Daniel – The High Cost of Anger and Pride

Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated. And he ordered some of the mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. Then these men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics, their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace. Because the king’s order was urgent and the furnace overheated, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
(Daniel 3:19-22)

There is a high cost to our anger and pride. It doesn’t just affect us, it hurts those around us. Nebuchadnezzar’s pride and anger cost the lives of some of his best soldiers. His anger burned, and so did his soldiers.

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
(James 1:19-20)

What does the anger of man produce when left to itself? It certainly does not produce God’s righteousness, according to James. Our anger and pride can destroy a church, a family, a marriage, a friendship, a business, etc. King Neb was so upset his orders were not followed that he lost his mind and went so far that good men died.

It is a sobering reminder for us today that we must have, with God’s help, calm spirits that are slow to anger.

Proverbs 14:29 – Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.

Proverbs 15:18 – A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.

Proverbs 16:32 – Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.

Proverbs 19:11 – Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.

All the way my Savior leads me

The theme at our congregation this year is from a song by Fanny J Crosby, All the way my Savior leads me. She is one of my favorite hymn writers. Fanny Crosby was blind, and in most of her hymns you can see some reference to sight, seeing or vision. This song is no exception.
Today I want to share with you the lyrics to this song for your meditation.
All the way my Savior leads me
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy?
Who through life has been my guide
Heavenly peace, divinest comfort
Here by faith in Him to dwell
For I know whate’er befall me
Jesus doeth all things well
All the way my Savior leads me
Cheers each winding path I tread
Gives me grace for every trial
Feeds me with the living bread
Though my weary steps may falter
And my soul a-thirst may be
Gushing from the rock before me
Lo! a spring joy I see
All the way my Savior leads me
O the fullness of His love!
Perfect rest to me is promised
In my Father’s house above
When my spirit, clothed immortal
Wings its flight to realms of day
This my song through endless ages
Jesus led me all the way.

Daniel – Becoming Like the Idol

They drank the wine and praised their gods made of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, or stone.
(Daniel 5:4)

In Daniel 5, God teaches King Belshazzar a very humbling and permanent lesson about his arrogance before the Lord. What I would like to think about today is that they praised their gods made of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone.

Take a minute to think about the following passage from Psalms.

Why should other nations say, “Where is their God?” Our God is in heaven. He does whatever he wants. Their idols are made of silver and gold. They were made by human hands. They have mouths, but they cannot speak. They have eyes, but they cannot see. They have ears, but they cannot hear. They have noses, but they cannot smell. They have hands, but they cannot feel. They have feet, but they cannot walk. They cannot even make a sound with their throats. Those who make idols end up like them. So does everyone who trusts them. Israel, trust the LORD. He is your helper and your shield.
(Psalms 115:2-9)

Gods of earthly materials cannot see, hear, speak, smell or move. Notice what the Psalmist said about those who worship idols…

Those who make idols end up like them. So does everyone who trusts them.

Did they literally end up without any use of their senses or motor skills? No. But spiritually speaking they could not see, hear, speak or perceive anything that belongs to God. The life of worshipping idols destroys our understanding, and our ability to speak and move for God.

Do we have idolatry today? Of course, let’s look at one specific reference from the apostle Paul.

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
(Colossians 3:5)

What is idolatry? Covetousness, greediness, a lust for more, more, more. It could be more money, stuff, status, approval, sexual pleasure, etc., but whatever it is it becomes our god. This is our idolatry that we worship.

Does that affect your ability to see, hear, speak and perceive the things of God? Yes, let’s listen to Jesus.

As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.
(Matthew 13:22)

The cares and lust for this world choke the word of God and it does not do what it’s supposed to do within our hearts. Our idolatry, our lust for more, more, more, hinders us from hearing God’s word. It keeps us from speaking on God’s behalf. Our ability to perceive and understand things on a spiritual level is greatly diminished. We become like our idols. Yell at them all day long and they won’t hear. Bang at them with a hammer and they won’t flinch. This is what happens to man’s soul when he becomes entrenched in idolatry.

It’s something for us to think about today in prayer. Lord, help us to expose our idolatry. May we smash our idols before you, Lord, so that our eyes, ears, hearts, hands, feet and mouths may be used only for You.

Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
(1 John 5:21)

Just like God said

And the LORD visited Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did for Sarah as He had spoken. For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.
(Genesis 21:1-2)

Today is a reminder for us that God keeps His promises.

He keeps His promises on His time table. It took 25 years after God’s promise, but Abraham and Sarah had their son. They had times when they wondered and even tried to go about fulfilling their own way, but in the end, God came through. I can get impatient, and it is good for me to remember that God’s timing is not mine. Another of God’s promises to Abraham took 2,000 years to fulfill, that being the promise of Jesus.

He keeps His promises just like He promised. What He promised, in detail, He delivered. Men keep promises and then adapt them later because the original promise cannot or won’t be kept. God is not like that. There is no “bait and switch” with God.

in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began,
(Titus 1:2)

“God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” 
(Numbers 23:19)

“And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor relent. For He is not a man, that He should relent.”
(1 Samuel 15:29)

Daniel – Stand Firm and Take Action

He shall seduce with flattery those who violate the covenant, but the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action.
(Daniel 11:32)

Daniel chapter 11 can get pretty confusing for me, but when I come to this verse I get the main point. Whatever is going on here in chapter 11, there are people who are seduced and break God’s covenant. That is sad, and that is the way of the world. However we also see that there are those who know God, stand firm and take action.

I’m seeing so many connections between Daniel’s theme and the book of Revelation. In both books, God’s people are being oppressed by a beast, and in both books the Son of Man, Jesus overcomes that beast. Also in both books, those who are with the Son of Man, Jesus, can and will overcome and conquer the beast.

And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. 
(Revelation 12:11)
This is our encouragement for today. We are in a war against Satan and any “beast” he sends our way to torture us. The Devil is, with all his might, seeking to destroy God’s work. But Jesus is on the throne, He has already conquered and He reigns supreme. Death, sin and the Devil have no power over Him. In Christ, the Devil has been disarmed and made powerless.
So stand firm today, men. Stand firm today in Christ. Fight the beast. Do not love your lives even unto death. You have a covenant with Christ to keep. You have His blood covering you. His word is always there to guide you. But standing firm means more than standing still. It means taking action.
Take action to say kind words and to forgive others. Take action to reach out to encourage someone else. Take action to say no to the Devil’s temptations. Take action to be honest when the pressure is extreme to be dishonest. Take action to speak up for God to your boss, your neighbor, your friends, etc.
Stand firm and take action.

 

Remember When?

Today, I would like for us to consider two passages of Scripture where God calls us to our former days. Remember When? This is a great exercise for a church, for individuals and for married couples. It’s time to revisit how we used to be, what we used to feel like, and what our perspective was back then.

But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.
(Hebrews 10:32-36)

These Christians were about to give up and go back to Judaism in order to avoid the persecutions they were facing. They were just done, and they were tired and discouraged. Sadly, some just wanted to quit. This is a very real situation for many Christians, many churches and many marriages. What does the Hebrew writer ask them to do? Remember what it was like when you first became a Christian? Do you recall what you felt like? How did you feel about living for Jesus, even when you were being persecuted for it? What happened to that fire and that enthusiasm? It’s time to go back to the beginning like you were on the honeymoon with Jesus.

Here’s another passage in which Jesus is speaking to the church of Ephesus. They were “doing” everything right, but they were about to lose their fellowship with Jesus. Why? The love they had at first was gone. As one writer said, “They were gun barrel straight on doctrine but without any gun powder in the bullets.” What does Jesus say is the remedy? Go back to the beginning. Get back to your roots. Remember what it was like when you first became a Christian?

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. “‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’
(Revelation 2:1-7)

I think those of us who are older should spend more time just listening and observing those who are younger. Instead of constantly being in teacher mode, maybe we as the teachers need to be the students. Those young Christians have a lot of zeal and idealism, and we would do well by remembering what it was like when we were that on fire for Jesus. Instead of accusing them of being young, arrogant and idealistic, maybe we could get stirred up again by working with them.

It might be that we observe a young married couple that is just gushing with love for one another. We can gag at that and make fun of it, or we can say to ourselves, “Remember when?” Maybe our romance, and idealism, and fire is gone and we need to do some rekindling. Instead of making fun of that young couple by telling them the “reality” of what’s coming, maybe we can rejoice with them and help bring our fire back once again.

When You Don’t Listen to God First

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.
(Genesis 16:1-2)

Abram and Sarai were promised a child. They were old. It had been 10 years. After a while a person starts to have all kinds of ideas. Maybe we can help this along. How about Hagar? Let’s try having a child through her! You might not appreciate what Sarai proposed, but try to imagine how desperate they were to have a child.

But just because we are desperate, impatient and wondering why God has not come through on His end of the deal, does not give us a green light to go outside His will. Abram and Sarai, just like so many of us, had to grow in faith and learn to wait on God.

We have to see, though, that there are consequences to not listening to God first. There are doors we open and things we set in motion that are irreversible when we listen to others first and forget to consult God.

Consider just a few consequences of Abram listening to Sarai first instead of God:

  • Think of the strain that put on Abram and Sarai’s marriage. Sarai quickly realized what she did was wrong, but there was no going back. Her husband slept with her handmaiden, and that could not be reversed. This is an example of how we can make a time of hardship into a real crisis. Yes we can appreciate that Abram and Sarai were sad, hurting and waiting for God to fulfill His promise, but what they did created a real crisis in their family.
  • Look at the strife that came between Sarai and Hagar because of this. Hagar began to despise Sarai, and then Sarai really treated Hagar so badly that Hagar ran away. God even took note of how badly Hagar was treated by Sarai.
  • What about what the problems that came in between Ishmael and Isaac and their descendants? For generations to come, these families would have problems, and all because of one weak moment in Abram and Sarai’s life. Because they did not listen to God first and wait on him, their families suffered strife for generations.

Listen to God first. Wait on Him, even when all other things are falling apart around you. Trust in His promises. Do not waver. Learn from the lessons of those like Abram and Sarai. Be cautious of letting your impatience turning an already hard situation into a very bad series of events.

Happy New Year!

Happy 2019 to you!

We hope that you all had a wonderful holiday season with your family and friends!

Today is a new day, full of God’s grace, His promises and His provisions. What will you do with today? Don’t even think about the whole year of 2019, just think about what are you going to do with God’s grace, provisions and promises today?

If you are thinking about increasing your Bible reading / Bible study activity, then there are countless places where you can go online to help you find the perfect Bible reading plan for you. I would encourage you to keep it simple and don’t try to conquer the world. So many folks, including me, have tried to do way too much with those New Year’s resolutions only to completely blow it by February. Find a simple, easy-to-follow plan. The more complicated it is, and the more that is expected of you, the easier it will be for you to fail. Also, don’t look at yourself as a failure because you don’t read through the whole Bible in a year.

Here are some helpful hints:

  • Listen to the Bible in your car or while you are doing chores around the house. You might usually listen to the news, traffic and music, but how about taking 10-15 minutes of that time and listen to God’s word? Try BibleGateway.com

 

  • Have a close friend or friends join in with you on a reading plan. It does help when we have others joined into the mix. Not only is there a level of accountability, but there is also excitement that comes with sharing what you are reading with someone else! You can look at the BibleProject.com website and find a plan and invite others to join it.

 

  • Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day, or days. Just keep trying. If you have to readjust your plan, then do it, but don’t quit just because you missed a week. God wants us to read and study His word, but don’t look at God like He is up there with a clipboard checking off your daily reading. His grace covers a lot more than a few missed days of Bible reading. So out of gratitude for that amazing grace, just get back up and start again.

 

  • Take time for meditation, not just Bible reading. What if you release the pressure to have a daily Bible reading, and say that you are going to read a few days, and meditate on some of the other days about what you read on those few days? Bible reading is not a one-size-fits-all thing. David talked about how God’s word was his meditation all day long (Psalm 119:197). He didn’t read the Bible 24/7, but his mind was often there meditating on what he did read. Think about how many early Christians lived. They didn’t all have their own copy of the Bible, but they listened intently to the word and then went their way and meditated, discussed and prayed about what they heard.

Here is another website. Ligonier.org has a great listing of various Bible reading plans.

“Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105)

Daniel – For You Have Strengthened Me

And behold, one in the likeness of the children of man touched my lips. Then I opened my mouth and spoke. I said to him who stood before me, “O my lord, by reason of the vision pains have come upon me, and I retain no strength. How can my lord’s servant talk with my lord? For now no strength remains in me, and no breath is left in me.” Again one having the appearance of a man touched me and strengthened me. And he said, “O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage.” And as he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.”
(Daniel 10:16-19)

We’ve already looked at the fact that the visions that Daniel and others saw had an exhausting effect upon them. “By reason of the vision pains have come upon me, and I retain no strength.” God’s express purpose is to put these men into a position where they will need both strength and wisdom from him. Daniel will need strength to recover from what he just experienced. He will also need wisdom even to begin to wrap his mind around it and understand it.

Who put Daniel into that condition? God. Who will bring strength back to him? God. This is a consistent pattern throughout Scripture. Who led the Israelites out of Egypt? God. Who brought them right up to the Red Sea so that they would be trapped on one side by the water and on the other side by the pursuing Egyptians? God. Who allowed the Israelites to hunger in the wilderness? God. Who then fed them? God.

What is Daniel experiencing of which we all need reminding? That strength comes from God. The words of this heavenly being and his warm touch upon Daniel brought him strength. Daniel then asked for more of it!

And as he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.”

Let’s ask for more of it today, too.

Daniel – But Go Your Way Till The End

“But go your way till the end. And you shall rest and shall stand in your allotted place at the end of the days.”
(Daniel 12:13)

The commentator Adam Clarke had four simple points on this verse, and I wanted to share them with you.

Here is proper advice for every man.
1. Thou hast a way – a walk in life, which God has assigned thee; walk in that way, it is thy way.
2. There will be an end to thee of all earthly things. Death is at the door, and eternity is at hand; go on to the end – be faithful unto death.
3. There is a rest provided for the people of God. Thou shalt rest; thy body, in the grave; thy soul, in the Divine favor here, and finally in paradise.
4. As in the promised land there was a lot for each of God’s people, so in heaven there is a lot for thee. Do not lose it, do not sell it, do not let thy enemy rob thee of it. Be determined to stand in thy own lot at the end of the days. See that thou keep the faith; die in the Lord Jesus, that thou mayest rise and reign with him to all eternity. Amen.

Amen.