He Knew Better

Re:Verse passage – Daniel 5:1-31 (day two)

Then they brought the gold vessels that had been taken out of the temple, the house of God which was in Jerusalem; and the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines drank from them. vs. 3

Yet you, his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, even though you knew all this, but you have exalted yourself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines have been drinking wine from them…vs. 22-23

We know little of Belshazzar as he grew up under his father Nebuchadnezzar, but we do know from Daniel that we has aware of his father’s rise and fall. His story should serve as a cautionary tale for all of us then in light of how we behave when given authority. It is one thing to witness someone abuse privilege and swear that we would never behave in a manner like that, only to be placed in power and fall into the same traps. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Will power is not enough to stave off the demons of our past or those we inherit. It is only complete reliance on Christ for strength and hope that we are able to put those tendencies to the side.

How Many Times?

Re:Verse passage – Daniel 4:1-37 (day two) 

All this happened to Nebuchadnezzar the king. Twelve months later he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon. vs. 28-29

Nebuchadnezzar is like most of us, if we are honest. We are mostly consumed with our own want and desires. There will be times of crisis where we come to a place of recognizing our need for God, and may, for a time, trust in his ability to help us. It’s that “for a time” part that is the problem. Our moments of clarity in crisis do not equate to a surrendered heart and life. Nebuchadnezzar had more than one opportunity to recognize God as the ultimate authority over him, and he gave some lip service before everything was taken from him. His last word was to praise the Lord, but we must ask the question – do we have to have everything forcibly taken away before we will submit to his will? How appropriate a question for us today, as many of us are struggling with so much loss. It’s not too late.

Even if He Doesn’t

Re:Verse passage – Daniel 3:1-30 (day two) 

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. 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.” vs. 17-18

I have found myself here more than I care to admit. My view of our Almighty God is based more on what he can do for me than for who He is. I have been guilty of looking at the Lord as a dispensary for miracles, favors, or constant help. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego remind me that we serve a God who is worthy of our praise even if he doesn’t dispense our wants and desires. Even if he doesn’t “deliver” us from sickness, struggles, or tough times; God is worthy of our devotion. Remember what he has done for you. Christ Jesus in his atonement through the cross has done all that we could ever need. If the Lord continues to allow us to walk a tough path, we can rest assured that, even this is temporary. Christ has won the victory and is worthy of our praise even in the uncertainty of today. I am grateful for this reminder from Daniel.

Here is an excerpt from one of our favorite anthems My Eternal King which speaks to a proper focus on who we worship:

Why, then why, O Blessed Jesus Christ,

Should I not love Thee well?

Not for the hope of winning heaven,

Or of escaping hell;

Not with the hope of gaining aught,

Not seeking a reward;

But as Thyself hast loved me,

O ever-loving Lord!

E’en so I love Thee, and will love,

And in Thy praise will sing;

Solely because Thou art my God,

And my Eternal King!

Daniel’s Character

Re:Verse passage – Daniel 2:31-49 (day two) 

Then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts, and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon. vs. 48

From exiled refugee to chief prefect. There are many parallels between the life of Joseph and Daniel. Besides the obvious ability to interpret dreams, they both had incredible character and unshakeable faith. Both were also revered by their sovereigns, partly for their interpretations, but also for their trustworthiness. I doubt Daniel set out to become chief prefect, but his integrity brought him to an occasion to receive it. Working without thought of reward. We are most generally uncomfortable with that concept. To be fair, Daniel was bargaining for his life, but his trust was not in the king, it was in the Lord. Where are you? What challenge has God placed in your path? How are you facing that challenge? Don’t look for what you can get out of it, just trust the Lord to get your through it.

Credit where credit is due

Re:Verse passage – Daniel 2:1-30 (day two) 

Daniel said,“Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, For wisdom and power belong to Him. vs. 20

But as for me, this mystery has not been revealed to me for any wisdom residing in me more than in any other living man, but for the purpose of making the interpretation known to the king, and that you may understand the thoughts of your mind. vs. 30

Daniel had the perfect opportunity to take full advantage of the king and build himself up to a great height. He had the interpretation of the dream,  all he had to do was lord it over him, but that is not who Daniel was. He had just given thanks to God who has all wisdom and power, so for him to give credit anywhere other than God would have been sin.

I believe that temptation is great and should not be underestimated. When we are in a position of authority or control we must always remember that it was the Lord who allowed us to get there. Daniel would not have been much of a servant of the Lord if he took credit for this dream interpretation, but it is a good reminder for us to always put the Lord first in every conversation and decision.

Choose Wisely

Re:Verse passage – Daniel 1:1-21 (day two)

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; vs. 8a

Take a moment to personalize Daniel’s story. Maybe you can use these prompts: I was attending college, but had to drop out because…, I lost my job, so I found myself having to…, our relationship ended which led me to…, I was in a car accident which changed everything…

The scenarios are endless, and perhaps one or two applied directly to your  faith journey. Daniel and his friends were a part of a captured people. Their way of life would never be as is should have been, but they were selected to be a part of the king’s court…things were looking up. Like all of us after a personal upheaval we will be faced with a choice on how we move forward. Sometimes those choices will be there to affirm your calling as a follower of Christ. Daniel could have given in to the situation, but he knew that he must remain faithful to who God had called him to be. We all have the same choices before us, daily actually. Don’t let situations dictate your character. Let your character (your identity in Christ) define those situations.

We Want to See

Re:Verse passage – Matthew 20:29-34 (day two)

And Jesus stopped and called them, and said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” vs. 32

I find this exchange so compelling. It would seem obvious when the blind men sought the assistance of Jesus that they would want their sight restored, but I think we miss a great opportunity to lay our hearts out to the Lord on a consistent basis. He is standing over us wanting to know the desires of our hearts. We are told to ask, seek, and knock, so it shouldn’t surprise me to read Jesus asking this question of these blind men. Maybe it was their quick, honest response that moved Jesus, but I think it was their choice of words. When Jesus heard them say “we want our eyes to be opened,” I think he must have thought ‘if you only knew the kind of sight that I can truly bring.’ It caused him to smile, and he granted their plea. Jesus isn’t always going to give you what you want, but he is interested in you seeing as he sees. When they were healed, they followed him. Isn’t that our testimony too?

Kingdom Assignment

Re:Verse passage – Matthew 17:24-27 (day two) 

However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me.” vs. 27

Let’s be clear, Jesus was not worried about hurting people’s feelings. He was not concerned that someone might be triggered by something they didn’t agree with. Jesus always had a bigger Kingdom picture in mind when he was motivated to act. Jesus knew that not paying the Temple Tax would lead to greater conflict that was not helpful to his Kingdom Purpose. Were the taxes an annoyance, yes, but not worth the inevitable fall out of not paying them.

We all have to do things that we think ridiculous or unworthy of our time and resources. What we must constantly ask ourselves if our annoyance can be put aside for a greater calling. The meeting that you see as meaningless may allow you to have a greater insight into your team. The family reunion that you dread could bear fruit with conversations that turn Heavenward. You might not always have a pleasant assignment, but God is always at work.

Knowing He Can

Re:Verse passage – Matthew 17:14-21 (day two) 

When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him and saying, “Lord, have mercy on my son. vs. 14-15a

Over the past 10 weeks we have examined some of the great works Jesus performed while he walked among us. One constant in all of these unique miracles is how Christ honors faith. In each situation we have studied the people that approached Christ KNEW that he could help them. Often it was evident in the humility and worship with which they approached him. Doubt is an incredible detriment to our spiritual walk. There is a distinct difference between wanting to believe that Jesus can heal you, and knowing he will. The miracle always takes place first in the heart of the believer. That is where the real change happens. That is where it matters most. In the cases we have read about Jesus also chooses to heal the physical needs as well so that we may know he as the power to do both.


Re:Verse passage – Matthew 15-21-28 (day two)  But she came and began to bow down before Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” vs. 25

It is this posture taken by the mother that Jesus recognizes as faith. This is what opens her heart to the possibility of a miracle. Not a trick, or some snake oil; a miracle. Like the others whom we have studied over the past few weeks, hearts made ready to receive the Lord will meet him. One of the great truths of the gospel is if we come before him, acknowledge him as our Lord and Savior, and repent we, too, will meet Jesus. Don’t miss the great humility the mother displays. She is desperate, yes, but it takes a believing heart to have that kind of access to the almighty. Where do you need to meet him today? He is faithful and just to forgive and to start you on a new path towards a healthy heart and life.