What is it?

Looking through my journals and email, I found out that I was wishing for a lot of good things to happen. I claimed to be “hoping,” but I did not/could not be confident the desired outcome would happen. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing. [Want to know more? Click here.]

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Let's Praise God

Daniel 4 is Nebuchadnezzar’s spiritual testimony. It’s a decree he had sent throughout his kingdom explaining what had happened to him over the last few years and how God changed his mind towards God and restored the kingdom to him after 7 years of insanity.
While this is a good chapter to see what a testimony could look like (for us this should include God’s demonstration of sovereignty in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ). It’s a good read and an interesting study. However, what impressed me the most is the way Nebuchadnezzar opened his decree. He praised God.
It has seemed good to me to declare the signs and wonders which the Most High God has done for me:
How great are His signs,
And how mighty are His wonders!
His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
And His dominion is from generation to generation. (Daniel 4:2-3)
This opening is something to be considered when we talk about what God has done for us. In order to do this God’s praises need to be on my mind as much as is humanly possible, thus my vow to God to praise Him everyday. Doing that keeps God’s power, love, righteousness and His other characteristics readily available in my heart and mind.
So, join me today in praising God. If I get “stuck” and can’t think of anything to say/write, I turn to the Psalms of David. No matter what situation we find ourselves in, David (or another psalmist) faced a similar trial and yet praised God. I often go to the following Psalms: Psalm 3, Psalm 8, Psalm 9, Psalm 29, Psalm 40, Psalm 136, and Psalm 145.
Choose one of those Psalms or a favorite of yours and pause right now to pray it back to God in a song of praise.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

I Don't Want to Be Like Nebuchadnezzar

The first few chapters in the book of Daniel (one of the minor prophets in the Old Testament) tells us familiar stories: Daniel’s resolve not to defile himself; Daniel interpreting the king’s dream; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego in the fiery furnace; the writing on the wall; Daniel in the lions’ den; etc. In chapter 3 the incident in the fiery furnace is told. I saw two things about Nebuchadnezzar (the ancient king of Babylon) that I don’t want to be characteristic in my life.
Nebuchadnezzar had a bad temper. In verse 13 we see the first indication of the king’s temper when he is told that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego did not bow to worship the king’s gods or golden statue as the king had commanded. We know that those three Hebrews were withholding their worship for the one and only True God, the God of Israel. “Then Nebuchadnezzar in rage and anger gave orders to bring Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego; then these men were brought before the king. When the Hebrews said they would not bow down to the statue even if Nebuchadnezzar gave them a second chance, the king blew a gasket. “Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with wrath, and his facial expression was altered toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. He answered by giving orders to heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated.” The king didn’t think through the consequences and just let his temper roar. He lost several valiant warriors as the fire burned them up as they were trying to drop the three men into the furnace. (That should have been a hint right there that God was at work because the warriors were consumed by fire and the three men were still untouched by the flames.)
One of the cross references I read was Ecclesiastes 7:9: “Do not be eager in your heart to be angry, For anger resides in the bosom of fools.” I do not want to be like the king and be so filled with anger that it comes out without my even thinking about it – that is an indication that one is a fool.
Nebuchadnezzar didn’t know or expect the God Most High to work. After the three men were in the fire a while, the king noticed something. “Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astounded and stood up in haste; he responded and said to his high officials, ‘Was it not three men we cast bound into the midst of the fire?’ They answered and said to the king, “Certainly, O king.’ He answered and said, ‘Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!’ (Daniel 3:24-25)” I want to be eager and expectant of God working in my life and the world today. I don’t want to be surprised because I didn’t believe God can and will work like Nebuchadnezzar was. Psalm 5:3 tells my desire: “In the morning, O Lord, Thou wilt hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to Thee and eagerly watch.” I want to be eagerly watching for the great things God is doing and will do. I still might be surprised when I see exactly how He works things out, but I do not want to be surprised in my unbelief that He will work.
Let’s not be like Nebuchadnezzar. Let’s deal with the anger in our hearts and let’s wait eagerly, expectantly for God’s work in our lives.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

God Speaks

My Bible study partner, Kris, had a great insight as we studied Daniel 2. Daniel points out that the dream the king (Nebuchadnezzar, a Gentile) was a vision from God. This is a turning point in the history of the world that is still being seen today. God begins communicating with the world through Gentiles.
The notes, in several places, say that this is a change. Prior to this point, God spoke only through Israelites – prophets and leaders, mostly. Here God gave Nebuchadnezzar a vision while he was on his bed (not necessarily asleep, but possibly). A Gentile getting a message from God! However, Nebuchadnezzar did not understand what he saw and heard. Daniel came before the king and told him, “However, there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days . . .” (Daniel 2:28a). God made the future known to a Gentile. Not just any Gentile, but a king who was caught up in worship of false gods. It doesn’t matter how far a person is from God; God can use them. If He can do that, He can use me. He can use you. He can use anyone. We all have a role in getting the word out about the greatness and power, judgment and holiness, compassion and love of God Almighty.
Nebuchadnezzar needed some insight into the full meaning of the dream. Daniel comes to the rescue. God again emphasizes the turning point between the rule of the world passing from the Israelites to the Gentiles, by the language Daniel used to tell the dream and its interpretation. The language switches in verse 4 as the Chaldeans start to speak to the king. Daniel records their words in the Aramaic language, the language they were speaking in. Much of the rest of Daniel is in Aramaic. It’s a time in history where the Gentiles begin to become the powerhouses of the world system.
It’s still that way today. Europe, the United States, Russia, and China are lead by Gentiles. The Jews and the Jewish nation play only a small role in the overall balance in the world today. Eventually that will change again – at Jesus’ second coming. We believers look forward to that time as it means we will be with Jesus and the Father again. Everyone else should get right with God before that time comes. Repent and rely on Jesus for salvation and for a standard to daily living.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Daniel's Praise

I’ve mentioned before my praise vow. This week God keeps bringing to my mind and heart Daniel’s prayer of praise in Daniel 2:20-23. As I repeated Daniel’s prayer in my own times of praise, I’ve been comforted and encouraged to keep praising God.
Daniel praised this way (Daniel 2:20-23 NASB):
Daniel answered and said,
“Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever,
For wisdom and power belong to Him.
And it is He who changes the times and the epochs;
He removes kings and establishes kings;
He gives wisdom to wise men,
And knowledge to men of understanding.
It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things;
He knows what is in the darkness,
And the light dwells with Him.
To Thee, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise,
For Thou hast given me wisdom and power;
Even now Thou hast made known to me what we requested of Thee,
            For Thou hast made known to us the king’s matter.
A commentary highlighted 15 reasons for praising God:
1.     Wisdom belongs to Him (Daniel 2:20).
2.     Power belongs to Him (Daniel 2:20).
3.     He changes the times (Daniel 2:21).
4.     He changes the seasons (Daniel 2:21).
5.     He removes kings (Daniel 2:21).
6.     He sets up kings (Daniel 2:21).
7.     He gives wisdom to the wise (Daniel 2:21).
8.     He gives knowledge to men who have understanding (Daniel 2:21).
9.     He reveals deep things (Daniel 2:21).
10.  He reveals secret things (Daniel 2:21).
11.  He knows what is in darkness (Daniel 2:22).
12. He dwells in light (Daniel 2:22; 1 Tim. 6:16).
13. He has given me wisdom (Daniel 2:23).
14. He has given me power (Daniel 2:23).
15. He has answered prayer by revealing to us the king's matter (Daniel 2:23).

I’m focusing on these reasons for praising God this week (and probably for the next several weeks as I attempt to memorize verses 20-23). I want to be like Daniel (resolved and confident in God). So I need to do as Daniel did.