Purpose

Matthew 9:10-13

“Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home for dinner, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. When the Pharisees saw this they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?” When Jesus heard this he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor-sick people do.” Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”(I copied this from the New Living Translation so the terms and wording would be familiar and relevant to us this morning.)

I am so grateful this morning that we get to look at words and teaching from Jesus. Matthew recorded what happened over 2000 years ago and we get to hear Jesus speaking to people in a real life situation. Going to a friend’s house for dinner, we are all familiar with this. Jesus responds to the people around him in these few verses and we get listen in too.

  • Matthew wasn’t afraid of mixing his friend groups. I often think about who I invite to events based on how well they know each other and how much they have in common, but Matthew just asked his friends to dinner.
  • Jesus went to dinner with disreputable sinners. The notes in my Bible say that Matthew’s reputation as a tax collector hadn’t caught up yet with his new life as a disciple so he became a bridge for Jesus’s message to reach Matthew’s “old crowd” friends.
  • Jesus was accomplishing His work of spreading the gospel and didn’t let other people’s judgments of his methods interfere with his plan.
  • Jesus was very direct in His message, using concepts that were obvious to His listeners.
  • The Pharisees were so concerned about how they looked to others, they couldn’t see people in need of truth. They wanted respect from others more than they wanted to help people, and they wanted to make others look bad in public, (probably to elevate themselves) rather than encourage those who needed the Gospel.
  • Jesus, because He loves us, desires to reach all people with his good news, including the poor, the immoral, the lonely, the outcast, and the sick. Jesus loves all of those He created and desires a relationship with every one of us.
  • The message behind Jesus’ words, “show mercy, not offer sacrifices” is, don’t get so caught up in rituals that you miss loving and helping the people around you.
  • The last sentence of verse 10 stings a little. It is a quick definer of hearts. It is easy to compare yourself with another person to feel better about yourself. We can all find someone who struggles with an area of life that we find easier to manage. Why are we so tempted to do this? We use the wrong measuring stick so often. We should only be comparing ourselves to God’s standard. He is perfect in every way, and we are not. This levels the playing field so quickly. It lands all of us in the exact same spot…missing the mark.

Jesus’ purpose on earth was to meet people where they were in life, love them and show them the way to everlasting relationship with Him and His Father. This should be our purpose too. Jesus’ motivation is pure love. Ours should be the same, with added gratefulness, humility and joy because of the gift of payment for our own sin from Jesus. We get so caught up in our lives, families, responsibilities, things to accomplish that we get sidetracked from our main purpose for being here. We get so wrapped up in what we see and experience on this earth, we start to believe that this life and these jobs and friends are all that there is in life. We forget God’s bigger picture and unseen plan for spreading His good news. We forget His purpose for our lives. It is hard to live in this world with God’s purpose as the driving force in our hearts. But we can do better. We can reset our minds at any given moment of the day or night. We can ask God to renew our minds and change our hearts to be more like Him with unwavering purpose. (This needs to be asked of Him daily or more, rather than a onetime request.) He knows the struggle we live in because he created us and He created this world. He understands our desire to be like Him and the inability we have to actually be like Him because of our humanness. The beauty and joy for Him is when we do reflect Him. The times we choose as He would to sacrifice ourselves for the sake of others. When we love like He does. When we remember our actual purpose and do what He would in a situation. We won’t ever get it perfect here on earth, but we can grow in the number of things we choose well. We can grow in love for others. We can remember our purpose more today than we did yesterday. As we string more moments of love and sacrificial choices together, we start to look more and more like Jesus did on earth. We start to live with our true purpose guiding us more than not.

The Magi

In Matthew 2, just after the the telling of the birth of Jesus, the infamous King Herod is introduced, along with the wise men – or Magi. The Magi were searching for the newly born King of the Jews.

Usually, we see the wise men depicted in imagery as being in the stable nearly immediately after Jesus was born, kneeling or standing by the manger. Historically speaking though, it’s more likely that Jesus was nearly two years old when the wise men actually found him. The arrival of the Magi seems to have caused quite the stir. The quest for the newly born king was found out by King Herod, who was displeased (to say the least) that there was a rival for his throne. Herod tells the wise men to go find the newly born king and return to Jerusalem to report his whereabouts so that Herod could also go and worship this fulfillment of ancient prophecies.

Once the Magi found Joseph, Mary and Jesus, we learn that they were told in a dream not to return to Jerusalem to report to Herod where they had found the child. So when they left they did not return the way the had come. Then, in verse 13, we learn that “after they [the wise men] had left an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream ‘get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt,'” (Matt 2:13).  And Joseph did just that. He got up and took his family away – immediately.

Both the Magi and Joseph are “told” what they need to do in dreams. I think we all can agree that dreams can be weird. I doubt that anyone would make the argument that every dream we have should be viewed as some kind of command or message to take action. But in the case of Joseph and the wise men, their hearts and minds were open and receptive – listening for wisdom. Whether it comes in a dream, following prayer, through conversation with a trusted friend, or just as a conviction in your heart – God speaks to us. It may sometimes be labelled as “instinct” or a gut feeling, but I believe it is there.

Pray that God will cause your hearts, minds, ears and eyes to be open to Him. Listen for the commands – and take action. God speaks to us through his word, through the advice of trusted and faithful friends, and more.

 

Clear Direction

Matthew 1:18-25, 2:13-23

Imagine Joseph’s surprise when Mary shares her news.  As the words are coming from her mouth, his heart drops.  She’s pregnant.  But how?  But, why?  He thought they were perfect together.  How could she go and do this to him?  Why did she agree to marry?  His mind races with questions while the anger and frustration build.  But, he was a reasonable man and, he loved her.  He resolved at that moment to control himself and not shame her.  It was not over, however.  His heart and mind would continue to stew on the matter.

As Joseph considered his options, according to verse 20, an angel appeared to him providing specific instruction.  More than that, the angel provided hope and security amidst his uncertainty.  The angel gave Joseph a clear path to follow.  Angels, become a common thing for Joseph.  He continues to get council and direction from them in chapter 2.  Joseph’s response was always, yes, I will go.

As I think about Joseph, I wonder about the unique privileges he was given. First, he played a huge role in the Christ story.  Second, he was directly guided by angels.  I don’t know about you, but I want to be directed by angels too!  How do we get that?  If we are to know how Joseph got it, we must know Joseph better.

First, Joseph was had a Holy bloodline (Luke 2:4).   If we are not careful, we will use this as an excuse.  We may believe Joseph was given special privileges because of it.  Guess what?  Jesus says otherwise.  Through his sacrifice, we become part of his royal priesthood (2 Peter 2:9).  Like Joseph, we’re part of this larger context.  We can be part of a much bigger story, but there is one catch.  We must be ready.

To be ready, we must do as Joseph did.  Look back again at Matthew 1:20.  It says that “as Joseph considered these things.”  What do you think Joseph’s consideration looked like?  If it were us, it might look like worry.  Or, maybe an endless list of strategies to get out of the situation.  Clearly, that wasn’t true for Joseph.  His consideration must have included God.  I imagine him in prayer and reviewing scripture.  Maybe he found comfort in the Psalms or wisdom from the Proverbs.  We don’t get that kind of detail, but we do know the result.  He was given a clear direction.

I believe that we are all able to get direction from angels.  Actually, we get a better opportunity.  Through the gift of Jesus, we get the Holy Spirit.  The real question is, do we hear him?  You see, Joseph ordered his life so that he recognized the angels when they came.  Furthermore, he was also able and willing to turn their direction into immediate action.  Today, we get a privilege that Joseph did not have.  Every minute of every day, we get the power of God at our fingertips, through the Holy Spirit.  He is not a privilege to a select few, we have all been chosen.  Now, the choice is ours.  Will we order our world to hear him?

 

Embracing God’s Ways: Habakkuk

Through his back and forth dialogue with the Lord, the prophet Habakkuk gives us so many lessons in just three chapters. As he tries to understand God’s ways, he learns to embrace them, which is the very definition of his name.

Here’s a breakdown of the three chapters:Chapter Dialogue Outline

I love that Habakkuk has boldness to ask the Lord what’s on his heart. He doesn’t shy away from the tough questions of why, when, how, (and then more ‘why’ questions).  He’s asking similar questions I find myself pondering today:

Why do you allow evil, God? Why do awful things happen to Christ-followers? The helpless? The unborn?

Why are you allowing the wicked to prosper?  When will they be judged? This world is a hot mess – hurry! 

As you read through this dialogue, do you notice how Habakkuk verbalizes to God his character in verse twelve? It seems as though he is reminding himself who God is, right as he is asking God his second round of ‘why’ questions.

He knows that God is holy, everlasting, eternal, a mighty rock, an establisher, and faithful. He even says We will not die. He knows that God will not let them die, and will continue to fulfill his promise to his people (Abrahamic covenant).

As Habakkuk continues with his questions – WHY use THEM? I have to admit I’ve had similar thoughts. And then I also can’t help but wonder WHY God uses ME. Or any of us. While the world wants to live in the comparison game, we know that only God’s judgement is righteous and fair. He isn’t looking at me compared to anyone else. On judgement day I will be standing solo. The Chaldeans may have made the people of Judah look less awful… but God saw wickedness across the board. And He uses it all as He sees fit. And judges it when and how He sees fit.

I can see where God has used sin committed against me, to sanctify me. Draw me closer to him. Cry out to him. And the sins I have committed against others, He also uses. It’s pretty humbling to think of how He can use even my biggest messes.

In the final chapter, we see Habakkuk embracing God’s plan. He praises God for who he is and what he has done and what we will do. Do you see the three Selah pauses in this chapter? I always think of those as a dramatic call to silence and meditation in that moment of the passage.

And then at the end of verse 16 we see him waiting. Waiting on the Lord’s timing. Waiting on the Lord’s plan. Quietly waiting, all the while he is trembling. What a beautiful picture of faith – it doesn’t mean that we are without worry or fear, but that with the trembling, we obey. We quietly wait for the Lord. Not only does he quietly wait – verse 18 shows us that he also rejoices! So he has gone from questioning, to embracing, to rejoicing!

Can you apply Habakkuk’s approach to any questions or problems you’re facing today?

I get lost in the confusion of our political climate and ask a lot of why, when and how questions about world issues. I’m going to try to process those in light of Habakkuk’s example. What do I know about God and how can I more fully trust in his eternal and perfect plan?

I have challenging relationships that need this wisdom, and the reminder to not get stuck in the comparison trap. God uses each of us in different ways, that are far beyond my understanding.

Can I rejoice and find true joy in the Lord, even when I  _______ his plan?

        • am worried about
        • don’t like
        • am confused by
        • am trembling about
        • don’t want to wait for

God, thanks for giving us this amazing true account of your relationship with your prophet, Habakkuk! It teaches us so much about who you are and to have faith in you. You are Holy, Eternal, Almighty, and Faithful!

This actually happened.

Have you ever doubted the story of Jonah and the great fish? Or rather than doubting, have you treated it like a Sunday school story for little children, never stopping to think about the significance, or whether or not it actually occurred?

It was only a few years ago that I confronted some internal struggles on this. A great fish swallowed a man. The man was in the fish for three days and three nights. The man came out alive. How could this be possible? Was it just a kids story or series of real miracles in human history?

I had accepted the fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but questioned whether or not God could orchestrate something like what happened to Jonah, and I know I’m not alone in this.

But God…

After some wrestling with this story I came to accept it as truth based on my belief that God had performed many miracles before and after. I am merely a human with human understanding, but I’ve seen God move mountains in my own life, and no doubt he has done and will do infinitely more miracles more challenging than keeping a man alive inside a giant fish.

Going straight to the beginning of creation in Genesis 1: The same God who created the heavens and the earth, light, sky, oceans, land, plants, the sun, moon and stars, birds, fish, land animals and humans can 100% without a doubt enable a man to live inside of a fish for a few days. We cannot restrict God’s power to our human understanding or human experiences and perspectives.

Our God is a God of miracles and survival in the fish isn’t the only miracle in this book. Creation.com lists the following as miracles in the book of Jonah; not one miracle, but five:

  • ‘The Lord sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest’ (Jonah 1:4),
  • ‘The Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah’ (Jonah 1:17),
  • ‘The Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land’ (Jonah 2:10),
  • ‘The Lord God prepared a gourd [vine, NIV], and made it to come up over Jonah’ (Jonah 4:6),
  • ‘God prepared a worm…and it smote the gourd [chewed the vine, NIV] that it withered’ (Jonah 4:7),
  • ‘God prepared a vehement east wind…’ (Jonah 4:8).

Further, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ believed what happened to Jonah:

For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (Matthew 12:40)

So what’s the point?

The point is that God wants our attention and can use any means to reach us. Like Jonah, we often run or try to hide from God, but He seeks us because He loves us. He went through the greatest lengths possible in dying for us. Jesus Christ lived, and knowingly and willfully gave up his body to torture and a grueling death so that we can be saved.

The Bible says it. I believe it. Amen.

A Love Like No Other

Today’s reading:  Hosea 1-3

Last week B.J. and I celebrated 25 years of marriage.  (Wow that is a long time!)  We dated for several years before getting engaged, so I thought we knew each other pretty well when we finally tied the knot.  Ha!  We’ve learned more about each other than I could have imagined through 25 years of shared experiences.  As a result, I’d say that no one in the world knows me better than B.J. Armstrong (something I’d have never dreamed when I first met him in 7th grade).  Kind of scary.  Our marriage has had its ups and downs like most, but fortunately it has stood the test of time.  Why?  Because it is built on a foundation of mutual trust and a common faith in Jesus Christ.  Without these two things, there is no way we’d still be together today.

Our passage for today is the story of Hosea.  The plot begins right away in verse 2 when the Lord spoke to Hosea and told him to marry a “promiscuous woman” who would be unfaithful to him.  This defies logic.  I know people who have entered into a marriage with someone the rest of us predicted would be unfaithful, but I don’t know anyone who entered into marriage with an expectation of infidelity.  How could you / why would you marry someone you didn’t trust? It would be like asking for heartache.  It makes no sense.

Hosea, however, married a woman he knew would be unfaithful to him simply because God told him to.  God spoke the command and Hosea followed through and married Gomer.  After a period of time, Gomer lost interest in Hosea and began to pursue other lovers.  This was just what God said would happen.

Why would a fair and just God, who designed the sacred covenant of marriage to last a lifetime, send Hosea down this path of heartache?  God was using Hosea’s experience to illustrate his love for his people.  Just like Gomer was unfaithful to Hosea, the nation of Israel had been unfaithful to God.  They were mixing worship of false gods (Baal) with their worship of God, and they were pursuing military power through forbidden relationships with Assyria and Egypt.  In other words, just like Gomer, they had lost interest in their mate and had begun pursuing other “lovers”.

Chapter 3 starts much the same way as Chapter 1.  God told Hosea to do something absurd and Hosea obeyed.  Hosea went and found Gomer, bought her from the man she was with, and reconciled with her.

The Lord said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.” So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and about a homer and a lethek of barley. Then I told her, “You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will behave the same way toward you (Hosea 3:1-3).

Does this sounds like love to you?  This is a beautiful picture of how God loved the nation of Israel in the Old Testament, but also how God shows his love for you and me.  Like the nation of Israel, it is easy for us to lose our interest in relationship with God.  By pursuing dreams and goals that do not include him, and by adopting the ways of the world, we are being unfaithful to him.

Our perfect God, however, sent his son Jesus to buy us back.  Jesus’ death on the cross paid the price for our unfaithfulness so that we could be reconciled to God.  In spite of our wicked ways, he has never stopped loving us or pursuing us.  This is a love like no other.

The Writing on the Wall

Today’s reading is Daniel 5. There is a new king on the throne – Belshazzar. 66 years have passed since Daniel chapter 1 when Nebuchadnezzar was king. Thankfully, he was able to humble himself before God as an example to those that would follow him. Unfortunately, Belshazzar forgot about the one true God. In Daniel 5 he had a party for 1000 of his nobles and they were eating and drinking together. Belshazzar ordered that the gold and silver cups taken by Nebuchadnezzar from the holy temple in Jerusalem be brought out for them to use. These were sacred cups that did not belong to them. They used the cups filled with wine to “toast” their idols made of gold, iron, silver, bronze, wood, and stone. Had they forgotten after so many years what happened to Nebuchadnezzar when he denied God? How he became like an animal until he humbled himself? God got everyone’s attention at the party by literally  writing a message on the wall where everyone could see. Can you imagine, in the midst of your party and all the enjoyment a hand appears and writes a cryptic message on the wall. I think he may have lost a few party guests after this episode. Belshazzar had no idea what the message meant and he was very afraid. He summoned anyone to help and offered a reward of purple robes, gold chains, and the third highest rank in the kingdom to anyone who could interpret the message. Daniel was summoned to help as his reputation for wisdom and solving “riddles”made him the best candidate for the job.

Daniel had to share the very difficult news that the writing on the wall was not in Belshazzar’s favor. It predicted his death and the destruction of Babylon by the Medes and the Persians.

Belshazzar dressed Daniel in robes of purple and gold necklaces and made him third highest in the kingdom. In spite of the bad news.

Daniel 5:30 “That very night Belshazzar, the Babylonian king, was killed. And Darius the Mede became king.”

Daniel was not afraid to tell the truth.  Even when the truth was difficult to tell. We know Daniel spent time with God. The truth is easier to see and to tell when we spend time with the creator of all truth.

Where am I not telling the truth for fear the truth might be too difficult to tell? Am I spending time with God so I’m able to recognize the truth and speak it in love? Am I known for my truth telling?

What am I taking from God that is sacred and using for my own pleasure? (Like the gold and silver cups taken from the temple).  The Sabbath? Church? My gifts and talents?

Daniel 5:23 “For you have defied the Lord of heaven and have had these cups from his temple brought before you.  You and your nobles and your wives and concubines have been drinking wine from them while praising gods of silver, gold, bronze, iron, wood, and stone – gods that neither see nor hear nor know anything at all.  But you have not honored the God who gives you the breath of life and controls your destiny!”

May we ‘honor the God who gives us the breath of life and controls our destiny!’

Shelly

 

Daniel 4: King Nebuchadnezzar

What an amazing testimony we have a chance to look at today in today’s reading of Daniel 4. King Nebuchadnezzar had authority over many nations and people of different languages. He had many leadership traits, people who worked under him, and resources to support his kingdom. Nebuchadnezzar could stay in his palace, be content, and live prosperously. I’m sure many would want to be in this position. Still, with it, all King Nebuchadnezzar lacked one thing, he didn’t acknowledge that God is Most High, sovereign over all.

Our Lord Most High reigns. Psalm 93:1

How did this life transformation take place? It started in a dream. King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that terrified him. So he commanded all the people that he felt were wise or could possibly interpret it to come to him. They all came, and none could interpret until people told him about Daniel. Daniel listened to King Nebuchadnezzar to share his dream. Verses 10 through 17 share this dream. At first reading of these verses, you can understand why no one else could figure it out. Chopping trees, animals, roots bound with iron and bronze, and given the mind of an animal. In steps, Daniel ( also called Belteshazzar) and bravely interprets this dream. It was probably something that Nebuchadnezzar didn’t want to hear. He was the tree being chopped, and that the king had to renounce his sins and be kind to the oppressed.

Our Lord Most High reigns. Psalm 96:10

How would King Nebuchadnezzar respond? A year later he was still living his own lifestyle not acknowledging what God had said. God then fulfilled Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. He was transformed into the mindset of an animal. I had a conversation with a parent this evening about learning. We talked about how we all can learn differently sometimes. Some people listen and make the right choices following directions, others have to learn the hard way. King Nebuchadnezzar learned the hard way until verse 34.

At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward Heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified Him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; His Kingdom endures from generation to generation.

Our Lord Most High reigns. Psalm 97:1

He reigns, our Lord has great plans for us when we listen. He has great plans for our leaders. Will you pray that we listen, that our leaders, as well as us, acknowledge that our Lord Most High reigns. Psalm 99:1

Now I, (Insert name here) Nebuchadnezzar praise and exalt and glorify the King of Heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride He is able to humble.

Into the fire: Hanahaiah (Shadrach), Michael (Meshach), & Azariah (Abednego)

Into the fire

Today’s Reading Daniel 3

The story of the Three Hebrew Men : Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is one of my favorite stories of the old Testament.  It is a story of faithfulness until the brink of death.   But as I become reacquainted with the story it has brought some new ideas to light.

These men had lost some major identifying elements in their early life: their home, their name, and their God.

In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God. And he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and placed the vessels in the treasury of his god. Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family[a] and of the nobility, youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. Daniel 1: 1-4

In the first chapter of Daniel, we are introduced to the scene with the capture of Jerusalem and the children are taken away from their home. The children are place in a type of assimilation servitude to make them into the image of the conquerors.

The next possession that these young men had taken from them was their names.  As was mentioned several blogs previous, the naming of the children in ancient Jewish times was a major deal.  Nebuchadnezzar changed all of their names.

And the chief of the eunuchs gave them names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego. Daniel 1:7

Daniel (which means ‘God has judged’) becomes Belteshazzar (‘keeper of the hidden treasures of bel’).  Hananiah (‘Jehovah has been gracious’) becomes Shadrach. Mishael (‘who is like God?’) became Meshach – a name that refers to Venus.  Azariah (‘Jehovah has helped’) became Abed-nego (‘the servant of Nebo’). These names were very powerful names and the meaning behind each has been hidden even until today.  The names that I have known these men by are the names that were forced upon them without their consent.  This could have robbed them of their blessings if they were not strong enough to maintain their faith.

The last possession that was attempted to be taken from the Three Hebrew Men was their God.  These men were known for their faith and their commitment to God from the beginning when they were instructed to have the same diet as the other trainees.  But it was evident after they had been appointed positions of authority that there were some individuals who disliked them and wanted harm for them.  

Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and maliciously accused the Jews. They declared[b] to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! 10 You, O king, have made a decree, that every man who hears the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, shall fall down and worship the golden image. 11 And whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into a burning fiery furnace. 12 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.”Daniel 3:8-12

 

The king had created an image of him and demanded that all the subjects bow down and praise and worship the image.  The Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were the only ones standing and not following the commands of the king.  They stood up for their faith and were punished for their insubordination.  They were condemned to perish in a fiery furnace that was at such a temperature, the guards that placed them in the furnace dead from the heat.  But in the midst of the fire, God stepped in an protect them and released them from the fire.

26 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. 27 And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them.  Daniel 3: 26-27

Some points to gain from the Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego:

  • No matter what has been taken from you, no on can take away your faith unless you submit to them.
  • In the midst of a world where everyone wants to conform, if you keep your values and will stand up for them when you are pressed: you will be rewarded.
  • God is already in the places that you are not aware of or certain.We have to be ready to see Him perform the miracles that he has promised.

Daniel

As Usual!

What is something you do as usual??  Something that is part of your normal day?  Something you never skip or forget?  Is it working out, eating breakfast, having a cup of coffee, watching a favorite show, checking your phone, or having a daily quiet time?  Today we read about Daniel and learn the most important thing he did as usual.

When I saw that my assigned post for this week was Daniel, I thought about what I already knew about him.  The first story I recalled is Daniel being thrown into the Lion’s Den.  I remembered that he interpreted the kings dream. I also remembered how he and his 3 friends got thrown into the fiery furnace (thank you to a church musical I participated in back in the day, the song of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego will always be in my mind).  The last story that came to mind is that Daniel interpreted the handwriting on the wall.  

Daniel was a faithful man of God.  He faced these incredible situations and managed to live through them!  

Out of all these amazing stories about Daniel.  There is one verse that stands out to me the most.

Daniel 6:10

But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem.  He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God.  (NLT, bold print mine)

AS USUAL!!  This is what Daniel did!  He prayed!  Just as he had always done!  Giving thanks to God.  That is it!  We don’t read about his worries or his complaints about the incredible situations he was put in.  Can you imagine standing in a fiery furnace or amongst hungry lions and not wavering in your faith?  Daniel looked to God to provide an escape, and He did.  Every.  Single.  Time.  We see that Daniel did what he usually did – PRAYED!  

It seems so simple.  Pray – as usual.  Do we trust God’s promises as Daniel did?  

Daniel’s habits of prayer were known to all the people around him.  He prayed as usual openly before all who saw him.  There was no question of Daniel’s faithfulness to God.  Daniel glorified God by the life he lived.  His faithful walk allowed God to give him power and wisdom.  Daniel took a stand for the Lord and the Lord used his faithfulness to magnify His own name.  

Pray – AS USUAL – and see how God will magnify His name through you.