Let the Nations Be Glad

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

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Psalm 67:4

Why bother telling Nebuchadnezzar’s story at all? I believe God is painting two pictures in these first four chapters, detailing a complex relationship between a king and four faithful Hebrew men. The first is of God’s providence in all of human history; there is no earthly kingdom or king greater than Daniel’s God. The second is of God guiding every nation, tribe and tongue into eternal gladness.

That’s what we begin to see in Nebuchadnezzar’s story, a glimmer of hope for every nation. His story will be their story.

In Babylon God used four Hebrew men, today He uses His church. What they did for Nebuchadnezzar, we now do for the whole world.

“All authority, in heaven and earth, has been given to me. Now go make disciples of every nation…” -Jesus

Worthy

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

29 Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel,30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. Mark 10:29-30

Is there a god worthy of dying for? Or worthy of giving up so much? Not in the Babylonian pantheon. Marduk, or any other god, was only as worthy as the gifts he gives. Nebuchadnezzar, nor any other local in Babylon, couldn’t fathom risking so much for seemingly so little.

Just bow down. Keep your beliefs and convictions quietly to yourself. Just for a moment, then stand up and go about your business. It’s not worth possibly losing so much-reputation, the next rung up the ladder, acceptance.

Make no mistake God is an [extraordinary] rewarder of those who seek him! Not because of the gifts he gives (there are many), but because he gives himself. Fellowship is our reward. Knowing him is our eternal treasure. God was Shadrach’s anchor; Meshach’s assurance; Abednego’s confidence.

They loved the giver, more than the gifts he can give.

There is a God worth dying for.

Be Present

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

We can be present for all the wrong reasons. Most of us hum along without much thought of where we are headed. We go about our business in the present, being pulled here and there, because we have little choice. That’s not the kind of presence God intended for Daniel, nor us.

There is a way to live very much in the present fully informed and guided by the future. Even before Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, Daniel knew (although he wouldn’t personally experience it) and believed in God’s promise, that after 70 years of exile, He would restore His people. Much more, the dream painted an even broader future, the full emergence of an everlasting Kingdom. It was his confidence in the secure future of his people that led him to rise above the status quo, avoiding business as usual, by becoming fully engaged in the present.

Ours is no less secure. Jesus has secured our future; it is bright and beautiful and whole and holy. It is this promise, when held onto, that moves us to engage people in the present in the same way Daniel did, not letting moments just sweep us away because life is busy and combustible. But seizing moments, blessing people, and speaking truth. Being truly present and aware.

Your presence could reshape someone’s future. Even those you would least expect. Don’t miss it.

Discretion

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

The scriptures tell us Daniel spoke with prudence and discretion. Discretion is speaking or behaving in a way that honors or protects the dignity of the one spoken to. I imagine a calm and wise response was the last thing the captain of the king’s guard expected. Fear, anger, and urgency usually produce different results, but not Daniel, not in that moment.

Discretion feels like ancient history these days. We’ve replaced discretion with social media insults and venting.

Solomon wrote, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)

Not sure if Daniel ever read those words of wisdom, but he certainly applied their truth. It begs the question, what lives would be saved if we spoke with the same kind of discretion? What bridges could be built or marriages saved?

Discretion.

(His)tory

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

And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand…Daniel 1:2

From the beginning God sets a clear tone. These events in Daniel aren’t the result of a turf war between regional deities, with the God of Judah losing ground. But that is exactly how Nebuchadnezzar would have perceived it:

“Our gods are better than your God.”

The writer is matter of fact, And the Lord gave. This was part of God’s plan the whole time.

Daniel is more relevant than ever. In a world that arrogantly declares, “where is your God?” Daniel is a firm reminder that history is governed by God’s sovereign will; He is its guide. I can’t imagine a greater comfort and hope.

The Crowd

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

The crowd rebuked them… Matthew 20:31

The question of this series is a personal one, “Jesus’ kingdom or ours? Which one will it be?”

The crowd clearly had a different agenda. They wanted to hurry things along to their end, which for them meant Jesus sitting on a political throne. There was no time for Jesus to stop and heal two blind men.

They had Jesus pegged; neatly fitted into their own ambitions and plans, their own kingdoms. But He wouldn’t have it. He wouldn’t be bullied or cajoled. With compassion he stopped and healed the men; he was about His Kingdom.

So, what will it be, Jesus’ Kingdom? Or will you try to force Him into your own? You can try, but Jesus won’t have it.

Going Fishing

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

“But go ahead, and cast a hook….,” Jesus said.

I imagine Jesus paused there, for effect.

Didn’t he just tell me, “the sons are free.”? And now he wants me to go work to pay both our taxes, four days wages. Impossible. And all so we don’t offend them.

“…catch just one fish, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel. Use that to pay both our taxes.”

Once again, when Peter thought there was no way, Jesus made a way. Peter was under no obligation to pay the tax (in Jesus’ new Kingdom), nor did he have the means, but was instructed now, to freely and lovingly give out of the providential abundance Jesus alone provides.

Here’s the promise Christian, Jesus is always our benefactor. When we sacrificially and freely love, serve, and give to others, Jesus will provide the necessary resources, energy, and strength the moment demands. That’s the miracle. Do you believe Him?

Echos

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

There are echos in this story, with Jesus coming down the mountain. Echos of God’s frustration with the wickedness of men and women in before he sent the flood, “How long will I strive with men?!” Echos of Moses coming down the mountain after meeting with God, and seeing the people bowing down to a golden calf. And echos of Elijah rebuking the faithlessness of the people who had put their faith in Baal, a figment of their own corrupt imaginations.

This is intentional of course. It is as if God is saying, “This is my son, who will be the ultimate display of my glory.”(Think Mt. Carmel) As if he is saying, “My son is the everlasting intercessor.”(Think of Moses interceding for the people.) And as if God is saying, “Jesus is the everlasting ark.” (Of course, think of the flood.) The redeemer of the world. Jesus is God’s answer to his question, “How long will I strive with men?”

Unexpected

Re:Verse passage – Matthew 15:21-28 (day six)

Jesus did everything they expected, even wanted him to do, up until the very end. Maybe that was the point after all.

The greatest lessons learned in the Gospels, were learned by the disciples themselves. The Gospels tell their journey of growing into the knowledge of the Kingdom of God as revealed through Jesus’ life. This encounter with this woman was no different.

Up until the very last moment, they thought Jesus was in full agreement with the status quo; God’s Kingdom doesn’t belong to Canaanite women. But in an amazing turn of events, Jesus did the unexpected, He celebrates her faith and heals her daughter.

It was then they were exposed to a greater reality, that for God so loved the WORLD He sent his only Son.

Seen

Re:Verse passage – Matthew 14:22-33 (day six)

He came to them. Matthew 14:25

Mark writes, “He meant to pass by them.” (Mark 6:48) Mark didn’t mean that Jesus was walking past them. That’s not the right meaning at all. What Mark meant, as is confirmed by Matthew, is that Jesus intended the disciples to see him walking on the water.

Walking on water was miraculous, but greater still is Jesus’ will to be seen. To be known, perceived, understood. Jesus has no need to be seen, but we have no greater need than to see (and know) Jesus, the one who came to us.

That’s what Jesus was doing after all. It wasn’t just an amazing display of divine power, but an appeal to our spiritual senses to wake up and see the Son of Man who takes away the sins of the world.

Their seeing Jesus would change everything. Jesus was counting on it.

Have you seen Him too?