingdom here on earth.

Refer to Daniel 2:27-45

So, by completely putting the issue before God, if you keep reading through the end, not only did Daniel and his friends get their lives saved, but in essence, they were promoted at work.

If you haven’t figured out how to apply to your own personal life yet, then I will tell you a quick story.  In September, I lost my job through some bad decision making in my personal life.  What’s the first thing I did, dropped to my knees of course.  And don’t you know, I was only unemployed for a couple of weeks.  God revealed Himself not just once, but twice.  As it turned out, the office for the company I am working for, due to neglect on the A/R end of things, had 200K in bad debt.  Impossible mountain to conquer considering I’d never done A/R before in my life and November was the end of the fiscal year for the company.  Oh wait, impossible for me, but not for Him.  I put my faith in Him and did my job duties to the best of my ability and now, at the end of this month, the office is now at less than 25K in bad debt.  That’s not because I am doing anything spectacular but putting my faith in Him and doing my job to the best of the abilities and knowledge He gives me.  And now, and this is not a boast, but an example from my life, I am poised to be promoted.  And this is all on Him.  I did nothing special, just my job.  He handled everything else.

See brothers and sisters, we need to stop counting on our own abilitites to do impossible tasks and we need to start putting those impossible or insurmountable tasks in His hands.  When we do that, we will see there is nothing He can’t do around us, through us and in us.

Until tomorrow, be blessed.

Daniel 1

To paraphrase a movie quote, “You might be the only exposure to God these folks ever get,” so shouldn’t the example you show be a good reflection on Him.

Daniel 1

What’s your work environment like?  Are you in a blue collar, hands in the dirt environment or white collar, sit down at a desk environment?  In either case, unless the owner of the company you work for is also a believer, the environment you work for is likely hostile to God.  Now I don’t mean hostile in the sense they openly oppose God and all that He stands for, and therefore what you stand for.  I mean, it just makes people in your work environment uncomfortable to hear anything pertaining to God.  In fact, even mentioning God in the work place, and this is very common in modern times, you could get in trouble or even terminated.  But at least if you don’t fit in at work, which as a believer you kind of shouldn’t, you won’t be executed if you don’t fit the part.

As the book of Daniel opens, we see an immediate testing of the conviction of Daniel and his counterparts, the men renamed Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego.  Before the captivity, these guys were already “young men, in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans.”  So, as we can see, God had already given them all abilities to serve the Chaldeans in an influential capacity.  So, along with others in the prison, they were given special privileges and meals.  And they could have very easily been led astray by this, I mean who doesn’t like a good meal.  But here is how Daniel responded to this challenge.

Daniel 1:8

“But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.”

This is an example of how we as believers should be doing things where it comes to our work environments and I would say every situation in our lives; purposing our hearts to obedience to our heavenly Father.

As difficult as this world can make it be to be a believer, we should always be making it a priority to be obedient to God, not our flesh.  Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying to go out in open rebellion against your boss.  As a matter of fact, Scripture specifically says for servants to submit to their masters in the New Testament.  But if your boss is asking you to do something illegal that goes against not just your faith, but against God Himself, then you’d best be obedient to God first and worry about the repercussions from the higher-ups at your job second.  Now let’s look at how things went for our friend Daniel and his compatriots.

Daniel 1:11-20

“So Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, “Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance be examined before you, and the appearance of the young men who eat the portion of the king’s delicacies; and as you see fit, so deal with your servants.” So he consented with them in this matter, and tested them ten days. And at the end of ten days their features appeared better and fatter in flesh than all the young men who ate the portion of the king’s delicacies. Thus the steward took away their portion of delicacies and the wine that they were to drink, and gave them vegetables. As for these four young men, God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. Now at the end of the days, when the king had said that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. Then the king interviewed them, and among them all none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; therefore they served before the king. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm.”

So, as we see here, Daniel and his friends, ended up in a better situation because of their obedience to Him.  Instead of going along with the corporate culture, drinking the Kool-Aid, if you will, they stay true to the Lord.  And they ended up coming out better on the other side of things for it.

So now let’s ask ourselves this, from the perspective of a believer.  Do we ever sell out?  Now I am not speaking in the sense that we get new clothes for work or adapt to the rules and regulations of our environment, although we will be reading about how to deal with this in later chapters of Daniel.  I am speaking of the common culture of the work environment.  Do you cut corners, gossip with fellow workers about others or engage in questionable practices at work?  Just so you can go along with the crowd or fit in?  Just remember, to paraphrase a movie quote, “You might be the only exposure to God these folks ever get,” so shouldn’t the example you show be a good reflection on Him.  Be like Daniel and his friends and stand firm in obedience to God and you will always end up better on the other side of things for it.

Until tomorrow, be blessed.

Daniel Overview

Good morning brothers and sisters, thank you for joining me as I begin my study through Daniel.  Today, we are going to be doing a historical overview and synopsis of the book, which, in the last four chapters, has Daniel’s end time predictions and his direct prediction of the coming Messiah.

God is in control…of everything.  Belivers, as people have this tendency of thinking we are in control of things when we first come to faith.  We have a tendency of forgetting we gave our life to Him.  This means we take our hands off the wheel of our lives and trust in Him wholly.  The first six chapters of the book of Daniel should be used as a reminder of this fact.

It was written by the prophet himself during the reigns of Nebuchadnezzer, Belshazzar, Darius and Cyrus circa 605 – 536 B.C.  Historically, Daniel and the other primary Jewish men who are mentioned in this book, Shadrah, Meshach and Abed-Nego were used by God as examples of Jews who did not sell out during the captivity and follow the gods of the Babylonian and Persian empires.  The first six chapters of the book are specifically focused on Daniel’s life and events that occurred during his lifetime.  The last five have to do with predictions Daniel made with regard to end times during his life.

The primary message of the book of Daniel is recognition that God is always in control, even in the moments of our life when things seem completely out of control.  However, as we read, we will see the ideas that trusting and obeying God should be our true purpose in life, we need to persevere in hostile situations and God is always faithful to take care of and look after us.

Tomorrow, we will begin this journey through Daniel starting with chapter one.  As we go through, look for the aforementioned themes and then look at your own life and ask yourself, what area of my life am I trying to control?  Am I staying true (perservering) in environments that are hostile to God?  Am I trusting and obeying Him?

Until then, be blessed.

Hebrews 13

Christ cared for those He didn’t know and He suffered as we do.

Hebrews 13

Today, we conclude our study through the book of Hebrews.  At some point in the future, I am sure the Lord will direct us back here.  Starting tomorrow we will start a study in the book of Daniel.  We will do a quick overture of the history that led to that point in Israel’s history as well as look at some of the main themes of the book of Daniel.  I look forward to you joining me as we begin the study.  But for right now, let us delve into the concluding chapter of Hebrews.

The final chapter of Hebrews touches on a point that we should be striving for, integrity, with the sub-points being moral integrity and spiritual integrity.

The first set of directives speaks of moral integrity.  The author encourages us in three areas that are important in our lives as we walk with the Lord.

The first is with regard to strangers stating to “let brotherly love continue” and to remember those who are prisoners as if you are chained with them.  Why should we do this?  Well if you think about it, Christ in the gospels of Matthew and Mark, looked at everyone, not just His disciples as His brothers and sisters.  He looked after them and cared for them.  He made sure they had food when they were hungry after He had taught for an entire day (Matthew 14:13-20; Mark 6:30-44).  Except for the disciples, all these folks were strangers to Him, yet He cared for them.  So in essence, by continuing in brotherly love and remembering those who are mistreated as if we are just like them, we are emulating Christ, which is our goal as men and women of faith.  Christ cared for those He didn’t know and He suffered as we do.

Next we see instruction with regard to premarital sex.  Today’s world and behavior makes it extremely hard to keep the marriage bed pure.  However, we need to remember when we do so we honor God.  Tying in to the first point of moral integrity, we remember “brotherly love” by honoring our wives/husbands, thereby honoring God by saving the sharing of a bed with them until you are married.  Again, it’s not easy, but is it better to yield to your flesh or yield to Him?

Finally, the last moral directive has to do with envy.  That is what coveting means, wanting something someone else has.  You are in envy of them.  Why is this important?  Well, ask yourself this question, has the Lord provided for all your needs?  He has?  Well then why do you need what someone else has?  The Lord’s met your needs and provided for you.  So what does it matter what the other person has?  When you covet what someone else has, you are, for lack of a better way of putting it, telling God what He has done for you was not enough.  This may sound harsh, but that is an ungrateful and selfish way to behave.  Think on it like this, you make your children breakfast one day.  You toil in the kitchen and you bring a delicious and wonderful home cooked meal to your family.  Good right?  Of course.  But then they have a sleep over that night and the hosts take everyone out to a really nice restaurant or diner for breakfast.  And then your children come home and ask the question, “Why don’t we go out to eat like they do?”  How does that make you feel?  God feels the same way when we covet something someone else has after He has provided for our needs.

Now we will segue into the idea of spiritual integrity.  I have seen a lot of people in churches cause a church to splinter and sometimes fall apart because of one thing.  A lack of recognition that those who are in leadership are chosen by God to be there.  It’s not political manuveuring or nepotism that puts them in such places.  God wants them there.  And we always have to keep in mind, those who are minding the church and God’s flock, teaching, mentoring and caring for God’s flock, are just as unworthy of doing it as we, those being taught and cared for, are.  They aren’t more spiritual than us and it’s not like they do more for Him than we do.  A lot of times these individuals are exhausted from a day at work, but there are things that need to be taken care of, either for the people or the sanctuary.  And these guys do it.

Look back at the chapters of Matthew and Mark from earlier.  How tired do you think Jesus was after teaching all day to five thousand men?  And if we want to be real on statistics, let’s figure half those men had wives, which means we add another 2,500 and then on top of that, figure in half of that had one child with them, another 1,250.  So, for total numbers we have an estimated 8,750 people being taught.  That’s a long way for a voice to carry for an entire day.  Yes, Jesus was exhausted, there is no doubt of that in my mind, but yet He still took the time to make sure every single one of them was fed.  Our church leaders are doing their best to emulate the Lord.  Therefore, we need to keep our churches from splintering by gossping, talking trash or becoming embittered when they don’t do things the way we feel they should be done.  The church does not belong to people, it belongs to God.

Thus concludes our study through the book of Hebrews.  I pray it has blessed you as much as it did me.  Until tomorrow when we begin the book of Daniel.

Hebrews 12

God didn’t bring you this far in your life before Christ to let you perish.  But, as I spoke about in previous entries, our old self will continually try to creep in, creep up and we will make mistakes and falter.

Today, as we begin Chapter 12, we begin to wind down our study through the book of Hebrews.  Please pray for me and ask the Lord to guide me to the next book of the Bible to study.

Hebrews 12

The primary focus of today’s chapter is God’s love.  Now I know reading, it may not seem like it, but it is.  Really, I promise.  How so?  Easy.

Hebrews 12:3-11

For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. 4 You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:
“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
For whom the Lord loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.”
If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields 18 the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Now I know there are paragraphs before and after this one, however, this paragraph is the central idea behind this chapter.  When we came to know the Lord, we came by faith that His Son died for us on the cross.  In the previous chapter we got the Hall of Fame of faith; a list of people who also believed in God and His promises.  So we have their testimonies with regard to faith to be our anchors, our “witnesses” if you would.
This paragraph talks about God’s discipline and how through His discipline we will yield fruit.  Oh wait, what’s that last verse say?  It says, “the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”  So when we are disciplined by God, we are essentially being pruned to yield better fruit.  Just like our earthly parents as we were growing up, who disciplined us to make us better people, God disciplines us to make us better representatives of Him.  And like it says in this paragraph, and I’m paraphrasing, nobody likes discipline.  But it is necessary when we are doing the wrong thing.  Furthermore, when we are disciplined, it will bring us closer to Him.
When we are disciplined by God, we need to make sure we do not become embittered or angry to the point where we fall away from Him.  We can get so down on ourselves or start feeling victimized that we fail to look at what we have done to cause this situation.  And if it is because of a word of conviction from your local church, well that may cause you to leave fellowship because you had your feelings hurt because things didn’t go your way.  This is folly.  You need to keep in fellowship with Him and don’t let your pride from being disciplined cause you to lose your “birthright” like what happened to Esau as it speaks about in verse 16.
God didn’t bring you this far in your life before Christ to let you perish.  But, as I spoke about in previous entries, our old self will continually try to creep in, creep up and we will make mistakes and falter.  We have to accept that and accept that God will be continually loving and caring for us.  And in that love and care, He will discipline us.  He’s only doing it to make us more useful or “fruitful” for His use.  Don’t run from it.  Let the discipline draw you closer to Him.