Sunday, December 28, 2014

Humbling From the Hand of God

Now I, 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.
 Daniel 4:37

In the Book of Daniel, we study about King Nebuchadnezzar.  King Nebuchadnezzar was the greatest of the Babylonian kings.  God’s Word describes him as one of the foreign rulers God used for His purposes.  Reading and studying the life of this king, we see that he thought of himself as a god and was a very prideful leader.  Until God’s divine humbling of Nebuchadnezzar, he never accepted the sovereignty of God.  He did not see that all he owned and all he had accomplished were because of the hand of Almighty God.  King Nebuchadnezzar was given royal authority from the King of King. 

In Daniel 4, we read that King Nebuchadnezzar has a dream about a tree and this dream greatly troubled him.  Scripture reveals that he was terrified.  I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at home in my palace, contented and prosperous.  I had a dream that made me afraid.  As I was lying in bed, the images and visions that passed through my mind terrified me – Daniel 4:4-5.  When the Babylonian magicians, enchanters, astrologers, and diviners could not interpret the dream for the king, Daniel was called. 

Much of the world considered Nebuchadnezzar a divine king.  God was about to demonstrate that Nebuchadnezzar was an ordinary man placed in the kingship because of His sovereign will.  After the fulfillment of the dream, Nebuchadnezzar recognized the sovereignty of God and proclaimed God’s sovereignty to the nations and the people.  Daniel 4:17 gives us a glimpse of messengers making a proclamation of the reasoning for the divine punishment of Nebuchadnezzar.  The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of people.  God was about to place Nebuchadnezzar in a situation where he would come to recognize the sovereignty of Almighty God. 

In Daniel 4:19-27, we read that Daniel interprets the dream for the king.  Also Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar that if he would renounce his sins that his prosperity would continue.  Daniel 4:27 – Therefore, Your Majesty, be pleased to accept my advice:  Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed.  It may be that then your prosperity will continue.  The LORD withheld His divine judgment of King Nebuchadnezzar for one year, twelve months.  But Nebuchadnezzar was still filled with pride and refused to humble himself an accept the sovereignty of God.  Daniel 4:30 – He(King Nebuchadnezzar) said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power, and for the glory of my majesty?” 

Scripture reveals that as the words passed through his lips, divine punishment came upon him.  King Nebuchadnezzar’s royal authority was taken from him.  He was driven away from the people and lived among the wild animals for seven years.  After seven years had passed, Nebuchadnezzar sanity was restored and he began to praise, honor, and glorify Almighty God.  It took divine punishment - a humbling from the hand of God – for Nebuchadnezzar to acknowledge the sovereignty of God.  Daniel 4:34 – 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. 

Let’s learn a lesson from King Nebuchadnezzar.  Acknowledge and accept the sovereignty of God.  Take these words to heart – Daniel 4:37 – Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praised 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. 

Dear Heavenly Father, help us to always acknowledge and accept Your sovereignty.  Your ways are just and right.  I pray you will reveal any evidence of pride in our life so we can humbly bow before You and repent.  In Jesus Name I Pray…..Amen.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Praying Friends

“Prayer – secret, fervent, believing prayer – lies at the root of all personal godliness.”  William Carey 

Are you blessed with praying friends?  Praying friends are such a precious blessing.  It is very comforting to know that when you contact your prayer warrior friend, that they will approach God’s throne of grace on your behalf.  As we journey towards our Heavenly home, we will encounter many needs and we will have many concerns.  It is a privilege to have a friend who is truly a prayer warrior and it is also a privilege to take your friend’s needs to Almighty God’s throne of grace.  Almighty God answers prayers. 

You and I have a powerful resource – prayer – communion with our Savior and LORD.  Let us never look at prayer as a last resort.  When a need or a concern arises, the first thing we must do is approach the throne of God.  We often see prayer as the last resort.  This approach is backwards.  God’s power is infinitely greater than ours; therefore let us rely on the power of God.  James 5:16 – The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. 

In Daniel 2, we see Daniel at a crisis point.  King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that greatly troubled him.  He had called the wise men of the land and instructed them to tell him what the dream was and also to interpret the dream.  Because the men were unable to do so, he ordered all the wise men to be put to death.  When Daniel heard the verdict that the wise men would be put to death, he asked to see the king.  Daniel approaches King Nebuchadnezzar and asked for time so that he might be the one to interpret the dream.  The king agreed and then the praying began.  Daniel’s prayer warrior friends were needed.  Daniel 2:18 - He (Daniel) urged them (his friends) to plead for mercy from 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.  We might not be facing an execution but our need can be great when we ask our prayer warriors friends to plead for mercy on our behalf.  Do you have these prayer warrior friends as Daniel did?  Prayerfully ask God to rise up around you a small group of prayer warrior friends. 

We notice in Daniel 2 that Daniel did not panic.  He trusted God and believed in Almighty God’s power.  He chose not to panic because he understood that prayer was effective.  When we choose to panic instead of approaching the throne of God, it confirms that we consider our need as hopeless and that we do not believe in the power of God.  Do you believe in the power of God?  Do you panic or pray when you have a need or a concern?  Choose to obliterate your panic by praying to God.  Daniel 2:19 – During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision.  Then Daniel praised the God of heaven.  Daniels trust in Almighty God saved not only himself, but also his three friends, and the wise men of Babylon.  Where have you placed you trust?

Do your prayers include praise?  Daniel knew where to place his trust and hope.  We read Daniel’s prayer of praise in Daniel 2:20-23“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his.  He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others.  He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.  He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him.  I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors:  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.”  Daniels prayer was answered and before he went back to reveal the dream and interpretation of the dream to King Nebuchadnezzar, he offered a prayer of praise and thanksgiving to God.  He took time to give Almighty God credit for all wisdom and power and for answering his request.  We must never forget to offer our praise and gratitude to our Sovereign God. 

You can place your hope and trust in God just as Daniel and his friends did.  Present your request to the King of Kings.  Wait and watch with anxious expectation as God answers your prayers and never forget to offer Him a prayer of praise and thanksgiving. 

Dear Heavenly Father, we acknowledge You are sovereign.  We praise You and thank You for what You have done and what You will do.  Thank You for my prayer warrior friends.  Bless them LORD.  In Jesus Name I Pray…..Amen.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Choices to Make in a Babylonian Culture

But Daniel resolved…..Daniel 1:8

We live in a Babylonian culture.  Our culture is focused on youth and beauty.  It values the educated and the prosperous.  This culture has many indulgences for us to choose from.  We have a wide array of entertainment venues.  Even the variety of food choices gives us pause to think about at lengths.  Many people are self-absorbed and focused on their next indulgence.  The question is, are the choices you are making in this Babylonian culture bringing honor and glory to God?  We need to strive to be like Daniel.  Daniel resolved to not be defiled by the Babylonian culture in which he found himself living.  Daniel 1:8 – But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.  Daniel was living in a culture that did not honor God, yet he chose to obey God’s laws.  We are living in a culture that does not honor Almighty God.  Will you resolve today to make choices that honor and glorify God or will you allow this Babylonian culture to influence your choices?

Long before Daniel was taken into captivity he resolved to commit his life to Almighty God.  He chose to be devoted to God and His ways.  Pressures from our culture are all around us but we can commit to making choices that honor and bring glory to our Savior and LORD.  Prayerfully ask God to help you make a lifelong determination to do what is right in the eyes of God and not succumb to the pressures in our culture.  Proverbs 3:6 - In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.  When we acknowledge God in all our ways, He will guide us.  Choose to make Almighty God a vital part of every area of your life and allow Him to lead and guide you as you journey through this Babylonian culture. 

Our culture is filled with moral depravity and sin-inducing pressures.  In this world we will be faced with temptations, but Scripture clearly reveals that our God will help us resist when confronted with these temptations.  1 Corinthians 10:13 – No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.  And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.  Prayerfully ask God to help you live in this extravagant, excessive culture without being poisoned by it.  Just as Daniel resisted the poisonous charms in Babylon, we are able to resist the poisonous charms of our culture.  God will help us to stay strong and focused when faced with deception if we turn to Him. 

Daniel learned all he could about this new culture he was living in so he could do the work he was assigned to do.  Yet while he learned, he maintained steadfast allegiance to God.  God blessed him with skill and wisdom.  Daniel 1:17 – To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning.  And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.  We must make the choice to maintain steadfast allegiance to our God.  God is faithful and will give us the grace to stand even if we are the only ones committing our allegiance to Him. 

We live in a culture which has turned away from God.  Will you influence your culture or will your culture influence you?  Choose today to commit all your ways to Almighty God.

Dear Heavenly Father, lead and guide us.  Help us to stay strong and focused on You when we are faced with the temptations of this wicked world.  Bless us with godly wisdom and knowledge.  I pray that we will be people who have a godly influence on our culture.  In Jesus Name I Pray…..Amen.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Waiting Between Your Need and His Provision

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.  Hebrews 4:16

We take our petitions to our Heavenly Father and sometimes we wait.  Our prayer is not answered when we expect it to be answered.  What are we to do in the waiting between our need and His provision? 

Prayer is the act of communion with our Savior and LORD.  God desires for us to bring our petitions to Him but our prayers also should include adoration, confession of our sins, and thanksgiving.  We can approach our LORD with confidence, knowing that He hears.  The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them….Psalm 34:17.  Whenever we pray, God hears us.  Wherever we pray, Almighty God hears us.  1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to pray continually.  How are we to pray continually?  We are to have a prayerful attitude at all times.  It is time for us to acknowledge our total dependence upon Almighty God and realize His presence is with us always.  1 Chronicles 16:11 – Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.  Seek the LORD in prayer to offer thanksgiving and praise and to meet your needs. 

In the waiting between our need and God’s provision, we must place our trust in Him.  Even when we can’t see the hand of God at work, He is working.  Our LORD is faithful and we can trust Him.  His presence is with us always.  Psalm 37:3-4 – Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.  Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.  We need to come to the place in our faith walk where we are able to entrust everything – our lives, families, jobs, possessions – to Almighty God’s control and guidance.  God knows our every need and will provided for our needs in His perfect time.  He desires for us to humbly enter in Holy Communion with Him, through prayer. 

We must attempt to stop our grumbling and trust in our Savior and LORD.  Scripture reveals that the Israelites did a lot of grumbling and complaining in the wilderness.  God provided for their needs but they still complained.  Prayerfully search your heart.  Are you a complainer in the waiting?  Focus on Almighty God and wait with eager anticipation for the time that He provides an answer to your prayer.  Psalm 37:7 – Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him…..

In the waiting between our need and God’s provision, we should continue to serve.  We should continue to meet the needs of others in the name of Jesus Christ.  Present others with love and compassion in the same way Jesus did.  We demonstrate our love for Christ when we minister to others in His name.  Hebrews 6:10 – God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you helped his people and continue to help them.  As we serve during the waiting, we should remember God’s past faithfulness and provisions.  This will strengthen our faith and provide us with the grace and strength to continue to serve.  Never forget the goodness of Almighty God.  1 Samuel 12:24 – Be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. 

In the waiting between our need and God’s provision, we must continue to offer prayers of praise and thanksgiving to our LORD.  Remember God’s goodness and dependability when you approach His throne in prayer and offer praise and thanksgiving to your Savior and LORD.  Psalm 100:4 – Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. 

Our God is good and faithful.  He loves us more than we can even imagine.  Trust in Him today.  Wait and watch for His provisions in your life.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your request to God – Philippians 4:6.

Dear Heavenly Father, help us to wait patiently between our need and Your provision.  LORD, we will continue to pray and trust You to meet our needs.  We recognize You are good and faithful.  We will continue to trust you and serve you and offer prayers of praise and thanksgiving for what You have done and what You will do.  In Jesus Name I Pray…..Amen.