“We do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. . . The God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us. But if he does not, we want you to know that we will not serve other gods or worship them.” Daniel 3:17-18
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego find themselves in a difficult circumstance with a very clear choice. The king of Babylonia (Nebuchadnezzar) has issued a decree . . . bow down and worship an idol made out of gold or be killed. The three followers of the one true God make a decision to stay faithful in their worship to God and not bow down to a manmade idol.
When the three men were executed by being thrown into a fiery furnace they were kept from being burned. In fact a fourth man who looked like a “son of gods” stood with them to protect them in the blazing furnace.
One way or another the three men believed they would be delivered that day for their faith in God. They were willing to die for their faith. This time God delivered them.
Unlike the culture that Daniel lived in, we are not threatened with our lives if we worship other gods in the U.S. Worshiping people and stuff other than our Lord is subtle. We place materialistic items like houses, cars, TV, clothing, sporting events, careers, and even kid’s activities ahead of our relationship with Jesus Christ. We take money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like to get things we don’t need so that we can be happy or to help us be more impressive than those around us.
The three men made a pretty simple choice. Regardless of the consequences they were going to worship the Lord. May this true story inspire you today as you make choices (little or big) in displaying your allegiance to the Lord.
Prayer: Help me Lord to put you first in every decision regardless of the earthly consequences. I believe your presence will be with me. Help me to stay faithful to you today. Amen.
“The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts.” Proverbs 18:8
Sometimes gossip gets a “pass” by us Christians. In our minds, it’s not like adultery, stealing, lying, or other more infamous vices. We also gossip under the guise of sharing prayer requests, chalking it up to concern for those involved… however, rarely getting around to praying about it.
Gossip is a recurring focus throughout the book of Proverbs, because wise people disengage from gossip and slanderous conversations. Those who participate in these conversations are all lumped into the guilty category, both speaker and listener. I love this quote by the famous preacher, Charles Sturgeon:
“Remember that, as the receiver is as bad as the thief, so the hearer of scandal is a sharer in the guilt of it. If there were no listening ears there would be no talebearing tongues.”
As you pray for the tact and courage to dismiss yourself from gossip-laden conversations, consider one more verse from Proverbs 26:20: “Without wood a fire dies down; without gossip a quarrel dies down.”
Father, you command us to honor each other with our speech. Convict me when I mindlessly wander into gossip, or take in the “choice morsels” of others. Give me courage to become known for not being interested in hearing gossip, and build the trust of others in me by helping me to never gossip about others.
“After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well.” 2 Corinthians 12:14b-15
In 2 Corinthians 12:11-15 the Apostle Paul makes three intentions known to the Corinthian church. First, he’s intent on visiting with the Corinthian church for a third time. Second, he’s intent on not being a burden to them while staying there. He refuses to accept their financial support. This is consistent with his previous visits, but by no means a universal principle. (Paul defends the apostles’ right to receive compensation in 1 Corinthians 9:3-14.) Finally, Paul’s intent is on spending everything he has and even expending himself to grow the Corinthians in their walk with Christ.
The Greek word used for spend in verse 15 is dapanaō which literally means to incur an expense. Used in a negative light it means to waste, squander, or consume something. Paul is literally saying he’ll gladly spend everything he has and let his resources be “squandered” or “consumed” by the world’s standards, if it will produce spiritual fruit among the Corinthians. Not only will he spend his resources, but also his very life. Paul says he will expend himself. The Greek word translated expend is ekdapanaō which means to use up, exhaust yourself, or spend yourself completely on something. In essence, Paul is all in. He will exhaust his personal resources and personal time and energy to pour into the Corinthians.
Can the same be said about us as we encounter hurting people every day? Are we willing to gladly spend our resources and expend our lives in hopes that some will know Jesus? What material resources has God blessed you with that you could gladly spend to further His kingdom? What personal resources (talents, time, passions) has God equipped you with to gladly spend on his kingdom?
Prayer: Father, help me to deepen my passion for Jesus and his Kingdom and help me today to see new ways that I can spend everything and expend myself for His kingdom.
Now there were four men who were lepers at the entrance to the gate. And they said to one another, “Why are we sitting here until we die? If we say, ‘Let us enter the city,’ the famine is in the city, and we shall die there. And if we sit here, we die also. So now come, let us go over to the camp of the Syrians. If they spare our lives we shall live, and if they kill us we shall but die.” So they arose at twilight to go to the camp of the Syrians, behold, there was no one there. For The Lord had made the army of the Syrians hear the sound of chariots and of horses, the sound of a great army … So they fled away in the twilight and abandoned their tents, their horses, and their donkeys, leaving the camp as it was, and fled for their lives.” (2 Kings 7:3-7)
The story above may not be the first that comes to mind when you think about what it means to be a “dangerous witness.” Yet, the story of these lepers (thousands of years old) demonstrates the very best of what it means to generously share the “good news” with the hungry and thirsty. Notice the following with me:
-There was a famine so severe that people were eating their children! (2 Kings 6:26-31)
-The situation was even worst for the outcast lepers beyond the city gate. (2 Kings 7:3-4)
-God worked miraculously to provide. (2 Kings 7:6)
-Upon entering the camp of the Syrians, the lepers found a surplus of food and provisions. (2 Kings 7:6-7)
-After eating and drinking, the lepers hid silver, gold, and clothing for themselves. (2 Kings 7:8)
Here’s the amazing thing … The lepers said to themselves, “We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news … Let us go and tell the king’s household”. Rather than hoarding the riches of a kingdom from those in desperate need, the lepers shared the GOOD NEWS with those who had cast them away.
The Father has entrusted us with the good news of a Kingdom whose riches are inexhaustible. Many people are desperate to “taste and see that The Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8). But they live on the brink of starvation, held captive by the fear of an enemy that has already been defeated! We have the honor and privilege of sharing the good news about God’s remarkable provision and the enemy who has already been defeated!
Father, help us to courageously venture beyond our gates to share the good news of Christ and His Kingdom with all who will listen. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN.
“Shouting at a King”
“Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth…Shout for joy before the LORD, the King”
It would be a completely foolish thing to shout at a king. First, it sounds disrespectful. Second, it might get me killed. Third, if my wife, who is big on civility, was close at hand she might give me one of those looks that can vaporize steel. What does the Psalmist mean when he calls for Israel to shout for joy before the LORD, the King? Honestly, shouting at a king is a difficult thing to get my mind wrapped around. After all I have been raised in a democracy and not a monarchy. Our lead pastor, Mike Baker, has written a book entitled I Am Revealed where he examines eight names or descriptions that deepen our understanding of God. This is one of them, “Ha Melek Jehovah” – “the LORD, the King.” I highly recommend Mike’s book. Even more, I highly recommend Psalm 98:4&6.
Why should we shout for joy at our King? We shout because God is a King who completely saves (98:1-3). We shout because God is a King who is absolutely supreme (98:4-6). We shout because God is a King who perfectly judges (98:7-9).We raise our voices in a holy “yelp” to God because there is no other King like Him (1 Timothy 6:15). I was fifteen and Bobby Kennedy was running for president of the United States. His train came through the small town of Peru, Indiana where I was living. He was the closest thing to a king I ever saw. The shouts of praise were deafening. Not too long after that he was killed by an assassin. There is only one King worthy of a joyful shout of praise and I think you know the One.
“Father, I offer this joyful shout as my King today. PRAISE YOU! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”
“Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by….And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” I Kings 19:11a, 12b
Elijah was looking for instruction from God but he was looking for it to come to him in a powerful way like a powerful wind or an earthquake or even in fire but instead God speaks to him in a gentle whisper. Are you listening for God? Are you asking the question, “Why can’t God just guide us through life the way road signs guide us on the road?” Wouldn’t it be cool if we were going down the wrong path, God would put a “Wrong Way” sign in the way? If we were not paying particular attention to His leading, wouldn’t it be great if He would put a “Yield” sign in our way?
Figuring out our way in life is not always easy. What exactly is God’s plan for us anyway? Well, we know some things for sure – the greatest plan He has for us is that we should know Him, love Him, and serve Him. And if we can just get all that straight and figured out, the rest is relatively simple because we will live our lives in tune with God. But since we seem to have problems from day to day staying connected to Him, it can sometimes cause a lot of stress.
We often travel through life confused, never quite knowing where we’re going or certainly where we might end up. STOP and listen! Listen for that gentle whisper. To look for God only in something big may be to miss Him because He is often found gently whispering in the quietness of a humbled heart. Step back from the noise and activity of your busy life and listen humbly and quietly for His guidance. It may come when you least expect it.
“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness and light dwells in him.” Daniel 2:21-22
There was a period of time when God’s people (Israelites) were in exile. The Babylonians had ravished the land of Israel and taken captive the best and brightest to be servants in their country. The Babylonian King (Nebuchadnezzar) had a dream and wanted the wise men to interpret the dream. To make it even more difficult he was not telling anyone the dream. He wanted someone to tell him his dream AND interpret it.
“The astrologers answered the king, ‘There is no one on earth who can do what the king asks! What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among the humans.” (Daniel 2:10-11)
This made the king angry and so he sent his executioners to kill all the wise men including Daniel and his three friends (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego). Daniel’s life was on the line. He was up against a king who did not believe in the Lord and who wanted to kill anyone who did not give him what he wanted. What is your situation today? Are you in a difficult position? Are you surrounded by non-believers who do not have patience for those around them?
Daniel 2:14-23 reveals what he did in this impossible situation.
- Daniel spoke with wisdom and tact. (vs. 14).
- He asked questions of and listened to those in authority. (vs. 15)
- He asked for time to make a decision. (vs. 16)
- He shared his burden with trusted friends. (vs. 17)
- He prayed to God for mercy. (vs. 18)
- He praised God. (vs. 19-23)
Behind this pattern is a deep trust in God (see chapter 1 of Daniel). Whatever situation you find yourself in, this pattern of decision making is filled with wisdom and truth.
Prayer: Regardless of what I face today help me to trust in you. Help me to speak with wisdom and tact. Help me to honor authority. Thank you for putting Christians in my life with whom I can share this burden. I praise you now for how you will work through this situation in the future.