Manna for Today

 

Trial by Fire (Daniel 3)

Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? 15 Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”

16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”  (Daniel 3:14-18)

Learn it:

            King Nebuchadnezzar was inspired by his dream to build a statue to have his people worship.  He gathered all of the people in his court to its unveiling and have them worship it.  In the crowd were Daniel’s friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  These three Jews refused to bow down and they were about to be made an example for their disobedience to the king.  How they responded to the king in verses 16-18 are some of the strongest statements of faith in the Bible.  They were not compelled to defend themselves on their obedience to the LORD God.  They knew exactly what the king was threatening to do to them if they refused his orders again. 

            Their faith was so strong in God that they believed He had the power to save them but if God chose not to save them, they still would not worship the image the king had made.  There would have been several ways for them to rationalize pretending to worship the idol to save themselves.  They decided to boldly trust in God and live with integrity.  In an amazing miracle God protected them in this blazing furnace.  Not only did he protect them, but he was there with them in the furnace.  When they came out their robes were not singed, and they did not even smell like a fire!  What a display of God’s power in protecting those who call on His name. 

Live it:

            In out lives there are many things wanting our allegiance or attention.  With popular opinion pulling us in one direction we need to stop and look around.  Is this something that is glorifying God or something else?  It would have been hard for these three young men to refuse to worship this idol.  The king was commanding everyone to do it and they worked for the king.  Everyone around them was doing it so their disobedience would have been very noticeable.  Most people do not like to stick out or go against the majority.  As Christians we are called to stand firm in Christ and his teachings.  We worship Him and Him alone.  It means we will face some tough times. 

             Even though people may disagree with us and try to harm us it doesn’t mean we get to fight back.  Jesus also called us to love our enemies (Matt. 5:43-48).  The young Jews were not confrontational with the king.  The king was irate and irrational.  They were calm and willingly accepted what was coming.  We are called to love our enemies and pray for them.  Even when we are not being treated fairly, we need to remain calm and display the love of Christ to them.  No matter what the consequences may be.  God will be with us and give us the comfort we need. 


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The Eternal Kingdom of God (Daniel 2:31-49)

And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever, 45 just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. A great God has made known to the king what shall be after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure.”

46 Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face and paid homage to Daniel, and commanded that an offering and incense be offered up to him. 47 The king answered and said to Daniel, “Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery.” 48 Then the king gave Daniel high honors and many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon. 49 Daniel made a request of the king, and he appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego over the affairs of the province of Babylon. But Daniel remained at the king’s court.  (Daniel 2:44-49)

Learn it:

            Daniel reveals the dream to the King.  In his dream there is this huge statue made from different materials.  Then this stone, that was not cut by human hands, is flying through the air and destroys the statue.  When Daniel interprets the dream the different materials in the statue represent different coming earthly kingdoms.  The stone represents the coming Kingdom of God.  That is perfect and will destroy all the earthly kingdoms.  This is going to happen some day and God gave this vision to King Nebuchadnezzar. 

            After Daniel gives the interpretation the King falls on his face and thanked Daniel.  Then the King also acknowledged Daniel’s God.  That He is powerful and knows all things.  We see that Daniel has consistently gave glory to the one true God and King Nebuchadnezzar praises Him as well.  The King still does not fully recognize Him as the one true God but is just another god to him.  God continues to bless Daniel for his faithfulness, and he is put in a higher position in the kingdom. 

Live it:

            We learn from this passage that our God, the one true God, is all knowing and more powerful than any earthly kingdom.  God knew exactly the dream that the King had.  Then in the dream he prophesied about coming nations and what they would be like.  That is impossible for any human to know!  As if that is not enough, He then shows that there is a more powerful kingdom coming that will destroy all the earthly kingdoms!  In the New Testament we know that this new kingdom will coming at Christ’s second coming.  When He comes again that will establish the eternal Kingdom of Christ. 

            This passage gives us great encouragement and hope.  We worship a God who knows all things.  He knows what is going to happen in our lives and in the lives of nations around the world.  He then promises to come back and establish His own kingdom.  His kingdom will be perfect, and we will be able to dwell with Him forever!  Until that day we are called to glorify God and point all people to Him.  Just like Daniel did before Nebuchadnezzar.


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Prayer and Praising God (Daniel 2:17-30)

Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 18 He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. 19 During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven 20 and said:

“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;

wisdom and power are his.

21   He changes times and seasons;

he sets up kings and deposes them.

He gives wisdom to the wise

and knowledge to the discerning.

22   He reveals deep and hidden things;

he knows what lies in darkness,

and light dwells with him.

23   I thank and praise you, O God of my fathers:

You have given me wisdom and power,

you have made known to me what we asked of you,

you have made known to us the dream of the king.”

 

24 Then Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to execute the wise men of Babylon, and said to him, “Do not execute the wise men of Babylon. Take me to the king, and I will interpret his dream for him.”

25 Arioch took Daniel to the king at once and said, “I have found a man among the exiles from Judah who can tell the king what his dream means.”

26 The king asked Daniel (also called Belteshazzar), “Are you able to tell me what I saw in my dream and interpret it?”

27 Daniel replied, “No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, 28 but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come. Your dream and the visions that passed through your mind as you lay on your bed are these:

29 “As you were lying there, O king, your mind turned to things to come, and the revealer of mysteries showed you what is going to happen. 30 As for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because I have greater wisdom than other living men, but so that you, O king, may know the interpretation and that you may understand what went through your mind.

Learn it:

            Daniel is the midst of a life and death situation.  He has told the Kings men that he would be able to reveal and interpret what the King’s dream was.  His first reaction was to get us friends together and pray.  They probably prayed until Daniel received from God what he was looking for.  Once he did find out what it was the sang this beautiful psalm of thanksgiving.  They were recognizing God for his power, majesty and how good he is.  Oh, that we could pray that psalm to the Lord. 

            Once he finished praising God, he went to the King and was able to reveal to him what he wanted to know about his dream.  In the beginning of the conversation Daniel made sure to give the glory to God.  No man is able to know another man’s dreams without the help of God.  It would have been easy for Daniel to take the credit, but he was humble and wanted God to have the glory. 

Live it:

            Have you ever faced a task that seemed impossible?  What would be your first step in getting it accomplished?  Daniel had the impossible task of telling someone what the dreamt.  This led him to get people together and pray.  It’s a beautiful picture of believers coming together and seeking God in prayer in someone’s time of need.  When they felt that God has given them an answer the gave the praise back to him!  Before the situation was resolved they were praising God. 

            The next time you’re at work and you are given a project that seems over your head, pray and ask God for wisdom.  If you are at home raising kids, ask God for strength and patience to know how to raise them.  Whatever situation you are in find the time to pray and if you are able ask others to join you in prayer.  When He answers, give Him praise.  Even if it seems like He didn’t answer, praise Him anyway because He is with you! God will give you the strength for any situation and we should in turn give him the glory for it. 


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Loving Unreasonable People (Daniel 2:1-16)

 In the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his mind was troubled and he could not sleep. 2 So the king summoned the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers to tell him what he had dreamed. When they came in and stood before the king, 3 he said to them, “I have had a dream that troubles me and I want to know what it means.” (Daniel 2:1-3)

 7 Once more they replied, “Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will interpret it.”

8 Then the king answered, “I am certain that you are trying to gain time, because you realize that this is what I have firmly decided: 9 If you do not tell me the dream, there is just one penalty for you. You have conspired to tell me misleading and wicked things, hoping the situation will change. So then, tell me the dream, and I will know that you can interpret it for me.”

10 The astrologers answered the king, “There is not a man on earth who can do what the king asks! No king, however great and mighty, has ever asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or astrologer. 11 What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among men.”

12 This made the king so angry and furious that he ordered the execution of all the wise men of Babylon. 13 So the decree was issued to put the wise men to death, and men were sent to look for Daniel and his friends to put them to death.

14 When Arioch, the commander of the king’s guard, had gone out to put to death the wise men of Babylon, Daniel spoke to him with wisdom and tact. 15 He asked the king’s officer, “Why did the king issue such a harsh decree?” Arioch then explained the matter to Daniel. 16 At this, Daniel went into the king and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him.  (Daniel 2:7-16)

Learn it:

            In chapter two we learn that King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that was deeply troubling him.  He wanted his group of wise men to not only tell him what it means but he wants them to tell him what his dream even was!  Since his wise men were unable to do this, he gets furious and he sends out an order to have all of the wise men executed!  The King is being totally unreasonable, and we are getting a very different picture of him then we got in the first chapter.  Where he was very nice and commending to Daniel and his friends.        

            Daniel was not present when the King was talking to his wise men because he was young and not as experienced.  The King was so mad that his wise men were unable to help him.  So was going to kill them all including Daniel.  When Daniel hears about what is going on, he remains calms and asks for details about what is happening.  He does not lash out in anger or tries to defend himself.  He just wants to know what is going on.  After learning what’s going on, he offers to help the King.  Wow!  Daniel had incredible faith in God!  Daniel clearly knew the King was not in a good mood and the fact that he would be able to tell him his dream meant that he trusted that God would tell him what his dream was.  Just incredible. 

Live it:

            There will be instances in our lives where we have to work with people that are unreasonable.  Daniel was facing death and was still able to ask helpful questions and offer his help to the king.  This is a powerful example for Christians today.  We are called to love and serve all types of people, especially those that are our enemies.  We are able to do that because we have a God who is with us.  He will give us the strength, wisdom, and peace to do it.  It is only through Him that we can bring others into a relationship with God.  Who has God put in your life that you would be able to serve?  Pray that God would give you the boldness to talk to them and open a door to serve them.  That through your actions you would be able to share the Gospel to them. 


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Pastor’s Corner