Call Evil For What It Is

8 For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!” 9 Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.”
Mark 5:8-9
With all that is going on in the world, is the church mad at what angers Jesus? Evil was and is still  something that angers Jesus. Jesus calls evil by its name and casts it out. Are
we as a church willing to stand up against evil? We need to denounce evil groups and all that they stand for.
Jesus and His disciples had traveled across the other side of the sea into the country of
Gerasenes. The disciples thought that they had traveled across so that they could have a
reprieve from the relentless duties that they had and a break from the crowd. Jesus however had another plan. Jesus knew what was coming. As they got off the boat they
were met by a man with an unclean spirit. This man was a raging lunatic. People were afraid of him. They were scared. This man was possessed by a demon. This person was being controlled by evil. His thoughts were controlled by evil. His words were controlled by evil. His actions were controlled by evil.
Recognizing the threat that this man posed the people in the area tried to subdue the man. They tried to control the evil. The neighbors tried to contain him with chains and shackles. There were no chains that were strong enough to hold the man. These people were fighting evil with worldly ways. Evil is a spiritual battle that must be fought through the power of Jesus. We cannot fight evil alone. We must seek the help of God. We must seek guidance the prayer and reading the Bible.
The demons seeing Jesus at a distance could since that they were in the presence of the Holy King. The demons were scared and they panicked. According to Luke 8:28, the demons screamed in terror. The man ran up to Jesus and bowed down in front of Jesus.
The demons were not worshiping Jesus as a way of repenting of what evil they represented since demons cannot repent. They were bowing down in horrifying recognition of the heavenly being.
The demons recognizing Jesus asked through the man, what business do you have with me? Jesus tells the demons not to torment Him. Jesus is starting to address the evil. He is telling the demons not to mess with Him. These demons knew who Jesus was. Demons are fallen angels that joined Satan’s rebellion and were cast out of heaven. So they knew who Jesus was and they knew they were no match for Him.
We see that Jesus asked what the demons name was. Jesus knew the name of the demons but He asked so that they demons would vocalize it themselves. The demons said there name was legion. Legion was a term that was used to describe a group of Roman soldiers that equaled 6,000 soldiers. It was a term that was also used figuratively in the New Testament as a powerful force whether it was a group of angels or demons.
This was a very serious situation for the man that had been possessed by the demons. The man was tormented by the demons. It was a very serious situation for the people around the man. These people feared the man and the demons because they were extremely dangerous. These demons went against everything that God stood for.
Jesus called out these demons because of their evil nature. We as followers of Christ are to also call out evil for what it is. We are to call it by name just as Jesus did. The demons causing evil were called out by name. We as the church must confront evil in the world when we see it. It should be done through prayer and seeking the will of God. The main thing is we cannot idly stand by and allow evil to reign and cause fear.

True Freedom

31 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in Myword, then you are truly disciples of Mine;
32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will
make you free.”
33 They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet
been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, ‘You will become free’?”
34 Jesus answered
them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.
35 The slave does
not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever.
36 So if the Son makes you free,
you will be free indeed. John 8:31-336 

When you think about the fourth of July you probably think of many things. You probably think
about picnics, fireworks, and family. You might also think about our independence and freedom. 

We as a country experience many freedoms that other countries do not get to experience. When
the Bill of Rights was written the Federalists did not think that it was necessary. The Anti-
Federalists however believed that it was needed to safeguard individual liberties. When one
looks at the Bill of Rights, they can see the many liberties that are given to Americans.  

The first is congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the
free exercise thereof. We as Americans are given the right to choose what religion we practice.  

The government cannot tell us that we have to practice a certain religion. We cannot be thrown
in jail for worshipping Yahweh. Even though we are given this freedom from the United States,
among many others, this is not where our freedom comes from. True freedom comes from
knowing Christ.  

Christ starts out talking about His disciples. He is saying that only those that continue in His
words would be considered His disciples. Jesus gives us two promises as His disciples. He says
that you will know the truth and the truth will make you free.  

As children of God there are things that we do not know. Just as a child learns we too should be
learning more about God each day. If we are a disciple of Christ we are going to learn and study
His word. We are going to devote time alone with God. This will help us grow in our faith and
keep us on track with God. 

As we learn more truths about God we are going to be set free. God gives us the freedom to
choose Him and when we choose Him we are going to be set free. We are going to be set free
from our spiritual enemies. We are going to be set free from the bondage of sin. We are going to
be free to worship Him and serve Him.  

These Jews that Jesus was talking to made the claim that they were Abraham’s decedents and
therefore were never in bondage to anyone. While they were not slaves to the Romans, they were still subject to the Roman Empire. They were looking at this as a physical slavery, while Jesus
was walking about spiritual liberty. Jesus was telling them, as well as us today, that the truth
liberates the mind and sets us free.  

If we continue in sin we are in bondage to sin. We are a slave to that sin. When we live
according to the flesh and make sin our business we are now enslaved to sin. Jesus wants to set
us free from this bondage. We do this by accepting the fact that He is our savior and continue to
study His word. As we learn more truths we are going to be more like Jesus and less like the
person we used to be. The truth will set us free.  

Jesus has the power to give us true freedom. He justifies us through His atonement for our sins.
He sanctifies us by breaking the power of corruption in our hearts. He pardons us of our sins and
adopts us as His own. If we choose God we can truly experience freedom that cannot be given by
any government.

Take away:

1. Freedom comes from knowing the truth.

2. Freedom from the bondage of sin comes from Christ.

3. True freedom cannot be given by man, but by Christ alone.

Pray For Men Who Are Willing To Go

This is from a devotion from a weekly men’s group I do each Tuesday morning. For the past few weeks we have been praying for specific things in the church. 
5 Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live  among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar  with tongs. 7 He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips;  and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is [a] forgiven.” 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!”  Isaiah 6:5-8

As a church and Disciples of Christ we have been given a command to go out and tell others about the saving grace of Christ. We are to take the gospel to all nations. We can only do this if  we have people who are willing to stand up and say “Here am I. Send Me.” This is what Isaiah  did. God called him and then qualified him for service and Isaiah stood up and said I will go for  you Lord.  

Isaiah starts out recording a vision that he had been given. This vision was intended to confirm his faith. God was about to give him a task to complete. It was not going to be an easy journey  and God wanted Isaiah to know that He was with Isaiah. When God calls us to do something He is with us. God will not leave us when we are doing His work. God created each of us for a  purpose. When God says go do it, are you going to say send me or do not send me? 

We see that Isaiah started with excuses why he could not go do what God was about to tell him to do. Isaiah said I am a man of unclean lips. We can look at this statement a few ways. Isaiah  might be saying he is sinful because he has not spoken against the sin that was taking place in  front of him. It might also be that Isaiah was saying that he was a sinner and not worthy of the  honor of doing God’s work.  

We see all throughout the bible where God took people that had shady pasts and then used them for His glory. One of Satan’s biggest lies is that we cannot be used for God because of our past. We allow Satan to remind us of our past and that takes our focus off of what God is trying to do in our lives currently. Then we are convinced that our lips are unworthy to take God’s holy name to other people.

Isaiah also says that he lives among people with unclean lips. We also live among people that have unclean lips. Many people confess to know Christ while many others do not believe in  Christ. These people that say God is not real have unclean lips and that should bring us to  sorrow. We should be concerned and heartbroken with this.  

God heard Isaiah’s concerns about being unclean but God had a greater plan for him. The seraphim flew down with a burning coal and touched the lips of Isaiah. The seraphim were  taking away the uncleanliness of Isaiah’s lips. God wanted Isaiah to handle a mission, Isaiah felt he was not qualified; God cleaned him so that he could handle the mission. Just like with us if  God calls us He will make a way for us to be able to handle it.  

Then Isaiah heard the voice of the Lord saying who shall I send and who will go. We might not here an audible voice like Isaiah heard but God still speaks to us in many ways. How can we  expect God to speak through us if we have never heard God speak to us? We need to be open to  what the Holy Spirit is doing and telling us. God might be nudging us to go do something and it up to us to do what God tells us to do. 

This was a very special and holy time between God and Isaiah. God is telling Isaiah I have a plan for you. There was a lot of spiritual deliberation going on between the two. We also should
spend a lot of time in prayer when God is sending us out. When we send out a minister or  missionary there should be a clear calling on that person’s life. Disciples should also pay  attention to God’s calling on their lives and make sure that they are doing what God has called  them to do.  

After God asks the two questions, Isaiah proudly proclaimed five words. He said ‘here I am, send me.” Isaiah made himself available. He told God I am willing to go. Isaiah knew he had a  clear calling on his life. Isaiah took it one step farther. He then tells God to send him. We need  more people in the church who are willing to stand up and say these five words: here I am send me.  

Take away:

1. When God has a plan for you, He will make a way.

2. We have to stop making excuses when God says do something.

3. We need to pray that we have people who are willing to stand up and say send me lord. 

Pray for Revival

“Will you not yourself revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? Show us your
loving kindness, O LORD, and grant us your salvation. I will hear what God the LORD will say;
For He will speak peace to His people, to His godly ones; but let them not turn back to folly.
Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him that glory may dwell in our land.”
Psalms 85:6-9 NASB

Last week we prayed for workers in the church. Jesus told us that the workers are few and that
we need to pray for more workers. Jesus tells His disciples that more workers are needed because
the harvest is ripe and plentiful. There are many people who would come to Christ if they heard.
The problem is that some people have heard Christ but their hearts are not ready to accept Christ.
We all know people in our lives think they do not need Christ. They think that they are doing
fine living without Christ. What they really need is for their hearts to be revived. They need to
experience revival. They need a change of heart.

The Psalmist is asking God will you not revive us. The people of Israel had turned against God
but they had come back and God had restored them. He had forgiven their iniquities. God is
willing to forgive the iniquities of people who will turn back to Him but people are not willing to
do that. These people need revival. This has to start in their hearts. We need to pray for people’s
hearts to be revived. We also need to examine our hearts and look at our attitude towards God.
Are we living truly for God ourselves?

When revival comes we see rejoicing in the Lord. Without our hearts being right with God we
cannot rejoice in the Lord. When we have true revival we will truly be able to rejoice. When you
experience a revived heart you are going to have peace again because you know the Prince of
Peace.

We also see that revival leads to salvation for some. There are many people who do not know
Christ as their savior. When their hearts are revived and God impresses His grace upon them
they are going to seek Him. They will seek His salvation. The Psalmist asks God to grant His
salvation. As a child of God we have experienced revival in our hearts when we accepted Christ.
Many people have never experienced that revival in their hearts. They do not know what it is like
to experience salvation.

Revival not only brings peace and salvation, but it also turns the person away from their folly.
People get caught up doing their own things. They feel that they are doing fine and do not need
God because they have got where they are by themselves. People also get caught up in sin and
they justify it and tell themselves that they are not doing anything wrong. When these people
experience revival in their hearts they turn away from their follies and turn towards God.
When people turn towards God because of a revived heart it is important to keep that feeling. It
is important that we keep our eyes and heart focused on God. If we lose focus on God we are
going to turn back to our follies. This is what happened with the Israelites in the book of Judges.
They would sin. Their hearts would be revived through God sending a judge to turn them from their wrong ways. The Israelites would worship God then eventually turn back to their old ways.
It is so important to keep from going back to your old ways.

If we experience revival we are going to see God work in this land like we have never seen
before. If we see revival in our community we are going to see the unchurched drop dramatically
from 85%. We are going to see people’s live change. We will see people more focused on loving
their neighbors instead of their selves. 

In order for revival to start we have to pray that God will change the hearts of people. We have
to also examine our hearts to make sure we are right with God. We need to pray that God will start a work in our community that will lead people back to Him. 

Take away:

1. Revival comes from God.

2. Revival brings peace and salvation.

3. We need to pray for revival.

The Apostles Commissioned

John 20:19

19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”

As Jesus was crucified the disciples became frightened. They did not know if they were going to be next. They feared that they could be crucified because they were associated with Christ. They were terrified of the Jewish religious leaders and did not know where to turn. They did the best thing that any group of Christians can do when they are frightened. They came together as a group. They came together to discuss what the next steps should be, but more importantly they came together to pray and seek guidance.

While they were gathered together in this secret meeting they kept the doors locked. They were terrified that the Jewish leaders would be coming for them so they made it impossible for man to get to them. What they did not expect happened next. Jesus appeared before them. Jesus had been resurrected earlier that day. He did not want them to just hear rumors about the resurrection. Jesus wanted His disciples to be first hand witnesses to His resurrection. He was about to give them a mission and He wanted them to have that firsthand knowledge.

With this appearance we see five things happen. The first thing we see is that Jesus tells His disciples “Peace be unto you.” Again these disciples were frightened because of what had taken place in the past few days. Also they must have been frightened when all of a sudden Jesus appears before them in this room that was closed off to prevent people from entering. Just as Jesus calmed the stormy waters He calmed their fears by bringing peace to a chaotic scene. Jesus is the Prince of Peace and can bring you peace no matter how big of a storm you face.

Now Jesus provides proof that this is really Him and not someone else. Jesus showed His hands and side. He showed them the wounds that He had just suffered in order to save them and us even today. The wounds that Jesus presented to His disciples are the wounds that lead to the death that paid the price for our sins. Jesus knew that there was no better proof then His nail scared hands. He wanted His disciples to know without a doubt that He had risen because this is what the gospel message hinges on. They were convinced that it was the Lord and we too can be certain that our Lord rose from the grave.

Jesus then makes a statement to the disciples. He tells them “As my Father has sent Me, I also send you.” Jesus has already told them that He brings them peace and they should not fear and he has given them proof that he has overcome death. Now He tells them that they are to go out and plant the church. He has now appointed the disciples to continue His work on earth. This is still relevant to His disciples today. We as Disciples of Christ are still to continue the work Christ started over 2,000 years ago. The church must be about doing the work of Christ until He returns.

When Jesus gave the disciples their mission He did not stop there. Jesus qualified those that He called and sent on mission. He breathed on them and said “receive the Holy Spirit.” He gave them the ability to carry out the mission of expanding the church here on earth. When God gives His disciples a task He also gives us the ability to carry it out. We have been given the task of telling others about Jesus and His saving grace and we have been given a helper to accomplish this task.

We see that Jesus gives the disciples another task. He tells them that they are to forgive people’s sins. He tells them that if they forgive the sins of any they are forgiven. Again God equipped them to handle this situation. They would not be able to forgive sins if they did not have a discerning spirit. The Holy Spirit played a major role in this.

Take away:

  1. The resurrection of Jesus was documented by many eye witness accounts in order to prove the validity of His resurrection.
  2. The wounds that Jesus presented to His disciples are the wounds that lead to the death that paid the price for our sins.
  3. We are to continue the work that Christ started and we are able to accomplish this through the help of the Holy Spirit.

 

Looking Through the Eyes of Jesus

Luke 19:41-44

41 When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, 44 and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”

We see Jesus riding a colt into the city. This should be a joyous time. People were putting coats down in the street so the colt and their king would not be stepping into mud. They were praising their king and showing reverence to Jesus. They were shouting blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest. The people that had gathered were excited to see Jesus.

Jesus on the other hand had a different type of emotion. Luke tells us that Jesus wept when He saw the city. Luke was not saying that Jesus cried a few tears. He is saying that Jesus sobbed when he saw the city. It was probably a very forceful cry. Jesus was moved by what He saw as He approached the city. One would think that Jesus would be happy about what He saw, but Jesus saw something else. Through the eyes of Jesus we see a city that saw the miracles of Jesus first hand and heard his teachings but still rejected Him.

This saddened Jesus and it should sadden us too. When we look at our city through the eyes of Jesus we will see those that are hurting and those that have rejected Him. I will use Metro Atlanta as an example. There are many things that should make us sob for the people of this city. Atlanta is a hub for trafficking drugs and unfortunately humans. There is not a day that goes by that we do not hear of a homicide. There is a large homeless population in this area. We also see a lot of people that reject God even though His name has been proclaimed by many. You could replace Atlanta with almost any city and see the same situation. Our hearts should break for those that reject Jesus and go against His word.

We also see that Jesus was not only moved to tears but He was moved to action. We see that while Jesus was in the city He entered the temple. He ran the money changers out of the temple. Jesus knew that what was occurring was not right and He took action. These people were making a mockery of God’s house. Jesus could not stand by and allow this atrocity to occur any longer.

We also must be moved to action. When we see things occurring in our city that go against the will of God, the church, the bride of Christ, needs to step in and take action. There is so much more that we can do to help stop human trafficking. There is so much that we can do to help people overcome addiction. There are many Christian programs that our churches can offer to help people overcome their addictions. When we see people who are lacking the church should be the one helping them to get back on their feet.

We also see that Jesus teaching every day. He was proclaiming the gospel and telling everyone that the Kingdom of God was at hand. Jesus was concerned with the spiritual health of all. Jesus was spending His time in the temple. He did this even though the religious leaders were trying to stop Him.

We also must be concerned about the spiritual health of everyone. We must proclaim the name of Jesus to anyone that will listen. There might be some that try to stop us but we have to tell about the saving power of God’s grace.

Take away:

  1. See your city through the eyes of Jesus.
  2. Be moved to action.
  3. Proclaim the name of Jesus wherever you are.

Follow God’s Will Even When Facing a Den of Lions

Daniel 6:16-18

16 So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!” 17 A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed. 18 Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep.

All of the leaders of the region came together to develop a decree that if anyone asked anything of Yahweh or any other god for the next thirty days they would be thrown into the lion’s den. They convinced King Darius that this was necessary and so he signed it. It was now illegal to even pray to God.

Daniel knew that this was not the will of God. We can learn many lessons from Daniel on how to respond when the world tells us to turn from God. We have so many worldly influences trying to turn us away from God. Prayer in schools in no longer allowed. Prayer before government meetings is even frowned upon in some areas. The world has taken what God has called sin and said it is ok. We have to be strong because sometimes it is hard to be open about your faith in a world that frowns upon Christianity.

Daniel was steadfast in his faith. We see that Daniel, knowing the decree, did not waver from his time of prayer. Daniel would face Jerusalem and pray giving thanks to Yahweh three times a day. Daniel refused to let the world dictate who he worshipped, even though it would certainly mean a violent death.

We also see that when you are doing the will of God you will be at peace with your decision. Daniel continued to pray and worship God. Daniel did not try to hide his faith. He prayed in front of an open window. We have no indication that Daniel was concerned about what was going to happen. When Daniel was brought to the king, he did not argue with the king. He did not plead with the king or waiver in his faith.

When God is telling you to do something you need to listen to what He is telling you to do. You need to pay attention to God’s will for your life. When you do what God is telling you, you will have an inner peace. You will be at peace when you are doing God’s will; however, this does not mean you will not experience hard times.

Daniel was not willing to compromise on his faith and was thrown into the lion’s den even though he was doing God’s will. When he was thrown in the den we see that God protected him. We do not have to fight our battles, God is there for us. God sent an angel into the den and shut the mouths of the lions so Daniel would not be harmed. Daniel was in the will of God and therefore God protected him by fighting his battles.

Looking at king Darius we can also learn what happens when we get out of the will of God. The first thing we see is that you will be stressed. We see that the king went back to his palace that night and was deeply troubled. He could not sleep. He did not eat. God was impressing upon him that he had done something wrong.

When we turn our backs on God we will have an emptiness that can only be filled through God. We are going to hunger for something and that something is the bread of life. We are going to have that hunger until we turn back to God and get in His will. The king was troubled until he got back to the den this next morning. He found that Daniel was still alive and he had his men get Daniel out of the den. He was exceedingly glad at this point. He was glad because he was getting back into God’s will.

We also see that when you are not in God’s will, He will reveal Himself in ways that are unimaginable. God revealed Himself through that shut mouth of a lion that was meant to kill and devour. These lions were meant to devour Daniel however an angel shut their mouths until the right time came along. That right time was when Daniel’s accusers were thrown into the den.

Take away:

  1. Be steadfast in your faith even in the face of persecution.
  2. When you are in the will of God, you will have peace.
  3. When you are out God’s will, God will make it abundantly clear.

Be Prepared for God’s Answer

 

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.” 19 Then Daniel (also called Belteshazzar) was greatly perplexed for a time, and his thoughts terrified him. So the king said, “Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its meaning alarm you.”

Daniel 4:18-19

Have you ever been at a point in your life where you are contempt and then all of a sudden you have a situation happen that is devastating? When something bad happens most people start questioning what has happened. They want to know why this is happening. Sometimes whatever has happened does not seem logical so you want to know. If you cannot explain it then you might go to friends seeking advice. When they cannot explain it you might turn to God, but in reality this needs to be the first place you go when seeking answers. When you ask God, why, you need to be prepared for the answer.

Nebuchadnezzar was in a position of power and was enjoying prosperity. The king was praising God. He was glad to tell about the miraculous signs and wonders that had been performed in his presence. He was saying that God’s kingdom was an eternal kingdom. Nebuchadnezzar believed in God and had faith because of what he had witnessed. The king was living a prosperous life and it did not appear anything would go wrong.

The king then has a dream. This dream disturbed him greatly. The king again turns to the magicians to interpret this dream. He was seeking spiritual answers from a worldly point of view. This was his first mistake. When we are troubled we must turn to God when seeking answers. We do this by looking at God’s word. We also do this by seeking advice from godly people.

Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel finally come together for a discussion of this dream. He tells Daniel that there was a large tree that had grown tall enough to reach the heavens and it was visible to the ends of the earth. The tree was able to provide fruit for all. All the animals were able to find shelter and food from the tree. Then a messenger came from heaven and said cut down the tree. He also said to bound the roots and stump with iron and leave it in the ground. The king said that the dream involved his mind being changed from that of a human to an animal.

He wanted Daniel to explain the dream but he was not ready to hear the true meaning. We get in to situations and we want to know why, but when we ask why, we have to be ready for the answer. When we get that answer it might mean that we have to change our ways. We might be doing something wrong and God is trying to say stop doing this.

Daniel tells the king the tree that had grown so tall was him. Daniel tells him that his dominion had reached to the ends of the earth. The king had become very powerful. Daniel goes onto explain that the king would be living with wild animals before he would acknowledge that Yahweh is the most high God. He tells the king even though the tree was cut down the stump would remain meaning that his kingdom would be restored. He then tells the king to repent of his sins, do what is right, and be kind to the oppressed.

Daniel tells the king do these three things and your prosperity will continue. We see though that the king was not ready to hear what God was telling him. We know this because the king did not change his ways and the dream came to pass. Everything that Daniel told the king when interpreting the dream came true. Eventually Nebuchadnezzar turned his eyes to heaven and his kingdom was restored just as Daniel told him it would be.

Could this have been handled differently by the king? What would have happened if the king had repented when Daniel told him to? God told the king that something was going to happen. The king sought godly advice. The king was not ready to hear it though. If the king had listened to what had been told and repented he might have saved him some trouble.

Take away:

  1. Always seek godly advice first.
  2. Have an open mind and heart for what God is telling you.
  3. Be prepared to do as God says.

What Idols do You Have?

15 Now if you are ready, at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery and bagpipe and all kinds of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, very well. But if you do not worship, you will immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire; and what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?” 16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. 17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

Nebuchadnezzar had become so bold that he had now built a very tall golden image that was to be worshiped. Nebuchadnezzar had set up an idol that was to be worshiped. Perhaps he set this statue up so he could be worshiped through it.  He was now making himself into a god. The worst part is that he was making others worship a false idol as well. Many of the officials in the region were required to attend this dedication. They made a foolish journey to come worship a false idol, but putting it into perspective worshiping a false idol is foolish.

We do not have kings building false idols and requiring us to worship the statue, but we do have idols that we see every day. We have less subtle idols in our lives. We have some that are obvious such as celebrities. You might be saying I do not worship celebrities. Think about this, do you know more about pop culture then you do the bible? What about money? When you are more concerned with making money then you open your heart up to many more sins such as greed or pride. Your job might even be an idol. If your job keeps you from doing what God has called you to do, it might be an idol that you are refusing to give up.

When everyone arrived they were given the command to bow down and worship the statue when the signal was given. Nebuchadnezzar declared that anyone that did not bow down and worship would be thrown into a fiery furnace that was already prepared. Many people probably bowed down in fear that they would be thrown into the furnace. They did not want to die so they chose to follow the ways of the world. The problem is they were choosing an eternal death to keep from dying at that moment. Others probably bowed down to the king’s statue out of their love for a false god.

There were three young men that made their mind up that they would not worship a false god. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego refused to bow down. This enraged the king. He confronted the three men and wanted to know why they were not following his command. These men had made up their mind that they would not serve any other gods except Yahweh. They had made up their mind before they were put into this situation. They were so devoted to Yahweh that they were going to follow His commands and only worship Him.

As followers of Christ we have to be committed to putting God first in our lives. We are bombarded with things every day that could easily take the place of God if we allow them. Our relationship with Yahweh must take priority. When this happens we grow deeper in our faith and we do not compromise our walk.

These three men knew that not following the commands of the king would mean that they would be sentenced to death; however, their love for God helped them make the decision to not follow the king. Before we are put into a situation where we have to choose things of this world over God we have to resolve to live for God. It might not be an easy decision, but following God is always the right decision.

Take away:

  1. We must examine our hearts and make sure that we have no idols in our lives.
  2. We cannot let the world dictate how we live and what or who we worship.
  3. Have the courage to live for God even in a world that worships false gods.

Discretion and Discernment

Then Daniel replied with discretion and discernment to Arioch, the captain of the king’s bodyguard, who had gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon; Daniel 2:14

In the first chapter of Daniel we saw that Jerusalem had been taken into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar. Things were really bad for God’s people. The king had taken in some of the brightest young men to train for his personal service. Daniel and three of his friends were chosen. They made the decision that they would live for God. They made the best of this situation with the king while not compromising their belief in Yahweh.

God protected them and guided their footsteps. We even see that God blessed them with wisdom and knowledge. God had a plan and He was preparing them for what was to come. We are told this because the writer makes it clear that Daniel could understand visions and dreams.

As we move into chapter two we see that Nebuchadnezzar was troubled and was even losing sleep. This was due to dreams that he was having. The king calls in all of the magicians, conjurers, and sorcerers to interpret this dream. The king thinks that these people are going to be able to interpret a dream that was from God. As it turns out they were not able to do this. When looking for godly answers we cannot look to someone that does not believe in Yahweh.

The king becomes upset and tells them what will happen if they do or do not interpret this dream. He tells them that they will receive gifts if the dream is interpreted. He also made it clear that they would be torn from limb to limb if they did not interpret the dream properly. After some time went by they told the king that there was no man on earth that could interpret this dream properly. They were looking at a problem of God in a worldly perspective. So the king put out a decree to kill all of the wise men, including Daniel and his friends.

Things looked extremely bad for Daniel. When the king’s men found Daniel he was going to be killed. It was just a matter of time before Daniel was found since he was part of the king’s service. Since Daniel was wise he used discretion and discernment when Arioch found him. This likely saved his life. Odds are we are not going to face a situation like this; However, we are going to face times were we have to use discretion and discernment.

Discretion is behaving in a way that avoids causing conflict. Daniel knew what to say when he was approached by Arioch. He did not become belligerent with Arioch. He cordially requested time with the king. He knew that God had given him the ability to interpret dreams. He knew that God had prepared him for this moment.

When we are put in situations in life that seems tricky we have to use discretion. We have to know what to say without causing offense. We have to know how to act and react. Your actions and thoughts when you react can make the difference in how a situation is handled. If you act in an offensive way the situation is going to have a different outcome then if you handle it with discretion.

We also see that David used discernment. Discernment is the ability to judge when and how to respond. It is not enough to know what to say or how to respond, you also have to know when the time is right. When handling situations timing is crucial. Discernment also involves knowing if you should respond in a situation. There are plenty of times where we have got involved in situations that we should not have because it did not involve us.

Discretion and discernment comes over time. It is not something that we are born with. As time went on God gave Daniel and his comrades the knowledge they needed. This knowledge led to Daniel being able to respond in an appropriate way and with sound judgment.

Take away:

  1. When facing situations make sure you use discretion and respond in a way that does not cause offense, rather respond in a way that honors God.
  2. Discernment will allow us to judge others and situations well.
  3. Discretion and discernment come from knowledge that is given by God.