Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 27 November 18:
1. Daniel 5:1-4 – “Belshazzar… commanded that the vessels of gold and of silver that Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken out of the temple in Jerusalem be brought, that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them. Then they brought in the golden vessels that had been taken out of the temple, the house of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. They drank wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone.” Belshazzar treated God’s holiness with contempt and would pay the price for it.
2. Daniel 5:11 — “There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the spirit of the holy gods. In the days of your father, light and understanding and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods were found in him, and King Nebuchadnezzar, your father—your father the king—made him chief of the magicians, enchanters, Chaldeans, and astrologers.” Nebuchadnezzar had made Daniel chief of the magicians, but by the time Belshazzar had assumed his reign, Daniel was nowhere to be found. Daniel was not interested in position, power, or prestige and did not desire to partner with the secular government. Daniel’s ambition was oneness with God. What is yours?
3. Daniel 5:14 – “I have heard of you that the spirit of the gods is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you.” Is this your reputation? Have people who have never met you heard of your godliness and godly wisdom?
4. Daniel 5:17 — “Then Daniel answered and said before the king, ‘Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another.’”
– In our previous readings from Daniel, we learned of his amazing character which earned him the special trust and confidence of the king. Daniel was not only excellent in all things, but he also carefully guarded his purity, even with the smallest things. In every way, Daniel gave all honor, praise, and glory to God who had blessed him with special abilities. Daniel’s faithful witness impacted an entire nation, the most influential nation on the planet. Today’s readings from Daniel include two very famous stories: the Writing on the Wall and the Lion’s Den. One of the many important lessons from these stories is the need to avoid becoming unequally yoked and entangled in the systems of the world. Notice that Daniel, having been previously appointed by Nebuchadnezzar as “chief of the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners” was not found at the palace enjoying the privilege and prestige of his position; in fact, the new king Belshazzar apparently hadn’t even heard of him. Daniel could have “had it all” yet he would have none of it. King Belshazzar offers Daniel the position of “third highest ruler in the kingdom.” Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to have such an important position? But Daniel says, “You may keep your gifts for yourself and give your rewards to someone else.” His response is very similar to the response Abraham gave the king of Sodom: “I have raised my hand to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and have taken an oath that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the thong of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich’ (Gen 14:21-23).” Daniel’s response also reminds me of Jesus’ response to Satan in the desert when he reminds Satan that his purpose is to worship God and serve the Kingdom of God rather than the kingdoms of man (Matt 4:10). Conversely, we read of God’s anger with Jehoshaphat for not only supporting the wicked king Ahab but also for going into business with his son King Ahaziah (1 Kings 22:1-40; 2 Chron 18-19). Too often we compromise our holiness for worldly success and pursuit of the American dream. If we were in Daniel or Jehoshaphat’s shoes, we might say, “God could really use my great success,” or “I could use this position and wealth to better spread the Word.” But what is the price in integrity and holiness paid to gain and maintain that position? Note that, despite Daniel’s desire to remain set apart, Darius was intent to place Daniel “over the whole kingdom.” Daniel didn’t seek a political position, but once in office, his fidelity to God was tested greater than ever before, and in his fidelity, he impacted the whole nation for God’s glory: “Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: ‘Peace be multiplied to you. I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for he is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end.” (Daniel 6:25, 26) Note that reconciliation between Daniel and the king was only resolved by the king submitting to God’s authority, not by Daniel conceding.
— “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness (2 Corinthians 6:14)?”
– One way to examine your heart is to consider why you do the things you do. What motivates you? On what are your goals and ambitions based? Do you live for God or for self? Daniel lived for God. When an ordinance was made making worshipping God a crime punishable by death, Daniel boldly and publicly worshipped God even more fervently – he would have rather died horrifically than to fail to worship His God. Though it would have been a simple thing for Daniel to worship in private, Daniel refused to deny God the glory due Him through the life of one of His faithful servants. He refused, even as a captive of the most ruthless king on the planet, to put his light of faith under a bowl regardless the cost. Oh, that we would be so committed and faithful! How many times have I been motivated by, greed, fear, ambition, anger, jealously, and other worldly passions rather than by love, awe, reverence, and joy for God? I continue to pray for the type of courageous faithfulness displayed by Daniel which only comes from God.
5. Daniel 5:22 – “And you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this.” Faith is not inherited. You get no credit or discredit for the decisions of your parents. Your relationship with God is between you and God.
6. Daniel 6:3 — “Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.” Daniel was exceptional and stood out, not merely because he was talented but because of his spirit for the Lord which defined his character and influenced all that he did.
7. Daniel 6:7 – “All the high officials of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an injunction, that whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions.” Unbelievers will attempt to use the legal process to persecute Christians. In this case, laws were passed to restrict acts of worship. What laws have we accepted in society that restrict our freedom of religion?
8. Daniel 6:10 — “When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.” Daniel made it quite clear that he served God over government. Daniel intentionally defied the laws of the government that were in opposition to God’s laws.
9. Daniel 6:18 – “Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no diversions were brought to him, and sleep fled from him.” Daniel’s response to trouble was continual fasting and prayer.
10. Daniel 6:24 – “The king commanded, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel were brought and cast into the den of lions.” God treats you the way you treat others.
11. Daniel 6:26, 27 – Daniel’s fidelity meant that God was honored throughout the land as a matter of law.
12. Daniel 6:28 — “So this Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” God protected faithful Daniel and allowed him to prosper; conversely, God didn’t prevent John the Baptist from being beheaded, though Jesus said there was no greater man born from woman than John. God’s perfect plan for our lives involves hardships and even physical death. His goal for us is that we would glorify Him in life and death, love Him more and more with each day, have greater unity with Him day by day, and be conformed into the image of His Son, Jesus. The wonders of God’s eternal plan are far beyond our greatest imaginations, and we can rest assured in His Sovereignty, grace, mercy, and love – nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.
13. Proverbs 27:5 – “Better is open rebuke than hidden love.” If you don’t tell others about Jesus, you may not really care about them as much as you should, you may not care about God as much as you should, or you may simply lack the courage you should have. You may say to yourself, “It’s too soon to share Jesus with him/her,” or “(S)he isn’t ready for that yet,” but how much time do you think you have with that person? Either one of you could be dead tomorrow. Make the most of the opportunity you have; you don’t know what tomorrow might bring.
14. Proverbs 27:6 – “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” If you only tell people what they want to hear, you are ultimately their enemy.
15. Proverbs 27:12 – “The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.” Only the wise can truly see what is going on around them.
16. Proverbs 27:13 – “Take a man’s garment when he has put up security for a stranger.” God wants you to protect the spiritually weak who are tempted by sin.
17. Proverbs 27:23-27 – Spend your productive years building production capacity (industry) so that you possess the ability to be financially self-sufficient.
18. John 20:13 — Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” — From Henry T. Blackaby — Mary Magdalene could vividly remember the day Jesus delivered her from her demonic . She became His devoted follower that day (Luke 8:2). She watched Him heal the sick and teach people about God’s love. Her life was transformed as she experienced the joy of being with Jesus. Then her world seemed to fall apart! Her Lord was arrested and brutally murdered. The crowds that had shouted “Hosanna!” at the beginning of the week cried “Crucify him!” by week’s end. A final blow came when she went to anoint Jesus’ body at the tomb. She saw that His tomb was empty. Someone had apparently stolen His body. As she sobbed in despair, angels asked the poignant question, “Why are you weeping?” She was standing before an empty tomb! Jesus had risen, just as He had promised! Knowing that Jesus was alive put everything back into perspective, and Mary joyfully raced to share the good news with others. The Christian life is not always easy. There are joyful moments of walking with Jesus, but there are also times when nothing makes sense and when your world seems to be crumbling. The world will mock your Lord, and you may grow discouraged. At those times, you need to peer into the empty tomb. It is the abandoned tomb that gives you hope, for it symbolizes the life that is yours from your risen Lord. The empty tomb promises that nothing, not even death itself, can defeat the purposes of your Lord. Are you weeping beside an empty tomb?
19. John 20:19 – “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’” After the disciples had all abandoned Jesus, now hiding in fear and doubt, Jesus’s first word to them was “Peace.” What is your hope for, attitude towards, and message to those who abandon you, mistreat you, and let you down.
20. John 20:21 — “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” Yes, you are expected to live like Jesus and only do what He says.
21. John 20:22 — “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Jesus empowers you to do His work. He doesn’t empower you to do your work.
22. John 20:29 – “Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’” Faith involves believing what is unseen more than what is seen.
23. John 20:30, 31 – “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” The Bible is given to you to strengthen your faith. Commit to reading it, studying it, meditating upon it, and following it every day of your life from this day forward.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 27 Nov 18: Today, consider the first words others would use to describe you. Consider for what attributes you are most known. Would you mostly be described by others as a person filled with the Holy Spirit? If not, why not? For what do you want to be most known? (Daniel 5:14)