Sunday, November 26, 2017

November 26: Daniel 2:24 – 3; Psalm 119:81-96; Proverbs 28:15-16; 1 Peter 4:7 – 5


            Daniel: Daniel told the captain of the guard, Arioch, not to kill all the wise men because he had the interpretation of the king’s dream. Arioch took Daniel to the king and claimed to have found Daniel who could interpret the dream. When the king asked Daniel if he could, Daniel replied than no one could do that, only God who reveals mysteries. He said God had reveled to the king what would happen in the future. God gave Daniel the interpretation not because he was wiser than anyone else but for the king to know the future.
            Daniel told that the dream was of a great statue that was frightening. The head was gold, the upper body silver, the lower bronze, the legs iron, its feet were mixed iron and clay. The king saw a stone hit the feet and the whole statue was broken in to pieces so fine that they were like chaff and blew away. The stone became a mountain that filled the earth.
            The interpretation was that the head of gold was Nebuchadnezzar who ruled over the whole earth, man, and animals. Each of the other parts of the statue represented inferior kingdoms that would come after him. The fourth was iron to represent it smashing all the other kingdoms. The feet are a mixture showing that the kingdom will result from marriage but it won’t hold together. During this last kingdom, God will set up a kingdom that will last forever and bring all the others to an end.
            Nebuchadnezzar worshiped Daniel and commanded his people to make offerings to him. The king acknowledge that God is over all gods, lords, and kings. He promoted Daniel over all Babylon and gave him gifts. Daniel placed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego over the provinces.
            Nebuchadnezzar set up a 90-foot-tall idol on the plains of Dura. He ordered all his officials to come to the dedication and worship it when the music stated. If anyone wouldn't, they were to be thrown into a furnace. All the people obeyed.
            Some of the astrologers told the king that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had disobeyed and didn’t worship the idol. Nebuchadnezzar was angry and questioned Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They admitted they didn’t worship his gods and wouldn’t do it. They said God could save them, but even if he didn’t they still wouldn’t worship his gods.
            Nebuchadnezzar was so angry he had the furnace heated even hotter than usual and had them bound and thrown into it. When the king looked into the furnace, he saw four men walking around in the fire. The fourth was like a son of the gods.
            He asked Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to come out. When they did, there was no harm to them or their clothes. They didn’t even smell like fire. Nebuchadnezzar then proclaimed that God had saved them because they trusted in God and were willing to die rather than worship any other gods. He then proclaimed that all people should honor God and if they didn’t they should be torn limb from limb and their houses destroyed. He then promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
            Psalm: The Psalmist expresses more in these verses about the affliction he has faced from others. He is concerned about how long it will last. In all of these problems he expresses hope and confidence in God’s word. He then reflects on God’s eternality and faithfulness shown in creation. He identifies as part of God’s creation and through his word he has life. He is still asking for help as he keeps an eye on God’s word.
            Proverbs: Wicked rulers oppress poor people just like a lion or a bear that attacks its victims. These rulers don’t understand God’s ways but one who hates profit through injustice will live longer.
            1 Peter: Since the end of everything could come right away, we should be self-controlled and alert while praying. We should be loving, hospitable, and not complainers. We should use the gifts God has given us to serve other, whether it is speaking God’s word or serving. It is all to be used to bring glory to Jesus because glory and sovereignty belong to him.
            We shouldn’t be surprised when we have to suffer because that is normal. We should be joyful that we share in Jesus’ suffering because we will be even more joyful when his glory is revealed. If we are insulted for Jesus, we are blessed because we know his Spirit is on us. It isn’t suffering for Christ if it is because of or sinful behavior. We should not be ashamed of our suffering for Christ but glorify God in it.
            This suffering shows that the judgment is coming and we will be judged first. But people who don’t obey God will be judged harshly if we are barely saved. So, we should trust our faithful Creator for our souls and suffer according to his will.
            Because Peter saw Jesus’ suffering and will join in his glory, he speaks to church leaders directing them to be good shepherds. They should watch over their charges eagerly and willingly not under compulsion or for the money. Don’t be overbearing but be a good example to them. You’ll get a crown of glory when the Chief Shepherd comes back.
            Everyone else should be subject to the elders and be humble towards everyone. God opposes the proud but helps the humble with grace. By humbling ourselves under God, he will lift us up at the right time. We can give him all our anxiousness because he cares for us.
            We need to be careful and watch out for the devil who wants to destroy us like a hungry lion. When we are firm in our faith we can resist him. We aren’t alone in suffering because other Christians around the world suffer also. God called us to his eternal glory in Jesus so, after we have suffered a short time, he will strengthen and restore us. He will get the glory forever.
            Peter dictated this to Silvanus who is a faithful brother. Peter wrote briefly and affirms this is God’s word of grace and we should stand firm in it. The church in Babylon sends greetings as does his son, Mark. Greet each other with a holy kiss and have peace in Christ.

What Stood Out

            Daniel: “But as for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because of any wisdom that I have more than all the living, but in order that the interpretation may be made known to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your mind” (Dan 2:30).
            Psalm: “They have almost made an end of me on earth, but I have not forsaken your precepts” (Ps 119:87).
            Proverbs: “Like a roaring lion or a charging bear is a wicked ruler over a poor people” (Prov 28:15).
            1 Peter: “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12).


            Daniel: Daniel’s humility is demonstrated in the way the made sure God got the glory for revealing the king’s dream and its interpretation. He stands in contrast to Arioch, who tried to get the credit for finding Daniel. He stands in a huge contrast to Nebuchadnezzar who tries to make people worship his gods then praises God but still thinks he can order people to worship God.
            Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego express a kind of humility that few other people do. They don’t make any assumption that God must necessarily keep them from harm when they disobey the government to maintain adherence to God’s law. When we do what is right and expect God to bless that in the face of opposition, we are thinking way too much of ourselves. This is true in churches that claim prosperity is the necessary outcome of faith. Some of these will actually call themselves little gods. Some of them will say that in their exalted position as children of God, they can command God. Instead of these self-aggrandizing views of themselves, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego simply said they would obey God regardless of being rescued or not.
            God provided Daniel with the answer to the king’s dream for only one reason. He did it so that Nebuchadnezzar would know what was in the future and thereby let us know that God is sovereign. It wasn’t because of Daniel or Nebuchadnezzar but it still brings glory to God. He saved Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to show he was sovereign over Nebuchadnezzar and this also continues to bring glory to himself.
            Psalm: Look at how close to being wiped out were Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. In the face of odds that most people would not have tried to overcome, they stood fast in believing in God and not forsaking his commandments. They each took risks in going against the crowd, whether in Daniel’s diet or Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s refusal to worship and idol. How much more should we refuse to bend to the world’s way of life and obey God’s will for our lives. We may not face the same dramatic life and death situations, but we still must make daily decisions to be godly people instead of going with the crowd. We need to delight in God’s law through our faith in Jesus Christ if we want to be able to keep the Lord’s testimonies. When we are living according to God’s word we will bring glory to him whether he rescues us from adversity or not.
            Proverbs: Do you want to know if a ruler is wicked or not? It isn’t in the way he treats the rich but in the way he oppresses the poor. This seems to be the way of every king, dictator, or other ruler. When they are in power, poor people suffer more than any others. Unfortunately, we don’t always see this when they start to rule. It isn’t until their programs are in place for a while that it becomes obvious. One thing is for sure, and that is the Lord wants us to care for the poor instead of oppressing them. We don’t have to be a ruler to help. We don’t have to save everyone either. In addition to helping them, we should be showing them the way to eternity through Jesus Christ as well.
            1 Peter: A significant theme of Peter’s letter is that Christians suffer. He tells us that we shouldn’t be surprised when we suffer. Suffering isn’t an anomaly but is normal if you are a Christian. We should be surprised when we don’t suffer. Churches in other parts of the world are surprised when we tell them that we can meet openly and are not restricted by the government or other religions. They believe it is a miracle.
            While it does appear that we are blessed in not having to face the suffering that others around the world are facing, sometimes it appears that this prosperity and freedom is a test that many fail. Instead of being strong in our faith, we are weak. We are led astray by those infiltrate the church bringing doctrines that include tolerance of sin and worldliness. I think that when we are judged, there will be many who think they are Christians who will fail the test. I think this is what Peter is talking about when he says that judgement will begin with the church (1 Peter 4:17). Those who have been called by God to his eternal glory will pass the judgment because we’ve been confirmed by God himself (1 Peter 5:10). However, many in churches have never had their faith tested by suffering or trials. They joined the churches because it was a tradition of their parents or they just liked the people. They may have joined for many reasons other than because they have submitted their lives to Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Suffering tends to weed out those who don’t have true faith or challenge them to have genuine faith. Do you have faith in God like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – a faith that is firm regardless of the circumstances?


             I want my faith to be strong like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s. I want to be able to welcome suffering and I want to remain faithful when it doesn’t happen. I want to yield to God’s shaping in my life to be more like Jesus whether it is prosperity or austerity, sickness or in health.

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