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Daniel 2:24-3:30 ~ 1 Peter 4:7-5:14
Psalm 119:81-96 ~ Proverbs 28:15-16
Old Testament - Today in Daniel chapter 2 we see Daniel conducting his affairs with Nebuchadnezzar with wonderful humility! In verses 27 & 28 Daniel says: "There are no wise men, enchanters, magicians, or fortune-tellers who can tell the king such things. But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and he has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in the future." Here we see that Daniel is giving God the glory for the dream about to be revealed. Daniel was taking no credit for this. Today, do you regularly give God the glory in your life? Or do you try to take the credit yourself? Below is an image of Daniel before Nebuchadnezzar:
The dream interpreted by Daniel is summed up in verses 44 & 45: "During the reigns of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed; no one will ever conquer it. It will shatter all these kingdoms into nothingness, but it will stand forever. That is the meaning of the rock cut from the mountain by supernatural means, crushing to dust the statue of iron, bronze, clay, silver, and gold." The dream & interpretation are prophesying the kingdom of Babylon (gold), followed by the Medo-Persian Kingdom (silver), then Greek kingdom (bronze), then the Roman empire with a mix of iron & clay - representing strong and weak states within the Roman empire. These are all B.C. kingdoms, taking us up to the time of Jesus the Messiah, when the rock cut from the mountain comes and becomes the everlasting Kingdom of God. Below is an image of the statue from Nebuchadnezzar's dream and its interpretations with dates:
Nebuchadnezzar is impressed with the dream interpretation and says to Daniel in verse 47: "Truly, your God is the God of gods, the Lord over kings, a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this secret." Think Nebuchadnezzar is sincere about this? Or, think he will be the next day? Look how quickly he changes his mind in Chapter 3...
In chapter 3 we read the incredible story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. In verses 16-18 we read: “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 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. 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." Focus on the words in verse 18 – “But even if he does not”. Do you have the faith of these three men in God? Even if God does not show up in your life as you hope he might, will you still have faith? Will you not serve other gods or worship false idols? Back to verse 16 - Do you realize that you do not have to defend your faith to others? Do you believe that God can rescue you from the direst of situations? Even a fiery furnace?
In verse 28 we hear Nebuchadnezzar giving praise to God again - similar to chapter 2 verse 47 above: "Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel to rescue his servants who trusted in him. They defied the king's command and were willing to die rather than serve or worship any god except their own God." Are we willing to die rather than serve or worship any other "god"? (big question I realize... but a fair one. This is happening to Christians around the world today. Please remember to pray for the persecuted church around the world.) Below is a portrait by Guy Rowe of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who were willing to die for their faith in the True Living God rather than worship another little "g" fake god -
New Testament - We finish the letter of First Peter today! Second Peter begins tomorrow. In First Peter chapter 5 verse 8 today we receive a stern warning we all must heed: "Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour. Take a firm stand against him, and be strong in your faith." Do you believe the Devil prowls around like a roaring lion? Will you take a firm stand against him? How will you do this? Memorizing scripture on a regular basis I believe is one very effective tool in this battle. As is reading and studying the Bible each and every day. I actually was sitting in the waiting room of a doctor's office recently and I picked up a Christian magazine that had an article on how to fight temptation. This article basically said to "know thyself" - know what and where your weaknesses / temptations are. Then, after taking this inventory, memorize a scripture verse or two that you can easily bring to mind when you find yourself in one of those times of weakness / temptation. And to cling to that scripture verse for all its worth. I haven't personally tried this yet, but I think I will. I do think that we can cling to scripture like a life preserver in our moments of weakness / temptation. Let us not ever forget that on this side of heaven the devil is out there prowling...
Psalms - I am continuing to love our readings of Psalm 119! This is an incredible Psalm... I somehow am re-reminded of how amazing this Psalm is every 6 months that we read it in the One Year Bible. I could write something on each verse. For example, I love the imagery in verse 81 today - "I faint with longing for your salvation; but I have put my hope in your word." I faint! I long! I hope! And Verse 83 - "I am shriveled like a wineskin in the smoke, exhausted with waiting. But I cling to your principles and obey them." I am shriveled! I am exhausted! I wait! I cling! I obey! I love this Psalm... Verse 95 actually backs up the reflection above on 1 Peter 5:8 quite nicely - "Though the wicked hide along the way to kill me, I will quietly keep my mind on your decrees." How can you quietly keep your mind on God's decrees? Will you make this a habit to quietly keep your mind on God's decrees? Would this be a good habit?
Proverbs - Proverbs 28:15-16 today teach us: "A wicked ruler is as dangerous to the poor as a roaring lion or an attacking bear. A ruler with no understanding will oppress his people, but one who hates corruption will have a long life." These verses are a reminder to me to pray for our leaders in government. Their actions matter. In very signficant ways. Do you think our prayers for our leaders matter? In very signficiant ways?
Comments from you - What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!