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Daniel 4: Glorious Humility

Daniel 4:34-37

At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever,

 

for his dominion is an everlasting dominion,

   and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;

all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,

   and he does according to his will among the host of heaven

   and among the inhabitants of the earth;

and none can stay his hand

   or say to him, “What have you done?”

 

At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and splendor returned to me. My counselors and my lords sought me, and I was established in my kingdom, and still more greatness was added to me. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.

 

Thought for Today

For seven months, Nebuchadnezzar roamed the countryside like a beast, eating grass and subject to the elements. The Lord of heaven humbled him. He had taken credit for the position and kingdom under his care, and, as God had warned him, he had been brought low. This is a consistent them in Scripture, the mighty being humbled before the Lord. By God’s mercy and grace, when Nebuchadnezzar lifted his eyes to heaven and acknowledged God’s sovereignty, his sanity was restored. He certainly appears to have learned his lesson. You might expect him to be angry with God for humbling him.  Instead, he sends a letter to all of his subjects letting them know what God had done to him. He rejoiced that he knew God was real and had real authority in the world. This is something to celebrate as we live in challenging times. God makes Himself known to those in authority. Sometimes He does it with no help on our part. He is alive and active in His world. We rejoice when He works through us, and we can rejoice when He works apart from us. Pray that God will continue to reveal Himself to those in authority in our land, that those who think they are great might be humbled to the glory of God and the good of all.  

 

Prayer

Heavenly Father, I praise You for Your great work in the world. Help me to join You where I can and celebrate when You work apart from me. Heal our land by your grace. Amen.

 

Devotional Quote

As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on thing and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above you. ― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

 

Quote of the Day

There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self. ― Ernest Hemingway

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Daniel 4: Judgement

Daniel 4:29-33

At the end of twelve months [king Nebuchadnezzar] was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, and the king answered and said, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” While the words were still in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, “O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.” Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles' feathers, and his nails were like birds' claws.

 

Thought for Today

We discover a couple important things about God today. First, God is patient. After sending the dream and Daniel’s call to righteousness, God waits a year before bringing about the judgement He threatened. God’s warnings are always an act of mercy. He often warns us before His judgement comes. His purpose is to call us to repentance and change. He does not want to bring judgement or rebuke into our lives. He does it for our good. The second thing we discover is God’s warnings are serious. He does not threaten just to scare someone. He is serious about doing what needs to be done for our own good. He threatened to send Nebuchadnezzar to take His people into exile if they didn’t stop their idol worship. They didn’t take Him seriously and now they are living in Babylon. He told Nebuchadnezzar if he didn’t set aside his pride and acknowledge the greatness of God he would become an animal, a humble beast of the field. It wasn’t an idol threat. After giving him a year to humble himself, God brings the curse He promised when Nebuchadnezzar took credit for the kingdom God had set him over. When God alerts you to something that needs to change in your life, take Him seriously. He wants the best for you and loves you enough to do whatever it takes to draw you back to Him. As the author of Hebrews writes, “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives” (12:6).

 

Prayer

Holy Spirit, help me to hear your voice in my life, especially when you call me to repentance. Help me to take your call to change seriously. Amen.  

 

Devotional Quote

Rebuke without love is abuse. But, a love that would never rebuke? I dare to admit that that, too, would be a kind of abuse. ― Criss Jami, Healology

 

Quote of the Day

When all else is lost, the future still remains. — Christian Nestell Bovee

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Daniel 4 - A Difficult Interpretation

Daniel 4:19, 24-27

Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was dismayed for a while, and his thoughts alarmed him. The king answered and said, “Belteshazzar, let not the dream or the interpretation alarm you.”

 Belteshazzar answered and said, “My lord, may the dream be for those who hate you and its interpretation for your enemies! . . .  This is the interpretation, O king: It is a decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king, that you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. You shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and you shall be wet with the dew of heaven, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will. And as it was commanded to leave the stump of the roots of the tree, your kingdom shall be confirmed for you from the time that you know that Heaven rules. Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you: break off your sins by practicing righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed, that there may perhaps be a lengthening of your prosperity.”

 

Thought for Today

Daniel is distraught. The king has been good to him. He has risen to prominence in his service to the king and appears to respect him. While the other wisemen may have avoided telling the king the truth about the dream because they feared for their own lives, Daniel seems to be more concerned for the king. Since this is the kings account of the events, I’m not sure how much I believe that he told Daniel not to worry and took the news with a stiff upper lip. He has not been very emotionally stable in the past. What is truly noteworthy are the words that display Daniels heart for the king. First, he broods over whether to tell the king. Then, wishes the interpretation on his enemies. Finally, he advises the king on how to possibly avoid the sentence the Lord has declared against him. Daniel wanted the best for the king who held his people in exile. He wanted to see the king blessed by God and not cursed. In our politically charged world it can be easy to wish ill on those we see as political enemies. We can get very upset with our leaders today. King Nebuchadnezzar was a hard man. He killed his opponents and advisors with impunity. He ruled with an iron fist. Yet, Daniel cared about him. He didn’t hold him up in prayer, holding his nose at the same time. He wished the best for the king. He advised him how to avoid a fate many probably wished on him. Many of us need to repent of our attitudes toward those in authority today. That is not to say we must support all their positions or plans, but do we support them as people God loves? Do we desire to see God bless and not curse them? These are hard questions, but ones that lift our eyes to seek God’s glory rather than our own.  

 

Prayer

Heavenly Father, I apologize for my attitude toward leaders I do not agree with. Help me to see them first as people who will one day stand before you and be more concerned for their eternity than my temporal desires. Amen.  

 

Devotional Quote

Considering the notion that the spiritual battlefield is infinitely greater than the physical, perhaps God is more willing to bless with a sort of divine ecstasy those who see the devil as the enemy rather than those who see other people as the enemies. ― Criss Jami

 

Quote of the Day

Be quick to bless but lazy to curse ― Paul Bamikole

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Daniel 4: The Dream

Daniel 4:4-5, 10-18

I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at ease in my house and prospering in my palace. I saw a dream that made me afraid. As I lay in bed the fancies and the visions of my head alarmed me. . . “I saw, and behold, a tree in the midst of the earth, and its height was great. The tree grew and became strong, and its top reached to heaven, and it was visible to the end of the whole earth. Its leaves were beautiful and its fruit abundant, and in it was food for all. The beasts of the field found shade under it, and the birds of the heavens lived in its branches, and all flesh was fed from it.

 

“I saw in the visions of my head as I lay in bed, and behold, a watcher, a holy one, came down from heaven. He proclaimed aloud and said thus: ‘Chop down the tree and lop off its branches, strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the beasts flee from under it and the birds from its branches. But leave the stump of its roots in the earth, bound with a band of iron and bronze, amid the tender grass of the field. Let him be wet with the dew of heaven. Let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth. Let his mind be changed from a man's, and let a beast's mind be given to him; and let seven periods of time pass over him. The sentence is by the decree of the watchers, the decision by the word of the holy ones, to the end that the living may know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men.”

 

Thought for Today

This is the second time God has spoken to Nebuchadnezzar in a dream. This is a much longer and more detailed dream. The king is again disturbed by the dream because he doesn’t know what it means. His astrologists and wisemen again can’t interpret it. It does seem fairly straightforward. It may be that everyone knew what it meant, but no one wanted to tell the king the bad news. He has a history of taking bad news out on the messenger. What would you do in their place? Maybe they all pointed to Daniel because they thought the might be rid of him if he had to tell the king the truth. How has God communicated with you? Have you ever heard Him clearly when you were reading His Word? In prayer? In church? In a dream? Have you ever had the experience of knowing God was speaking to you but you weren’t sure what it meant? You have an incredible advantage over the king of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar didn’t have the Holy Spirit to help him. The Holy Spirit is here to help us know and understand what God is saying to us. Nebuchadnezzar had to gather his wisemen. Yours lives in you. We live in a very blessed time!

 

Prayer

Holy Spirit, thank You for helping me recognize and understand my Savior’s voice. Amen.

 

Devotional Quote

I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice? ― C.S. Lewis

 

Quote of the Day

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. ― Eleanor Roosevelt

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Daniel 4 - An Unusual Evangelist

Daniel 4:1-3

King Nebuchadnezzar to all peoples, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you! It has seemed good to me to show the signs and wonders that the Most High God has done for me.

 

How great are his signs,

   how mighty his wonders!

His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,

   and his dominion endures from generation to generation.

 

Thought for Today

This week, Nebuchadnezzar is the narrator of his own story. This is unique in the history literature of the Bible. The king of a foreign land telling the tale of how the God of Israel humbled him. Nebuchadnezzar wants everyone one in the land to know the great thing God has done for him. This is likely the draft of a letter he sent out to all the provinces and nations over which he ruled. He starts with awesome words of praise to God, which is a hint that the story will turn out well in the end. It is ironic that the God of Israel gets a greater global witness from the king who took His people into captivity than He ever got from His people. A significant reason God allowed Babylon to conquer His people and take them into exile was because they were adopting other gods instead of showing the world His glory. I wonder if God isn’t working this way in Nebuchadnezzar’s heart to demonstrate for His people what He had asked of them. Is God showing them the way in this foreign land so when they are restored to their land they will know how to trumpet the greatness of their God? This gives us pause to ask if we are taking our great God for granted like Israel did. Are we trumpeting His greatness in our neighborhoods and communities, or have we relegated God to a private relationship only to be shown in public on Sundays? If we do not praise Him He will find the most shocking person to lead the nation in the singing of His praise, just to show us how it is done. So, give God glory in your world today!

 

Prayer

Heavenly Father, help me to take hold of the opportunities I have to praise your name in my life today. Help me to be winsome and clear when I speak. Amen.  

 

Devotional Quote

I live by grace to witness about the wonders of God. ― Lailah Gifty Akita

 

Quote of the Day

Eternity is never having to show up because there was never a time that you were not there. And because this is the nature of God, it’s not about asking Him to show up in our lives. Rather, it’s about asking Him to shine through our lives. ― Craig D. Lounsbrough

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Daniel 3: A Greater Victory

Daniel 3: 26-30

Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them. Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king's command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. Therefore, I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.”

 

Thought for Today

What an amazing turn of events. God has once again come through for His people in a profound and memorable way. The king is awestruck by what has happened. Apparently, it is one thing for a god to be wise and interpret dreams, it is another for Him to physically manifest and save His subjects. Through the faithful witness and courage of the three Hebrew men the whole world will hear of the greatness of the power of Israel. Notice that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did nothing but stand up for God’s honor when they were dragged before the king. They did not seek this honor. They did not make a scene. They simply testified to the worthiness of God alone to be worshipped and had courage in the critical moment. What was the result? The king decreed that no one in the kingdom may ever abuse God’s honor in word or deed again at the cost of their lives. There is no way the Israelites could have won such a victory for God on their own. Only God, defending His own honor, could win such a resounding victory. This is our calling, too. We are to witness to God’s glory when called upon and stand with courage, so He can display His power. Our world has no shortage of opportunities to do this. You do not have to seek them out. Let God use you in the critical moment and marvel at how God defends His own honor through you.

 

Prayer

Lord God, use me as You will. Help me to have courage and determination, to speak the truth in love and watch to see what You will do. Amen.

 

Devotional Quote

Even on the cross He did not hide Himself from sight; rather, He made all creation witness to the presence of its Maker. ― St. Athanasius

 

Quote of the Day

When sinners judge, God takes the stand. ― Toba Beta

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Daniel 3: You'll never stand alone

Daniel 3: 24-25

Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.”

 

Thought for Today

The three men of Israel put their faith in God to rescue them and God showed up. Not figuratively. He literally appeared in the fiery furnace! The smug smile on Nebuchadnezzar’s face melts ways as he realizes that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are not consumed by the fire, but freed. The only thing consumed by the fire are their bonds. They begin walking around the fire and a fourth person appears. He is clearly no ordinary mortal. He looks like “a son of the gods.” Is this an angel or a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ? No one knows for sure. What we know is that someone representing God stood in their midst to make sure that everyone knew who had rescued the men who dared to defy the king. This was a contest between the God of Israel and the king of Babylon. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were the men caught in the middle of the contest. They had chosen wisely when they put their trust in the One Nebuchadnezzar had called the “King of lords” just a chapter ago. God is trust worthy. He will defend His honor when it is challenged. We may need to stand up and be counted, but never think the contest is between you and the one who challenged God’s honor. God Himself shows up to both defend His people and His honor. So, don’t be afraid to stand up for God. He will never let you stand alone.

 

Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You for the promise never to leave nor forsake me. I will stand for You with confidence because I know I do not stand alone. Amen. 

 

Devotional Quote

For you will certainly carry out God's purpose, however you act, but it makes a difference to you whether you serve like Judas or like John. ― C.S. Lewis

 

Quote of the Day

Men trust God by risking rejection. Women trust God by waiting. ― Carolyn McCulley


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Daniel 3: Trust

Daniel 3: 14-18

Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of . . . music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?”

 

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

 

Thought for Today

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego make one of the most incredible statements of faith in all of Scripture. When the king threatens to throw them into the fiery furnace if they refuse to worship his statue and then defiantly asks what god is able to deliver them from this imminent doom, they respond, “Our God is able.” The God who interpreted the kings dream in the last chapter can save them from the fiery furnace. Their faith in their God was strong! The more impressive statement follows this first declaration. “But if not, we still will not serve your gods,” they say. They trust God’s purposes and plans more than they trust God’s power. After all, God’s power is in service to His purposes. God’s purposes are always redemptive. They know that God’s purpose in bringing them here is not to defeat the power or authority of the king. That would be too small a thing for God. The greater work would be to reveal Himself to the king in a way that draws his proud heart humbly to God. God can do that by either saving them from the fiery furnace, or by spending their lives in this moment to reach the king. They trust God’s plan enough that they are willing to stand just as firmly for the possibility that God chooses not to rescue them, than if He does. That is God’s concern. Their call is to be a faithful witness in the moment. That is an amazing statement of faith. They already know their eternity is safe with God. They are okay no matter when God chooses to begin it. Having an eternal perspective changes the way we see everything in our lives. 

 

Prayer

Lord God, help me to have an eternal perspective on my life. Let me not get so caught up in my days here that I do not spend them with my eternity with You in mind. Amen. 

 

Devotional Quote

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.—Jesus of Nazareth

 

Quote of the Day

Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can't practice any other virtue consistently. ― Maya Angelou

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Daniel 3: The Intrigues of Men

Daniel 3: 8, 12

At that time certain Chaldeans came forward and maliciously accused the Jews. “There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men, O king, pay no attention to you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.

 

Thought for Today

People’s motives are rarely as pure as they seem. The men who go to Nebuchadnezzar to inform him that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were not complying with the king’s demand to worship his statue were not really worried about the king’s decree nor offended by the God of the Israelites. They were men of the court who wanted the positions of power held by Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Worshiping the statue was just a convenient excuse to remove them. In the end, it didn’t matter. God used the opportunity to bring the Israelite men where He needed them. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were trying to stay out of the way. They may have wondered why God allowed them to be called out and brought into the spotlight when they were trying to do the right thing quietly. What they may have perceived as God allowing a bad thing to happen actually brought them to the center of where God was working. He needed someone to be His representatives to the king and nation of Babylon. We need to be careful of how we interpret God’s actions in our lives. Sometimes what appears to be God allowing negative circumstances is actually God aligning us to what He is doing and inviting us to be part. This is often a bit intimidating. Put your trust in God. His plans are always bigger and better than you can imagine.

 

Prayer

Heavenly Father, help me to always trust You, even when I don’t understand what You are doing. Let my faith be greater than my circumstances. Amen.

 

Devotional Quote

Here's what God wants. He wants you to look up. He wants you to trust him. ― Linda Evans Shepherd, When You Can't Find God

 

Quote of the Day

Tough times don't define you, they refine you. ‪― Carlos A. Rodriguez


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Daniel 3: Being Worshipped

Daniel 3:14-6

King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its breadth six cubits. He set it up on the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. And the herald proclaimed aloud, “You are commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, that when you hear the sound of. . . every kind of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. And whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace.”

 

Thought for Today

At the end of the previous chapter, Nebuchadnezzar declared Daniel’s God to be the “God of gods and Lord of kings” (2:47). As we turn the page we discover that the king’s heart is fickle. He has decided to set up a golden statue, probably looking much like himself, for the people to worship. This is a reflection of the original temptation. Satan entered the Garden of Eden as told Eve if she ate the forbidden fruit she would be like God. Ironically, she was already as much like God as anything in creation. “Let us make man in our image,” God said (Gen 1:27). The only way humans were not like God was they had no right to be worshiped or sit on God’s throne. Satan tempted them with the possibility of being worshiped like God. This has been in our hearts ever since. When a person acquires power, they begin to expect to be worshiped and even considered gods. This was true of Pharaoh in Egypt and now Nebuchadnezzar wants the idle created in his image to be worshiped. While it is easy to point fingers at people of great power and wealth for wanting to be worshiped and adored, it is just as great a temptation in each of our hearts. In many small ways we are tempted usurp God’s glory and receive His praise. When things work out for our good and we think it was our plan, we usurp God’s glory. When we take the praise for opportunities to serve without letting them know that God was behind it, we receive God’s praise. In a hundred ways every day we are tempted to take the credit, glory, or praise that are rightfully God’s. We need to be on the lookout for this temptation and repent of this when we discover it in our lives. All the glory, worship, and praise belong to God.

 

Prayer

Heavenly Father, I am sorry for the times I pretend that to be the source of praise and honor that belong to You. Help me to be aware of this temptation and to begin giving all the glory and honor to You. Amen. 

 

Devotional Quote

God created us for this: to live our lives in a way that makes him look more like the greatness and the beauty and the infinite worth that he really is. This is what it means to be created in the image of God. ― John Piper

 

Quote of the Day

Following the light of the sun, we left the Old World. — Christopher Columbus

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