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.
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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.

Resolve to Live for God

Daniel 1:8-13

8 But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself. 9 Now God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the commander of the officials, 10 and the commander of the officials said to Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has appointed your food and your drink; for why should he see your faces looking more haggard than the youths who are your own age? Then you would make me forfeit my head to the king.” 11 But Daniel said to the overseer whom the commander of the officials had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 12 “Please test your servants for ten days, and let us be given some vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then let our appearance be observed in your presence and the appearance of the youths who are eating the king’s choice food; and deal with your servants according to what you see.”

In the beginning of the book of Daniel we see that Judah was taken over by Nebuchadnezzar. He took the people of Judah into captivity and they were taken to Babylon. This had to be a strenuous time for God’s people. God’s people were now under the control of an earthly king that had no fear of God. This king did not respect Yahweh. Life as the Jews knew it was not going to be the same.

Nebuchadnezzar sent his chief of officials to find the best men. He was looking for men from the royal families. He wanted men that had no issues, were good looking, intelligent, had knowledge, and had the ability to serve in the royal court. Times were bleak and this might appear to be a great opportunity for these men. They would likely be suffering under the oppression of this king; however, these men would enjoy some luxuries.

There might be times when we things look bad but then we have something shiny waving in our faces. We might be tempted to take that shiny object because we are in a dark place. The problem is there might be a heavy price to pay for the object. We might think this will completely change our situation. What you have to remember is that it might not be from God.

Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were among the chosen for the king. The king was going to provide them the best food and wine. They were to be trained for three years, and then they would enter the king’s personal service. They were even given new names. They were now called Belshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. These names were given to make them forget their God. These names had Babylonian idolatry meanings. Belshazzar means the keeper of hidden treasures of Bel. Shadrach means the inspiration of the sun. Meshach is of the goddess Shach. Abed-nego is the serpent of the shining fire.

These four young men have an opportunity to live like the king. They could eat what they wanted and have their choice of wine. It is coming at a cost though because they would be losing their identity in Christ. These four men chose to live for God. They resolved to do the right thing in the eyes of God. They decided they would not compromise their faith for what the world had to offer. We are tempted to take what the world says is great and glorious, but it might not be God’s plan. If the world says do something that is against God’s word we must have the resolve not to do it.

Daniel convinced the commander of the officials to not make them eat of the king’s food for ten days. This was a risky move for the commander because if Daniel and the others did not look the same as the others in the end, the commander would have been killed. The reason Daniel did not want to eat this food was because of what the food was. They knew that there would be food that was sinful to eat. He knew that there would be pork placed before them, which was forbidden by law. They were also afraid that there would be meat placed before them that were offered in sacrifices to idols. They wanted to live for God and chose not to put themselves in a situation where they would have to compromise their belief.

After ten days the four were healthier than the others. They did not compromise their beliefs in God and God was taking care of them. As time went on God gave them the knowledge they needed. They resolved to live for Yahweh and He provided for their needs.

Take away:

  1. Resolve to live for God no matter how bad your situation seems.
  2. Do not compromise your salvation for what the world has to offer.

Look for Opportunities to Share Christ

Acts 8:30-31

30 Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

Phillip was on his way back to Jerusalem. He had been out preaching the gospel to many Samaritan villages. Phillip had his own plan on how to get back to Jerusalem. God had another plan though and it was revealed through an angel of the Lord. The angel told Phillip to go down a desert road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.

Phillip is probably thinking I want to get back home. I have been gone for a while and it will be nice to be home for a little while. Phillip listened though. We go through life with our own plans each day, but God might have a better plan that day. God might be putting someone in your path that needs to hear the gospel. God might be putting someone in your path that is struggling.

As Phillip listened he came across a eunuch from Ethiopia. This eunuch was a court official for the Ethiopian queen. He had come to Jerusalem to worship. He was seeking God’s word. He was seeking what he was missing in life. Many people we come across everyday are doing the same thing. They are seeking God’s love and grace but do not understand what they are seeking or how to find it. They need someone to explain it to them.

God placed Phillip in the path of this eunuch for a reason. God might be placing someone in your path today that needs to hear the word of God. They might be seeking God and do not understand. The Spirit told Phillip to go join this chariot. When he got there, Phillip heard the eunuch reading from Isaiah. Phillip asked him if he understood. He asked how would I understand unless someone guides me.

We must be ready to help people understand the gospel. When we come across people in our lives that are struggling with the gospel we need to be able to explain it to them in a way that makes since. We lean on the Holy Spirit for guidance. You can also show scripture to that person in order to explain what salvation means.

We see the eunuch start asking questions about what he had read. Phillip is willing to answer the questions. Imagine if Phillip had said I do not have time to do this. Imagine if Phillip had said at least he is reading scripture. Phillip could have easily said I want to get home. I am tired and I do not have time for this. Phillip did not do this. He took the time to explain scripture to the eunuch. When he did this he proclaimed Jesus to a lost soul that was seeking God.

We then see that the eunuch accepted Christ. Phillip baptized the eunuch in a body of water that they came across. Phillip listened to the Holy Spirit’s guidance and it led him to a person that was seeking God. Through Phillip’s faithfulness an Ethiopian came to know Christ that afternoon.

Take away:

  1. God might be leading you to someone that needs to know Him. If this is the case follow God’s lead.

2.  Be ready to explain the gospel to anyone that is willing to listen and is seeking God.

Suffering Produces Hope

Romans 5:3-5

Not only so, but we[a] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Paul is telling us to glory in our sufferings. We should take honor in our sufferings and have a thankful heart. We should be thanking God when we face hard times. This seems so opposite of what we are accustomed to. When we face hard times we do not think about thanking God. Some curse God, but most people at the very least start questioning God. Most people want to know why they are facing hard times and if it will end. Paul is telling us to not do that because our sufferings will bring hope in the end.

Think about the last time you were suffering. You might be facing a situation right now that is causing major suffering and heartache in your life. I would almost bet that your first thought was not praise, but it should be. We as humans have emotions that get in our way. We get angry, sad, upset, distressed, or wounded.

As we face sufferings God is going to be working with us and through us. Our patience is going to be tested. There is a saying that God will not give you more than you can handle. Well that is not always true. God will give you more than you can handle. You are going to be tested to the max. You are going to have times where you are not sure how you will survive. God wants you to fully trust in Him. He is building your patience. When you fully trust in Him you are going to persevere.

This perseverance will help develop your character. When you face a hardship you have two choices. The first choice is to suffer. When you suffer your character will show. You will become irritable, grouchy, stressed, you might withdraw from people. The people closest to you will notice your behavior and actions. Your other option is to rejoice in your hardships. Your character will be completely opposite. People will also take notice to your actions. Many times people know you are struggling and they will be surprised at the way you are behaving. Your character will be wonderful.

When our character is based on rejoicing and trusting in God we will have hope. In the book of Job we see Job mention in 23:10 that when he is tested he will come out refined like gold. When we suffer God is taking us through a process in order to refine us. Knowing that God is there with us all the time is enough to provide hope and encouragement.

We can be assured that this hope will not disappoint us. God does not want us to be ashamed of our suffering or be disappointed. He wants us to have full dependence on Him. We need to be so in tune with God that we know what He is doing. We need to always keep our eyes focused on Him. When we face hard times if we are focused on Him we will be prepared to persevere.

Take away:

  1. Sufferings will come and you have two choices. You can curse God or place your trust in Him and give Him glory.
  2. Our suffering is a refining process that God is putting us through.
  3. Our hope in the good times and bad times comes from trusting in God’s plan.

 

Love Everyone

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Matthew 5:43-48

The Lord has commanded us to love our neighbor. We are taught that we should love our neighbor. This includes everyone and not just who we choose to love. The world for thousands of years has perverted this law to fit human thought. We have taken the law and changed it to say what God never intended for it to say. We have added that it is ok to hate your enemy. When God said to love your neighbor, He did not give a conjunction. He did not say love your neighbor if. He did not say love your neighbor but. God was saying that we are to love our neighbor unconditionally.

When you look at the definition of enemy it is a person who is actively opposed to someone. As we look around we can see many people that are opposed to someone else. We have seen many people who are opposed to the current political leaders. We have also seen people who are opposed to those people. By this definition many people have created enemies. There have been hateful things said by many people just because they do not agree with someone. Many people who have said these things that are very critical are people who have God in their hearts.

Jesus is telling us to love our enemy. This is so counterculture as we are so accustomed to hating those that oppose. Most people are going to say they do not hate, but are you really showing love if you are making comments that are glorifying to God? Instead of spending time criticizing others because their views are opposite, we should concentrate on listening to the views of others. It is time we have a serious dialogue on many issues in America. We have several issues that have divided us as a country. These issues have caused division because of opposing views. When we listen to each other and open our hearts we are going to have a better appreciation for our neighbor. When we appreciate people we are going to start loving each other.

God also says to pray for those that persecute you. We see that Jesus prayed for those that persecuted Him. When we pray for those that persecute us we are living out an example of Christ. We must pray that God will forgive them. We also must pray that if we have done something to them that God will reveal it to us so that we can seek forgiveness. We also should pray that peace is restored between the two parties.

We are too strive to love like God did. We are to love everyone. Part of loving your enemy is to forgive people. It is God’s nature to forgive. When we have a wrong done to us we should not seek revenge but forgive. This is hard but we will have peace in our hearts. We also show love by showing hospitality to strangers. We also show love by doing good to ungrateful evildoers. We also show God’s love by not responding negatively online when we see something we do not agree with. God’s love will only be shown when we strive to see everyone through the eyes of God.

MAGA

Remember that as Trump takes office it will not be him that makes America great. There are a few reasons for this. The first reason is that we are already a great county. We must not forget this. If we forget that we are already great we will loose this. 

Second we as citizens must work to keep our county great. We will more impact on our communities then Trump will. I keep hearing about what Trump will do for the innner cities. Well it will be up to the inner cities to change their communities. 

Communities are changed by the people that reside and work in the communities. They must be willing to bring change for the better. Nothing will change if the people of the community will not change. 

Last America will stay great if we continue to love each other. When we love each other we will support our brothers and sisters. This will help heal the divide in our country. 

America is the greatest country. Let’s work to keep it that way. It is not Trump’s responsibility, it the responsibility of every citizen. 

Inauguration Day

Well in less than 24 hours America officially receives a new president. This is a sad day for some while others are excited. I am just excited that we live in a country where there is a peaceful transition of power. 

Donald Trump is a man and therefore will have his faults. We must remember this because there will be mistakes. Trump just like every president before him will make bad, good, and great decisions. We will not always agree with everything that is done. We must move past our differences if we want to keep America moving forward. 

As Trump takes office we need to make every effort to pray for him and his family. We should pray for those that will be in cabinet level positions. We need to pray for those that oppose his decisions. Opposition is good but should never be done because you do not like the other party. We need to pray for God’s guidance and will to be done. 

We must also continue praying for President Obama and his family. This transition will be a time of change for his family. We need to pray for God’s guidance on his life as well. I wish President Obama and First Lady the best in their future endeavors. 

Instead of complaining about Trump we need to give him a fair chance. We need to allow him the opportunity to do what is right. If we are ever going to rise above the division in this country we must learn to work with both sides of the aisle. We have to learn to work on bipartisan support. We have to work on what’s best for America and not what’s best for the next politician trying to be the next president. 

Running On Empty 

How is your week going? Are you starting this Wednesday ready to go? Or, are you already running on empty? We pack so much into our days that we become overwhelmed and we are constantly running on empty. 

When we are empty we not functioning fully the way God designed us to do. Our bodies need rest. We also need to spend time with God and let Him rejuvenate our souls. In Matthew 11 Jesus tells us if we are burdened to come to Him. He says that if we come to Him we will have rest. 

If you find yourself running low on caffeine and energy this morning spend five minutes with God in prayer. Start by praising Him and thanking Him. Then pray for what is burdening your heart. See if this helps fill your soul this morning.