Re:Verse passage – Daniel 4:1-37 (day four)
In Daniel’s day, there was a cultural possessiveness of gods. Nebuchadnezzar spoke of Daniel being renamed after his Babylonian god. The Jewish people considered the one true God, Jehovah, as their personal God. He was not the God for all peoples, only the Jews. Nebuchadnezzar was forging new ground when he had interaction with Daniel’s God. God spoke to him, God was working in his country, and God was directing his steps. Even the New Testament Jews did not accept that God would possibly use someone other than a Jew to carry out His work. When Jesus interacted with gentiles, the Jews reacted violently in opposition. Later, as the gospel began to spread to the gentiles, even the Jewish believers had to adjust their thinking.
Are there areas of your life that need to be ‘adjusted’ to God’s way of doing things? Has tradition or false teaching blurred or even corrupted the truth for you? Truth is always truth, even if we don’t always understand it. Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
Re:Verse passage – Daniel 3:1-30 (day four)
Wonder where King Nebuchadnezzar got the idea of a large statue? It appears that the king missed several of the key points of Daniel’s interpretation of his dream. The first key point was that, in his dream, the statue represented several kingdoms over a long period of time. Nebuchadnezzar also failed to accept that he was represented only by the head. In his version, he is the entire statue…all made of gold. The other key point he failed to get was that God was the sovereign power over all the kingdoms…his included! Nebuchadnezzar heard what he wanted to hear…anyone who disagreed would be thrown into the furnace.
Our three Hebrew friends, on the other hand, had a clear understanding of what God had said. They were demonstrating obedience to His command to have no other gods before Him. This teaching was basic to their upbringing. In the face of trial, they demonstrated great faith (Hebrews 11:34) and stayed true to their God. How will you be remembered…as one who walked their own path or one who followed the path of faith? The outcomes of each are very different.
Re:Verse passage – Daniel 2:31-49 (day four)
Nebuchadnezzar was amazed at Daniel’s God. He had no honest expectation that anyone would be able to fulfill his command. Besides, he liked the fact that the golden head of the statue represented him. In his mind, Nebuchadnezzar was the greatest. He probably missed Daniel’s statement that the God of heaven had given the kingdom to him.
Admiration does not always lead to relationship though. Nebuchadnezzar gives no sign of yielding control of his life and kingdom to God. No relationship of faith is stirred in this pagan king’s heart. Maybe you have known someone like that…they see the works of God and may even be amazed at God’s divine plan, but they are not yet ready to yield their lives to Him in faith. As much as we would like to climb inside their head and heart and shake them to recognition and faith…we cannot. It is our responsibility to share the truth…share the gospel…it is the responsibility of the Holy Spirit to change the heart!
Re:Verse passage – Daniel 2:1-30 (day four)
It was an impossible task! Even the sorcerers and wise men of Babylon recognized it…what the king was asking of them could not be done by mere men. Their gods and idols never spoke to them, so they were at a complete dead end. They were going to die! Daniel had a secret weapon though. He had a relationship with the living God. God was the one sending Nebuchadnezzar the dreams, so He could certainly reveal them to Daniel.
Daniel demonstrates to us how we should address not only the impossible tasks in our lives, but the everyday tasks we face as well. He immediately went to pray…and to enlist his prayer warriors to pray! Do you have a group of prayer warriors you go to? Fellow believers that you can depend on to intercede? All of us need that inner circle of like-minded believers who will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with us in prayer. “Where two or more are gathered in His name…”
Re:Verse passage – Daniel 1:1-21 (day four)
The circumstances of Daniel’s life were rather overwhelming. His nation had been conquered by the most powerful king in the world. He and his friends were taken away as captives to a distant land and were treated as slaves on a path, not of their choosing.
Even though Daniel’s life was out of his control, he knew the God he served was sovereign and that he owed obedience to Him first and foremost. Daniel refused to compromise on what he knew God required of him, regardless of what the captor king demanded.
How about you? Are you allowing your circumstances to dictate your life? Or, are you letting God use you to make a difference for Him? Your obedience may have lasting effects on the people and circumstances around you. Ask God to open your eyes to what He expects of you and then walk in obedience…regardless of the cost. The cost of disobedience is much higher!
Re:Verse passage – Matthew 20:29-34 (day four)
It is easy to compare our situation or circumstances with someone else’s. Why did they get what they asked for and I didn’t? Why did this good happen to them and this bad happened to me? We easily fall into the trap of envy.
Our passage this week immediately follows an encounter when Jesus asked the mother of the sons of Zebedee what she wanted Him to do. Jesus’ response was not what she wanted to hear. Now, Jesus asks these blind men, who were complete strangers, what they want Him to do. This time, Jesus restores their sight. What’s the difference?
It’s the heart! Jesus sees past the words to the hearts. Our hearts are open to Him and He responds to our requests according to the motivation of our heart. Jesus looks for a heart that is humble and contrite before Him. A heart of selfishness or envy will not be heard. How’s your heart?
Re:Verse passage – Matthew 17:24-27 (day four)
Jesus is providing an example for us to follow. If there was ever a person who should be exempt from a Temple tax, it would be Jesus. After all, the Temple was built to worship and honor His Father. The example He set was not just whether or not to pay taxes. He showed us that our personal rights should always take a back seat to our being in a position to share the gospel.
Jesus left His throne in heaven to humble Himself and come to earth. He came to give His life so that we can have forgiveness of our sin and eternal life in heaven. If we offend someone, why would they ever listen to our witness? When we go to another nation on mission, we try not to offend their cultural norms so that they will hear what we have to say. If we offend our neighbor over some petty action, how can we turn around and tell them about the love of God? Our obedience and usefulness to God is much more important than our personal rights!
Re:Verse passage – Matthew 17:14-21 (day four)
Jesus has just returned from the Mount of Transfiguration. He is beginning a teaching time with His disciples that deals with principles of living that will go through chapter 20. In His first lesson, He deals with faith and prayer.
When Jesus rebuked the disciples for their littleness of faith, He proclaimed that even faith the size of a mustard seed (very small) could do great things. Their faith had not even reached that small measure. He then says that only prayer can cast out this kind of demon. Later in Scripture, James, the half-brother of Jesus, repeats the same lesson that Jesus taught. In James 5:16 it says, “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”
Jesus had just returned from an extended time with God. His prayer…communing with God…prepared Him to face the needs of the world. We must have prayer preparation in everything…we are powerless without God. Apart from Him, we can do nothing. (John 15:5)
Re:Verse passage – Matthew 15:21-28 (day four)
Jesus said, “your faith is great.” Did this Canaanite woman have greater faith than Peter did when he got out of the boat to walk on the water? Not necessarily…Peter demonstrated great faith getting out of the boat, but he got distracted. Remember though, that Peter had been raised in the Jewish tradition, being very familiar with the Word of God, and he had been with Jesus day and night for over two years. This woman did not have the benefit of this extensive background and knowledge of the ways of God. Her faith was great because it came out of so little revelation in her life.
It seems that it is important what we do with what we have been given. Luke 12:48 says, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.” Have you been given much or little? Have you exercised ‘great faith’?
Re:Verse passage – Matthew 14:22-33 (day four)
For Peter, it was the wind and the waves. They distracted his eyes and he quit looking at Jesus and looked at the wind and waves. He gets an A+ for enthusiasm and he gets an A+ for faith to get out of the boat, but he got distracted. When you are ‘walking on water’ and you begin ‘not walking on water’, you realize it very quickly. At least Peter knew who to turn to in his wet emergency!
What about you? What is it that distracts you from looking at and trusting Jesus? Is it self-reliance, or pride, or practical thinking, or just plain impatience? Have you ever jumped out of the boat and then realized later that things are out of your control? Jesus had given Peter the command to come, but have you jumped out on your own initiative without consulting the Lord? Learning to move at Jesus’ command and learning to focus solely and completely on Him is a mark of mature discipleship. It’s also a lesson we have to learn over and over!