Daniel 4:19-27 Video Devotional

Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was dismayed for a while, and his thoughts alarmed him. The king answered and said, “Belteshazzar, let not the dream or the interpretation alarm you.” Belteshazzar answered and said, “My lord, may the dream be for those who hate you and its interpretation for your enemies! The tree you saw, which grew and became strong, so that its top reached to heaven, and it was visible to the end of the whole earth, whose leaves were beautiful and its fruit abundant, and in which was food for all, under which beasts of the field found shade, and in whose branches the birds of the heavens lived— it is you, O king, who have grown and become strong. Your greatness has grown and reaches to heaven, and your dominion to the ends of the earth. And because the king saw a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven and saying, ‘Chop down the tree and destroy it, but leave the stump of its roots in the earth, bound with a band of iron and bronze, in the tender grass of the field, and let him be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts of the field, till seven periods of time pass over him,’ this is the interpretation, O king: It is a decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king, that you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. You shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and you shall be wet with the dew of heaven, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will. And as it was commanded to leave the stump of the roots of the tree, your kingdom shall be confirmed for you from the time that you know that Heaven rules. Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you: break off your sins by practicing righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed, that there may perhaps be a lengthening of your prosperity.” – Daniel 4:19-27

I can imagine the sweat on Daniel’s brow as he listened to Nebuchadnezzar recount his dream. Realizing that it is a warning, Daniel hopes that it is for his enemies, but knows the truth. It is time for the king to be brought down a peg or two. I wonder how discouraged Daniel may have felt at that time, listening to this bad news and preparing himself how to explain it to the king. This is another in a line of negative encounters he’s had with the Babylon royalty thus far, and he has got to see the emerging pattern.  Thankfully, Daniel trusted fully in God, so no matter how discouraging that may have been, he held fast to God’s command and faithfully shared with the king the dream’s interpretation.

To Nebuchadnezzar’s credit, he encouraged Daniel by allowing him to speak freely no matter what the interpretation was. Granted, he didn’t know what it would be, but you can see a difference this time compared to the first. He was much more open to share and trusting to listen to what Daniel had to say. This book very clearly shows a nice progression for Nebuchadnezzar towards God, and though it takes time (and a situation like what he will experience with this dream’s outcome), it seems that Nebuchadnezzar’s journey to God has potential for a very happy ending.

If Nebuchadnezzar is in Heaven enjoying the fullness of God’s favor and grace, I bet he spends every second with a thankful and grateful attitude towards Daniel, who no matter the consequence, stayed faithful to keep sharing his faith with the king and being honest and open about God. As Romans 10:15 says, “How blessed are the feet of those that bring good news!”

Are you willing to face the risk and discouragement you might receive when sharing the gospel? Daniel was willing…and his rewards are eternal. Consider that.



Daniel 2:17-24 Video Devotional

Then Daniel went to his house and made the matter known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions, and told them to seek mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his companions might not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven. Daniel answered and said:

“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him. To you, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, for you have given me wisdom and might, and have now made known to me what we asked of you, for you have made known to us the king’s matter.”

Therefore Daniel went in to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to destroy the wise men of Babylon. He went and said thus to him: “Do not destroy the wise men of Babylon; bring me in before the king, and I will show the king the interpretation.” – Daniel 2:17-24

This is incredible. Daniel, in full confidence back in v16, tells Arioch to set time with him in front of the king. Catch that for what it is: Daniel scheduled time in front of the king before he had the answer to the dream and its interpretation! Talk about bold! Daniel knew, even though he didn’t have the answer yet, that he would get it, and fearlessly chose to step up. Then he went to pray about it. Pulling together the other three, they took it to God and asked for the answer. And God provided. Daniel responds in praise and thankfulness.  

What stands out to me in this passage is that more “ink” is spent describing Daniel’s response to the prayer rather than the time spent in the prayer. God provided the answer pretty quickly – no fasting, no agonizing over it, no drops of sweat – just prayer and trust for the answer. Now, Daniel was seeking a factual answer to a problem he needed to figure out – no “why” questions or “how” questions, just “what”. So this may not apply to all prayer, but I think there are a few things we could learn from this.

First, he wasn’t looking for a specific answer. I wonder how much time we spend in extra prayer because we don’t like the answer we receive? I think we spend a lot of time pushing back, because we aren’t getting the answer we want in prayer. Now, Daniel wasn’t emotionally invested in the dream or its interpretation, so he wasn’t looking for a specific type of response. He just wanted the answer and left everything else up to God. That would be good for us to practice as well, whether or not we are emotionally invested in prayer. His answer is more important than what we want (“Not my will, but yours be done.”)

Second, he prayed and went to bed. Once he got the answer, Daniel spent more time on being thankful for the answer. How often do we go back to God after getting the answer and actually thank Him for it – let alone coming up with a poem of praise? How much time do we spend being thankful to God? What do you thank Him for?

I am not saying prayer should be quick. I am saying that we tend to overemphasize the answer we want and forget the time we should spend afterwards in praise. Maybe we should turn that around – look for His answer and then thank Him for it (regardless of what the answer is). Try it out – experience the results for yourself. Then see what kind of boldness God might instill in you.



Daniel 1:17-21 Video Devotional

As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. At the end of the time, when the king had commanded that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. And the king spoke with them, and among all of them none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Therefore they stood before the king. And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom. And Daniel was there until the first year of King Cyrus. – Daniel 1:17-21

Daniel’s no compromise approach to the food from the king’s table was without a doubt a risky move, yet when handled with respect and love towards the chief of the eunuchs, it proved successful, with what were, I am sure, some unintended consequences.

It is important that we remember when studying Biblical texts not to assign super-human powers to the characters. Daniel is one of those who seems to be elevated more than others. For example, we have no record of Daniel having any foreknowledge of these events. It may be easy to assume that of him, especially because these stories are so commonplace, but on top of that, Daniel was given prophetic visions. But moving through his story, Daniel could still only put one foot in front of the other and God only lit his pathway for each subsequent step.

This is important to note because Daniel, during chapter one, was focused solely on obeying God’s food laws. That was it – that was his ambition and plan throughout the first chapter. He was figuring out how the exile was going to work and what his role in it would be, and this confrontation with the king’s table probably felt like a headache and a distraction. But from God’s perspective, it was a beginning of a career that would last a long time.

Developing in Daniel such steadfastness, visions, patience, and influence took time, but as scripture tells us, there was no one like those four. All because they obeyed God foremost, while also showing love and respect to other people. As a result, they were given wonderful opportunities to continue being faithful to God – to which, God put them on display and painted targets on their backs. That would mean incredible influence over the Babylon leadership (good things), but also heavy danger and risks (not so fun things), such as an appointment with a fiery furnace.

Daniel didn’t know what would happen – he could only be faithful in the moment and trust God with the outcomes of that faithfulness. And that’s all we can do. Obey in the moment and trust God with the consequences. Those consequences to God’s obedience are all blessings – though they may contain suffering and heartache as well. Be prepared. And then follow God anyway, because we all know that’s going to happen regardless; so why not experience the good and bad of life as a result of faithfulness and obedience – it’ll make for a much better journey on this earth…and the next.



Acts 27:21-26 Video Devotional

“Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul stood up among them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss. Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. But we must run aground on some island.” (Acts 27:21-26)

The die has been cast; Paul is off to Rome. Yet, even though God had made it clear to Paul that we was to speak before Caesar, the journey was still treacherous, difficult, and long. The ship’s captain, ignoring Paul’s advice, chose to set sail early and push ahead despite the coming winter months (storm season). That lead to them getting caught in a big storm and being driven by the storm across the Adriatic Sea. They were in the middle of a catastrophe that would result in a major shipwreck.

In the middle of all that, Paul informs the men on the ship that no one will die; they will only lose the ship. God is protecting their lives and their journey. Paul will get to Rome. His comment in verse 25 sums it up perfectly – he has faith that God will keep His promise and Paul will make it to Rome. We know what Paul made it, but even though Paul knew what God wanted him to do, Paul still had to trust God on the journey – he hadn’t made it YET.

And that is the key: Paul still had to walk the journey, and even with the communication from God, the path was still dangerous. A favorite line that both Nita and I repeat to each other is that we are invincible until God calls us home. That is true and a helpful reminder to stay confident in God’s promises. Yet it does not relieve us from walking a difficult or dangerous journey. And we don’t have a guarantee that we will make it to a certain point, as we don’t know when God will call us home.

That, my friends, is faith. Walking the dangerous road with confidence that God will see us through – however long that journey may be – and be there to greet us on the other side. Whatever the difficulties are, whether it be health, relationships, finances, oppression, etc… we need to know (and remember) that God is walking that road with us and is always fully in control of the situation. That way, when you face the shipwreck, you can keep the faith like Paul and be the steady rock for everyone around you.

And that is when people see Jesus in you – when the road is at its worst and you are steadfast in your trust in God. When times are at their worst, God is preparing us to be at our best. He’s got this!



Acts 5:27-32 Video Devotional

“And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” (Acts 5:27-32)

The Holy Spirit was on the move. In every way – enacting justice, breathing life into death, convicting people of their sin, and performing miracles upon miracles. The apostles have figured out the best thing to do was let the Spirit run free and follow. Lives were changing and many were taking notice.

The problem is, when the Holy Spirit works, many do take notice, and there are plenty of those that don’t like what they see. They look at the Spirit’s work as a problem to be solved and a situation to be ended. Evil is no fan of the Spirit and fear becomes palpable when evil is confronted with the power of God. When evil is afraid, it gets vicious.

The Jewish council continued to see the Spirit’s work among the Jews and took offense. They saw their way being challenged and them being called to responsibility for the death of Jesus. Bringing in Peter and John only made it worse for them, as it gave Peter the perfect chance to make known who is in control – Jesus. They must obey God rather than men.

This reply only served to make the council more angry and develop a desire to kill these men. Peter and John were certainly not looking for a confrontation and to enrage the council. This statement was led by a humble boldness through the leading of the Holy Spirit to be truthful. But when people see themselves as threatened, it is easy to see why they reacted the way they did.

Why is this important now? Because there are a lot of things people are looking for us to respond to. Can we speak truth into situations with grace and light so that people know it is not us that is talking, but the Spirit? I think so. But we have to obey God first – if we aren’t listening to Him, we won’t have the opportunities to speak about Him.

As Gamaliel says later in the chapter, “if it is from God, it cannot be stopped”. Are you willing to obey and see where this journey takes you? It will be dangerous, but good, for He is dangerous and thankfully good. Don’t miss the boat.



1 Corinthians 10:31-33 Video Devotional

 

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.” (1 Corinthians 10:31-33)

We can be calm in the midst of this viral storm because we know that our God is fully in charge. Through His Spirit, we can rise above the fears and anxiety of the world and not live in the craziness, and live out loud the gospel of Jesus. Whatever you are doing, make sure to do it for God’s glory – which is most clearly seen in our calling to be salt and light to all people in all situations, so that many can be saved. Though quarantined, we still interact with many people in many different ways. Let’s remember to be extra loving and gracious during times like this. Show people by your actions that the love is Christ is the calming security that people so desperately need right now. Even if it impedes you.

As always, “this is the day the Lord has made; so let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24) Live that out loud so others can see that our King really is in charge of this world.



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